Faith Into Action
Duane Vander Klok
Along with reading the Bible every day, I always read at least one other book from which I can learn something new. My wife, Jeanie, and I are often in the middle of several books at once, and we like to read them aloud so we can discuss them. We want to be lifelong learners.
Do you know what the difference is between a lifelong learner and a lifelong student, though? A lifelong student is someone who is always signing up for another class, taking another semester, but never graduating. Lifelong students can end up being long on academics, but short on application. They gain lots of head-knowledge but seldom get around to applying what they’ve learned to a real job in the real world.
When it comes to the Bible, many Christians also struggle with application, but God’s desire is that we will be lifelong learners; not only hearers but doers of the Word also.
It is important to know the facts about God and His ways. To be a doer of His Word, we need to think correctly about God. Studying the Bible helps us do just that.
However, God never intended for His children to be “so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” That phrase describes people who are always reading and talking about spiritual things, listening to audio teachings, and watching hours of programming every day but not applying sound spiritual principles to their daily lives. As a result, what you hear them saying often does not line up with what you see them doing.
Anyone can learn how to talk the talk and sound super-spiritual, but what Jesus wants is for us to walk the walk. It does no good for the Kingdom of God – or us – if we are like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who knew all the right things but weren’t doing them.
According to Joshua 1:8, we are to meditate on God’s Word “day and night” for a specific purpose. It is so we can “do according to all that is written in it.” The thinking and the doing are supposed to go together. More specifically, we need to put our beliefs into practice and live a lifestyle that reflects our faith in God.
When Jesus walked the earth, He was a Man of action. When He taught about the Kingdom of God, He didn’t teach just to give information. He applied Kingdom principles to everything He did, demonstrating how we can live productive, fulfilled lives that make a difference in this world and the next.
John wrote in his Gospel: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Can you imagine that? Jesus was such a Man of action that there wouldn’t be enough room in the whole world to contain a written account of everything He did!
Think about how He saved you. You were not saved by a philosophy or a religious idea; you were saved by Jesus’ actions. He came as a real baby born in a real manger to a real woman. He suffered a crucifixion with nails driven through His flesh into a cross. He died and was buried, and on the third day He rose again. It took real action on His part to save you-that’s what He came to do, not just to preach about it.
Likewise, walking out our Christianity in the real world takes action on our part. We cannot confine it to the few hours we spend in church each week or the time we spend reading the Bible each day. That’s not how it works, yet all kinds of people attempt to compartmentalize their spiritual lives.
They say, “I believe in God. I pray and go to church (at least on Christmas and Easter). I sing in the choir and even put something in the offering every now and then.” They attempt to fulfill what they perceive is their obligation to God, but that’s as far as their spiritual life reaches.
The Christian life is not about selective hearing, and it’s not about feelings, either. Jesus isn’t like a drug you use for a boost whenever you need Him, and you can’t just inject some Scripture verses into your life during a crisis or when you want a blessing, and then forget to obey God’s Word the rest of the time.
Real Christian living is about totally surrendering every area of your life to Jesus. That’s how it makes a difference in your life and how you are able to make a difference in the lives of others. Remember the Biblical account of Jonah and the big fish? Jonah learned the importance of surrendering to God the hard way.
God gave Jonah some very clear instructions about where to go and what to do, but Jonah went in exactly the opposite direction (Jonah 1:1-3). Running away from God didn’t work for him, and it won’t work for us either.
Whenever we try to run from what God tells us to do, we wind up going down. For Jonah, that meant living through a raging storm, being thrown overboard, and ending up at the bottom of the sea in the belly of a great fish. That’s where he finally hit bottom and cried out to God so his turnaround could begin.
The fish vomited Jonah up on the shore and God started speaking to him again. Interestingly, God gave him the exact same instructions the second time around and Jonah learned that it’s not about picking and choosing what you want to do for God. Walking with God means unconditional surrender and obedience to Him twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
The same is true for you and me. If God has put something on your heart and you are not doing it, then you are running in the opposite direction. There’s nowhere to go from there but down, just like Jonah went down into a deep, dark, awful place.
When someone comes to me saying, “I can’t hear from God,” or “I don’t know what the Holy Spirit is telling me to do,” my usual response is, “Did you do the last thing He told you to do?” You see, God won’t give us a new set of instructions if we haven’t done the last thing He told us to do.
The Christian life is about laying down your life. You forgive when you’re wronged, you love your spouse (whether he or she is lovable or not), work hard for your employer, serve your church, fast, give, and have compassion for the poor, the lost, and the broken. You don’t live by feelings or experiences, but by doing what God’s Word says. You walk out your Christianity day by day and build your life on the Rock. Jesus said, “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great” (Luke 6:47-49).
Jesus is the Rock, and God’s Word provides the sure foundation you and I need for a solid Christian walk. According to Jesus, if we want to build an unshakable life, we need to both hear and do what He says. We need to combine our faith with our actions.