Faith is certainly an essential element in the Christian life. The Bible tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God; that the Christian is saved by faith; and that whatever we do apart from faith is sin.
We must realize, however, that there are different kinds of faith, and that only one can "save" us. In the second chapter of the book of James we find a discussion about the different kinds of faith, with an emphasis upon that faith which works to the saving of the soul.
The first kind of faith James talks about could be considered a dead faith. This is the kind of faith that substitutes words for deeds. People with this brand of faith know the correct vocabulary for prayer and know how to talk about sound doctrine. They can even quote the right Bible verses when needed.The problem is, too many times, their walk doesn't measure up to their talk. They have an intellectual faith, knowing in their minds all about the doctrine of salvation. Too often, they have never submitted to God and trusted Jesus for their own salvation.
This kind of faith cannot save us. In fact, James calls this a "dead" faith.
The next kind of faith is discussed is what could be considered a demonic faith, or what some people may call an easy "believism."
It may come as a shock to many Christians, but the Bible tells us that demons believe -- they have a certain type of faith. They flat out believe in God; they believe in the existence of a place of eternal condemnation; and they believe Jesus will be their judge. In fact, the Bible says their belief is so strong that it makes them tremble.
If a person with dead faith is touched by his intellect. Those with demonic faith are not only moved by their intellect, but also by their emotions. They believe -- involves the intellect-- and they tremble -- shows emotion.
Sadly, this is also not a saving faith. A person can be enlightened in his mind and even stirred in his heart and still be lost forever.
He closes this section of his letter by describing the only kind of faith that can save; a dynamic faith.
So what kind of faith is this?
Where dead faith touches only the intellect, and demonic faith involved both the mind and the emotions, dynamic faith involves the entire person -- the intellect, the emotions and the will. In other words, the mind understands the truth; the heart desires and rejoices in the truth; and the will acts upon the truth.
James says that true, saving faith, then, leads to action. It is not just intellectual contemplation alone and it is not emotionalism. It is that which leads to obedience in doing good works.
It is important that each of us, if we call ourselves Christians, professing examine our own hearts and lives, and make sure that they possess true saving faith, which is a dynamic faith.
May our prayer be similar to that of the Psalmist, who wrote: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxieties; and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." - Psalm 139:23-24