If I say that I have faith in my doctor, what image does that bring to your mind? Am I saying that I believe that his diploma is real, that he really is certified to practice medicine? Or am I saying something more? Suppose that one day I come to you with a terrible cough. I tell you that my doctor says that I have strep throat and has prescribed a certain medication. I proclaim the praises of this doctor, repeating again what faith I have in him. But when you ask me if I'm going to take the prescribed medicine, I reply, "What for? That stuff won't do me any good." What would you think of my "faith" at that point?

True faith is more than an intellectual exercise. Faith affects not only beliefs, but actions. A faith that is not acted on is no faith at all. Or as the Bible says, "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17). If we truly believe in God, if we truly have faith in Him, we will do what He has told us to do. If our lives are not lives of obedience, they are not lives of faith.

To me, the story of Noah and the ark illustrates this point. God spoke to Noah and told him to build a large boat, an ark, to save himself and his family from a great flood that was coming. Noah believed God. How do we know? Because he built the ark that God told him to build. What if Noah had stood on a hilltop, proclaiming his faith in God instead of building that ark? I believe that Noah would have perished. Faith that is not lived out is not faith at all.

Jesus once asked those that followed Him: "Why do you call me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?" (Luke 6:46). Simply believing in God is not enough. If that belief does not lead us to want to do what He wants us to do, it is nothing more than an intellectual exercise. And it's not faith.

We need faith put in practice, faith that expresses itself in actions. Christianity isn't about the opinions we hold, it's about the life that we live. In the apostle Paul's writings, he speaks of the "obedience of faith" (Romans 1:5). If you've come to believe in Jesus, that's a great first step. Now it's time to turn belief into faith by learning what He wants of you and doing your best to do it. If you have questions about that, I'd love to discuss it with you. Write to me at tim@hopeforlife.org. Together, we can learn to live the life of faith.

Christianity isn't about the opinions we hold, it's about the life that we live.

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