How God Gives Faith in Christ to His Chosen People
Jesus posed the question to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews in Israel, “How will you believe if I tell you heavenly things (Jn 3:12)?” This is a vital question for us to explore, too.
Christians have a common faith (Tit 1:4; 2 Pet 1:1). What we believe was handed down to the saints, and believers earnestly contend for this faith (Jude 3). Together with our brethren around the world and through history, we have been baptized into one body of believers (1 Cor 12:13). We believe the Scripture (Jn 2:22), which reveals Jesus Messiah, in whom we trust.
Faith is the work of God (Jn 6:29). We believe in God’s only begotten Son whom He has sent (Jn 3:16), and by believing in His name, we become children of God (Jn 1:12; 1 Jn 3:1, 10). Everyone who believes has eternal life in Him (Jn 3:15; 6:40, 47). Unbelievers are already judged (Jn 3:18) and the wrath of God remains on them (Jn 3:36; Rom 1:18).
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom 10:17). A good case example of this is Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritans (Jn 4:39–42). Another is the soldier who came to Jesus to heal his son. Like the Samaritans, the man heard and believed Jesus (Jn 4:50–53).
The Word of God must remain in those who receive it (Jn 8:31), but the unbeliever is the example of one who does not have the Word (Jn 5:38; 8:37, 43). He may taste the good things of God’s Spirit, the Word, and the powers of the age to come, but he will fall away (Heb 6:4–6). Glory from men is one major distraction for unbelievers (Jn 5:44; 12:43), yet Moses, who walked humbly with Yahweh (Num 12:3) was focused on Messiah to come (Jn 5:46–47).
The foolish generation is always looking for a sign or a wonder, a miracle to prove Jesus’ claims are true (Jn 6:30; 12:37). They are never satisfied in the likeness of true believers, who are not hungry and never thirsty (Jn 6:35), being content with what they have in Jesus (Phil 4:12; Heb 13:5), their Good Shepherd, who cares for them (1 Pet 5:7). Being omniscient (Jn 16:30), Jesus knew who believed in Him and who did not (Jn 6:64; 7:5, 18).
Believers hear the Word of truth, and for this reason they are distinguished from unbelievers, who do not have the truth, as it is in Jesus (Jn 8:45; Eph 4:21). Everyone who is of the truth listens to the Word preached, and they hear the voice of Christ (Jn 18:37). Jesus Christ commands them to come to Him (Mt 11:28), and they come and follow Him (Jn 10:4, 27). The one who does not love Jesus, does not follow His words (Jn 14:24).
Unregenerate, unbelievers are not of God (Jn 8:47). They have no love for God in their hearts (Jn 5:42). Jesus explained to them that they did not believe because they were not His sheep (Jn 10:26). They did not belong to Him (1 Cor 3:23) because He did not purchase them with His precious blood (1 Cor 6:20; 7:23; 1 Pet 1:18–19). He did not pay their debt of sin because they were not people of the covenant (Gen 17:7; Ex 6:7; Lev 26:12; Eph 2:12; Col 2:14) and therefore not forgiven of their sins (Mt 26:28; Eph 1:7).
God had not chosen unbelievers for salvation (2 Thess 2:13), nor did He give them to His Son (Jn 6:37; 10:28; 17:2, 6, 24), who would not even pray for them (Jn 17:9). These are not appointed to life (Acts 13:48), as believers are by God’s predestination to adoption (Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4–5).
Believing in Jesus is essential to resurrection and eternal life (Jn 11:25–26). Believers will never die, even though their bodies do die (Phil 1:23). Believing in Jesus, as we have noted, is believing His Word (Jn 2:22; Rom 10:17), believing in the truth, and believing in the Light (Jn 12:36), so as to not remain in darkness (Jn 12:46). Unbelievers love darkness (Jn 3:19), as they walk in darkness (Jn 8:12; 12:35; Eph 5:8; 1 Jn 1:6).
The apostle John, helped by the prophet Isaiah, explains that God is the reason unbelievers do not believe our report about Jesus (Is 53:1; Jn 12:38). They cannot see Jesus because God does not open their eyes (Is 35:5; Jn 9; Acts 11:37). They cannot hear because God’s Word has no place in them. They do not believe because God has hardened their hearts (Ex 9:12; Is 6:10–13; Jn 12:40).
In contrast, it is the Holy Spirit who gives the elect recipient a new heart (Ezek 36:26). These receive Jesus by the will of God, not of man (Jn 1:12–13). Having received Jesus, one believes in Him and also God the Father (Jn 12:44; 14:1). Jesus commanded His disciples to believe in God and to believe in Him because of the union of the Father and the Son (Jn 10:30; 14:10–11; 17:1–12).
Mutual indwelling between the Father and the Son becomes the pattern of the Spirit-filled believer who is positioned in Christ. This union is the basis of a trusting love relationship (Jn 16:27). True faith apprehends the fact that Jesus was sent and came forth from God the Father (Jn 6:29; 16:30; 17:8). This is the witness of the church to the world (Jn 17:21).
Some saw the resurrected Christ before His bodily ascension into heaven, but Jesus assured them that the blessed ones would be those who did not see Him in His post-resurrection state but who would still believe in Him (Jn 20:29). There is a reason these would believe in Him, without seeing the physical proof. God the Father and God the Son would send God the Holy Spirit to them (Jn 14:26; 15:26).
The Spirit-filled preacher is sent with beautiful feet to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the whole world, all creation (Mt 24:14; Mk 16:15; Rom 10:15; 16:25). The life-giving Spirit implants the living Word in the elect (Jn 6:63; 1 Cor 15:45; Jas 1:21) who were appointed to life (Acts 13:48). He gives them the life, which is a life of faith in the One who indwells them by His Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11; Gal 2:20).
With ears, eyes, and hearts opened by the Spirit of Christ (Acts 16:14), faith manifests as a gift of God, granted to recipients of God’s grace (Eph 2:8–9; Gal 3:22; Phil 1:29). It is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22). Saints believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, with the allotment of faith afforded to each one by God (Rom 12:3). Thus, there is one kind of faith received in different measure, according to God’s will and purpose.
To the one who does not will (Jn 1:13) nor work for the trust he has in the Lord (Rom 4:5), his faith is counted as righteousness, which was imputed to him upon baptism into Christ and His church, by the Holy Spirit (Rom 6; 1 Cor 12:13). The receipt of the Spirt and the Word is how God gives faith to His chosen people. You must be born again of the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:1–8; 1 Pet 1:3), in order to have faith in Jesus Christ, as one of His chosen people from before the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8; 17:8).
The presence of Christ in the saint is what causes him or her to live by faith, in the One who was sent and who gave Himself in death (Jn 10:11, 15; Rom 5:8; Gal 2:20; Eph 5:25), so that His holy nation would have the life of God in Christ in them…new, abundant, and eternal.
Spokane Valley, Washington
February 12, 2021