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Belief is Passive - Faith is Active

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Belief is Passive - Faith is Active
 
A Sermon Delivered To
The Compassionate Internet Church
 
24 June 2012
 
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

Scripture References:

Mark 4:35-41
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Ephesians 2:8-10
James 2:19

Just because we believe in something, doesn’t make it happen.
 
This is particularly true when it comes to our belief in God and in being conformed into a follower of Jesus Christ and His teachings.
 
However, if we turn that belief or mature that belief into faith, we work diligently to make it happen.
 
This is why James tells us in James 2:19…

19. You believe that God is one. You do well; the demons also believe, and shudder.

They believed in God, but still followed the devil.
 
To avoid this mistake, we need to actively follow the teachings of Jesus, through faith, and stay on the alert against the schemes of the devil.
 
Mark records an interesting story about belief and faith in Mark 4:35-41.

35. On that day, when evening came, He [Jesus] said to them, “Let us go over to the other side [of the Sea of Galilee].”
 
36. Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was; and other boats were with Him.
 
37. And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up.
 
38. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?”

They believed in Jesus; that’s why they followed Him, but they still had fear and doubt.

39. And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm.
 
40. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
 
41. They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”

This is why Jesus acknowledged their fear as being part of their lack of faith.

They may have suspected that Jesus was their Messiah, and even after they saw the power of God working through Him, their lack of faith still had them questioning each other about who He is.
 
And we see these same kinds of fear and lack of faith in most professing Christians, for they still live in fear and follow the corrupted ways of this world, instead of living in the heavenly will of God.
 
Let’s now take a look at 2 Corinthians 6:1-13 and see how our belief and faith must be turned into action.

1. And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—

Many people believe that they are Christians, and a lot of them believe that they are born again Christians, and all believe that they have received the grace of God.
 
If this is true, and I believe it is, then why would Paul be warning the Corinthians, and us today, not to receive the grace of God in vain?
 
It’s because the grace of God in the presence of the Holy Spirit is to empower our limited belief into an active and dynamic faith that can drive the evil corruption, injustice, and indifference away and free creation from its present corruption, in much the same manner as Jesus quieted the wind and waters of the Sea of Galilee.
 
But most Christians don’t seem to want to move beyond their initial beliefs and be active workers with the Lord; thus Paul is warning them.
 
What the Christians have is what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “cheap grace.”
 
The very meaning of the word “Christian” means a follower and doer of the teachings of Christ, and not just for the benefit of a select few, but for the benefit of the whole of creation.
 
Before we go on with this passage, let’s take a look at what Paul said in Ephesians 2:8-10.

8. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
 
9. not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

This is where most Christians seem to stop, as if this was all there is to being a Christian, and this is the “cheap grace” that Bonhoeffer referred to.

10. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

This is what all Christians should be.
 
We should be walking in the good works that God prepared from the creation of the heavens and the earth, and which will bring about the end of the corruption of this world for the benefit of all our fellow human beings, all of the other animals, and for the environment in which we all live.
 
So, with this in mind, let’s return to our 2 Corinthians passage.

2. for He says,
“AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.”
Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”—
 
3. giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited,

We minister to many thousands, if not millions, of people around the world who have become offended by the hardness of heart they have encountered from both pastors and lay Christians, particularly when it comes to animals and the people who care about them.
 
And because of this, many of them have left the church, and Christianity has become discredited in their hearts and minds.
 
These offended people are the ones who truly understand and have the faith, even if diminished, to live as the peacemaking children of God we are all called to be.
 
In their eyes, the churches and pastors are following the schemes of the devil, and we can’t disagree with them.
 
Furthermore, it is these soft hearted Christians who are the ones being persecuted, or they feel like they are being persecuted by the church, because they are made to feel unwelcome, and some have even met outright hostility simply because they care about animals and won’t eat, wear or otherwise exploit them.
 
So what do they do?
 
The live just like Paul is telling the Corinthians and us.

4. but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses,
 
5. in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger,
 
6. in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love,
 
7. in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left,
 
8. by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true;
 
9. as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death,
 
10. as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.

And we have seen a lot of this happen to those who peacefully demonstrate and speak out against the cruelty and hardness of heart in this world.

11. Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened wide.
 
12. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections.
 
13. Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also.

I’ve heard many people say, “Surely the government wouldn’t stand for it.”
 
Or, “Why doesn’t the government do something?”
 
And I ask, “Why doesn’t the church do something?”
 
The simple answer is that they are all part of the corrupt problem, and the evil that created it and encourages it to continue.
 
People who cry out for the God given rights of animals are labeled as terrorists, just because they say that the animals should be free of inflicted suffering and death at the hands of our fellow human beings.
 
They ignore their right to free speech and peaceful assembly, just as they did to Jesus.
 
Censorship has crept into the internet by pushing search engine listings way down the list.
 
These are all schemes of the devil, and the church for the most part has gone along with them.
 
Yet all of these soft hearted people are doing exactly what the Bible tells us to do.
 
They have held on to their faith through it all, just as we all should, and continue to strive to free creation from its present corruption and bring true peace to our fellow human beings, all the animals, and the world in which we all live.
 
It’s time for all of us to get off our butts, and do something.
 
Amen?
 
Amen.