While reading our nightly bible story in my children’s bible I had a clear moment where I felt God speak to me. We were reading the story of the bronze serpent found in Numbers 21: 4-9. This story takes place in the desert when the people were speaking against God and Moses. God sent snakes to punish the people, and instructed Moses to craft a serpent of bronze and put it on a pole. Anyone who was bitten could be saved if they would just look up at the snake. In my kids bible this story is right after the story of the 10 commandments where the people had been worshiping a bronze calf, so I quickly explained that they were not being asked to worship the snake. He was giving them a way out, if they would just obey, and have faith they would be saved from death. What sunk in for me at this moment was that “Faith” was not merely believing they would be saved, they had to do something, they had to look at the snake, it was an action, not just having faith but acting in faith.
This brought to mind the story of Peter in the boat (Matthew 14:28-33). When the disciples saw Jesus walking on the water Peter asked him “Lord if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said come and Peter got out of the boat and walked on water. Again faith was not merely believing it was possible, it was an action, he had faith so he got out of the boat and walked on water.
In “the Naked Gospel” Andrew Farley points to James 2:19 where “James explains that even demons can believe the basics of Chirstianity – that there is one God, and so forth… faith without decision or response is dead faith.”