Faith and obedience

Can you have faith without acting on it?

I was struck yesterday by a statement in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book The Cost of Discipleship:
“Only he who believes is obedient, and only he who is obedient believes.”

I think he’s right.  In other words, I can believe in Jesus as the risen Lord, but my faith is worthless if I don’t act on this belief.  There has to be some evidence that I have faith.

Bonhoeffer’s point is that much of the Christian church has ignored the importance of obeying Jesus.

In his book, he says the German Lutheran church of the 1930s was promoting “cheap grace”.  You believe Jesus died for your sins, you are baptized and then you carry on sinning just as you did before.  It’s okay, because God’s grace covers your sins.

There is some truth in that. I can’t earn my salvation through my own efforts. Jesus did die for my sins and he has given me new life once I put my faith in him.

But the problem with much of the Christian world today is that our lives with Christ end at the moment we are saved.  Bonhoeffer says that many Christians just continue on doing what they did before.

That is not the faith that Jesus talked about.  Salvation is the beginning of the Christian walk.  We are to follow him – not wander off on our own.

This has made me think about Jesus and the way he lived.  Do I truly follow Jesus?  Am I willing to live out my faith in the way Jesus says I should?

As another writer, David Platt, has said, I try to explain away the difficult things that Jesus said.  My faith is alive, but limited.  There are many areas where I won’t venture because it may cost me something.

And yet, I know that Jesus wants me to become more like him.  When he calls on me to do something, I must obey.  And as I obey, my faith blossoms.  That is the key to growing faith.


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