James continues the theme of faith in our next verse. Last time James taught us that faith in Jesus will produce results. Historically in our country, and even today, most people say they are Christian or believe in God. In this post we are going to dig a little deeper into the term “believing in Jesus”. The question we will be asking… Is saying “I believe” enough?
Last time we talked about Paul’s words to the Ephesian people, he said we cannot work our way into heaven. Salvation is truly a gift from God and we cannot earn it. This is absolutely true. Now here in James he said faith without works is dead being alone. James did not contradict Paul in any way. James merely said that saying you believe in Jesus and living like the devil does you no good at all. In short our faith will produce a change in us that is clearly seen by all. Christianity will produce good works. We don’t work to get saved; we work because we are saved.
If you have been a parent for any length of time you will have required your child to say “I’m sorry” to someone else because of a transgression. If the child said “I’m sorry” with clinched teeth and wrinkled brow you know they didn’t mean it even though they said the words. When we say “I believe in Jesus” do we really mean it?
In verse 19 James introduces a new wrinkle on the topic of faith. Is Christianity only about believing in Jesus? James produces a compelling argument that there is more to being a Christian than claiming that Jesus is real. James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. Think about that for a minute, Satan and his demons truly believe in God and Jesus Christ. Let’s look at a passage out of Matthew. Mat 8:28 And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way. And, behold, they cried out, saying, What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?
Absolutely the demons believe that God and Jesus are real. Are they followers of God? Um, no. That means that there is more to being a Christian than just believing Jesus exists.
Remember the old hymn “I surrender all”? That is the difference. In Matt 4 the bible records Satan tempting Jesus in the wilderness. The last temptation was Satan offering Jesus worldly kingdoms to which Jesus replied…“Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve“. (Matt 4:10b) The action of belief is submission to God. In our last post there was a picture of a child jumping into the father’s arms. I added it again in case you didn’t see the last post. We must believe dad will catch us and then we have to jump. Submission is the jump, that’s when belief becomes salvation.