This is a question that separates man-made religion from Biblical Christianity. Religion focuses on what we do to be made right with God. Biblical Christianity focuses on what Christ did that makes us right with God when we put our faith in Him. This was as mucha struggle for the Jews in the first century as it is for many today. Yet the Bible makes it clear that no one can be justified (made right with God) by keeping the law. There are many passages that support this:
Galatians 2:16 (NLT) “Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
The Message paraphrases it like this in Galatians 2:16 (MSG) “We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.”
The Biblical writer, James, helps us understand the nature of faith that makes us right with God. It is more than an attitude. It is an attitude that leads to an action when we act on what we believe by yielding our lives to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, allowing Him total access to our body, soul and spirit so that the evidence of being right with God is demonstrated in a life that reflects the image and likeness of His character. He says in
James 2:23-24 (MSG) “The full meaning of ‘believe’ in the Scripture sentence, ‘Abraham believed God and was set right with God,’ includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named ‘God’s friend.’ Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?”
Believing faith means to rely on, cling to, depend upon and trust in the Lord Jesus and all that He has done through His death on the cross to provide the means for our forgiveness and justification. We do not earn or deserve it. Being right with God is derived exclusively from the presence of Christ righteousness within the believer. We have no righteousness of our own. When we put our faith in Christ we are declared right with God. 2 Cor. 5:21 says “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
Faith is not only believing that, but by faith we receive it with thanksgiving. If you have turned from your sin and turned to God receiving Christ as your personal Savior from sin, then make the positive confession of faith, by thanking Him for His forgiveness that makes you right with God.
//Theological Thursday: Questions are welcome. Asking them makes our faith personal and real. On Thursdays I will be answering theological questions. Enter yours in the comment box below and I will select one each week to answer on our blog.