When discussing the differences between various religions there is one major aspect of the Christian faith that is extremely unique. Every other religion on the face of earth is spelled DO. That is, there are a series of moral and religious obligatory works which one must perform in order to be right with the particular god in question. However, Christianity is spelled DONE. That is, in terms of the Christian faith, salvation has been accomplished by the perfect God-Man, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord Jesus did not come in order to make salvation possible. No, He actually accomplished salvation for all of His sheep throughout the ages.
While this is taught in many places in Scripture, the Apostle Paul is very conspicuous in his emphasis upon what Jesus came to do and actually accomplished. One of the places where this is clearly taught is in Romans 5. In this chapter, Paul contrasts two men who had two completely different effects through their actions.
We Failed in the First Adam
Paul speaks of the first Adam and the particular results of his life. God had established a covenant with Adam in which his obedience or lack thereof would have significant consequences. As delineated by Paul, because of Adam’s disobedience, human beings have received condemnation, judgment, and death. Adam disobeyed God and incurred the curses of his disobedience for himself and all progeny who would come after him. Scripture teaches us that all mankind fell in Adam since he was the federal head of all mankind. We are so affected by his disobedience that we are even conceived in sin.
We Succeed in the Second Adam
Praise be to God that Paul also mentions another man who was also the head of a new humanity, those who would be affected by His perfect life and obedience. So while death and condemnation came through the first Adam, many receive life, justification, and righteousness through the life and obedience of the second Adam, Jesus Christ. Paul explicitly states that we are saved by his life. Later in this chapter, Paul also states that we are made righteous through the last Adam’s obedience. This truth is profound and is deeply encouraging and intensely hopeful.
Freedom is Yours by Faith
Just think of the implications of this truth for daily living. Upon what basis does one believe that he is right with God from moment to moment? Typically, we will define rightness with God through various works that we perform such as Bible reading, prayer, tithing, going to church, etc. These are all works of obedience that a believer naturally performs out of love for Christ and for the purpose of growing in grace. However, if our motivation for doing these things is to make God love us or accept us then these acts will NOT be considered true obedience in the eyes of God, for apart from faith it is impossible to please God. Faith looks to Jesus and trusts in His life, death, resurrection, and ascension. As Scripture teaches we were IN Christ as He lived His life of perfect active and passive obedience. Faith receives and rests in who Christ is and all that He accomplished. This faith works. As James teaches, faith without works is dead. These works don’t make God love us more; they put us in a position to hear God say it more.
Faith RECKONS with the reality of what is true of us in Jesus. In Christ, we are dead to the tyranny and rule of sin over us. The old man is no longer our boss. We have a new Master who has given us His perfect record. To reckon is to put to one’s account what is true. It is like taking a check from God and actually cashing it because we believe that He has all of the resources to back it up.
So, our faith must look to and rest in Jesus and NOT in our ability to believe and figure things out. Faith must have an object and the object of the Christian faith is Christ himself. This faith is not a faith in one’s own faith or in one’s own morality. How much time do we spend time wallowing in false guilt because we fail to live up to even our own standards, much less God’s standards? Yet, because of the work of the last Adam, my salvation rests on the reality that he did it right. This encourages my own obedience and feeds my desire to bring pleasure to the one who gave his life for me. Even when I do sin I need never fear condemnation. I might have to deal with some consequences and discipline from the Father, who disciplines those whom he loves. But, nothing can change my standing with God in Christ. I stand on the platform of His grace, fully established by Christ and his perfect obedience.
We Have All We Need
At the end of 1 Corinthians 1 Paul reiterates once again that we have all that we need for life and godliness in Jesus. Here is what he says: And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord”.
We are in Christ Jesus because of the work of God. In Christ we receive wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
Christianity is all about a person: Jesus Christ! The gospel is all about Him and what He has actually done and what is received through the work of his Spirit and is evidenced by faith and trust. How great it is to know that the Christian faith is all about this perfect person who did for us what we could not do for ourselves. How great it is to know that all we need to do is come to his person to receive ALL we need for life and godliness. Thankfully, he is The Way to all the blessings of heaven. In Christ alone!