We live in a society that is permeated with the idea that all a person needs to do is to "believe." It doesn't even matter what he believes - and it doesn't even matter if it is rational - as long as it is "faith."
Scripture teaches us that we need much more than this. Not only must we have a faith (or trust) that is based firmly on the Word of God - a reasonable faith that is based on historical fact (Acts 26:25b) - but we must have a faith that "translates" itself into action. Otherwise, it is useless, dead, sterile, worthless - and we are then no better off than the demons, who also believe the Bible - compare to James 2:14-26.
A living faith will grow; it will develop into maturity; it will result in the "fruit of salvation." It can be no other way, for God has guaranteed that it will happen that way. This is the purpose for which he saves us, and he himself will see to it that his purpose is accomplished - Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 2:10; etc.
On the other hand, there is the "human responsibility" aspect - and this is the primary focus of this section. If you are truly saved, you will exert the effort necessary for growth - or God, in love, will discipline you until you do (Proverbs 3:11-12).
You may ask, "What about all my friends who say they are Christians, even though they don't live like it?" You might not like the answer, but Scripture is quite clear about how genuine their "salvation" really is. You can choose to ignore what the Bible says, because you don't like the implications. But the Word stands firm in its message, and choosing to ignore it does not cause it to change into something more pleasant.
One last thing: Not only must we grow in our salvation, but we must let the Bible define what that growth is. Scripture contains many warnings about counterfeits of genuine spiritual growth.
There is no other option for a follower of Jesus. Yet some people consider doing so to be quite burdensome! Why? This article looks at some of these issues.
God's role in salvation guarantees that certain things will be present in those who are part of the Body of Christ. So if those things are not present... the reason for the absence is clear. (Hint: God's guarantee remains unchanged.)
This is a serious issue. However, it doesn't mean we are to give-up in despair. If we are growing - even if we are a long way from the "perfection" we desire - we have hope. If not, then (if we're honest) we know what we need to do.
We need to trust God for the strength to grow. On our own, we are too weak to do so. More than that, our very weakness (when rightly understood) makes it possible for God to display his strength! This outline looks at some of the verses that focus on these issues. Questions at the end provide an opportunity for you to evaluate yourself.
A genuine disciple of Jesus will have the "fruit of salvation." This is because genuine salvation causes fruit. This outline presents what the New Testament says about this issue. It lists the verses, arranged by topic - but you need to examine the verses for yourself, if you really want to know what God says on this matter. (The outline is intended only as a help, not as a substitute, for your own study.) [Note that the Bible, not people, defines what this "fruit" is.]
A look at some verses in the book of Proverbs, with a focus on the "path" or "way" we should live. You are encouraged to let the book of Proverbs influence your day-to-day living. After all, it is one of the "wisdom" books of the Bible!
This is a word study entitled, "To Work-out, to Accomplish Something," based on the New Testament Greek word "katergazomai." Accomplishing things for God is the end-result of this study. The starting point is about what sin accomplished in us (in the past), which makes us unable to accomplish what pleases God. God must first accomplish salvation in us... and only then can we accomplish anything good for God!
If you truly want to be a follower of Jesus, it will take some effort on your part. There is a big difference between merely talking about spiritual growth, and doing something about it! Those who are willing to do something about it are enabled by God to do so; the others will never get anywhere.
This is a warning. It is easy to let "good" things overshadow "godly" things. When this happens, we are in danger of accomplishing the opposite of what we think we are doing. Instead of exalting Christ, we could be in danger of opposing him.
What we don't do is just as important as what we do. By simply ignoring God, we can dishonor him as much as when we actively choose to sin - especially if we claim to be his followers.
Some comments about what the world offers, vs. what Jesus offers.
The Bible says...
We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands. The man who says, "I know him," but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys his word, God's love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. (1 John 2:3-6)