I remember sitting in my biology class looking down at a fetal pig as the teacher explained how we were going to dissect it. This was not a class I looked forward to. The final for this unit was not a whole lot better. Part of the final consisted of dissected organs in various trays around the lab. We were to identify the organ.
As I was preparing to write my reflections for this bulletin article, it was fitting that my mind drifted back to those grueling days back in my high school science class. Did any of those specimens equal a pig? Of course not. Each part by itself is nothing unless they are connected and working together.
So why is it that so many people try to dissect faith? Faith is made up of several parts that amount to nothing if they are dissected. If you exclude action from faith, it cannot be faith. Just as those organs apart from the body were dead, so faith without action is dead. Even the demons believe (Jas 2:19), but it does them no good. So faith is not a mere mental exercise, but an whole body exercise.
The other extreme involves emphasizing action to the exclusion of faith. It is just as incorrect to say we are not saved by faith as it is to say we are saved by works. "Therefore, know that only those who are of faith are sons of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel . . .(Gal 3:7-8)." Also, "Having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1)."
We are clearly saved though faith. You can see this clearly in the book of Acts (Acts 3:19; 4:4; 8:6; 13:12, 48; 14:1; 15:7; 17:4, 12, 34; 19:18). What is interesting about these particular conversions in Acts is that none of them mention baptism. Clearly, it is assumed that these were baptized. After all, the accounts of individual people being baptized in Acts, (which gives more detail) describes their baptisms (Acts 2:41; 8:13, 38; 9:18; 10:47; 18:8; 19:5). When you combine all the accounts of conversions, it becomes clear that Luke's purpose is to show not how they were baptized, but how they "believed". No one would have ever conceived of trying to dissect belief from repentance, confession, baptism, and everything involved with Christian living, which is why they often called Christians simply, "believers". Faith is practically synonymous with repentance and obedience. Baptism and other forms of obedience are demonstrations of faith. We can not dissect faith, or it will no longer be faith.