“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).”
Some immigrants to Austria from Muslim countries of origin are under scrutiny for professing to have converted to Christianity. They are claiming that they would face intense persecution if they were returned to their homeland and are seeking asylum in Austria. But officials are skeptical of their conversions suspecting that many are merely claiming to be Christian converts to avoid deportation. As a result, these refugees are being forced to “prove” their faith by answering a series of difficult questions. It is reported that if converts could not answer all the questions on their new religion, their applications for asylum were often rejected. (1)
At the present time, Christians in this country do not face such consequences for their faith. But what if we had to “prove” our faith? Could we offer evidence that we were indeed His disciples? What evidence would we present to make the case? Many believe that simply believing in Jesus is all that is needed to prove they are a Christian. It is true we must believe in Him (John 8:24), but there were some of the Jewish rulers who believed in Him but would not confess their faith fearing persecution (John 12:43). Their belief in Him will not save them (Matthew 10:32-33). Others believe that a good confession of faith is enough to prove their faith, “if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Romans 10:9).” But some did confess Him as Lord but learned that He cast them out from His presence on the last Day (Matthew 7:21, Luke 6:46). Their belief and confession alone were not enough to prove their faith. For Jesus, faith is not what you say but what you display (Matthew 7:24).
James demonstrated to all that the proof of one’s faith must be demonstrated by their lives. “Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works (James 2:18b).” Our works do not save us but serve as evidence that we possess saving faith. Any notion of faith without obediently acting on God’s instructions is delusional (James 1:22). In Hebrews 11 we see that faith has always been proven by obeying God’s instructions. By faith “Noah prepared an ark for the saving of his household (v.7).” “By faith Abraham obeyed” and went out not knowing where he was going (v.8). “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down AFTER they were encircled for seven days (v.30).” These examples (Romans 15:4) show us that the proof of their faith was obediently heeding God’s word (Romans 10:17). Not only hearing the word but doing it (Matthew 7:26, Romans 1:5, James 1:23-25).
If these refugees are merely cynically feigning faith, it may be evidence of their view that Christianity in the West comes at a very low cost. That is, one merely has to profess it but never has to live accordingly to prove it. If they truly are believers in Christ they are as good as dead in this world if they return to their homeland. But in the first century the faith of many believers was proven by their steadfastness in the face of such persecution (Philippians 1:29, 2 Thessalonians 1:4-5, 1 Peter 1:6-9).
Again, we are not saved by our works but by faith. But is there evidence for our faith in our lives? In the end we must all provide proof of our faith, not to any panel of men and women but, to Christ Himself as Judge (Romans 14:10, 2 Corinthians 5:10). He will review the evidence of our lives and determine those who are accepted as citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20) and those who are cast out (Matthew 25:32-46).
“And not in any way terrified by your adversaries, which is to them a proof of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that from God. (Philippians 1:28).”