By the words of the above title, reference is not had to “the faith of Christ” mentioned in such passages asGal. 2:16 (twice), Gal. 2:20, 3:22 and Phil. 3:9. There we have the objective genitive, as in “the fear of God,” which is obviously not the fear God experiences, but the fear He instills. So here “faith” is the object on which trust rests, which is Jesus Christ. It is the object and the content of faith which Paul is treating. We are justified by means of a faith and on the principle of a faith that is filled with Christ and produced by, Christ. Indicated is the object trusted, not the subject trusting.
But the idea we have in mind is the latter; not the object of faith, but the subject of faith, not the faith resting on Christ, but the faith exercised by Christ. Nevertheless, at the outset we must avoid the idea that Jesus presented himself merely as an example of faith, not as the object of faith; as though He called men to have faith in God like the faith He had in God. No, He did something much more fundamental. He commanded men to have faith in Him. He was not, as modern religion views Him, a “Christian.” Liberal theology teaches that just as Buddha was the founder of Buddhism because he was the first to propound and demonstrate its principles, so Jesus became the Founder of Christianity because He was the first to live the Christian life. To Him must go the honor of being the first Christian. But Jesus was no more a Christian than He was a penitent. It was His redeeming work which opened the way so that a given man would become a penitent, and so, a Christian. But a Christian is a man of a certain class called sinners, and Christianity is a way of ridding man of his sin. Therefore Jesus could be no Christian, for the very idea denies both His sinlessness and His impeccability. Jesus is not a Christian. He is the Christ who bids us have faith in Him. We are Christians, not because we imitate Jesus’ faith in God, but because we have faith in Him!
“Without controversy, great is the mystery of . . . God . . . manifest in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16). Such a great mystery is too dazzling to attempt to gaze at even for the eye of faith. .”The Word became flesh, and we beheld His glory.” But the sight is blinding. We are unable to stare for long at any one part of His aspect any more than we can at the sun. For the head and hair of the Son of Man shine as sunlight on snow. His eyes are as the blazing prominences of the solar orb; His feet as gold-bronze heated to incandescence. His whole appearance (the word used in John 7:24) is as the sun shining to its greatest intensity (Rev. 1:14-16). It was this person of the Son of God who made himself of no reputation, taking upon himself the form of a servant and veiling His glory under holy humanity. So the divine person and the human nature were united, the latter never having a separate existence but possessing the qualities of human personality. In the second person of the trinity, the true God was true man, with a human spirit, a rational soul and a physical body. In every way He was perfect man. He lived in unbroken fellowship with God, never for a moment wandering from His presence; He said, “I have set the Lord always before Me: because He is at My right hand, I shall not be moved (Ps. 16:8).”
It was the purpose of the Son of God to bring many sons to glory. The means He took to accomplish this purpose was “to be made like unto His brethren,” so that He who was rich for our sakes became poor. He who was Creator took the frame of a creature. He who was sovereign became subject to the Almighty Father. He who upholds all things by the word of His power, had to be supported through weariness, hunger and thirst.
The human nature of the Mediator was dependent upon the divine, so that in all .His earthly ministry He lived a life of faith in the Father. Speaking from the eternal counsel of God, He prophesied His incarnation and righteous life. “Mine ears hast Thou opened . . . . Then said I, ‘Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of Me. I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation'” (Ps. 40:7-10). From birth our Lord lived by faith. Again He spoke from His counsel to the old covenant church: “Thou art He that took Me out of the womb: Thou didst make Me hope when I was upon My mother’s breasts. I was cast upon Thee from the womb: Thou art My God from My mother’s belly (Ps. 22:9f).” In infancy, childhood and manhood He lived unto and trusted in the triune God.
All through His earthly life the Lord lived by faith. In childhood He was always about His Father’s business. He prayed without ceasing. He was praying during. His baptism (Luke 3:21). Before He called His twelve apostles, He spent all night in prayer to God on a mountain-side (Luke 6:12). It was on the Mount of Transfiguration that “as He prayed.” He was transfigured, metamorphosed in glory (Luke 9:29). The adversary, Satan, continually opposed Him, but was always repulsed and overcome. Again, the Psalmist, who richly portrayed the experiences of Christ in conception, birth, life and death, records these words of His mouth: “By the word of Thy lips I have kept Me from the paths of the destroyer . . . Hold up My goings in Thy paths, that My footsteps slip not (Ps. 17:4, 5).”
Often during His ministry, “the Jews marveled, saying, ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned (John 7:15)?'” Jesus had never studied in the rabbinical schools. The Jews knew this and were offended that one without formal education should stand forth as a teacher. They therefore sought to belittle and embarrass Him. But they were ignorant of how He received His training. The prophet Isaiah informs us with His word, “The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: He wakeneth morning by morning, He wakeneth Mine ear to hear as the learned (Is. 50:4).” The Father instructed Him, not in dreams and visions but, when sleep was over, every morning. Thus God taught the Christ the holy Scriptures, so that He joyfully affirmed, “I do nothing of Myself, but as My Father hath taught Me, I speak these things (John 8:28).”
Jesus was not counseled in His work by “common sense,” by the “common consciousness,” public opinion, pragmatic thinking, the latest political compromise or the policies of negotiation. He always saw Him who is invisible, saw eye to eye with His Father: “I speak that which I have seen with My Father (John 8:38).” He was never left without good counsel, as was King Saul (I Sam. 28:6). He was always doing the will of God, and always His prayers were heard. “I am not alone. . . He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him (John 8:16, 29). He prayed, “Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me. And I knew that Thou hearest Me always (John 11:41f).” There were times when He suffered intense distress of mind. Then He “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard, in that He feared (Heb. 5:7) —for He, prayed in godly fear, in reverential trust in God. In every pressing moment, He relied on His God. “Preserve Me, O God, for in Thee do I put my trust (Ps. 16:1).” His whole life had its ground and reason in God. “As the living Father hath sent Me, I also live because of the Father; and he that eateth Me, he also shall live because of Me” (John 6:57, Gk.). As the Son of Man; His human nature is full of divine life. “In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead, bodily. (Col. 2:9),” and that because of the Father whom it pleased that in Christ all the fulness should dwell (Col. 1:19). ‘”For as the Father hath life in himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in himself (John 5:26).” In all His life He suffered, but in every adversity He “committed himself to Him that judgeth righteously (I Pet. 2:23).” When men neither believed on Him, nor repented, He was neither vindictive, disappointed nor frustrated. In fact, He took comfort in the sovereign will of God and in His divine double predestination. For He “rejoiced in spirit, and said, ‘I thank Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in Thy sight (Luke 10:21).'”
Even on the cross where His sufferings are sometimes referred to as His passive. obedience, He was active in turning to His God. Even when God had forsaken Him, He clung to His God. “My God, My God! Be not far from Me, for trouble is near; for there is none to help. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and My tongue cleaveth to My jaws; and Thou hast brought Me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed Me . . . They pierced My hands and My feet. Be not Thou far from Me, O Lord: O My strength, haste Thee to help Me (Ps. 22:1, 11, 15, 16, 19).” He was confident, too, that God was notfar from Him. “He is near that justifieth Me. . . Behold, the Lord God will help Me (Is. 50:8f).” Though He was dying a criminal’s death, He knew He would be exonerated. Underscore in the last passage the word “justifieth.”
Complete trust in God is evident in His death. His last words were in faith: “Father, into Thy hands I commend My spirit (Luke 23:46).” So was His last act: “He bowed His head, and gave up the spirit (John 19:30).” He died in hope of resurrection, as His cry of victory, “It is finished!” implies. For the finish included His exodus, the way out, through resurrection. His prophetic hope was, though brought down into the dust of death (the grave), “I will declare Thy name unto My brethren: in the midst of the Church will I sing praise unto Thee. For He hath not despised . . . the affliction of the Afflicted; neither hath He hid His face from Him; but when He cried unto Him, He heard. My praise shall be of Thee in the great congregation (Ps. 22:15; Heb. 2:12; Ps. 22:24f).” He was full of the resurrection hope. “My flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show Me the path of (resurrection) life! In Thy presence is fulness of joy! At Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore (Ps. 16:9-11)” —the latter including a view of His ascension and session. His faith was open and undeniable. Even His enemies bore witness to it. “He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver Him!” (Ps. 22:8). No wonder Christ Jesus is not only the example of our faith and life, our righteousness and peace, but also the central object of our faith!