In Matthew 7:22, Jesus gives the example:
“LORD, LORD, have we not prophesied in Your name? And in Your name have we not cast out demons? And in Your name have we not done many wonderful things?”
Then, Christ says, He will profess (the Greek word used here has been also rendered “covenant”) to them, “Depart from Me, you who work lawlessness, I never knew you.”
So, let's look at that for a moment. Did they believe?
How could they be talking to Him if they didn't believe in Him? How could they perform (as they saw it) miracles? Why would they invest their energies teaching from a basis that they didn't personally accept? Of course, they believed.
But, doesn't the Bible say that all you have to is confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, that you will be saved? Well, that's what Paul says in Romans 10:9.
The problem is that when Paul said “believe” (really, faith is the proper word), he didn't mean the same thing that most Christians mean when they say the word “believe.” Do you “believe” in Jesus? Of course you do. You wouldn't have bothered to read this far if you didn't. You believe that God sent His Son, born of a virgin, who lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, was buried but rose again on the third day to pay the penalty for all sin, and is returning to claim His rightful place as King over all the earth. You believe that.
Faith is not simply believing. It's not even believing in a certain way or with a depth of conviction.
In Hebrews 11:1, we are given the definition of the word “faith” (a word that is translated “believe” almost 150 times in the King James Bible). It says that faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is not “belief”. It is substance and evidence. It's not the substance and evidence of belief (the guys in Matthew 7:22 had that). It is the substance and evidence of God.
Faith is the fruit (as Jesus puts it in Matthew 7:17), the substance and evidence of God in our lives, changing more and more into the image of Christ.
Jesus never suggested that you will be established in the kingdom of God on the basis of your theology. It's not your understanding of baptism that will give you status in eternity. It's not your thesis regarding the Trinity that will put jewels in your crown. It isn't even the beautiful building you erect or the the magnificent service that you help to create (so that you can teach people your position on baptism or your definition of the Trinity). It isn't even your ability to articulate the Four Spiritual Laws, or answer the Diagnostic Questions of Evangelism Explosion. Instead, He asked, “When I was hungry did you offer Me no food? Or thirsty, did you give Me something to drink? When I was a stranger, did you not offer Me hospitality? When I was without clothing, did you offer Me something to wear? When I was sick, did you not visit Me? When I was in prison, did you not come to Me?” Some may argue, “But we have ministries for that.” The reality is that, on a national average, church budgets allow for less than 2% for any kind of benevolence (overwhelmingly, it falls under the category of miscellaneous). But, even so, Jesus didn't command the Church organization to love your neighbor. He commanded each one of us. And when we justify our indifference on any terms, we are robbing ourselves of the opportunity of seeing the love of Christ through our faith in action.
Going to church and singing songs about Jesus isn't a demonstration of faith. If you ask the world around you, they would tell you that religious services should be taxed just like any other part of the entertainment industry. Listening to a pastor's sermons about what you're doing right or what you're doing wrong isn't faith. The affect of crime, poverty and substance abuse isn't statistically deterred at all by the number of clergymen and women in the society (the number of paid staff ministries has been rising steadily since the 1930s, just like the rate of social chaos). Paying your ten percent (more or less) to the church doesn't do a thing to show the world that God exists. Church membership has been dwindling on a consistent downward spiral for decades. Churches spend, on average, 82% of the money they receive on “administrative” costs such as salaries and building expenses. 3% is spent on children's ministries. 2% is spent on adult programs. And, less than 1% is allocated for reaching out to the poor and needy in the community.
What we find in a Christianity that has rejected Christ's passion toward the lost and needy is a community of self-servers. They are focused on building their “ministry” instead of helping others. They are boastful about their accomplishments. They are proud of their ministries. They are condescending toward anyone who doesn't view the world in their way.
Or, as Paul describes them to Timothy in 2nd Timothy 3,
“For men will be self-lovers, money-lovers, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, unyielding, false accusers, without self-control, savage, despisers of good, traitors, reckless, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power of it; even turn away from these.”
Jesus doesn't care about what you believe, particularly when what you believe has become a justification of your self-satisfaction and an excuse to turn your back on the needy in the world around you (the needy that Christ reached out to, even at the expense of His own life).
Jesus cares about your faith.
He cares about you going out into the world that is around you, doing all the things that He instructed you to do, and gave the example of doing, throughout the Gospels. He cares about you living a life that glorifies Him through your actions, not just not being bad (according to your own standards) but taking every opportunity to do good.
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My brothers, what profit is it if a man says he has faith and does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and if one of you says to them, Go in peace, be warmed and filled, but you do not give them those things which are needful to the body, what good is it? Even so, if it does not have works, faith is dead, being by itself. But someone will say, You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith from my works. You believe that there is one God, you do well; even the demons believe and tremble. But will you know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?