Many of the apparent contradictions in Scripture (of course there are none) are resolved when we realize that God has already accomplished great things on behalf of all mankind and creation, but He does not impose Himself or His gifts on us: we humans must receive His word as truth and speak and walk it out by faith in order for it to take effect here on earth.
God accomplished the tremendous act of mercy and grace 2,000 years ago through Jesus Christ crucified and raised to glory. All men have been saved through Christ, yet we each have to receive the grace through faith in this lifetime in order that it be made manifest both now, on earth, and for eternity in heaven (see Ro. 5:18, 1 John 2:2, Titus 2:11, 1 Tim. 2:3-4 ).
Not only that, but God has likewise already procured our sanctification and our glorification (see 1 Cor. 6:11; Ro. 8:30), yet it is for us to make them manifest by faith as well. It is a joint enterprise, requiring His grace, followed by our faith.
(Of course, God makes it quite clear that no part of this can ever be by our works: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal [sanctification and glorification] by human effort?… Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Gal. 3:3,5))
Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 Darby). Faith makes these truths which we hope for become real in our experience. Another way of expressing this is that faith makes God’s word manifest here in the physical realm as it already has been manifest in the spiritual realm.
Simply put, God is relational, and has given us free will. Through Christ, He has spanned the chasm which separated us from Him by already making us perfect as He is perfect, but it is entirely up to us to make this manifest. He has ordained that this occurs only through faith: the righteous will live by faith (Romans 1:17b).
So it is by grace… through faith (Eph. 2:8): God has given us the grace through the body of His Son – we must KNOW IT, BELIEVE IT, and SPEAK IT FORTH / DO IT in order that it become manifest in our lives here on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10).
This is why the epistles to the Romans, Ephesians, and Colossians begin setting forth the glorious truth (the doctrine) in the first half, and then describe what the walk of faith looks like in the second half. First was His part, grace; this must be received and followed willfully by our part, faith, in order that it come to pass.
Now faith requires that we speak forth God’s will, His word, and then act in accordance with it (see Romans 10:10, 13). This is why Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is is heaven.’ ” (Matt. 7:21). We must know, desire, and speak/act forth God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will for us in order that it come to pass.
So let’s do as James exhorts us to do, and look in the mirror of God’s word, behold the truth about us, and go forth and do it (see James 1:22-25). Yes, we must go forth remembering what His word says about us and walk it out by faith, not by sight.
Let’s illustrate this with the human condition of sin and disease. God’s OT word is that He forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases (Psalm 103:3) – better yet, His NT words are that by the blood of the Lamb your sins have been forgiven, and by His wounds you have been healed (Matt. 26:28; 1 Peter 2:24). You must be like the woman with the bleeding disorder who touched Jesus in faith amidst the great crowd of people pressing against Him (but not apprehending the living God in their midst). She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse (Mark 5:26). Her money couldn’t buy her healing from physicians, but her faith in Jesus was the title deed for her healing – her faith caused her healing to manifest on earth as it already existed in the heavenly realms. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (v. 34).
Now behold this word, perhaps in a new light: It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. (Mark 2:17; see also Matt. 9:12-13, Luke 5:31-32). God’s word here is that just like the woman with the bleeding disorder, those who have apprehended Christ as their Righteousness are healthy, and do not need a doctor.
Praise be to God: we have been made perfect in Christ, and, as we walk by faith, speaking forth His omnipotent word, we are being made perfect in Christ (see Matt. 5:48). Hallelujah!
Then he touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith will it be done to you”; and their sight was restored. – Matt. 9:29-30a
Receiving the grace through faith in Christ our Righteousness and Healing with you, your sister deanna
Link to Part II