As Americans or people in the western world, we are all too prone to measure our spiritual life by what we know and what we do, rather than by Who we know!
I’ve gotten this backwards in my own life. I can start moving too fast and act as if He is a far-off God for whom I must perform, rather than our gospel God who promises to be with us and in us. It moves my relationship with Him from a mere idea to a reality.
The key question we must ask in terms of active faith is “where is the source of our spiritual activity and obedience?”
The apostle Paul addresses this idea in his words to the Galatians:
For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.
But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love. (Galatians 5:4-6, NLT)
Active faith is not faith that tries to justify itself before God by rule keeping. Rather, active faith is transfixed with a pursuit of intimate relationship with God that is offered to us in the gospel. Here, we exchange duty for dependence: relying wholly on union with Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit.
When we get this backwards it leads only to Old Testament religion which lacks the power of the gospel! However, active faith that is grounded in “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27) will yield a powerful life of natural obedience, produced by God and evidenced by a life of love.
Ian Thomas, founder of Torchbearers put it this way:
“A living faith breathes with the activity of Jesus Christ …That is the work of God. It is your living faith in the adequacy of the One who is in you, which releases His divine action through you. It is the kind of activity that the Bible calls “good works” … “Good works” are those works that have their origin in Jesus Christ – whose activity is released through your body, presented to Him as a living sacrifice by a faith that expresses total dependence … (cf. Romans 12:1-2).”
Faith “that expresses total dependence” is grounded in the indwelling power and presence of Jesus Christ. So our lives reflect the power, service, and love Christ—which is compelling to others.