Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 1, 1968
NUMBER 13, PAGE 1-3a

What Faith In Christ Means

Roy E. Cogdill

A great many people think religion is something that can be put on like a coat or cloak and worn over the garments of hypocrisy, ungodliness, unfaithfulness, insincerity, and even unbelief. They profess to be religious but their religion is a cloak of pretention which if they had stripped away would leave them as bereft of righteousness as Samson was of strength when Delilah cut off his hair.

We need to test the reality of our religion. If we profess faith in Christ, God, and the Bible, we should test it and try it and be sure that it is real and genuine and not mere pretention. Faith is not just an attitude. It is a motive and must move men to certain commitments and action.

So often people think that a mere mental assent or agreement of the mind with a proposition is equivalent to faith in it. Thus men have been taught that faith in Christ is mere conviction as to His divinity. This is not so. Such is not saving faith. Paul defines faith in Heb. 11:2 as "conviction in unseen things and confidence in things hoped for." This means that faith is not merely conviction but the surrender of the heart and life in complete trust.

Belief or mere conviction is the assent of the mind while trusting faith is the consent of the whole heart, including the will. Belief is speculative, but faith is operative. Belief accepts, faith acts. Ruskin says, "In so far as it alone did and it alone could do what it means to do, and was, therefore, the root and essence of all human deed, it was called by the Latin's fides, or the doing, which has passed into the French foi and the English faith. And therefore because in His doing always certain, and in His speaking always true, His name who leads the armies of heaven is 'faithful and true.' Faith is at once the source and substance of all human deed, rightly so called."

What then does it mean to really believe in Christ? Do we believe with all our hearts that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God? This is the kind of faith that God demands of us if we are to be the sons of God and the recipients of His favor and mercy. On Pentecost Peter commanded men to "Know assuredly" or believe beyond a doubt that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. When the Ethiopian raised the question, "See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?" Philip answered him, "If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest."

What does it mean to believe with all the heart? It means the whole heart must be conquered by faith. The intellect must be turned away from trusting in the wisdom of man to complete trust in the wisdom of God. The emotions must withdraw their affections from the things of the world to be placed upon "things above, where Christ is seated on the right hand of God." (Col. 3:1-2) The will must surrender completely and the heart must truly say, "Lord, what wilt thou have me do?" From then on the great commitment of faith causes one to say, "Not my will, but thine be done" in all things. This is the attitude of faith. Moreover when the will has been surrendered in obedience to the commandments of Christ, our hearts are purified from an evil conscience by the blood of Christ that we might serve the living God. (I Pet. 1:22; Heb. 9:13-14; Heb. 10:22; I Peter 3:21)

But what must one believe when he believes in Christ? How can our faith in Him be tested and proven so that we may know in our hearts that we truly believe? It is possible to deceive one's own heart or to be deceived by one's own heart. (James 1:22,26) This is what we need to know.

1.We must believe in the Deity of Christ. It is not enough to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was a good man or a great teacher. It is enough only when without .reservation we are willing to accept this truth and all its implications. The scriptures are plain on the point. John said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. . . And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth." (John 1:1,14)

Again Paul said, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (Phil. 2:5-6) So before Christ came, into this world to be "made flesh" to dwell among men as a man, He was the divine "Word." He was with God; He was God; and He was on an equality with God, the Father. The whole world was made by Him, and for Him. This means that Christ was not just a man. He was "the mystery of godliness manifested in the flesh." (I Tim. 3:16) Jehovah prepared for Him a body, begotten by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, that in his flesh He might not only demonstrate godliness to humanity and set a pattern for our living that we might walk in His footsteps, but that He might "pour out His soul unto death" as a sacrifice for our sins. He took upon himself "the likeness of sinful flesh" that he might be "made to be sin" for us and might die as a sinner would die,' separated from the Father. He was tempted in all things like as we and yet was without sin that He might be our merciful and faithful High Priest. (Heb.! 2:17-18; 4:15-16) When men refuse to believe, with all their hearts, that Jesus is the Christ, and, that He is therefore God, they are condemned. (John 8:24)

2.We must believe also in the humanity of Jesus. This is a fundamental requirement of faith in Him. The same passages that affirm His deity also affirm His humanity in many cases as in the passages already cited. John said "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God:...Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God." (1 John 4:1-3) The system known as "Christian Science" denies that Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ of God are one and the same personality. John says that to do so is to be an "anti-Christ." Through His flesh He made the sacrifice that is able to make "propitiation" for our sins and He equipped and qualified Himself to be our High Priest. This fleshly existence upon the part of deity made it possible for Him to be both God and man and therefore to be a "mediator" and affect reconciliation of man to God. (I Tim. 2:5-6)

3.We must believe in the power of His blood to remit our sins. In Rom. 3:34, we read, "Being justified freely by His grace... in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in His blood." Faith in His blood is essential to saving faith in Christ. I may not be able to understand the theory of blood atonement but whether or not I can understand the theory, I must believe it If I am to be saved. We believe many things we do not understand. If a man took a fatal dose of poison accidentally and the doctor came and offered him an antidote, he would gladly take it in the hope of saving his life whether he understood or not how it would re-act chemically to counteract the poison or not. We need to be just as sensible in religion.

4.If we believe in Christ, we must accept the truth of His resurrection without reservation. In I Cor. 15, Paul tells us that unless Christ was raised from the dead, 1) we can have no hope of our own bodies being raised; 2) the apostles are false witnesses; 3) their testimony is untrue and there is nothing to the Gospel; 4) our faith is vain; 5) and we are yet in our sins. There is no salvation offered in the Gospel to any who reject the resurrection of Christ. Paul makes our faith in the resurrection a condition of our salvation. (Rom. 10:9) "But" unto us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." (Rom. 4:24-25) The promise of our salvation is conditioned upon the fact of the resurrection of Christ. (I Peter 3:21)

5.If our faith in Christ is to be real, then we must believe with all of our hearts that He is "both Lord and Christ " This is faith in the fact of His glorification at the right hand of God when He was raised from the dead and in His present position. The Bible teaches that when Jesus was raised from the dead that He ascended to the right hand of God and was given all authority both in heaven and on earth. Peter preached this great fact on Pentecost. (Acts 2:32-36) He demanded that they believe it with their whole hearts.

When Jesus was raised from the dead and appeared to His apostles He announced to them that all authority had been given into His hands both in heaven and on earth. (Matt. 28:18-20) Paul said in Eph. 1:19-23, "Which He wrought in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all."

The present position of Christ is "both Lord and Christ" — Ruler and Redeemer. He has been raised to sit upon the throne of David, His father according to the flesh (Acts 2:30; Luke 1:32-33) He is "the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords." (I Tim. 6:15) God speaks through Him and there is no appeal from His word. James declares that there is but one law-giver. (James 4:12) We will be judged by His word in the last Day. (John 12:48)

Are you willing to take Christ at His word, believe what He says and do what He commands? Are you willing to let the Gospel of Christ be the center and circumference of your faith? Will you let what is taught in the New Testament be the absolute standard in all religious matters and settle all questions and resolve all issues? This is the ultimate test of our faith. Jesus said, "And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46) If we really believe in Christ, we will crown Him in our hearts as King and make Him the Lord of our lives. His word will be the law by which we will believe, teach and live.

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