Justified by (Christ’s) faith alone

The faith of Christ is greater than our faith in Christ. Bible translations differ when speaking of faith and who’s justifies and saves by some interpreting the words “in Christ” while others “of Christ”. This is a highly debated topic in biblical scholarship and there is no single “one voice” on this matter. It is my opinion that personal faith doesn’t “save” but allows one to experience the objective reality of the faith or faithfulness of Christ. This is so freeing and takes off the pressure that religion has put on people for a long time. It takes the focus off of what we need to do to be accepted and allows us to focus on others, humankind and being better stewards of the earth. Below are some text that have the translated versions which read “of Christ”.

“and the righteousness of God is through the faith OF Jesus Christ to all, and upon all those believing, –for there is no difference,”
Romans 3:22

This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.
Romans 3:26

“having known also that a man is not declared righteous by works of law, if not through the faith OF Jesus Christ, also we in Christ Jesus did believe, that we might be declared righteous by the faith OF Christ, and not by works of law, wherefore declared righteous by works of law shall be no flesh.”
Galatians 2:16 (note the Berean literal translates this as “faith from Christ ” which I love!)

“with Christ I have been crucified, and live no more do I, and Christ lives in me; and that which I now live in the flesh–in the faith I live OF the Son of God, who did love me and did give himself for me”
Galatians 2:20

“in whom we have the freedom and the access in confidence through the faith OF him”
Ephesians 3:12

“not having my righteousness, which [is] of law, but that which is through faith OF Christ--the righteousness that is of God by the faith”
Philippians 3:9

having known also that a man is not declared righteous by works of law, if not through THE FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST, also we in Christ Jesus did believe, that we might be declared righteous by THE FAITH OF CHRIST, and not by works of law, wherefore declared righteous by works of law shall be no flesh.”
Galatians 2:16

So to me using a christocentric hermeneutic to exegete Ephesians 2:8 that we are “saved by grace through faith”, the faith is not of our own but OF CHRIST!

In his book “Fingerprints of God” Robert Capon explains that our faith is not a requirement for grace, which unfortunately much modern church talk espouses it is required.

They’re going to paint themselves into a corner and say that the unbaptized go to hell or even that sins after Baptism make forgiveness flake off like a bad paint job, and that unless Christians go to confession for a second coat before they die, they’ll go to hell too. Oh sure. We’ve also agreed on this Reformation business where I convince them that nobody has to do anything to be forgiven except trust the grace that Jesus has already given everybody. But give them a hundred years after that and they’ll manage to turn faith itself into a requirement for grace: no faith, no forgiveness. Out the window again goes the free gift we’ve given them once and for all; and back in comes forgiveness as a deal that’s good only as long as they behave themselves.”

So what about the instances where Jesus says “your faith has healed you”? First don’t forget there are other instances where there was weak faith or no faith and Jesus healed or saved the people anyway. But what we see in all of those instances is that Christ is the healer and the trust (faith) of those people allowed them to experience what God through Christ was already doing to the world. It’s like the “trust fall” experiment. A person falls back trusting the people will catch them. The person probably never would have never fallen backwords to begin with if they didn’t trust they would be caught. So the trust allowed the person to experience the faithfulness of those catching the person falling back. So using this metaphor we see faith (falling) is important in that it allows us to experience what God has always been doing (catching). Which is really constant self emptying love. That doesn’t always mean we will be healed physically or saved from harm but will allow room inside of us to trust that God is on our side and is working to make all things new.

The reformers, being lead by the holy spirit, got the church away from works righteousness but fell short on who’s faith we are justified by. Probably too big of a step at the time. Just getting away from works righteousness was HUGE and considered heresy to much of the church.

And so we press forward. I believe the spirit is working in a progression of awareness. From being justified by the law, to justified by works, to justified by OUR faith, now to being Justified by HIS faith. Of course following Torah, our works and our faith can be means of grace when we look at them as free gifts and fruits of the faith that is from and of God, but not of our own.

Once we shift focus off of faith as being a “who’s in and who’s out” “us vs. them” game of salvation and shift our thinking to its true context as something that affects the whole of creation, the kingdom of God that Jesus expressed was already here would be more easily recognizable and allow for healing and peace to ignite in the heart of all. We are living in amazing times. As Paul the Apostle said in a timeless message “Who knows if you haven’t come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”

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