“If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly (Galatians 2:21).”
I was afraid to pull the trigger. Older than dirt, this gifted shotgun looked like it had not been fired in 60 years, so I bravely did what any real guy would do…I took it to a gunsmith. After a few months, he said it was fixed and safe to fire. Today, it’s still empty. I have not pulled the trigger…yet.
For me, it’s a matter of trust that this guy (who I don’t know) says it’s safe, but is it, really? Popping a 20-gauge shell in the chamber, putting it up to my cheek, and pulling the trigger is a big step of faith on just his say-so. Unlike a plastic surgeon, talk is cheap.
If I really believe, I’ll act on his promise. Believing is that simple, and that hard.
And so it is with Jesus. Faith to take Him at His word, believing that His death on the cross pays for your sins, and that His tomb is empty is easy…to say. But is just “saying” real saving, eternal faith, or is it just an intellectual assent (like believing in Napoleon or Lincoln)? How can you be sure your faith is genuine and not just acknowledging a fact?
The Apostle James, and half-brother of Jesus, said, “faith without works is dead.” If you really believe, they’ll be a transformation because the Holy Spirit enters your body, and good works will flow from your faith. God uses outward and visible faith proofs of this inward and invisible change to tell the world, you “pulled the trigger.” What proofs?
In the Old Testament, circumcision was a faith proof, but Israel could not even keep the Ten Commandments, let alone the extensive Jewish Law. The Law was really a spiritual thermometer to show how sin-sick we all are, that being right with God isn’t about doing good works. Besides, if it made lawbreakers right and holy, why did Jesus have to die?
Do you know how to never break the Law? The only way is to have no Law to break. So that’s what Jesus did. Jesus was the only one to keep the Law with a sinless life, and as a perfect man, and God, His sacrifice freed us from trying (to be good, keeping the Law), to instead just believing in His work. But again, what is genuine pulling the trigger faith?
Action. In the New Testament, baptism was faith proof of your unseen belief, but getting wet doesn’t save you anymore than circumcision made an Israelite a believer. God has always operated on faith and grace; beginning with Abraham’s faith, long before the Law was given to Moses (Romans 4). Again, what else constitutes saving faith? Repentance.
James says, “Even the demons believe.” If they believe in Jesus, and they aren’t going to Heaven, what’s the difference in your faith and theirs? The answer is…surrendering your will (repent means to change your mind). So stop trying to be good (you can’t keep the 10 Commandments either). Ask Him to forgive you, once and for all, based on His work.
Now, I’ve changed my mind, and by faith…I’m going to go fire my gun. Happy Easter!