Popular Christianity measures faith by what rather than how. Faith in the Son of God, and belief that God did raise His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, from the tomb of Golgotha results in the salvation of man. Many understand faith by what is believed and not how it is lived. Faith in Christ alone will save a soul from eternal damnation, this classifies as being faithful. Many denominations preach that faithfulness is just believing in certain ideas. – Should faithfulness be measured in WHAT or HOW?
How a person lives their faith is irrelevant because, as the verse is often misquoted from context, “for by grace are ye saved through faith…not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8a,9). There are many mentions of “works” in the Bible, so what kind of works is Paul referencing here? Works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21), works of the Mosaic Law (Gal. 3:2-5), works of faith (Jam. 2:24)? Paul references the works of the Mosaic law in Ephesians 2, no amount of Jewish boasting in keeping the works of their law will save them (Rom. 3:25-27; Col. 2:14).
The measure of faith today is no longer based in the practices of animal sacrifices and Jewish ceremony, but by the belief that Jesus is the Christ and God did raise him from the dead (Rom. 10:9) AND being a doer of His will through walking by faith (Gal. 3:11, Matt. 7:16,21). A godly faith measures not only what a person believes but how they live their faith.
God taught Christians the principle of faithfulness in the example of Christ.
What if God had the same faith that many churches teach today, which is faith without works will save? In such a case, God would never have sent His Son to die for us because such was a work and an act of love (John 6:29: “…This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”; 1 John 4:9: “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.”). God classified sending His Son as a work. If God taught a workless faith, then Christ never would have come to earth and mankind would have no Messiah.
However, God did not teach a workless faith. God taught a faith and love by works! “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). God showed mankind that the system of faith functions by not only knowing what to believe but knowing how to show it through actions. God showed His love and faith for man through the work of sending His Son.
Christ and the apostles taught faith without works will not save a soul from eternal damnation. Faith must have the works of faith, if faith is to save a person. Christ said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Not everyone that says they hold Jesus as “Lord” will be saved, but those that DO the will of the Father.
Christians must have some doing behind their believing. James, the brother of Christ wrote a whole chapter on living the Christian faith. James emphasized that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). He clarified, “Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). James said, “I will show thee my faith by my works” (James 2:18). The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost could not be clearer! Faith is measured by what we believe, and how we believe it.
What are the faithful works I have to do?
The answer is simple, ALL of it! Everything God commanded in the Law of Christ will be required for a person to be considered faithful (James 2:10: Rom. 2:21-23).
Obviously, the first step is one’s obedience to the gospel. One must do everything Christ commanded in order to be saved. One cannot go through and just pick and choose which laws of Christ to obey and which laws of Christ to ignore (Matt. 5:18-19). Christ commanded that we HEAR Him (Matt. 13:15). Christ commanded that His followers BELIEVE in Him (John 8:24). Furthermore, Christ commanded REPENTANCE from past sins (Luke 13:3). Christ also commanded BAPTISM for the remission of sins in His name (Matt. 28:19-20, Mark 16:16). Lastly Christ, commanded that continue in all the laws of the Father (Matt. 22:34-40; Rev. 2:10).
A young man approached Jesus during his earthly ministry and asked, “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” (Matt. 19:16). The same question that arises when a person understands action is required for one to be considered faithful. What actions should I do to be faithful? The young man had his list of what was considered faithful, but Christ explained that one command he ignored (vs. 18-20). “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions” (vs. 21-22). Jesus implies to His followers that no one command of the Father may be overlooked or ignored. To be faithful, to be considered one that may have eternal life, one must keep ALL the commands of God, which is why a Christian must study dutifully to make sure not one command of God is overlooked (2 Tim. 2:15).
How much do I have to DO to be faithful?
Do I have to attend every worship service at the church building (Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night) in order to be faithful? Do I have to pray every day to be considered faithful? Do I have to read my Bible everyday to be faithful?
This is the wrong question, but one commonly considered. A Christian should not ask by implication, “How little can get away with doing?” Rather ask, “How much can I do?” There exists a problem with the heart if a Christian wonders about the bear minimum of faithfulness.
If a Christian puts God first, which is Christ’s command (Matt. 6:33), then that Christian will want to attend worship as much a possible, will desire to pray every day, will thirst for Bible reading daily, and will seek ministry opportunities with each day. Such a Christian will not have to worry about doing enough because he/she will always be seeking more, and it will be his/her delight to do so (Ps. 1:1-3).
- Do you put God first when you have the time and opportunity to attend worship, but you instead sit at home and watch TV? – You attend every sports game your child and grandchild plays, but you can’t make worship service or Bible class because you’re too tired or too busy?
- Do you put God first when you never study the Bible at home or in Bible class with your brethren? – Do you just show up for worship service, if that?
- Do you put God first when you busy yourself with a mountain of recreational activities that keep you from ministry work and church attendance? – When the church asks you to do something, do you typically say, “I’m too busy?”
- Are you putting God first when you let your children decide when and where they go to worship based on their friends? – Do you even know what your children are learning with a specific youth group or is it just important that they are having fun?
Being faithful requires that a Christian ask themselves the hard questions. Christians must hold themselves accountable for not just believing what the Bible says but doing what God commanded. Likewise, Christians must do ALL that God commanded in Scripture without bias or blindness to the unpopular commands. Furthermore, Christians must participate to the furthest extent of their capabilities.