We have been studying the topic of Faith at Return Ministries the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would share a few more thoughts with you on this important subject.
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God. I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain" - Galatians 2:16-21
We are justified by the Faith of Jesus Christ and not by being good or doing good things or works. This sounds very simple to our ears and looks simplistic to our eyes, but upon a careful examination of our behaviors we see that many Christians live their lives struggling and striving to keep the Law, instead of resting in the Grace of God through the Faith of Jesus Christ.
It is important to understand that it is not our faith that is paramount, but rather it is His Faith that saves us. As we connect to, or have a union with Jesus, it is His Eyesight that we trust to lead and guide us. Jesus is the Object of our faith, and we simply need to reach out and touch Him, connect to Him, or get in union with Him, and He does the rest. Of course it is sin, in its thousands of forms, that separates us from God. And what the believer must do in order to find the union once again with the Savior is simply confess and turn from sin. This is why so many people prefer a life of good works over a life of faith, It is because they do not want to deal with their sin.
The Bible teaches that whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). Therefore, anything we do that is not done out of a union with Jesus Christ is sin. This truth is amazing when reflected upon as we come to realize that even our well intentioned good works have been sinful acts if they were not done out of a union with or a connection to Jesus Christ.
Charles Spurgeon gave a great illustration in a famous sermon he once preached on faith given December 14, 1856.
"Union to Christ is, after all, the great point in salvation. Let me tell you a story to illustrate this—the stupendous falls of Niagara have been spoken of in every part of the world. But while they are marvelous to hear of and wonderful as a spectacle, they have been very destructive to human life, when, by accident any have been carried down them. Some years ago, two men were being carried so swiftly down the current that they must both inevitably be borne down and dashed to pieces. Persons on the shore saw them but were unable to do much for their rescue. At last, however, one man was saved by floating a rope to him, which he grasped. The same instant that the rope came into his hand a log floated by the other man. The thoughtless and confused bargeman, instead of seizing the rope, laid hold on the log! It was a fatal mistake. They were both in imminent peril, but the one was drawn to shore because he had a connection with the people on the land, while the other, clinging to the log, was borne irresistibly along and never heard of afterwards. Do you not see that here is a practical illustration? Faith is a connection with Christ. Christ is on the shore, so to speak, holding the rope of faith—and if we lay hold of it with the hand of our confidence, He pulls us to shore. But our good works, having no connection with Christ, are drifted along down the gulf of fell despair! Grapple them as tightly as we may, even with hooks of steel, they cannot avail us in the least degree!"
Spurgeon said it well. A life of faith is a life that stays connected to Jesus Christ, the Object of our faith.
There is something that makes Christianity more than a religion. It is the something which makes it relevant to each one of us right now as a contemporary experience. It is the fact that Christ Himself is the very life content of the Christian faith. It is Jesus who makes it work.
"Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it" - I Thessalonians 5:24
The One who calls you is the One who does that to which He calls you. He is Himself the very dynamic of all His demands. The One who calls us to a life of righteousness and holiness is the One who by our consent lives that life of righteousness and holiness through us, right here on this earth in 2015.
"This is the divine genius that saves a man from the futility of self-effort. It relieves the Christian of the burden of trying to pull himself up by his own bootstraps. If it were not for this divine provision, the call to Christ would be a source of utter frustration, presenting the sorry spectacle of a sincere idealist, constantly thwarted by his own inadequacy." - Major W. Ian Thomas
The Faith of Jesus Christ is the only thing that will save me from death and hell, the only thing that will cause me to be raptured, and the only way that I will make it to the New City. I’m saved by Grace, through Faith, His Faith, not mine.
This is a very big shift from my old way of religious thinking where I was always struggling and striving to earn favor with God. I had a desire to please God with my life, but I was doing it by living a life of good works. I was trying to keep all of the rules and regulations and live by the code of conduct of a person instead of understanding that the Bible teaches us to do just the opposite, for the only way to please God is by living a life of Faith, not by doing good works.
"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" - Hebrews 11:6
By faith or through putting my entire trust in Jesus Christ, Jesus will actually live His life through me. The Law-giver becomes the Law-liver through my heart and life right here in 2015.
Some people accuse me of not living or preaching holiness. This is a hard accusation and very judgmental to say the least. The truth is that I am not teaching holiness by self-effort, or through self-righteousness because I understand the futility of such an exercise. Instead, I am teaching that if you will fall in love with Jesus Christ and stay connected to Him, then you will experience true holiness and true righteousness, for now Jesus will be living His holiness and righteousness through your life instead of you giving it your best shot which can produce nothing but hypocrisy.
Hypocrisy is pretending to be something that you are not. This is what the Pharisees were so guilty of. When a human tries his best to be holy by doing everything possible to look holy on the outside to impress people with his holiness, then the only possible outcome is what God calls hypocrisy, because if man could become righteous by the works of the Law, then Jesus would not have had to come to this earth and die by pouring out His precious Blood on a cross. If there were any other way, surely God would have known about it and allowed His Son to have taken the easier route.
But there was only one way man could be saved from his sin. And God loved us so much that even though it meant the death of His only begotten Son, He sent Jesus to the cross to die in our place. Yes, 2,000 years ago Jesus did everything necessary to fix everything wrong with you and me. Now we just need to trust Him. For it is in and through the Faith of Jesus Christ that we will find righteousness and true holiness.