- July 6, 2014
- By Carolyn Porterfield / Multicultural Consultant, Texas WMU, Dallas
• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for July 20 focuses on 1 Peter 1:14-19, 22-25.
How would you describe your faith? Active: working, vigorous, dynamic, full of life? Passive: inactive, unreceptive, still, lifeless? The life of an authentic follower of Jesus exhibits active faith.
Faith is more than head knowledge of facts about God. The word “faith” in Greek is pistis. It has three elements—a firm conviction that results in a personal surrender of one’s self to Christ, which inspires conduct as a result of that surrender.
Said another way, the one who has faith is completely convinced Jesus can save and gives his/her life totally to Christ. When that occurs, a new way of living begins that is very different from the old.
Let’s be very clear. We do not earn our salvation. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). The Apostle Paul goes on to teach, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10). This is active faith.
Living an active faith
How does one live in active faith? 1 Peter 1:14-22 tells us. First, we are not to conform any longer to our old way of life, which was shaped by our evil desires. We didn’t know any other way to live because we lived in ignorance of God. When we give our lives to Christ, we become obedient to his teachings. Ephesians 4:17-6:18 paints the picture of putting off the old self and putting on the new. As that work is done within us, it changes how we relate to family, friends and the people we work with. They should notice the difference in us.
Second, we are to be holy. Holiness is not about being better than someone else. We do not compare ourselves to other sinful human beings to know if we are living holy lives. We place our lives up against a holy God.
Consider the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6) and the missionary/apostle Paul (1Timothy 1:12-17). Both men encountered a holy God and in the presence of his “otherness” saw what sinners they were. When Isaiah saw his sin and the sin of the people around him, he said he was ruined. Paul said he was the worst sinner on the planet. If these men compared themselves against the men of their day, they would have been held up as perhaps the “most holy,” but they never could stand up against the holiness of their God. Neither can we.
When we surrender our lives completely to Christ, his holiness is given to us and lived out through us. We are to be holy because our heavenly Father is holy. We are set apart for God’s purposes. Ask yourself again, “How is my life different from those who don’t know Christ?” Would someone want to know Christ if you were the only person they knew who represented him? Sadly, too many in our world turn away from God because those who claim to belong to him live in ways that do not exhibit his holiness.
Next, Peter tells us to live as “strangers here in reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:17). An old song rightly says: “This world is not my home. I’m just a-passin’ through. My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue. The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door, and I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
The reverent fear of God
What is reverent fear? It is the strong respect a follower of Christ has for the Lord Almighty. While we are not afraid of God in the sense we hesitate to approach him, we are very mindful God is all-powerful and Lord of all. Gold and silver did not purchase our salvation. The precious blood of Christ redeemed us from the “empty way of life handed down ... from our forefathers” (1 Peter 1:18). In light of what Christ has done for us, we give him the honor he is due. A casual, nonchalant attitude is the opposite of reverent fear.
Last, active faith is expressed by loving one another deeply from sincere hearts. A Woman’s Missionary Union of Texas team of nine women just returned from Spain. Each one paid her own way, took vacation, and left family to show and tell people of God’s love.
Prior to their leaving, others made more than 50 twin quilts for the team to give to senior adults. Lovingly, they cut, pieced together and quilted material. One woman alone quilted 36 quilts.
Most of those who received the quilts don’t know our holy God. They don’t know Christ died for them and came to give them new life. Some are nearing the end of their earthly life. Perhaps the gift of a quilt given by women who love God and others deeply will be the catalyst to open their hearts and minds to Christ.
The same truth that transformed the lives of those who read Peter’s epistle 2,000 years ago speaks to us today. How is that possible? “The word of the Lord stands forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
We are reminded our lives are like grass that withers and dies. Our glory is like the flowers that bloom and then drop their petals. When the enduring word of God takes root in our lives and active faith is born, we move from death to life. His imperishable seed planted in our hearts cannot die. Thank God for faith that is active in your life today.