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Stop Believing “In” Jesus

Corcovado jesus

Corcovado jesus (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

As my wife and I prepared to go to a maximum security prison full of young men, I couldn’t stop thinking about how many times most of these teens had heard the Gospel message in some form. Most have even answered alter calls and said prayers. The one thing that is missing for many of them is a real change in lifestyle. I wondered what was keeping them from taking the essential step of putting faith into action.

When Jesus Christ said, I assure you: Anyone who believes has eternal life, do you think he meant believes that He exists or believes what He says? James indicates that believing He exists is not enough. James 2: 19 You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder! I think sometimes we become so intent on trying to convince people that Jesus is real that we forget to tell them what He said. The concept of believing “in” Jesus can’t be separated from believing Jesus. Many people believe he existed but judging from their actions, don’t believe what he taught.

The teachings that Jesus communicated both in words and actions are an essential part of who He is. The idea of loving our neighbor and our enemies is as much a part of who Jesus is as his face or his hand. Living a life that puts the Father’s will above everything else is the very essence of Christ. That’s why Jesus could tell his disciples if they saw him they saw the Father. We must follow in His footsteps if we believe Him. Jesus indicates that doing what he has told us is integral to any relationship we will have with God. John 14: 21 The one who has My commands and keeps them is the one who loves Me. And the one who loves Me will be loved by My Father. I also will love him and will reveal Myself to him.”

 

Jesus Christ describes himself by quoting Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and freedom to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn” If we don’t believe the description He gives of himself how can we say we believe. His mission to reach the poor, the brokenhearted, the imprisoned and the grieved is also vital to who he is. If we believe Him, we will concern ourselves with His mission. We will reach out to those that He came to reach.

Often the impression is given that we can believe or have faith without an action to complete it. James clears up any doubt in these scriptures: James 2:14-26 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can his faith save him? 

 If a brother or sister is without clothes and lacks daily food  and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you don’t give them what the body needs, what good is it?  In the same way faith, if it doesn’t have works, is dead by itself.

 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without works, and I will show you faith from my works.  You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe—and they shudder.

 Foolish man! Are you willing to learn that faith without works is useless?  Wasn’t Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?  You see that faith was active together with his works, and by works, faith was perfected.  So the Scripture was fulfilled that says, Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him for righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.  You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.  And in the same way, wasn’t Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.  We are truly saved by our faith in Jesus Christ but our actions are inseparable from our faith. We will inevitably act out what we truly believe.

The greatest lesson Jesus taught us was an act. He laid His life down on the cross to pay the price for the evil we have committed. He put us before His own interests. Jesus told us we should lay our lives down for each other. If we don’t emulate this sacrifice in our daily lives, how can we say we believe Him? We must determine if our faith is living through our actions. God will reveal the truth to us if we ask Him.

As for the boys we are visiting in the prison, they have been told many times to believe in Jesus Christ to escape hell. Maybe we need to start telling them to believe what Jesus said to have eternal life. I think I’ll give it a try.

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5 Comments

  1. Don,
    It was is interesting that you have taught on this Wednesday night and again in this blog and last night at the Faith, Family and Freedom concert they played a message from Billy Graham in which he preached the same overall message. Since I do not believe in coincidences I must say I think God is trying to tell everyone something. There must be a change in a man’s heart and actions.

    Reply
  2. Blessings,

    I thank the Lord that He led me to your blog this day and this hour. I find it truly interesting the subject matter that you are speaking of. About going into a prison and speaking to the young men inside.

    I can truly relate with this story because I was one of those young men for many years. God revealed Himself to me while in a maximum state prison 2.5 years before my release on December 3, 2009. I am still walking with the Lord this day, as a matter of fact my first book called Rock Bottom Inspired by God was just published. It’s my story from a prisoners view and how I came to know the Lord and still serve Him this day. It can be purchased on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and Westbow Press.com.

    I prayed about this before I penned these words and the Lord spoke to me saying that maybe this book could be of inspiration to these fellas or I myself could go speak to them myself. Since my release I have went back into the prison to share my testimony with all the fellas I spent many years with. It was truly awesome.

    Many blessings to you and yours, any questions pleas write back.

    Reply
    • I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. My wife and I are usually in prison several times each week. I’ve been doing this for many years. I would like to read your book and see where it might be useful to help offenders. I follow your blog and enjoy it. We mostly minister in the North and South Carolina area. If you would like to contact me, my Email is revphilemon@gmail.com. Thanks and God bless you.

      Reply

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