Believing Unto Salvation

April 17, 2022 Easter Sunday (Cycle C)

The tie in between today’s readings: Examining Faith

Psalm 118:1-2;16-17;22-23Acts 10:34-43Colossians 3:1-4John 20:1-9

The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:22-23). The despised, rejected, and crucified Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and now is exalted and glorified on high. What a difference from Good Friday! Surprisingly, even after Jesus repeatedly told His disciples that He must rise from the dead, they still did not understand the scriptures (John 20:9). In time, though, they did catch on and turned the world upside down. They and those that followed after them fanned out to the four corners of the earth to spread the good news that anyone who believes in the name of Jesus receives forgiveness of sins (Acts 10:43). But what does it mean to believe in Jesus and why is faith so vital?

First, faith must launch off a solid base of facts. The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ is the most historically scrutinized and vindicated event in history. The authenticity of His resurrection validates everything that Jesus said about His deity and His mission. It establishes Christianity uniqueness among the world religions because its Founder transcends death and offers eternal life to all who will follow Him. One of the very reasons to trust the Bible at all is because Jesus is alive. From this body of truth, the church developed creeds of beliefs, which church members confess and adhere to as fact. Believing in a creed, as truthful and necessary as it might be, however, is not saving faith. It is only the first step along the way. Your factual faith has to reach out and go beyond to achieve saving faith.

In order to better understand what I mean by reaching out in saving faith, I want to introduce an underlying principle found in the Bible. It’s the concept of becoming united with whatever or whomever you touch. There are several accounts of this in the Old Testament. You could become unclean yourself, for example, if you came in contact with something that was also considered unclean such as a dead body (Numbers 5, Leviticus chapters 11-21).  One the other hand, you could be made holy if you were touched by something that was holy, as seen in Isaiah 6. A clear example in the New Testament is the unclean woman with the bloody discharge who received her healing by touching Jesus’ hem in faith and thereby tapping His power (Mark 5:25-34 and Luke 8:43-48). There are more examples, but the Bible’s greatest application is seen in the Incarnation.

There were incidents in the Old Testament where God appeared in human form. These are called Theophanies. In fact, if the Lord had just wanted to give us lessons on how to live, Jesus could have spent His life with us on earth as a Theophany and that would have been good enough. The Incarnation goes way beyond God as teacher and takes us to height of relationships: God as Lover. Christianity is much more a relationship than a religion. It was absolutely necessary for the Almighty to humble Himself and become one of us in order to unite with a fallen human race. In this condition, Jesus, the God-man, our Lord and Lover, can be our sin bearing Savior. Now this is where saving faith comes in.

By faith, we can transcend time to a cross on Calvary’s hill and touch our God. Jesus Christ physically died on the cross. Faith fuses us on the cross with Him spiritually at the same time. At the cross, the Eternal and Spiritual God through the Incarnation unites with the physical and finite man and through faith, they become one. It is here that, “He who knew no sin became sin for us that we may become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). And we DIE together with Christ! As the Apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20a). When Jesus was laid in the tomb, we were laid in the tomb as well, but that’s not the end. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him (Romans 6:8).

Jesus is alive! He rose from the grave on Easter Sunday and by faith, we did as well. We are born again to a new life in Christ. A life with our Lord that is so real and so intimate that we can move away from the abstract idea of loving God and actually be in love with Him. For His part, our Father could not get any closer to us than what He has done by placing His Holy Spirit within us. This relationship comes with a new focus. Our reading in Colossians directs us in our new life priority:

“Therefore, if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. You have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory “(Colossians 3:1-4).

If our lives are hidden in Christ, then in our worship truly transcends the centuries to unite us with the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior. The tangible bread and wine bring His sacrifice forward to us in our time. This also gives us a common connection of grace and love with all believers living close by or around the world and even with those that have passed on. We are all Christ’s Body! It’s a living, timeless, family dynamic. Our Father wants us to spread His gospel to others who do not yet know Him, so more sons and daughters can be added to His family. If your time in church has been dull, dry, and dead end, perhaps you’ve been stuck on the creed level in your faith journey. If that’s the case I urge you to reach out in faith to the cross and establish a living relationship with the God who loves you. Look to Jesus with new eyes of faith and believe. Happy Easter!

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