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The Faith Principle of Life From Death
By David A. DePra
Life from death is a Christian principle, and one which runs from cover to cover in scripture. Not only is this principle at work in our salvation, but it works in all aspects of the Christian life. FAITH, at it’s root, operates under this principle. That’s because faith is surrender and dependency. It is the surrender of myself to a DEATH, that the life of Jesus might be made manifest through me.
Many of us may not have thought of faith in that way. Thus, it is important to begin this topic by sorting out what faith IS.
Faith is Dependency
The fundamental characteristic of the relationship a Christian has with Jesus Christ is thatof DEPENDENCY. This is NOT a, "maybe." If you are a Christian, YOU GOT THAT WAY by surrendering yourself to Christ. And if your conversion was real, you never took back that surrender – instead, you are now living it out, on deeper and deeper levels. DEPENDENCY upon Christ is now normal for you.
"Dependency upon Christ," is, of course, another way of describing FAITH. "To believe on Jesus," is to trust and depend upon Him. It means that I surrender myself to Him because I know He will save me, do right by me, and love me. Any other kind of, "faith," isn’t Biblical faith. It is something less.
Oh, that Christians would see this! So many people think that FAITH is simply a matter of agreeing that Biblical doctrines are true. That is NOT faith – although it is a good start. Faith, at its root, is more than just agreeing to something as true. Faith – if it is real – goes on to surrender to the Truth. Faith is a moral surrender to Jesus BECAUSE of the Truth I see about Him. It is a trust and dependency upon Jesus Christ because I believe the Truth about Him. Faith is not intellectual, emotional, or academic in nature. Faith is MORAL in nature.
For example, an essential Truth of Christianity is the doctrine of JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH. This doctrine states that if I put my faith in Christ, God makes me righteous by putting my sin to Christ’s account, and by putting His righteousness to my account. All of that is true, and we need to see this and believe it. But can we see that it is entirely possible to give agreement to the doctrine of justification by faith, and yet NOT BE JUSTIFIED BY FAITH? Sure. I can give assent to this essential doctrine, and yet never personally put my faith in Jesus and be justified.
The reason it is possible to agree to the doctrine, but never experience what the doctrine holds is what we said earlier: Faith is a moral surrender. Faith means making my whole being dependent upon Christ. It is one thing to believe I ought to be dependent upon Christ. It is another TO BE dependent. Many Christians don’t see the difference. They have never been taught the difference. Some even refuse to see.
It is sadly true that many professing Christians today, while preaching, teaching, and agreeing to sound Biblical doctrine, never actually enter into the relationship with Christ that the doctrine describes. We talk about dependency upon Jesus Christ. But we remain self-sufficient. Perhaps we even resist the work of the Holy Spirit to bring us out of this deception. Again – REAL FAITH is not intellectual. To understand the definition of faith is great. But do I have faith? Have I surrendered myself to Christ? Do I depend upon Him for everything, each day?
The Holy Spirit, Jesus said, would, "convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment." (Jn. 16:8) This means that when God begins to call someone to Christ, the approach He takes is always at their point of SIN – which is at the point of their need. God MUST do this. For it is where we ARE in Adam. And God always takes us right where we are.
It is not possible for any of us to reach up to heaven and drag down salvation. We have no tools. We cannot birth ourselves anew, or even start the process. And God never expects us to do this. But this does NOT mean that the Calvinistic doctrines of unconditional election, and that of irresistible grace are the Truth. They are NOT the Truth. They are errors which hurt people. It is true that God must take the initiative to call someone to Christ. But once He does, we are able to respond – His calling and conviction makes that possible. And we are also able to resist. This is clear from scripture.
God expects us to do ONE THING when we are convicted of the Holy Spirit: Bring our sin to Him. Bring ourselves to Him. In other words, we are expected to do NOTHING except surrender to Christ – surrender all the BAD stuff that we are, for that is all we have TO surrender. And if God is calling a person to Christ, they are able to do this.
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that does truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God. (John 3:19-21)
THIS IS CONDEMNATION! What is condemnation? This is condemnation, that Light has come in the world, but men loved darkness, rather than light. Can we see what is being stated here? Once light comes into my world by the conviction of the Holy Spirit, it is too late for me to plead ignorance. I have been called by God to Jesus Christ. But I have a choice. I can choose the light, or I can choose the darkness. John says that condemnation is there because men loved darkness RATHER than light. There is no, "rather," unless you have both light and darkness, and a choice. Those who are condemned, when God’s light comes into their world, refuse to allow their sins to be exposed by that light, and choose to love darkness instead.
This passage clearly teaches that we do not have the choice as to whether light comes into our world. No. God decides that – no man can come to Christ unless the Father draws him. (see Jn. 6:44) But we DO have the choice once God brings the Light, as to what we will do with it.
By definition, if someone is being called by God to Christ, they have been given enough light to choose. The Truth of Christ has dawned on them, and the Truth of their sin has been exposed. They see their need and they see HIM as the solution. This may not occur in a way that the person can explain doctrinally, or even articulate. But the person – if God is truly calling them to Christ – will see enough of their true condition, and Christ as the solution – to be able to surrender themselves. And that is all God requires.
If you have a SELF – and you do if you are alive – then there is one thing you can do, if nothing else. You can surrender that self to God. A free will always carries the ability to surrender itself. Otherwise, you don’t have a free will. And once God brings that elementary light about Jesus Christ as Savior to a person, they have what they need to CHOOSE.
Notice that they have NO POWER to save themselves. No. They have only the power to choose to surrender themselves. And by definition, they also have the power to refuse to surrender. Unless the power to refuse to surrender is there, the power to surrender isn’t there. Free will means just that: You must be able to embrace or refuse Christ.
The Calvinist doctrines try to say that if man is able to choose God, then credit goes to him for choosing God. This is nonsense. Once we understand that faith is surrender and dependency, the notion of merit or credit for putting faith in Christ is exposed as nonsense. Indeed, Paul says this:
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law. (Rom 3:27-28)
True faith excludes – kicks out the window – all boasting. Why? Because the REAL FAITH of the Bible – the kind that results in salvation – is a total surrender IN NEED to Jesus Christ. In short, faith carries NO merit because real faith is only possible if I see I have NO merit. Then my faith becomes nothing more than a surrender of myself to the grace of Jesus Christ.
The Power of His Resurrection
Dependency upon Christ should define my relationship to Him. It should be one of the things people see about me – my faith or dependency should characterize my WITNESS unto Jesus. But more than that, dependency upon Christ will be the means by which God develops in me the character of Christ. The more I depend upon Christ, the more spiritual fruit I will bear.
All of this is really background for a great Truth of the Holy Spirit. That Truth is this: Surrender to Jesus Christ always results in a greater breaking forth of the power of His resurrection through us.
This principle should sound familiar. It is really the principle of LIFE from DEATH. It is the principle of VICTORY through SURRENDER. But WHY do things work this way? Why MUST they work this way?
The more I am dependent upon Christ – the more I surrender to Him – the greater is my freedom, and spiritual growth. The more I will be under the power of His resurrection. This is because the more I surrender to Christ, the more Christ has of me – and I of Him. To put it in more practical language, what we are talking about here is really an issue of CONTROL. We are talking about who is Lord of my life. Surrender to Christ means I relinquish control of my life, and He gains that ground. Thus, the power of His resurrection is able to rush and make manifest His life.
As mentioned earlier, if we are converted, we got that way by surrendering to Christ. God took us at our word and by faith we were saved. However, that only got us in the door. We then had to begin a walk with Christ wherein we would LIVE OUT our surrender.
You see, it is one thing to give something to God. But it is another when He takes it. That’s another story, isn’t it? Then you have to LIVE OUT your surrender. Sometimes God requires this on an issue, and sometimes He doesn’t. But we must still surrender. If we do surrender, a death takes place – a death of our control, of our lordship over a thing, and the death of our running our own lives. But the life of Christ then rushes in.
This is a Truth fundamental to the Christian walk, and considered NORMAL for a Spirit filled Christian:
Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God. (1 Pet 4:1-2)
For the love of Christ constrains us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead. And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2 Cor 5:14-15)
Peter tells us that if we, "suffer in the flesh," that we will, "cease from sin." How can this be? For it is certain that the mere FACT of suffering does nothing to set us free from sin. Atheists can suffer. So what does Peter mean?
The key here is his exhortation that we, "arm ourselves with the same mind, or attitude," toward suffering as did Jesus. And what was that attitude? FAITH. Surrender – not to the suffering as a thing – but surrender to God IN the suffering. And if we do that, Peter says, it will set us free from sin.
What sin? The sin of running our own lives! Peter says that if a person surrenders to God in sufferings, that he will cease from sin, "that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God."
Have we recognized that THE SIN of the human race is UNBELIEF? Faith is surrender and dependency. Unbelief is independence from God. Running our own lives. And it doesn’t not matter HOW we live independently from God. We can even do it religiously and self-righteously – and it is still unbelief. It is still sin.
By definition, if we surrender to God – put our trust and dependence in Him – we are relinquishing the control of our lives to Him. By definition we are doing that. Therefore, by definition, we are no longer running our own lives – we are no longer sinning through unbelief. This will be a DEATH to our control, but will set us free to HIS power and control.
It would be nice if we would just be able to surrender everything to God voluntarily, without suffering being necessary. But it generally is not possible because we start out in the flesh. So God has to begin to touch that. He has to begin to tear us away from the way in which we are born naturally, and begin to adjust us to the Spirit of God. But if you have ever noticed, when you do surrender to God in any specific circumstance, there comes a greater freedom in a general way. Not just in the area in question. That is because the issue is not the THING over which you are surrendering. The issue is the surrender itself.
When I surrender to God in a trial, the trial is only the tool. The surrender is the real issue. When I surrender to God, I die a death to my rights, my understanding, and my control. And if my surrender is real, and is FAITH, a very real DEATH does take place. The death of Jesus Christ rushes in to that thing, and the power of the Cross comes to bear upon it. That power of the Cross was always there, mind you, but I had to choose for the release of it. Yet this is not the end of the matter. Once this death takes place in me, it is possible for the resurrection power of Jesus Christ to rush in – not just into the thing I’m surrendering – but into ME.
Faith exercised is nothing more than me decreasing through the death of Christ, and Him increasing in me through His resurrection. Note Paul’s description of how this works with him throughout his ministry, and how it benefited others:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. For we which live are always delivered unto death for Jesus' sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh. So then death works in us, but life in you. We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, works for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:7-18)
This teaching ought to tell us several things. First, despite the fact that we are usually after a resolution to a trial, God is after the resolution of our faith. We want the trial to end. God wants our unbelief to end. We want out of our trial. God wants us into His Son. The answer is therefore that we seek God, that He might bring us to a surrender of ourselves to Him through any trial. Then we will realize His purpose.
Once we surrender to God in a trial, and die to our own control of our lives, and thus, the power of His resurrection rushes in, the fruits of the Spirit will be able to manifest through us. So we see that bearing fruit to the glory of God is not a matter of us trying to bear fruit. Rather, it is a matter of us surrendering to, depending upon, and abiding in, the VINE.
Jesus, Our Example
When Jesus hung on the Cross, He made seven statements. Two of these speak directly to the topic at hand – faith as a principle of life from death.
Jesus exclaimed, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?" Yet seconds later, He stated, "Into Your hands I commit My spirit." Can we see the faith here? The surrender? The full and unconditional dependency? And of course we know the result: Jesus was raised from the dead.
There are going to be times in the Christian life when we simply do not know what God is doing, or why He is allowing what is going on in our lives. During these times, it is of no use to pretend we DO know, or that we ought to know. It is better to simply admit that we DON’T know. And guess what? It’s ok. NOT KNOWING can be the will of God! Yet even then, we are able to say, as did Jesus, "Into Your hands I commit my life." If we will say that, and mean it, then we WILL DIE – that is, there will be a death which is brought to bear to our control, to our sin, to our flesh. But then we will experience a resurrection power which we could experience in no other way.
God offers us no other method for spiritual growth. We must die through a choice of faith – a choice to surrender. A choice to make ourselves fully dependent upon HIM. But if we will do that, HIS LIFE will emerge in us. And that life always carries with it the fruits of the Spirit and Christian character. This is the key to spiritual growth: LIFE, His life, from our death in Him.*
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