HAVING AN ACTIVE FAITH
Our faith is made visible to a world far from God when we express it in real, tangible ways.
The book of James makes it clear, when he shares about father Abraham.
"Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. "
James 2:21-22 (NLT)
Rahab Protects the Spies
"Then Joshua secretly sent out two spies from the Israelite camp at Acacia Grove. He instructed them, “Scout out the land on the other side of the Jordan River, especially around Jericho.” So the two men set out and came to the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there that night."
Joshua 2:1 (NLT)
The Acacia Grove, also know as Abel-shittim, is in Moab, about 8 miles east of the Jordan River. Jericho is directly east, another 7 miles to the west of the Jordan River, in the Promised Land. Some say the name Jericho came from a word signifying “new moon” and north. Others say it was from “its scent”, because of the balsam and palm trees. It has been given the name, “city of palms”.
“Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away.
Luke 14:31-32 (NLT)
This map is what many archaeologists believe the city looked like in Joshua’s day imposed over the current day landscape.
They believe it had two walls. Most likely the lower class, as well as many businesses, would be located between the first and second wall, while the upper class, government and military would be located behind the second wall. The city was believed to have one entrance, through the main gates. During the day, the gates would remain open for travel and commerce. It is believed that Rahab’s house was on the north side of the city, built up against the outside wall.
It probably took the spies 6-8 hours to journey from the Acacia Grove to the city gate. It was probably later afternoon. I’m sure they were dressed like Israelites, not Canaanites, so they probably stood out like sore thumbs. Once inside the gate, God provided a safe house. I’m sure this probably wasn’t the first place they would have picked, but God had other plans. Have you every found yourself in an awkward or unfamiliar situation only to realize God had you there for a reason?
"But someone told the king of Jericho, “Some Israelites have come here tonight to spy out the land.” So the king of Jericho sent orders to Rahab: “Bring out the men who have come into your house, for they have come here to spy out the whole land.”
Rahab had hidden the two men, but she replied, “Yes, the men were here earlier, but I didn’t know where they were from. They left the town at dusk, as the gates were about to close. I don’t know where they went. If you hurry, you can probably catch up with them.” (Actually, she had taken them up to the roof and hidden them beneath bundles of flax she had laid out.) So the king’s men went looking for the spies along the road leading to the shallow crossings of the Jordan River. And as soon as the king’s men had left, the gate of Jericho was shut."
Joshua 2: 2-6 (NLT)
"Before the spies went to sleep that night, Rahab went up on the roof to talk with them. “I know the Lord has given you this land,” she told them. “We are all afraid of you. Everyone in the land is living in terror. For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt. And we know what you did to Sihon and Og, the two Amorite kings east of the Jordan River, whose people you completely destroyed. No wonder our hearts have melted in fear! No one has the courage to fight after hearing such things. For the Lord your God is the supreme God of the heavens above and the earth below. “Now swear to me by the Lord that you will be kind to me and my family since I have helped you. Give me some guarantee that when Jericho is conquered, you will let me live, along with my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all their families.”
Joshua 2: 8-13 (NLT)
"Beginning today I will make people throughout the earth terrified because of you. When they hear reports about you, they will tremble with dread and fear."
Deuteronomy 2:25 (NLT)
"Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation."
Hebrews 11:2 (NLT)
"It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed with the people in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies."
Hebrews 11:31 (NLT)
“We offer our own lives as a guarantee for your safety,” the men agreed. “If you don’t betray us, we will keep our promise and be kind to you when the Lord gives us the land." Then, since Rahab’s house was built into the town wall, she let them down by a rope through the window. "Escape to the hill country,” she told them. Hide there for three days from the men searching for you. Then, when they have returned, you can go on your way. Before they left, the men told her, “We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death. If you betray us, however, we are not bound by this oath in any way.” “I accept your terms,” she replied. And she sent them on their way, leaving the scarlet rope hanging from the window.
The spies went up into the hill country and stayed there three days. The men who were chasing them searched everywhere along the road, but they finally returned without success."
Joshua 2: 14-22 (NLT)
"Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see."
Hebrews 11:1 (NLT)
"Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works."
James 2:25-26 (NLT)
" Then the two spies came down from the hill country, crossed the Jordan River, and reported to Joshua all that had happened to them. “The Lord has given us the whole land,” they said, “for all the people in the land are terrified of us.”
Joshua 2:23-24 (NLT)
1. An active faith begins with a humble submission to God and His will for your life.
It starts with understanding that He is God and you are not. Once you put Him in the drivers seat your ride will be much safer! Regular prayer for guidance and direction is essential.
2. An active faith is not just being a reader of God’s Word, but a doer.
If we believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, then we need to do what it says. There are 1,050 commands in the New Testament for believers. Read the Word daily and God will activate your faith.
3. An active faith requires risk.
We don’t need to know the whole picture, or all the answers before we act. Hebrews of old were prompted by God and followed His leading. We don’t need to know all the details when we know He does.
4. An active faith is demonstrated in good times and bad.
If we live by our faith it will be visible even in the midst of our difficult times. Remember we are followers and people are following us.
5. An active faith requires us to be in regular fellowship with believers.
We need to surround ourselves with like minded people that we can be constantly learning, sharing, teaching, providing and encouraging. That’s why we’re called the family of God.
6. An active faith requires you to live life intentionally, not just go through the motions.
Satan’s master plan is to keep us so busy with the things of life, and they are all good things, that we lose site of eternity. In the end, it’s only what we do for Christ that lasts.
7. An active faith releases God’s power.
As we’ll see later in this study, every blessing of the kingdom is available to those who put their faith to work.
8. An active faith is rewarded by God.
Those rewards are not only in this life but in eternity. It’s us doing His will that he enjoys! I want to leave you with one question,
Would Jesus, if He returned tomorrow, recognize the Gospel He taught?