Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14.12).
Bible subjects are nearly always interesting to those who write them, but often are not so to the reader. It is my desire that this Bible subject will not only be interesting to the reader, but that it will also prove profitable to their soul, serving to magnify the grace of God by revealing a portion of His truth to needy sinners.
The text speaks of the patience of the saints, the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus. In this article, only the faith of Jesus will be reviewed. Observe carefully, the text does not refer to faith in Jesus but the faith of Jesus. Jesus, the Son of God, was also Jesus, the son of Mary. Jesus was His earthly name, a name given Him by heavenly authority. "And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins (Matthew 1.21)."
It is the faith of this Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God, this writer will endeavor to set forth in its fullness and beauty. The Christ-child, that Holy thing born by special generation in the womb of Mary by the Spirit of the Father, was a human, so his name was called Jesus, just as all humans have names and are so identified. That the name Jesus means Saviour will be addressed later. The faith of Jesus is our current pursuit.
FAITH, BY DEFINITION
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11.1)." The children of God have for centuries been satisfied with the meaning of faith as given here by Paul. Their faith looks out beyond the present and substantiates that for which they hope. Faith then gives evidence to that trusting one regarding the thing hoped for. In the simplest of terms, ask yourself, what is it that you hope for beyond this life? Is it not life after death? Is it not the resurrection from the dead? Do not those whose faith looks up to God rely on His good word, believing when this life of toil is finished they will unite with all the blood-washed band in that eternal home? Surely there can be no real disagreement here. The object of faith is the righteousness of Jesus our Lord. The purpose of our faith is that the righteousness of Jesus will avail for us when life is done. Faith is the evidence being substantiated to us that our hope will be realized.
"Now the just shall live by faith(Hebrews 10.38)." The grand question now is, did Jesus, in His humility and while in this world, clothed in human form, live by faith? Some have suggested that it would be unnecessary for Jesus to live by faith because He was God. Yes, He was God; He was also man! As man He came to this world to die. Yes, He came to die! There was no other reason why God the Son was clothed in flesh other than to suffer and die for all His chosen family. As the justifier of His flock it should not be thought a thing incredible that He would live by faith, being just.
Then facing death, exactly as all humans face death, and a death infinitely worse than any death we might imagine, does it really seem incredible that Jesus, in the flesh, would trust His Father? Is it not reasonable that He would have faith in the promise the Father made to Him? The promise that the Father would raise Him from the dead? Would He believe that the promises would be realized or not? The Lord willing, evidences of the faith Jesus manifested as a human will be forthcoming.
THE HUMANITY OF JESUS
Introducing the thought that Jesus had faith, real faith in His Father, may seem unusual, especially since many have no firm concept of what faith is. Faith is too often regarded as simply believing. Beyond this idea of faith some become uneasy. There has been so much said about "only believe" and "exercise your faith" many have unwittingly adopted these sentiments. It seems odd to some to think God the Son needed faith. Rest easy. Do not be frightful, fearing that to speak of Jesus as human, as a corporeal, fleshly being, having faith too, is to deprecate His divinity.
Fear not, little flock; Jesus has revealed Himself to us as both God and man. Jesus is, always was, and evermore shall be, the eternal Son of God. Jesus is, and everlastingly shall be, the Son of man. "And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us(John 1.14)."
"But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men (Philippians 2.7)."
"Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same(Hebrews 2.14)."
"But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet (Luke 24.37-40)."
Mark well! This citation from Luke was after the resurrection. Jesus was yet clothed with flesh and bones. And so shall we all see Him in the coming world of glory. I have no doubt that Jesus will appear to all the redeemed in heaven with the same body in which he lived, suffered, died, was buried, and which was raised from the dead.
It will be the same body in which he offered his sacrifice to His Father, after the resurrection, and the same body the disciples saw ascend to heaven. Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. Jesus is God manifest in the flesh. Jesus shall always be God manifest in the flesh.
Jesus was God. So was Jesus man. Jesus was God clothed in flesh. He was in every respect man like we are men, though being conceived by the Holy Ghost He could not, and did not, sin. As we shall see, His humanity was, and is, central to our hope.
JESUS THE MEDIATOR
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus (I Timothy 2.5)." It is absolutely necessary to see that Jesus is, and ever shall be, the one mediator between an offended God and His offending creatures. Ordinary intelligence regarding mediators tells us a mediator must be capable to represent the interests of one party to the other party. In natural circumstances, the more the mediator knows of both parties the more he shall be competent to reconcile whatever variances exist between the parties. How much more so must our mediator be conversant with the experiences and passions of man, while at the same time be fully suited to represent a holy God?
In Hebrews, Paul takes us through a series of things of which Jesus is better. In chapter 8, three of these are worth mention here:
1. His ministry contrasted with the ministry of Moses.
2. The better covenant.
3. The better promises. "But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, [than that of Moses] by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises (Hebrews 8.6)."
Moses could certainly feel the afflictions and sorrows of the sons of Jacob, but he was also crippled with sin and thus his mediatorship was limited. Like the rest of the Israelites, he too died. His body yet remains in the ground. Due to the weakness of the flesh, the covenant between God and Israel was also not suited to redeem, despite its holy content and divine origin. Man could not rise to the standard the law required and thus they, along with Moses, were yet in their sins. The promises there were of the natural sort. Even had some way been found (an impossibility) for Israel to keep the covenant, the best it could render them was temporal blessings. Jesus, our mediator, has been established as our better and eternal priest at the right hand of the Father, having received the benefits of better promises resulting from a better covenant. This forms the basis of the imparting of His faith to His elect. It is the one faith, once delivered to the saints. If Jesus did not abide at the right hand of the Father, representing us to the Father, and the Father to us, we could have no gift of faith.
JESUS AND THE BETTER PROMISES
It is accepted by Old School Baptists universally that Jesus came to save us from our sins. Furthermore, His Father was pleased to send Him for this very purpose. Jesus came in behalf of all His chosen children; chosen in Him from the foundation of the world. They were His as a gift from the Father. He was, therefore, under divine commitment, as their representative, to undertake for them what they could not do for themselves. It should be fair to say, the eternal Son of God covenanted with the Father to undertake for His own. Further, it should be recognized that God the Father accepted the covenant promise of His Son to redeem those elect ones that were to fall in Adam the first. Now, it is a recognized fact, covenants are promises between two parties and not simply one. Since the Son promised, or covenanted, to redeem His own, then what part of the covenant promises did the Father engage in? Just this: the Son would divest Himself of all heavenly glory. He would assume a body the Father prepared for Him. He would be made a little lower than the angels. As Jesus, the Son would be born, live and die under the law; the law the whole family had failed to keep. Jesus would be buried as are all other dead beings. It is here the Father's covenant with the Son in seen. It is here heaven and earth came to terms. God the Father, would, being fully satisfied with the work of His Son to redeem His chosen, raise Him from the dead. Jesus had faith that the Father would not leave Him in the tomb but raise Him from the dead as promised.
This is the heart of the matter. God the Father promised the Son a regeneration from the dead based upon the Son's promise to fully satisfy all the Father's requirements for the chosen children. "But God raised him from the dead (Acts 13.30)." With limited space this must suffice to show the reason it is necessary to recognize that Jesus had faith; faith just like we have except that all true faith originates with Jesus (Hebrews 12.2). It is this faith of Jesus now to be examined.
THE OBJECT OF JESUS' FAITH
The object is very clearly seen throughout the New Testament and especially in the Book of Acts. The object is the resurrection from the tomb. Jesus trusted His Father to secure Him in death and on the third day raise Him in full victory over the last enemy. Pause and wonder! Jesus knew from the beginning what He faced; the trials and anguish; the cruel mockings and brutality. More than all else, Jesus knew that He must voluntarily die so all those for whom He was responsible might live.
The day of Pentecost came. Miracles attested to the magnitude of the moment. Peter stood up and preached the everlasting gospel. Hear him now as they heard him then: "Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2.22-24)." Three things here are necessary to our study. 1. Peter said Jesus was a man approved of God. 2. God delivered Him up to die. 3. God raised Him from the dead. The approved man was suitable to die to serve the purposes of God and in consequences thereof God was pleased to raise Him from the bonds of death. Can it be denied that Jesus, as man, trusted His Father that He would honor His work and not leave Him in the grave? Was this faith or not? What was the object of the faith of Jesus? His resurrection by the Father.
Peter continues his discourse. He speaks of David in verses 25 through 29. We shall have occasion to return to these verses. Then: "Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses (Acts 2.30-32)." The weight of these verses must not be overlooked. Peter affirms the humanity of Jesus from David's words that "of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh." Can words be made more plain? He fortifies his conclusions with "This Jesus hath God raised up." It would be remarkable indeed for anyone to read these verses and not see, 1. The humanity of Jesus, and 2. The importance of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Again, this is the object of the faith of Jesus.
A reading of the following texts in the book of Acts should at once convince the honest heart that predominant in the messages of the early disciples was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead: 3.15; 3.26; 4.10; 4.33; 5.30. Peter carries this same blessed resurrection message to the house of Cornelius, Acts 10.40. None, however, shall ever surpass in clarity the witness of Paul at Antioch in Pisidia. "And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead (Acts 13.28-30)." This says it all. God raised Him from the dead! The faith of Jesus was not in vain.
Paul continues by reminding them of the promise God had made to their fathers. Now, according to Paul, God had fulfilled that promise. What was the promise? "God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again, as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David (Acts 13. 33,34)." Jesus was begotten from the dead. This God had promised Him through the fathers and their children. Jesus believed the promises in a way that no one else might. He trusted them completely for His holy resurrection to occur three days after laying down His life for the sheep. From the beginning, Jesus knew the path He must tread; the end of the law-fulfilling journey. It was His death. He was sustained in this journey by faith that God would indeed raise Him from the dead. This was the object of His faith.
THE HUMAN JESUS
Proof has already been offered that Jesus was human. Few will stumble here who trust the Word of God. It should be remembered, however, that Jesus was in all respects as human as all other humans, sin excepting. Consider: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man (Luke 2.52)." Truly amazing! But it should not be amazing when you recognize that Jesus was indeed a man. Remember, it was His manhood that qualified Him as mediator in behalf of men. Early in the ministry of Jesus He was led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the Devil. The evil one waited until Jesus had fasted forty days and forty nights and when Jesus was hungry (Matthew 4.2). Dreadful scene, Jesus being tempted during His physical extremity. Afterward, angels came and ministered unto Him, again showing His physical limitations. Jesus knew weariness and fatigue. Jesus knew agonies and grief. At the tomb of Lazarus He groaned within Himself and was troubled.
Furthermore, the Scriptures say, "Jesus wept." Jesus, wholly God, yet wholly man. Can we fathom the sorrows He experienced? Hardly. It would be safe to say that Jesus as man experienced the whole range of emotions that ordinary, everyday people experience. The glory is, He met each emotion with holy success. Moreover, all Jesus experienced was in behalf of His seed. They were His responsibility for God had given them to the Son in eternity past. Jesus became human because of the elect humanity.
THE HUMAN TIE
It is beyond question that Jesus was man as well as God. Then for what purposes was He human, some may ask? "For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted (Hebrews 2.18)." See here two things; first, He Himself was tempted. Second, He is therefore able to succour us who likewise are tempted. Jesus did suffer temptations, though never yielding. It was His experience with temptations that moved Him to compassion towards His brethren who also suffer the same.
"Seeing then that we have a great high priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4.14, 15)." Hear this brethren; Jesus can be touched. He feels our infirmities. All our sorrows He has experienced. In all points, the apostle says, He, Jesus the Son of God, was tempted. When sickness or death invades our lives; "when sorrows encompass us round; and many distresses we see" be sure Jesus has gone before. Well-meaning friends may offer condolences by saying, "I know just what you are going through" when often they have no idea. Not so with our Lord; He has been in all circumstances such as we and came off the victor.
FAITH ON TRIAL
There are many compelling texts that might be employed to verify Jesus had real faith. Several shall suffice. From the positive side first: "And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him (James 5.15)."
Clearly, the thought here is regarding the saints afflictions and the prayer of faith by those concerned for their welfare. It seems plain enough then, if we, as the brethren of Jesus, experience the times when we must call on heaven's assistance in our griefs, if Jesus has been in all points tried as we, He too must have often prayed the prayer of faith. We know Jesus prayed often, sometimes going up into a mountain and pouring out His heart to the Father all night in prayer. Can it be possibly imagined that His prayers were not of faith?
"Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ (I Peter 1. 6,7)."
Having previously seen from Hebrews 4.14, 15 that Jesus was tempted in all points like as we, then how could it be possible that we could have our faith tried and He not? Could Jesus be tempted in all points like as we except this point? I think not! It can well be thought that many times when our dear Lord pondered His impending sufferings and horrible death, the abandonment of the sheep and the loss of the Father's presence, His faith was sorely tried. We may rejoice that it never failed.
Jesus was more than God come to redeem. Jesus was also man come to be a fit substitute for all His brethren so that redemption could be based on both mercy and justice. God the Father would be merciful only when justice had been satisfied. Jesus satisfied that justice and in so doing He experienced the whole range of trials that rendered Him a satisfactory sacrifice. You may be sure then, when your faith is sorely tried, Jesus has been there before you and was victorious.
Looking back one verse from those quoted above it will be noticed that Peter offered considerable assurance to those that were to have their faith tried. "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1.5)." Should it be beyond the normal, then, that our dear Lord was also kept in His trials of faith by the power of God the Father?
It cannot be imagined that Jesus did not believe His Father would keep Him, even in death. This was faith in the purest and fullest sense of the word. Listen to the Saviour as He groans out the last of life as a suffering substitute: "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost (Luke 23.46)."
Faith was never more on display than here. Trusting His Father to the last breath that He would bring Him forth victorious over death, hell and the grave, Jesus volunteered His holy spirit unto the Father and freely, without external compulsion, died in faith. Literally, Jesus trusted God His Father to raise Him from the dead three days later, as had been prophesied and as He had told His disciples. This was faith!
"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death: and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11.5,6)." The length of this article prohibits an extensive review of this critical text. With the following question I shall leave it for the next installment: Could it be possible that the body must have faith to please God the Father and the head not need faith to please Him as well?
The Lord willing, the next article will round out some of the other texts that support the sublime truth that the faith we, as the children of God, have is the impartation of the faith that Jesus had in the Father. It will be shown that they both are one and look to the same end, the glorious resurrection from the dead. Christ the firstfruits, and they that are His at His coming.
James F. Poole
Volume 13, No. 4 - July-August, 1999