Justified by the Faith OF Jesus Christ, not by Ours….
Jefferis Kent Peterson
The Faith of Jesus Christ.
I’ve been re-reading and have been rekindled by an idea of a scholar Richard Hays, on The Faith of Jesus Christ. And this idea has been very liberating to my spirit and walk in the Lord. It has to do with the misinterpreted line, faith “in” Jesus Christ. Almost everywhere that is written in English is a wrong translation. It is properly translated by the King James, but not even by the New King James or American Standard versions. Let me explain.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:20-23, NKJV.
In Greek, the actual wording is “even the righteousness of God, through the faith OF Jesus Christ.” It is a possessive or genitive phrase. Now a genitive means that this phrase can be interpreted as either subjective or objective. In other words, it is like the phrase, the Love of God. That is either our love for God, or the love that God has. In one case it is objective (love for God), in the other subjective (God is the subject) and it describes the love that belongs to God, or God’s love.
In Greek, the faith of Jesus Christ is also a subjective genitive, but has been interpreted as an objective in almost every translation. However, I’ll show you why that is wrong. Paul uses Habakkuk to describe the way of faith:
Hab 2:4 Behold, he whose soul is not upright in him shall fail, but the righteous shall live by his faith.
The righteous in this phrase is an adjectival noun The young, the rich, etc. These are Adjectival Nouns, meaning the people who are young, the people who are rich, etc. Here it is understood that “the righteous” is the righteous one or the righteous person.
Paul quotes Habakkuk 2 times in his letters. Ro 1:17 For in it (the Gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed through faith to faith; as it is written, “He who through faith is righteous shall live.” Ga 3:11 Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”
In Paul’s day, the Essene Community, called the Messiah, the Righteous One or the Teacher of Righteousness, so it was a common expression at that time period. In Romans, Paul draws on the idea of The Righteous One to describe Jesus Christ, who reveals the righteousness of God through his faith. Paul’s whole argument in Romans is that the Law does not justify anyone, not even Abraham was justified by Law, but by faith. The Law, and obedience to it, can actually cause a breach of faith, because no one can keep the whole law. And since all unbelief “is sin” (Rm 14:23), anyone who does not believe God fully, has broken the Law. But here is the key. Paul sees Jesus as the fulfillment of the prophecy of Habakkuk. Jesus is The Righteous One who was able to maintain faith and not break it. To Paul, Jesus is our champion, a hero, like David when he faced Goliath. Jesus was able to do through his faith what we could not, face the giant of unbelief without stumbling or sin. Jesus was able to believe the Father perfectly. That is why he is “The Righteous One who shall live by His Faith.”
Paul is making an argument here that God’s righteousness was revealed “from faith to faith.” God’s perfect righteousness was revealed in and through the faith OF Jesus Christ, and was revealed to faith (our faith as we receive him). That is why the righteousness of God was revealed “apart from the Law”! It was revealed through the faith OF Jesus Christ and, dare I say it, not by his obedience to the Law (although he did not sin). It wasn’t the Law that revealed God’s righteousness in him, it was his faith.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God, through the faith of Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference; for all have sinned and fall
short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:20-23.
Why is this important? Because it is not our faith in Jesus which justifies us, but the faith of Jesus Christ in us which justifies us. In other words, it is his faith at work in us and in our hearts which produces righteousness and the God kind of life. And what is most important about this is the implications it has for us and our faith. First of all, it explains why faith is a gift and why we are saved through faith by grace and not as a work of our own. It is not our faith which justifies, but the faith of Jesus given to us, which resides in us. Since it is not our faith that justifies, but the faith of our Champion Jesus, whose faith is now at work on the inside of us, we are not called upon to believe God out of our own miserable resources or self generated faith or mental efforts, or our attempts to believe. We are only enabled to believe God through and because of the faith of Jesus Christ as work in us. It is Jesus’ faith upon which we are dependent and upon whom we rely. It is upon his faith, which is perfect and never fails, upon which we can rest and fully trust, because we know his faith is sufficient for every need and greater than every obstacle. And it is why Paul said “I can do all things through the Anointing (or the Anointed One, the Christ) which strengthens me.” He was seeing and understanding the immeasurable power at work in him through the faith of God’s Son Jesus.
What this revelation is doing is freeing me up from trying to believe in my strength, for I knew my faith was not up to the task of believing the impossible in the face of obstacles, the supernatural, and the giants of the Land. But the good news is, it isn’t my faith that matters. It is the faith OF Jesus Christ at work in me. He is surely able to believe the Father in all things. So, I am now pursuing, with full reliance upon His faith, to believe for whatever God so wills in my life. I know that with Him, all things are possible and to Him nothing is impossible. His faith is able to accomplish in me all that is necessary and whatever is required.
So I say, bring on the giants! You’ve got no idea who you’re dealing with! You are not just facing me, you are facing the faith of The Righteous One.
From Galatians, just more scriptural background: Ga 3:11 Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for “He who through faith is righteous shall live.”
Paul again continues his argument in Galatians. What is interesting here is how much the reading changes and how much more fluid it becomes if we translate the Greek exactly since it definitely says through the faith OF Jesus in several places. The King James actually has it more accurately than even the New King James.
Notice the different read: “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified,” Galatians 2:16, NKJV. In the first translation, faith becomes our work of believing which justifies us. “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified,” Galatians 2:16, KJV.
Here is is the faith of Jesus which justifies us… It is entirely His work and none of our own. We are justified by HIS faith!
Again, compare how we are justified. Are we justified by hearing with faith (an action on our part), or by hearing of faith (hearing of the faith of Jesus Christ and accepting his work of marvelous faith on our behalf)?
“Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?” Galatians 3:5, RSV. “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Galatians 3:5, KJV.
“But the scripture consigned all things to sin, that what was promised to faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” Galatians 3:22, RSV. “But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by thefaith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” Galatians 3:22, KJV.
In every case, it is the faith of Jesus which is set up as the model and as the agent or instrument of our salvation, so that all credit and honor goes to Jesus for his exceedingly great faith, now given to us as a gift, who are enabled to receive and believe.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.” Romans 3:20-27, KJV.
I believe these translations take the burden of believing God off of our shoulders as if we are the engine and instrument of our own salvation through faith we can manufacture and manifest, and allows us to rely fully upon the faith of Jesus Christ as our enablement, and so it makes sense then of the entirety of God’s good work in us:
“ For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10, NAS95.
Now we may ask, “Is Having the same Faith which Jesus has, the Will of God for our Lives? “ Yes.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first-born among many brethren.” Romans 8:29, RSV.
If Faith is a gift, will God give us this faith and does God want us to have it?
“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” Luke 11:13, RSV.
The point is simple. While on earth, Jesus may have questioned his Father, especially before going to the Cross, but Jesus never doubted his Father. His faith in his Father was perfect. He believed God would heal the sick; he did not question his relationship to the Father nor the Father’s love for him. When he laid hands on the sick, he knew his prayers would be honored and the sick would be made well. He did not doubt that the Father wanted to heal the sick and open the eyes of the blind. He saw his ministry as the fulfillment of the promise of God made in Isaiah:
“And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the Sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-21, RSV.
Since God the Father wants us to look like Jesus, act like Jesus, and love like Jesus, he also wants us to trust Him just like his own Son does. He wants us to become like Jesus and be remade into his likeness. So, it is the will of God that we trust the Father just as Jesus did while on the earth. He wants us to have the same faith towards the Father that Jesus did. It is not a question of whether the Father wants us to have faith nor a question of is he willing to give us this faith… This faith is absolutely necessary for us if we are to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and become like him.
Now faith and love are intertwined, and the faith the Father wants us especially to have is faith in the Father’s love towards us, so that we may be conformed to his Son not only in power but in character. In fact, there are warnings about those who have faith but not love, that Jesus does not know them. Judas had faith to heal the sick along with the rest of the disciples, but he did not love God. My point is that the faith that matters is the “faith that works through love” (Gal. 5:6). For it is not just faith in the abstract, but the faith which comes from being confident in God’s desire for us and in his love for us which gives us to trust God and maintain faith in the face of difficulties, resistance, and hardships. That is the kind of faith that will never doubt, and it is the kind of faith the Father wants us to have, so that in the end we become like Jesus.