(Following are some questions we have received from a reader via e-mail to ExPreacherman, along with our responses. We chose to publish some of these questions in a series of articles, since they are both good questions and similar to questions we have gotten from other visitors to ExPreacherman. In some cases, we have changed comments into question form and have expanded our original answers.)
Are faith and belief the same thing? If I believe and have no action to back up that belief, aren’t I in a delusion?
Faith and belief are the same thing. What you are asking is whether faith and faithfulness are the same thing. They are not. If we had to be faithful to have eternal life, then our salvation would be dependent on our works, not on Christ’s faithfulness to us.
Works are not the automatic result of faith. They take WORK. That’s why they are called works. That’s why believers receive rewards for works done with the right motivation.
1 Corinthians 3:14: If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
We are set aside for good works that we SHOULD walk in them. Tom Cucuzza put it nicely in the following sermon excerpts:
Now, shouldn’t Christians live right? Yes! Yes, Christians should live right. That’s what James is all about. But, not to get to heaven. It’s because we have the gift of salvation, and we’re going to heaven. That’s grace.
Grace. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Not “must” – that would be works. Not “will” – that would be Calvinism. No, it’s should. We should.
If I believe that gravity will kill me at free-fall off a skyscraper, and I still jump, I’m either insane or I never really believed. Similarly, if I believe that eating healthy is good for me, and only eat cheeseburgers all of my short life, am I insane or do I not really believe?
These analogies don’t really hold up. You may jump off the skyscraper, knowing it will kill you, but still desiring the exhilaration of the fall. You may eat unhealthily, not because you think it will result in good health, but because it feels good. The presence of sin in the lives of believers does not invalidate their belief.
Analogies like the ones above are often the tools of false teachers who want to twist scripture to fit their false religion of salvation by faith PLUS works. They sound reasonable, and even compelling sometimes, but they are not Biblical. Beware of preachers and teachers who rely heavily on yarns and analogies and are light on scripture. Salvation is found in Christ alone. Remember, our ways are not God’s ways. When we try to fit God into our perceptions of the world, we get off track.
Am I granted grace simply because I think I believe? Or does belief go deeper than words and thoughts?
What you think is what you believe. If you understand and believe that you are a sinner in need of a Savior, that Jesus is God in the flesh, that Jesus took away the sins of mankind on the cross, that He was buried and raised from the dead, and that salvation is a free gift, offered to anyone who will honor Jesus by trusting in Him alone for eternal life, then you are saved.