But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
(1 Peter 2:9 RSVA)
The longer I live (I am over 70 now) the more I see that walking by faith is totally a gift from God. This gift is called “the faith of Jesus Christ.” Paul wrote,
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 [grk. eis – INTO] 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. (Galatians 2:16 KJV – emphasis added)
Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but rubbish, that I may win [gain] Christ, And be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith OF Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (Philippians 3:8-9 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
Did you see that? The faith of Christ is the righteousness of God! How does one get Jesus’ faith and become righteous? Jesus told the Jews:
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Every one who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me. (John 6:44-45 RSVA)
Yes, our heavenly Father teaches us as He draws us with His Spirit. We also know that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (Hebrews 11:6). Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11 RSVA)
Even we who are evil by nature can come to our righteous Father and ask Him for the faith we need. God is the originator of everything good, and all things were made by Christ, including the faith by which be believe. Paul wrote,
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:16-17 KJV)
“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, has made us alive together with Christ, (BY GRACE you are saved;)” (Ephesians 2:4-5 KJ2000 – Emphasis added)
“For BY GRACE are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJ2000 – Emphasis added)
And James wrote:
Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good endowment and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures. (James 1:16-18 RSVA)
It might seem like I am splitting hairs here, but saving faith is not of us! It does not come by us listening to a carefully devised sermon designed to play on our emotions, either. It is by the will and the grace of the Father that we are saved. He places the faith of Christ in us by the power of His grace. This might come as a shock to many of you, but we are not saved by reciting some magical incantation called a “sinner’s prayer.” Show me anywhere in the Bible where anyone prayed a sinner’s prayer! Jesus is the Bridegroom and He is the one who chooses His bride, not the other way around. Paul wrote about his own salvation experience as follows:
But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the Gentiles; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: (Galatians 1:15-16 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
Who caused Paul to be born? GOD!
Who called Paul by His grace? GOD!
Who revealed His Son IN (not to) Paul? GOD!
Who chose Paul’s calling? GOD!
His grace moving upon and in us is where our faith to believe into Christ and Christ in us to do the Father’s will comes from and not by anything we can generate within ourselves or by the persuasions of men, either. Paul wrote:
And I was with you in weakness and in much fear and trembling; and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. (1 Corinthians 2:3-5 RSVA – emphasis added)
Dear saint, is it any wonder that the church of today so resembles the world and is so powerless? Today’s ministers most often rely on their own power and wisdom (or that of another in a pulpit commentary) to do God’s work. Very few portray weakness or fear in the face of the faithful; instead they polish their skills of Greek oratory and homiletics and strut their stuff on Sunday morning. Millions have come to the marriage feast of the Lamb wearing their own garments, not the wedding garment of Christ who is their Covering! They say; “I got saved by Billy Graham!” “I answered an altar call given by Pastor Wonderful!” “I said a sinner’s prayer in 1972!” Sorry folks, salvation is not at all about all those extra-biblical things the church so proudly points to today! And it most certainly is not about innate “goodness” that “we chose Jesus.”
“While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us,” and while we are yet sinners God moves on us with His breath of Life and gives us the life of Christ. It is by His empowering grace that we believe and totally trust in Jesus to be Christ in us. We trust in Him alone to do those works that Father has ordained from the foundation of the world for us to walk in.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10 KJ2000 – emphasis added)
What is left for us to do? If the “us” in us is the old un-crucified Adam, there is one answer: “Die!” If our “us” is “Christ in us the hope of glory,” we have one thing to do, and that is rest (See Hebrews 4:9-11) while He does the works through us. This is summed up in Paul’s words, “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
One more thought. Where do the love of God and the Spirit come in with this dynamic we call resting in Christ? Paul wrote,
“For we through the Spirit [the empowerment of His grace] wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision avails anything, nor uncircumcision; but faith which works through love.” (Galatians 5:5-6 KJ2000 Emphasis added)
Through the Spirit who abides in us we wait! We don’t run out and try to earn our salvation or keep ourselves saved by doing good works. As we wait upon and have confidence in Christ in whom we live, He moves on us and in us with His love. From that love, the works we are to do become evident, and are empowered by His grace. We are birthed by the Father in Christ, and because of this, “in Him we live and move and have our being…for we are His offspring” (See Acts 17:28).
“…observe, again, that the phrase ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ has a deeper meaning than we sometimes attach to it. We are accustomed to speak of rejoicing in a thing or a person, which, or who, is thereby represented as being the occasion or the object of our gladness. And though that is true, in reference to our Lord, it is not the whole sweep and depth of the Apostle’s meaning here. He is employing that phrase, ‘in the Lord,’ in the profound and comprehensive sense in which it generally appears in his letters, and especially in those almost contemporaneous with this Epistle to the Philippians. I need only refer you, in passing, without quoting passages, to the continual use of that phrase in the nearly contemporaneous letter to the Ephesians, in which you will find that ‘in Christ Jesus’ is the signature stamped upon all the gifts of God, and upon all the possible blessings of the Christian life. ‘In Him’ we have the inheritance; in Him we obtain redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins; in Him we are ‘blessed with all spiritual blessings.’ And the deepest description of the essential characteristic of a Christian life is, to Paul, that it is a life in Christ.” ~ Alexander MacLaren – http://biblehub.com/commentaries/maclaren/philippians/4.htm
It is His grace moving upon us, His faith within us we rest in, His love that moves us to act and His Spirit that empowers us—and never are any of these things of ourselves, but only are they ours as we abide IN and have put on Christ. What a great salvation our Father in His love for us has given us, that we should be called the children of God (See 1 John 3:1). Amen.