Well, it’s Tuesday afternoon once again and I am preparing to teach James during my staff meeting tomorrow. It has been neat to see how God explains so clearly through His Word what genuine faith is and how it is manifested in daily life.
Here are a few articles that explain genuine faith from James’ perspective:
- Living faith vs. Dead faith
- Living faith vs. Deaf faith II
- Trials and Temptations; what’s the difference?
There are many people in this world who claim to have faith. The issue that James deals with is, is that faith something that positively impacts their daily lives, allowing them to endure the storms of life and come out victoriously? What does genuine faith look like? How can I know if I have genuine faith or not? This is what we want to discover from James’ epistle.
I. What genuine faith is
If we take a look at the Greek word that is translated as “faith” we see “pistis“. It means to be persuaded of something, to be convinced of something, based on evidence. It could be translated “to yield willingly to the will of another”. Faith literally means examining the evidence, understanding what you have examined, and putting what you have learned into practice. Faith is not blindly accepting something just because you want it to be true. Faith is being convinced of the truth based on the facts and apply what you have learned. God actually gives us a definition in His Word, in the book of Hebrews, chapter 11 and verse 1. Faith is not hoping that things will work out. Faith is knowing that things will work exactly the way that God has said in His Word, even if we cannot see the results, we know that they will come about because God has promised them. In order to have genuine faith, you must open up the Word of God and be introduced to the promises of God. Are you familiar enough with the Word of God to be able to have faith in God? Faith is not just a theory. God allows us to go through situations in life that demonstrate if our faith is genuine or not.
II. How genuine faith is manifested
In order to find the answer to how faith is manifested, let’s turn to James 1. The answer is found in the form of trials. All of us go through trials, whether we believe in God or not. Trials actually reveal if our faith is genuine or not. Genuine faith allows us to endure trials and come out victoriously. Genuine faith, under the strain of trials, actually helps lead us to maturity. When you understand this truth then you see trials as a good thing and are able to face them with joy instead of complaining. True faith drives us to run to the Lord when we face trials and ask for wisdom in how to endure them and overcome them. As I run to the Word of God seeking His wisdom, I discover more of His promises and I am able to trust in those promises, putting them into practice.
If we look at it from the other side of the coin, we see what the opposite of genuine faith looks like.
- Does not consider trials a joy
- Does not face trials God’s way
- Destroyed by trials
- Doubts in the midst of trials (God, His Word, His goodness)
- His faith is not increased in the midst of trials
- He is double-minded and unstable in all his ways
When you last went through a trial, which faith was manifested in you, living, genuine faith or dead, useless faith? Did the trial increase your faith or did it reveal your doubt?
III. Benefits of having genuine faith
There are many benefits to having genuine faith. First of all, you are able to endure trials and come out on top, victorious. You also have your endurance increased and this leads you to spiritual maturity. As an analogy, when you want to increase muscle size, strength, and endurance, you have to test that muscle or in other words, work it out, exercise it. The same is true for your faith. As you exercise genuine faith in the midst of trials, your faith matures you. The next benefit that you receive is that you get a chance to experience God. You ask of Him and He delivers. The God of the universe intervenes on your behalf. As Hebrews 11:6 tells us, you actually please God because of living out the faith that He gave to you.
Are you experiencing God in the midst of trials? Is your faith being strengthened by going through trials God’s way? Are you becoming more mature spiritually as you encounter various trials in your life? When you ask God for His wisdom, do you see Him deliver? Are you pleasing God daily by living our your genuine faith? What changes do you need to make in order to have genuine faith? May the Lord help us experience and live out genuine faith on a daily basis!