The Book of Acts records the story of a man named Simon, who had been misleading people in Samaria with his cultic practices. But one day Philip, a follower of Christ, showed up and began to do miracles by the hand of God. The people turned from Simon and began to follow the God whom Philip proclaimed.
Simon could see that Jesus was bad for business. He needed to do something. So we read that Simon believed and was baptized (see Acts 8:13). But it would appear that this was not a genuine conversion, because later the apostle Peter said to Simon, “Your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness…” (Acts 8:21-22).
This shows us that you can believe in the power of God, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that the Bible is God’s Word, that Jesus is coming again, and can even be baptized, yet not really know God in a personal way.
So what does it mean to believe? The word believe is made up of two words: be and live. Faith helps us to “be” spiritually. But then it is expressed in Christian works and deeds. “Be” and “live.” I put my faith in Christ, but then I live it out.
Some might argue there is a conflict between faith and works, even pitting the teachings of Paul against the teachings of James. But that is not the case. James was addressing those who claimed to be believers, but didn’t show any real evidence of it in their lives. He was saying that if it is real faith, then there will be evidence.
Excerpted from "Where’s the Evidence?" by Harvest Ministries (used by permission).