by J. Philip Scranton

Having perceived that a man is not being justified by works of law, except alone through the faith of Christ Jesus, we also believe in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by the faith of Christ" (Gal.2:16). The faith of Jesus Christ, not our own faith, is the basis of our justification. The righteousness of God is manifested for all through Jesus Christ's faith (Rom.3:21,22). This is a basic truth and foundational element of the evangel. It will pay us well to meditate on this wonderful faith of our Lord.

Faith in God is a matter of believing and depending upon His word and having confidence in His character, regardless of circumstances. The faith of Jesus Christ in His God and Father illustrates both of these aspects of faith.


"My Son are You; I, today, have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I shall give the nations as Your allotment, and as Your holding, the limits of the earth" (Psa.2:7b,8).

Here is one of a number of promises made by God the Father to His only-begotten Son. In the weakened condition brought about by forty days and nights of fasting, Christ was offered the opportunity to hurry the fulfillment of God's promise if He would fall down and worship the Adversary (Matt.4:8-10). Similarly, Abraham was offered the opportunity to hurry the fulfillment of God's promise to him when Sarah suggested that he father a child by Hagar. So often we too, in our impatience and weakness of faith, want to "help God" fulfill His promises. But He needs no help—He desires our faith. The Lord's response to the Adversary reflects both His faith and His reverence for His Father.

Christ still awaits His day of authority, but, like David, waiting on the Lord to remove Saul, He rests in faith, awaiting the Father's time. Facing death, the apparent end of all things for those in the flesh, the Lord Jesus said to Pilate, "Yet now is My kingdom not hence" (John 18:36). He believed He would have that promised kingdom, but that it was yet future, and thus He showed His belief that His Father would raise Him from the dead and eventually seat Him on His throne. This is the same faith that rouses us together with Him (Col.2:12).


Before Paul mentions the faith of Jesus Christ in Romans 3, he paints a vivid and detailed picture of human depravity as he progresses through the first three chapters. He does this because we cannot grasp the faith of Christ until we begin to realize the offensiveness of humanity's sin to God. As children, we probably behaved better for other adults than we did for our own parents. At home we knew where all the invisible boundaries were that could not be crossed. If we behaved poorly at a friend's house, and were confronted by his parents, we would study every expression of our friend in an effort to determine how serious the offense was. Our initial rearing is in the world—not in God's house, and we are incapable of realizing the degree of repulsion that God experiences from our sin. Only by examining Christ and the cross can we come to any realization of the offensiveness of sin to God.

But the Lord Jesus was "in the bosom of the Father," and knew the Father so intimately that He could "unfold" or reveal Him to the world's gaze (John 1:18). Christ knew the Father's love for humanity, but He also knew the unfathomable depth of offense that the Father suffered because of mankind's sinfulness. Only Christ could realize how grievous a thing it was to bear the sin of the world. Only Christ could know how heinous He would be to the Father He loved when He bore our sin. Gethsemane speaks volumes of the close filial relationship between the Son and the Father and of the agony inflicted in the severing of that relationship.

Christ had the utmost confidence in the character of His God and Father. He could view the indignation of God over man's depravity and offensiveness and still not doubt His Father's reconciling love. How different this is from our faith! Some people believe they have already sinned so grievously that God could never dispose of their offense. Some think that God has tied His love before them on a string, so that He can retrieve it if they ever falter in obedience. Many observe God's indignation toward the world and conclude that if God exists at all, He is an angry God, devoid of love. Still others focus on God's reconciling love to the neglect of the inestimable cost of the cross to Him. A balanced faith will view God's love against the background of the offense of the cross.


The cross of Christ sets before us the death of the flesh. All creation was in Christ and came into being through Him (Col. 1:15-17), and in His death all may be viewed as having died: "... if One died for the sake of all, consequently all died" (2 Cor.5: 14). Thus the cross brings the end of all flesh before us. And the cross also marks the death of the flesh in the believer's life.

It is interesting that when the Lord Jesus came in flesh to His people under the law, He did not search for anyone who had fulfilled the law. Of course such a search would have been fruitless, but the point is that instead, He searched for those who had faith. Law is dependent upon the flesh, and faith and the flesh are continually in opposition to each other. Faith forsakes all confidence in the flesh, even in the best things of the flesh, and clings to God Who is Spirit (Phil.3). Faith is spiritual. The presence of faith verifies that God has bestowed a spiritual ability. Faith is an act of maturity of which the flesh is incapable. In fact, all too often, faith only flourishes as our flesh becomes weaker and weaker with the advance of years. Yet Paul says of the believers who have received a realization of the cross, "those of Christ Jesus crucify the flesh together with its passions and lusts" (Gal.5:24). And so the cross may be seen as the end of the flesh and also as the beginning of faith.

When Christ our Lord faced the cross, He faced it empty of all His rightful authority and ability. He faced the end of Himself, unless God would bring Him back. Faith in His God and Father was all and only what He had. Such is what God desires our condition to be. Oh that the flesh were dead and faith flourishing, that we rested immovable upon the word of God and upon His divine, immutable character!

� J. Philip Scranton
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