The Faith of Jesus Christ

by David A. DePra 

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A primary theme of the epistle of Paul to the Galatians is certainly faith -- faith in Jesus Christ rather than trying to live the Christian life under my own religious strength.  But ten times in the New Testament we find the phrase, “the faith OF Jesus Christ; faith OF the Son of God; faith OF God.”  We are exhorted to have, or live by, the faith OF Jesus Christ.  What exactly does that mean?


We are used to the phrase, “faith IN Christ.”  But there is a distinction between, “faith IN Christ,” and, “the faith OF Christ.”  We need to discover what that distinction is -- and what God is saying through it.


So what is the faith OF Jesus Christ?  I think in order to discover the Truth about, “the faith OF Jesus Christ,” we must start with something deeper:  What IS Christianity -- at the core?  Christianity is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Col. 1:27)  Or, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:17, “He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.”  This describes HOW Christ dwells in the believer – the believer is joined to Christ in spirit -- showing that Christianity is resurrection union with Jesus Christ.


When I am saved, God Almighty joins me to His Son by the means of the spirit of God -- and I am one with Christ in spirit.  That is resurrection union.  Now that is not just a theological or academic concept.  That actually happens and is why we are saved.  If you are joined to Jesus Christ in spirit, you are one with the One who said, “I am the life.”  How many understand that this means that you are going to be alive with His life?  That is salvation. 


But Jesus also said, “I am the Truth.”  Thus, if we are joined in spirit to the One who IS the Truth, then that fact gives to you and me the capacity and the means to begin to discover the Truth -- because we are discovering Christ. 


So get away from this notion that salvation is a legal classification whereby God simply pronounces us justified; pronounces us righteous -- but only in a legal sense.  Or that Truth is a theological construct.  That is not the Truth at all.  We are literally and truly joined to the PERSON who is the embodiment of all Life and Truth.  That joining; that spiritual union IS, “Christ in you.”  It is the core reality of Christianity. 


Now, how does this relate to, “the faith OF Jesus Christ?”  Well, once we recognize that we are joined to the Lord, how many see that we are joined to the One who has all faith?  Of course.  Jesus had a perfect faith when He was here on earth as a man -- and consequently when we are joined to Him -- we are one with Him in His faith.  With our faith IN Jesus, we are One with, “the faith OF Jesus Christ.”


Note that God does not GIVE us faith.  Rather, we are joined to the One who has all faith – and this alone is why we are able to live, “by the faith OF the Son of God.”  Practically speaking, if we are joined to the One who has all faith – we will not only be a partaker of Christ Himself, but we will be a partaker of His own faith.


We can live by the faith OF Christ only if we believe INTO Christ – only if we give ourselves to Him in spiritual union.  This is what Paul says in Galatians 2:16:


Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed INTO Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.


Note that Paul says, “We have believed INTO Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith OF Christ.”  That is how it reads in the original.  In other words, we are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him -- and so if we believe INTO Jesus Christ we can begin experiencing Him in that resurrection union -- and experience what oneness with His faith really means.


We believe INTO Jesus Christ by turning to Christ with the faith that we already have – if we are saved we already have some faith.  And as we believe INTO Christ, and grow to know Him, our faith becomes one with His faith; we learn to live by the faith OF Jesus Christ. 


Christ Living Through the Believer


Paul says in Galatians 2:20:  “Christ lives in me…and the life which I now live I live by the faith OF the Son of God.”  The believer is joined to the Lord in spirit – Christ lives in the believer.  But Christ wants to live THROUGH the believer.  Thus, there has to be a way by which the Christ Who lives within us can come to live through us.  Christ will not live through us without us – Christ does not, ‘by-pass us,” to live through us.  Faith involves our choice based on the Truth we have received.  And it must translate into a life lived – it must translate into a life of reliance and rest in Christ – governing the entire person, including attitude and conduct.


Paul said he lived, “by the faith of the Son of God.”  So, how did Christ come to live through Paul?  Paul believed INTO Christ, that is, gave himself to Christ – yes, in an overall way, but also in specifics.  But when Paul believed INTO Christ, Paul abandoned himself under the reality of the Cross – and his mind began to be renewed, and all of the hindrances IN Paul began to fall away.  Therefore, Christ was able to live through Paul.


Can we see that for Christ to live through the believer that this is not a matter of Christ, “taking over,” the believer?  No.  Neither is it a matter of the believer doing what he thinks is best and assuming that it is Christ living through him.  No.  What happens is that as the believer believes INTO Christ there comes a progressive renewing of the mind and the will according to the Truth – according to Christ.  And the believer becomes governed by an inward realization of Jesus Christ.  It is a matter of being formed together with Him – unto His will and glory.


If we quote the entire passage of Galatians 2:20, it ought to now be more clear:


I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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.  (Gal. 2:20)


Paul came into an inward realization of Jesus Christ.  But as he grew to know Christ, the faith of Christ likewise grew.  The faith OF Jesus Christ is the outcome of coming to realize Christ Himself.  Of course.  His faith is of HIM.


Christian people make the mistake of asking God for more faith.  But what we really need is a greater realization of Jesus – for that revelation of Christ is the Living Word by which faith, “comes to be.”  (Rom. 10:17)  If we will turn to Christ with the faith we have in an unconditional surrender and reliance, we will grow to know Him in an inward way.  That will result in us becoming a partaker of Jesus Christ – including a partaker of His faith.  In short, you cannot trust Christ unless you know Him.  And the only way to know Him is to realize Him.  And the only way to realize Him is to give yourself to Him.


Living by the Faith OF Jesus Christ


Because living by the faith OF Jesus Christ is only possible if our minds are renewed according to the Truth, and if our wills are brought into a oneness with His will, this leads us to a few conclusions.  First, you and I cannot have the faith OF Jesus Christ for anything except what Jesus Christ has faith for -- because His faith is OF HIM.  And His faith is only for God’s will.  But the great news is that if we do have His faith for God’s will -- then God’s will shall happen – this cannot fail. The faith OF Jesus Christ cannot fail.


Secondly, the faith OF Jesus Christ does not originate from myself as the source.  No.  It is not the faith of ME – it is the faith of Jesus Christ.  I cannot muster up out of myself real faith.  All I can do is what God tells me to do – turn to Christ with the faith I do have and rest in Christ.  This may be nothing more than reliance upon Him.  Hebrews tells us that Jesus is the, “author and finisher of our faith.”  We need only trust Him to be exactly that – we believe INTO Him – and His very presence in us brings us into HIS life and HIS faith.   


Can we see that, “believing INTO,” Jesus Christ – that He might be the author and finisher of our faith – that we might enter into His faith – can we see that this requires an unconditional surrender of ourselves to Him?  Sure.  If we cannot have the faith of Jesus for anything except for what Jesus has faith for, then we must have our will surrendered, and we must at least be coming into some knowledge of the Truth in Christ.  This is true even if what Jesus has faith for is to abide in silence and the uncertainty of circumstances.  Living by faith is not about knowing the future or about wanting THINGS.  Often, it is about trusting God regardless. 


Note that Paul said that the life that HE lives HE lives by the faith OF the Son of God.  The faith of Christ is not our faith, but it does not operate independent of us.  In short, to live by the faith of the Son of God is simply another way of saying that Christ is living through the believer – because the believer has given themselves to Christ and is governed by the realization of Christ.


The Life Which I Now Live…


Living by the faith of Christ is not something we should do sometimes – it is not something we are supposed to put on and off.  It is supposed to be THE LIFE – the only life we know.  Jesus’ example in John fifteen of the vine and the branches is a wonderful example.  He talked about the necessity of the believer abiding in Himself.  The definition there of, “abiding,” means, “to live in as your home.”  There is no thought there of hopping in and out of Christ, of having one foot in Him, and one foot in our old nature.  Now, I realize that we do fail in that regard.  We go in and out of Christ as our life and we often slip into ourselves as our life, but the desire of God is that we always abide in Christ by faith – and God will be working in us unto that end.


But unfortunately, many Christian people walk according to the flesh – religious flesh.  What is religious flesh?  It is a matter of trying to live the Christian life through any means other than the faith OF Jesus Christ.  Maybe through the intellect.  Maybe through emotional experiences.  It may be a matter of fashioning my natural man according to laws, principles, and a code of conduct – according to some form of Christian religion.  It may be some form of self-improvement – which is then called, “character development,” or, “sanctification.”  ALL of that is of natural, soul man – it is of religious flesh; out from our humanity.  ALL of it must come under the Cross.  Natural man can produce NOTHING that is of Christ.  Only Christ can produce what is of Christ – and it can be only of value to us if we believe INTO Him; abide in Him.  Only then can Christ live through believers.  


God wants a body of believers who will be extensions of His Son.  Is that not simply another way of saying that the Christ who lives in the believer wants to live through the believer?


Discovering Jesus Christ


How many see again that all of this comes back to sharing, fellowshipping and partaking of Christ as a Person?  That it comes back to the core definition of Christianity:  Christ in you?  To live by the faith OF Christ is a matter of becoming a partaker with Him in His life – and thus, in His faith.


There is nothing outside of LIFE – there is nothing God has given outside of Christ, Who is THE Life.  Thus, there is no such thing as having the faith OF Jesus without abiding in the life of Jesus. 


God has freely given us ALL things IN CHRIST.  (Rom. 8:32)  Note that this is different than saying that God has given us all things BECAUSE of Christ.  No.  To put it another way, God has not given us all things because of Christ – rather -- He has given us Christ Himself, in Whom are ALL things.


First Corinthians 1:30 says:


But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption.


Note:  “Christ is made unto us wisdom…”  If we want wisdom, we must discover Christ.  “In Him are hid all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  (Col. 2:3)  Neither are we given a righteousness of our own.  Rather, Christ in us is righteousness in us.  Thus, even though we can break a lot of these things into compartments and categorize them in different ways just for the sake of teaching and communication, when all is said and done, it all comes back to the fact that if we are believers, we are joined to the Lord and made one spirit with Him – and can be a partaker of HIS LIFE; can be a partaker of all of the attributes of Christ Himself.


Now, this is a fact that stands as the basis of Christianity itself.  We will spend the rest of our Christian life, and really the rest of eternity, not getting MORE of Christ but in discovering the ALL OF Christ that we already received, in whom God has already given all things.


Faith is a Relationship


As mentioned earlier, many Christian people spend much time and energy asking God to increase their faith.  But God cannot answer that prayer.  What we ought to do is ask God to give us a greater inward revelation of His Son.  Then as we give ourselves to Him we will be a partaker of HIS FAITH – which has no limitations.


The Word of Faith heresy that you see on TV -- Kenneth Copeland being the ring leader -- falsely tells us that faith is a force.  The Word of Faith teaches that the faith of Christ is something we muster up out of ourselves and shoot up to God in order to get Him moving.  We muster up this force out from ourselves and we sort of work it upon God by confessing what we want, speaking victory into things, speaking healing into things -- and on it goes.  It is all a bunch of nonsense.  We do not need to do any of that even if what we desire is the will of God.


Faith is not a force.  Faith is a relationship.  We cannot muster true faith up out from ourselves.  There is nothing in there to muster.  Faith is a gift of God in the beginning because we need something with which to turn to God.  But what we have to do is turn and live in oneness with Him who is the source of all faith – and what will emerge is the faith OF Jesus. 


Christianity is not a religion.  It is life in Christ -- a life lived from out from Him by the faith OF the Son of God. 


Paul speaks of this in Galatians to make a contrast between living by the faith of the Son of Go -- and living by the power of our own religiosity – which is what the Galatians were trying to do. Again, he says:


I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives 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.  (Gal. 2:20)


But then he later adds:


My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.  (Gal. 4:19)


The word there for ‘formed’ means to be inwardly realized and expressed.  So Paul gathered all of this up in Galatians and said, “Here is what you need. The solution is that you come into an inward realization of Jesus.”  He knew that if the Galatians did that they would discard works as the means of righteousness.  They would begin to have the faith OF Jesus Christ. 

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