Part 4 - The Application of Faith
The Church as the Bride of Christ
Love to the Redeemer
Love, the fruit of abiding in Christ, has a fourth avenue of expression: love for Jesus Christ Himself. This is love to Christ as Redeemer and Mediator between God and mankind. The believer is consecrated to love God as God (see Love to God). This includes Jesus Christ as God the Son. In addition to this the believer is also consecrated to love Jesus Christ as man. This is the context of Jesus being the Last Adam and foremost human being of the earth. As such He is King and has the highest honor among mankind. He is the one who is Priest between God and mankind. He is the Redeemer. He is also the Head and Bridegroom of His people the church. Christ has sanctified His people by separating them out from under the law and placing them under His own rule. Consequently the church is consecrated to Christ as His bride (see Part 2, Consecrated to Christ as His Bride). The church thus is to love Jesus through whom she has come to know God.
The way, the truth, and the life
Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (John 14:6). Love for Jesus Christ comes as one comes to know and understand that He alone is the path to eternal life and the One through whom a person is reconciled to God. This love is magnified by the failure to reach God under the law. When one believes upon Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life he comes into a saving relationship with God, something not possible any other way. This magnifies Jesus as a "precious" cornerstone. Peter the Apostle wrote, "Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, 'Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame.' Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious ..." (1 Pet. 2:6-7).
Faith in Jesus Christ is the key to entering into a living relationship with God. The Jews asked Jesus, "What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?" Scripture records, "Jesus answered and said to them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent' " (John 6:29). Having finished the work of redemption, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. He is the means of coming to the Father. But His work and His person as Savior will not benefit many. The work is done and eternal life is available to be given as a gift, but a gift must not only be offered - it must be received. The difference from not benefiting and benefiting from the person and work of Jesus Christ is a faith in Him that is exercised by the individual. By the application of faith all that Christ is will be received by the believer.
The faith in Christ that is required of mankind can be broken into three parts: belief in the facts, belief that these facts apply to oneself, and trust. This faith corresponds to Jesus as being the way, the truth, and the life. Such a faith in Jesus Christ delivers the believer from sin and death into a glorious relationship with God where God's purposes for His people are fulfilled. Such a faith takes that which is completed, redemption, and makes the believer a recipient of redemption. Jesus purchased the whole world with His shed blood on the cross; Jesus died to take away the sins of the whole world. But the whole world will not be saved. It is by faith that one partakes of the fruit of Jesus' work: sanctification. This is the actual deliverance that Jesus wrought. The work is done and salvation is available but an actual deliverance from sin and death into a living relationship with God is necessary. This is sanctification and is part of Jesus' finished work. A person only partakes of sanctification however through a biblical faith in Christ.
Jesus Christ the Way
Belief in the facts is the first part of faith. This is believing upon Christ as the Way. When one believes upon Jesus Christ as the way to God, he will cease from his own works in trying to reach God and will rest in the person and work of Christ. This requires knowledge of what Jesus did and a consequent belief in the facts.
When God redeemed Israel from living in bondage to Egypt He began with the Passover. This is a type of Jesus as the Passover lamb slain for the sins of the world. That Christ shed His blood to purchase the world is one of the facts that faith is based on. That Christ died for the sins of the world is another. This is modeled in the Passover account in the Exodus of Israel. This alone however did not deliver Israel from Egypt. Redemption included the actual deliverance of the Israelites from the land of Egypt and the establishment of them in the promised land. The Passover was the beginning of this deliverance. In like manner the death of Jesus Christ on the cross is a part of God's redemptive work but not the whole. God's full redemptive work includes the resurrection of Christ and His ascension into Heaven. In this Jesus became the way to God.
In the Scriptures God uses His work in the creation of the heavens and earth as a type for His work in taking the Israelites out of Egypt and creating in them the nation of Israel. This work is predicated upon the Passover. In like manner the work of creation also models the work of Christ in delivering the believer from sin and death into a living relationship with God. The foundation for this work is the death and resurrection of Christ.
Belief upon Jesus Christ as the way includes not only Christ as the way to have one's sins removed but also the way into Heaven, into the Father's presence. Jesus accomplished this in His resurrection and ascension. It was after Christ's ascension into Heaven that He gave the Holy Spirit and the church was born. Through the Holy Spirit the believer is delivered into the light of Christ where the knowledge of God is found. Through the Spirit the believer is delivered into new life in the spiritual realm. The born-again believer partakes of the life of Christ who is seated with the Father. Through the Spirit the believer is established in the body of Christ, the church. The believer is also delivered into the realm of grace, where in Christ the Spirit freely comes into the life of the believer to assist in all things. This is all the work of Christ and these are the facts which faith is based upon. When one believes upon these facts then one will rest in Christ and not try to duplicate His work.
Jesus Christ the Truth
Believing that the facts of the person and work of Jesus Christ apply to oneself is the second part of faith. This is believing upon Christ as the Truth. This is to identify oneself with Christ as the truth. To believe the fact is to believe that Jesus purchased the world with His shed blood. To believe in Christ as the truth is to apply the fact and believe that Jesus purchased me and that He is my lord. To believe the fact is to believe that Jesus died for the sins of the world. To believe in Christ as the truth is to apply the fact and believe that Jesus died for my sins. To believe the fact is to believe that Jesus rose from the dead. To believe in Christ as the truth is to apply the fact and believe that He is my resurrection into a new life.
Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). In the knowledge of the truth through the word of God comes freedom from bondage to sin. This is why knowledge of the sanctifying work of Christ and a faith in it is necessary. Jesus said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed" (John 8:34-36). Just as the redemption of Israel delivered the Hebrews from bondage in Egypt, redemption in Christ delivers one from the bondage of sin. The knowledge of the truth and the application of that truth is the deciding factor.
Paul the Apostle lays out the truth of Christ and the application of it to oneself in his epistle to the Romans. In writing of sanctification in chapter six he asks these questions in amazement: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know ...?" (Rom. 6:1-3). Paul then lists the truths of Christ that the believer is to know and reckon. They are to be applied to oneself. The believer is to reckon separation into the light of the gospel: the death of Christ on the cross was my death to sin and a fallen life. The believer is to reckon separation into the life of Christ: Christ's resurrection and ascension to the Father was my entrance into new life with Christ before the Father. The believer is to reckon separation into the body of Christ: the body of Christ is that of which I am a member and an instrument for righteousness in the hands of God. The believer is to reckon separation into the rule and grace of Christ: the reign of Christ as Lord is that which is over me to deliver me from the reign of the law and to bring grace. Jesus Christ is to be believed upon such that the truth of His being and redemptive work is applied to oneself.
Jesus Christ the Life
Trusting in Jesus Christ is the third part of faith. This is trusting in Christ as the Life. The trusting portion of faith is the daily abiding in the life of Christ. To believe in the facts of Christ and to apply those facts to oneself is the static part of faith; it is something that has happened. There is a dynamic aspect of faith: that of daily trusting in God. This concerns that which is happening and that which will happen. The trust aspect of faith must be built upon the first two aspects of faith, otherwise it is only a blind faith and not a biblical one. God gives a basis for trust in Him. Jesus Christ is the solid foundation that trust can rest upon. The facts of faith show the love that God has toward the believer and the commitment that God has made to deliver him to God's purposes. In applying the facts to oneself the believer can be assured that when he personally trusts God that God will personally answer to that trust. With this foundation the believer can step forward in a faith that trusts in God.
The Bible repeats this concept many times: the just shall live by faith. To abide in the life of Christ is to daily live in faith. This is the trust aspect of faith. Trust puts substance to faith. Trust shows that faith is genuine. Trust is acting upon, and counting upon, that which is believed.
Life in a fallen and rebellious world is filled with trials, sorrows, and uncertainties. Life lived in unredeemed bodies is filled with failures, weaknesses, and sicknesses. Life in a realm where the devil is loose is filled with spiritual warfare. Yet to the believer Jesus has promised, "I will never leave you nor forsake you" (Heb. 13:5). This is reflected in God's name, Jehovah-shammah, The Lord is Present. Not only is God present, something to be counted upon and trusted in, but God as a shepherd (Jehovah-raah) is working all things for good to those who love Him (Romans 8). To walk with a God who is present but unseen requires trust. The believer is to count upon Him who is leading the way and know Him as Jehovah-nissi, The Lord My Banner.
God's provision for a life lived in faith is that place in Christ that the believer has been delivered to. In the light of Christ the believer knows who God is, His loving and gracious character, His mercy and provision, His plan of redemption and the future hope that is found in Him. By faith one is to abide in His light. This is to abide in His word and trust that the Spirit will take that word and make it fruitful. In the heavenly dwelling place of Christ the believer has the assurance of God's presence. By faith one is to abide in the spiritual realm where Christ is, setting one's mind on the things above. This is to abide in prayer, communion with God, praise, and worship. One is to count upon the Spirit to bring fruitfulness to this area. In the body of Christ the believer is consoled and edified by the working of God through the other members. By faith one is to abide in fellowship with the other members and trust in the operation of the Spirit through each member. In the grace and rule of Christ the believer has the assurance of God's unmerited help and work in the life of the believer. One is to abide in grace and trust in the lordship of Christ. Knowing Jesus Christ as the Life enables trust in Him and makes faith complete.
The separation aspect of the sanctifying work of Christ is a separation of the believer from the darkness of being apart from God into the life of Christ. The first two parts of faith are to believe it and reckon it as applying to oneself. The consecration aspect of Christ's sanctifying work is the consecration of the believer to a Spirit filled life in Christ where the Holy Spirit, God Himself, fills the life of the believer and is the resource for all things. God has consecrated the believer to His purposes, purposes accomplished through Christ by the Holy Spirit. Having believed and reckoned one's position in Christ, the believer is to live in the life of Christ through trust. This is to count upon one's position in Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit and walk daily in trust and obedience to Christ. As one abides in the life of Christ by faith, the Holy Spirit brings fruitfulness "in due season."
The Lordship of Christ
Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." Mankind was separated from God in the rebellion of the fall in the garden of Eden. Mankind usurped God's place of lordship and attempted to elevate himself to God's level. Only when this rebellion is dealt with can there be reconciliation. The end of rebellion against God's authority and place comes only through Jesus Christ. God the Father has made Jesus Christ to be the way of submission to Him. All present day rejection of Jesus Christ and antagonism toward Him is evidence that the rebellion of the fall continues.
Paul writes of Christ, "Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. ... Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all" (1 Cor. 15:24, 25, 28). God's path of submission to Him is for all to be in subjection to Jesus Christ and then for Jesus, as Man and Head of the human race, to subject Himself to the Father. Paul reflects this again in writing to the Corinthians, "But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor. 11:3).
Submission to Jesus Christ through faith in Him ends rebellion against God. To rest in Christ as the way ends the rebellion of man's strength. To believe in Christ as the truth ends the rebellion of man's mind. To live in the life of Christ through the Spirit ends the rebellion of man's soul. To submit to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is a summation of these three and ends the rebellion of man's heart. In Christ is the place where God is "all in all."
When God delivered the Israelites from bondage in Egypt and placed them into the promised land, He gave the Ten Commandments to the people. These commandments were meant to preserve the people in the land that God was giving them. The redemption of Israel is a type of redemption in Christ, and likewise the Commandments point to that which preserves one in redemption. The first four of the Ten Commandments specify a relationship to God. These four point to the essential elements of a right relationship with God. These elements are rest in Christ as the Way, belief in Christ as the Truth, the abiding in Christ as the Life, and the all-encompassing aspect of the lordship of Christ whereby one is submitted to Yahweh as the only true God. These essential elements, when applied toward the finished work of redemption, bring a person into the "land" of redemption. These must accompany the work of redemption by Christ just as the Ten Commandments accompanied the redemption of Israel. See figure 4b (next page).
Married to Christ
God's calling to humanity is to be "married" to Christ as His bride, for no one comes to the Father except through Christ. The church age is an espousal period. It is the time in which Jesus Christ is calling to all in the world to be joined to Him. It is a time of choice for the world. The marriage of Christ and His bride the church is to be a voluntary one. No one will be forced to be joined to Christ. No one will be forced to be in Heaven with God for all eternity. But those who do come must do so on God's terms. Jesus Christ as the way, the truth, and the life is God's answer to the rebellion of the fall of mankind. Reconciliation to God is provided only through Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Those who continue to rebel against God by rejecting Christ are choosing to continue in rebellion. Such cannot be reunited with God.
To those who choose God's way and submit to Christ, their relationship to Christ is as a marriage union. Christ loves His church as a bride and likewise the church is to love Christ as Head. Love for Jesus Christ comes when He is appreciated for who He is: the Redeemer of mankind. Entering into an eternal relationship with God is not a matter of work, nor a matter of righteousness. Jesus Christ has done the perfect work of God. He is the perfect righteousness of God. He has been accepted into Heaven by the Father. Entering eternal life is a matter of being joined to Christ. As the bride of Christ the church is accepted by the Father because He has accepted the Bridegroom. Jesus' righteousness is extended to cover His bride and the righteousness that the Father sees when looking at the bride is the righteousness of Christ.
At the end of the church age the espousal period will end and all choices
will be set. Then the marriage of Christ and His bride will happen: "And I
heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many
waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, 'Alleluia! For the
Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready'
" (Rev. 19:6-7).