Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Our Faithfulness or His?

I have never been confident in my ability to keep myself in a state of grace. Some Christians seem quite confident of their power to live a good life and keep themselves in a condition of salvation. So it seems that, in the end, their salvation will be due to two things: (1) what Christ did for them and (2) what they did for themselves. I have never understood this mentality.

We are like sheep. Everyone knows that sheep are stupid, and if left to themselves will get themselves lost or killed, maybe both. They are entirely dependent on the skill, devotion, and faithfulness of the shepherd. They are not wild stallions who gallop over the plains, finding their own food, fighting off predators, and generally fending for themselves. If they have to take care of themselves, sheep will die.

The Apostle Paul knew this. When he said (Galatians 2:20), "...the life I now live, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me," most Bibles translate as it is translated here. However, the word translated "faith" in Greek is pistis, which can, and often does, mean "faithfulness." Furthermore, the grammatical structure of "Son of God" is genitive, rather than dative. So it is "faith of" or "faithfulness of" the Son of God, rather than faith in.

Paul was not saying he was keeping himself in a state of grace by his own faith, or faithfulness. Rather he was living, and surviving spiritually, by the faithfulness of Christ Himself.

We put too much burden on our flimsy faith, which even in the best of times isn't very strong. But now look at the verse again: "...the life I now live, I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

Jesus is the one who does what needs to be done for our salvation. Remember, it's a completed work. All we need to do is to love him, thank him, and trust in his faithfulness. Service will come naturally once we know that we are secure in Him. "For Christ's love compels us [to serve him]..." (2 Cor. 5:14).

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