Ask the Preacher
Previous Page

Hi.  I just wanted to let you know that I think your doing a great job on your web site.  There is a lot of information and I have used your thoughts from time to time. 

I was teaching in class one time and made a statement that Jesus lived the perfect faith life.  One of the elders said that he never looked at it that way before and here is his logic.

Jesus is God and knows all things therefore faith is not apart of who He is.  He understand, as well as I do, that when we die faith and hope will be no more because we will be in the presents of God. 

But He takes it one step further with Jesus being God and therefore has no need of faith.  Also he said that being faithful or faithfulness is different then having faith.

I tried to explain that Jesus is 100% man as well as 100% God "he had no problem with that" and that when Jesus prayed to His Father and all the trust He had to have when His body was in the grave that it would be raised again that this was enough to prove that Jesus lived the perfect life of faith.

What are you thoughts on this subject.

Thank you very much.

Roger Gean

The question boils down to this.  Did Jesus become human so as to have the need for faith?  The implications of a yes or no answer are enormous.  If Jesus did not need faith, then was he really human?  If Jesus did need faith, did he lose his divinity?  While there is not a simplistic or easy answer, scripture does give us some insight into this question.


“But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through the faith of Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God... (Rom 3:21-23)”


Most translations translate this, “through faith in Christ Jesus” which is an interpretation rather than a translation.  The phrase is literally “through the faith of Jesus Christ.”   Translators who translate this “faith in Jesus” interpret the “of” to refer to our faith in Christ rather than the faith that Christ had. 


If the faith Paul is speaking of is the faith we are to have in Jesus, then the subsequent phrase is redundant.  In Greek, the redundancy is even more glaring.  While we do not have a verb form for the word, “faith” and have to use the verb, “believe,” Greek does not have that problem.  Pistis (faith), pistos (faithful) and pisteo (to believe) are all derived from the same root: “pist”.  Let me illustrate the redunancy in English using the word “believe” rather than faith, “even the righteousness of God through belief in Jesus Christ for all those who believe...”  See the redundancy?  So, the “faith of Christ” is referring to the faith that Jesus Christ had.  Because of his faith, he was loyal and obedient to God, which brought salvation to us who believe.  Without the faith of Christ, which led to his obedience, our faith is meaningless.


This sheds some light on Romans 1:17.


“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, "But the righteous man shall live by faith (Rom 1:16-17)."


What does the phrase, “from faith to faith” mean?  In light of the passage from Romans 3, the first “faith” is probably referring to the faith of Christ.  The second one is probably referring to our own faith.  Both are involved in our salvation.  Both are involved in revealing the righteousness of God.  It was the faith of Christ that led him to the cross in trusting obedience.


Now, one might think this is just an isolated verse that uses this phrase.  But this is not the only passage that uses the phrase, “faith of Christ.”  Here are some others.


“... nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through the faith of Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified (Gal 2:16).”


“But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by the faith of Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Gal 3:22).”


“... and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, (Phil 3:9).”


Righteousness comes ultimately through the faith of Christ to those of us who have faith.  But what of our faith?  Does the phrase, “faith of Christ” negate the necessity for our own faith?  Not at all.  There are several passages that explicitly call for us to have faith “in” Christ Jesus in order to be saved.


"I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me (Gal 2:20).”


“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:26).”


Unlike the passages above, which do not use the preposition, “in,” these verses explicitly use “in” (“en” in Greek), which indicates our faith in Christ.


There are some other passages that strongly imply that Jesus had to live by faith.


“Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.  For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.  Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.  For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted (Heb 2:14-18).”


Jesus “shared in flesh and blood.”  The word “shared” is the same word also translated, “fellowship” or “participation.”  Jesus “fellowshipped” in our flesh and blood.  He “participated” in our humanity.  He entered into the human experience, which involved among other things temptation.  The story of the temptations of Christ in Matthew 3 records real temptations.  If they were not, then Jesus really didn’t participate in our humanity.  If he didn’t participate in our humanity, then he really didn’t defeat death (1 Cor 15).  However, if he truly walked in our shoes, then it stands to reason that in his humanity that he willingly took on, he had to live by faith.  That is why the Bible also tells us this.


“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Heb 4:15).”


The result of all of this was that through his faith, he overcame temptation, procured forgiveness at the cross, and is now able to be a “merciful and faithful high priest.”


The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus became “flesh” in John 1:14.  “Flesh” in does not refer only to the physical body.  It is typically used of our humanity.  Paul speaks of our “flesh” being at war with the Spirit in Romans 7.  This is another way of saying what the writer of Hebrews did.  Jesus truly shared in our humanity.  He was beset with weakness (Heb 5:2).  That weakness is what made temptation real and not just an illusion.  He truly entered into human experience.  It wasn’t until he entered the human experience that he was “perfected.”  Notice this passage.


“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.  And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation (Heb 5:8-9),”


Jesus wasn’t “perfected” as our High Priest until he overcame his suffering.  He didn’t become a merciful and faithful high priest until he participated in our humanity.  As a human, he experience real temptations and real emotions.  This comes through especially in the following passage.


“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.  About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me (Matt 27:45-46)?"


Many have tried to explain this theologically.  The explanations usually have something to do with God literally turning his back on Jesus.  These sorts of explanations are nothing more than conjectures.


To forsake means to “abandon” or “leave.”  Did God abandon Jesus?  Does God abandon anyone that is faithful?  The whole of scripture says no.  God does not forsake the righteous. 


In fact scripture explicitly says that God did not abandon Jesus to Hades. 


“Because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, Nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay (Acts 2:27).”


So, if God did not truly abandon Jesus, why did he cry out in this way?  Instead of a theological explanation, I propose a human explanation.  This is actually a quotation from the 22nd Psalm.  It is a Psalm of anguish.  The Psalmist “feels” as if God has abandoned him.  However, he knows that God is faithful and will hear the cries of the afflicted.  The conclusion of the Psalm shows that the Psalmist knows God is faithful.  Even though he “feels” alone, he knows he is not alone.


As Jesus hung on the cross, a Psalm he must have heard and used in song and worship comes to his lips.  Jesus is truly struggling as he struggled in the Garden of Gethsemane when he prayed to God (Matt 26:39ff).  Jesus had to muster his faith.  He didn’t fail.  He was obedient to the point of death.  But he still had to muster his faith. 



Did Jesus have to live by faith?  The weight of all of this evidence says yes.

Before closing, I want to deal with one last thing in what you elder had said. According to what you had written me, he said,

"Jesus is God and knows all things therefore faith is not apart of who He is. He understand, as well as I do, that when we die faith and hope will be no more because we will be in the presents of God. "

I need to remind you that knowledge and faith are not one and the same. You can know all things and still not truly have faith. The Bible says that "even the demons believe and shudder (Jas 2:19)." You can "know" something yet not have faith. According to James 2:14ff, Faith involves more than mental agreement. It also involves trust and obedience.

John Telgren
P.O. Box 452
Leavenworth, KS 66048
Click here to Email a Question