The Christian faith has always insisted that faith is not merely assent to a set of propositions but instead trust in a person, Jesus Christ. Faith is not simply believing something about the man Jesus but believing in the man Jesus (Gal 2:16; Phil 3:9; 2 Tim 3:15).
Faith in Jesus then results in a series of astonishing benefits. Here are six.
2 Tim 2:10 says that there is ‘salvation in Christ Jesus’, we are rescued from the power of sin & death, that meant we were living under the judgement of God. Christ saves us, redeems us, rescues us. Captivity to freedom, guilty to not guilty, death to life.
Paul in his letter to the Galatians accuses false brothers of infiltrating the church and spying on the ‘freedom we have in Christ Jesus’ and to make them again slaves (Gal 2:4). Later on Paul reaches a crescendo with his great rallying cry
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” – Gal 5:1
What are we freed from? We are freed from the law. The law has revealed our sinfulness and we were ‘prisoners by the law, locked up…’ (Gal 3:23). Faith frees us by God’s grace to live by the Spirit and freely love God as were made to.
The old has gone, the new has come. We are a new creation proclaims Paul in 2 Cor 5:17. I know some people struggle with Paul but when he comes to declaring to the followers of Christ the promises of God in Christ, he really has few rivals. Through faith in Christ there is an absolute and decisive disruption – the old dies and the new rises. It’s why the church needs to rediscover a more forceful, robust, muscular teaching of baptism and the empowering of the Spirit. Come up out your grave Lazarus, you’re no longer dead. Leave those old ways, you are alive in Christ!
I nearly stole my own thunder there, but it’s a truth that not enough Christians take hold of, ‘count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus’ (Rom 6:11). Sin cannot be preached or explained as mistakes, mere errors of judgement, inconvenient dead ends in our journey of self-discovery but the real sign of death living within – the proof that the tumour is malignant not benign. It is also our resurrection hope, that just as we died with Adam, we will be raised with Christ (1 Cor 15:22). We do a disservice to the power of the resurrection when we make sin out to be akin to a headache than can be self-managed instead of a disease that is killing us.
Some of the other truths are critical to grasp and contain power to change how we think and live but our generation has in so many ways grown up in an environment where experience trumps all. Much of the contemporary worship movement is fuelled by worshippers who desire to not just know that God loves them but feel it deep within. But the bedrock of God’s love is demonstrated in all of the above and it is the reason why in Rom 8:37-39 Paul can so confidently declare that ‘nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Faith in Christ unites us with him and brings us into the love that the Father has for His Son.
As the Father sent the Son, so the Son sends His people (Jn 17:18). What God has done for us in Christ, He will bring to life within us so He can bless the world through us. As a saved, freed, renewed, living and loved people we are sent to a broken world to do good works that the Father has prepared for us (Eph 2:10) to do. We are a people of light, to shine light in dark places and this not apart from faith in Christ but precisely the out working of that same faith. It gives all His people purpose and calling, a mandate to go and be ambassadors of God’s anointed one.