Jesus Christ is the source, the reason, and the foundation of my faith in God. To continue the metaphor from the last two posts, Jesus Christ is the place I stand. He is the fulcrum and the lever with which I am able to lift my heart and mind to faith in God. Jesus Christ is the place I stand, the fulcrum, and the lever with which I am able to lift up and remove any doubts and challenges that come to my life and attack my faith in God.
The apostle Peter agrees that we “through [Christ] are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God” (1 Peter 1:21). Notice what is in bold. Peter proclaimed on Pentecost, “God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it” (Acts 2:24). Again notice what is in bold. The key, the central, event and evidence of who Jesus is is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. He was not resuscitated. He was not a ghost or spirit. The body of Jesus, Jesus himself, was given new life, transformed, by the power of God. The resurrection of Jesus is the key and central evidence on which my faith stands. His resurrection convinces me Jesus is the Christ and God is true.
Through Jesus I know God. God as I know him in Jesus is what I begin to share with you in this post.
The apostle Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians that God will give them growth in wisdom and knowledge of God. Especially he prays they will know the hope to which God has called them in Jesus Christ. The faith-sustaining hope that comes through the resurrection of Jesus.
“15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:15-18).
Creation–my simple mind cannot comprehend creation being the result of chance without a Creator. I see creation. I see Creator, his power. I see God. Yet I see the wickedness of humankind. The loss of our fifteen-month-old grandson, Sully, to leukemia is imprinted on my heart. I am caused to question the Creator’s power. I have those moments, those days, when I question just how sure is the hope he promises in Christ? I question, is God able?
The apostle continues his prayer asking God not only to give Christians the knowledge of the hope to which God has called them. He also asks God to give them knowledge of the power of God by which their hope is sure.
“19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all” (Ephesians 1:19-23).
Notice the emphasis on God’s power which I emphasize with other translations. “The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe”–NASB “the surpassing greatness of His power,” NIV “his incomparable great power,” KJV “the exceeding greatness of his power,” NLT “the incredible greatness of God’s power.”
“According to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places”–NASB “in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ,” NIV “That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ,” REB “His mighty strength was seen at work when he raised Christ from the dead.”
Paul is assuring us of the promised hope. God is able. Notice the great might and the power of God by which he raised Jesus is the power which he extends toward us to accomplish our salvation and our hope–”the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.”
I look at creation. There must be a Creator. What power must be his! So the psalmist writes concerning God as Creator. “He set the earth on its foundations, so that it should never be moved” (Psalm 104:5). The psalmist continues, “O LORD, how manifold are your works! In wisdom have you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures” (Psalm 104:24).
Jesus, the Son of God, came in the flesh. He lived among us. He died. God raised him from the dead. Jesus ascended and was enthroned by God. I understand Paul’s words as expressing in God’s power expressed in Jesus’ resurrection as a far greater working of the power of God and the strength of God.
God as I know him in Jesus is the God of immeasurably great power. God works with great power and energy to rescue his creation, to save us, and to give us hope in Christ.
God is the God of immeasurably great power. He is able. Yet I see the wickedness of humankind and remember Sully. I have those moments and those days when I question God’s faithfulness. Will God fulfill the hope he has promised?
I look at Jesus, at God as I know him in Jesus. Jesus was so determined to do the will of his Father who sent him. He was intent to accomplish God’s purpose to rescue and save. To do so Jesus had to walk the journey to the cross. Peter confessed Jesus is “the Christ of God.” It was then Jesus began to tell his apostles, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Luke 9:22). Jesus knew his time, the cross, was near. Luke tells us of Jesus’ determination. “When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his fact to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51).
His time came. We find him in the Garden of Gethsemane. “41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” 43And there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. 44And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:41-44). Jesus was in a faith struggle. He rose from praying to do the will of the Father. When his enemies came Jesus willingly went with them. With strength of meekness Jesus endured mockery, beatings, and crucifixion.
The faith struggle of Jesus struck again on the cross. For three hours darkness covered the land as Jesus was dying on the cross. Matthew records, “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matthew 27:46). “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46). Looking back, the apostle Peter wrote of Jesus, “When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:23-24).
Jesus entrusted himself to God. In his faith struggle, the faith of Jesus won. The Father won. In the midst of his suffering and his dying Jesus believed. Jesus knew. The Father is trustworthy and faithful. His Father would accomplish his purpose. God would raise him from the dead.
Back to Paul’s prayer that Christians might know “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:19-20).
There is much to challenge faith in God. The world tempts us to live a lifestyle different from the lifestyle to which God has called us. We are surrounded by wickedness in this world. There are tragedies in life as what happened to our grandson. Even so, the God I know in Jesus is trustworthy. God is faithful. God is true to his word.
There will continue to be the struggle of faith in the journey of my life. Times of doubt will come, times of questioning. “My God, my God, why?” It is especially at these times I must remember the place I stand, Jesus Christ, Son of God. As I remember his life, his faith, his death, his resurrection, and his enthronement, I learn of God. What I know of God in Jesus is his exceedingly great power and his faithfulness.
With Jesus Christ as my place to stand, my fulcrum and my lever, I am able to lift the doubt and the questions, to move them out of the way, believing and trusting God. The hope of resurrection, of the glorious riches of God’s inheritance in his saints, is sure, is true, for the God of immeasurably great power is faithful. By the power and might with which he raised Jesus from the dead, God will raise us to life eternal with him.