Christians as Heroes
We have been talking about heroes and why it’s important to live by faith. And, we have seen that Jesus Christ is God’s archetypical hero. He defeats the dragon and wins back his bride. He does this by wisdom, courage, and self-sacrificing love.
We receive His Spirit and become partakers of His anointing when we come to Him. Like Him, we become prophets, kings, and priests. We are to speak the truth, put it into practice, and use it to bring healing. In Christ then, we become ambassadors, evangelists, soldiers, witnesses, and agents of healing. We do all this for the kingdom of God. In Christ then, we become heroes.
The words “in Christ” are the key here. The power and skill we need to fight God’s battles can never live in us. We are fallen children of Adam. All our righteousness is of the filthy rags variety (Isa. 64:6). Even after we come to Christ, we have no good thing in ourselves whereby we may claim the blessing or power of God (Rom. 7:18). We can’t fight, let alone win, God’s battles in our own strength. We need the resurrection life of Christ. We need the power of His Holy Spirit. And at all times we need to be covered with the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ. We also need justification and forgiveness. God gives this to us through a gospel-born faith.
Faith comes by hearing. Paul tells us and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). Faith is a gift God gives to His people. This gift comes through the preaching of the gospel and the regenerating work of His Spirit (Eph. 2:8). Faith doesn’t grow in the natural soil of the natural man’s heart. It isn’t a work, an accomplishment, or a gift that we give to God; it’s His work in us. We do the believing and trusting. True faith is confidence and trust in Jesus Christ. Our faith merits nothing, but it lays hold of Jesus Christ for all that we need as God’s children.
By faith, we ask for our daily bread. By faith, we ask God to heal the sick. By faith, we ask God to provide all our needs. By faith, we endure persecution (Heb. 11:36-39). By faith, we surrender to His will. But, at the end of the day… it is all the same faith. Further, our faith is in Christ “crucified and risen”. This is the very same faith that clings to the promises of God. In Him, all God’s promises are yea and amen (2 Cor. 1:20).
When we ask God for strength, skill, wisdom or opportunity…. we always ask “for Jesus’ sake” knowing that our “asking” is based soley on His merits. These merits find power in His death and resurrection. If we take up a task for the sake of God and His kingdom, we do it by faith in Jesus Christ. So its important to remember that God receives our works for Jesus’ sake and no other reason. Even our worship and any spiritual sacrifices are only “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 2:5).
All this to say that the faith that justifies us, is the very same faith that allows us to cling to Christ. And when we cling to him, we also receive his blessings.
But at the same time, in confessing this, we reject two errors:
First, we reject the idea that we need something other than Christ to serve Him.
Second, we reject the idea that God’s promises end with our justification. In Christ we say… God gives us all things. But the “all things” here includes our active victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. Jesus doesn’t save us to sit on a shelf and gather dust like a bowling trophy. He saves us to serve and reign with Him (Rom. 5:17; Rev. 1:6). Again, reigning here is “active” in orientation. We’re supposed to actually do things.
Faith Without Works
James tells us that faith without works is dead (Jas. 2:14-26). Charles Shultz once captured the spirit of James’ warning in a cartoon. Snoopy stands shivering in the falling snow. Charlie Brown and Schroeder, wearing warm winter clothes. They see Snoopy from a distance and agree that they ought to provide some comfort to him. Together they walk over to Snoopy and say, “Be of good cheer, Snoopy.” And then they walk away. Not the greatest heroes.
Luther said this about faith:
Faith is a divine work in us. It changes us and makes us to be born anew of God (John 1). It kills the old Adam and makes altogether different people, in heart and spirit and mind and powers, and it brings with it the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, mighty thing, this faith. And so it is impossible for it not to do good works incessantly…
Faith is a living, daring confidence in God’s grace, so sure and certain that a man would stake his life on it a thousand times. This confidence in God’s grace and knowledge of it makes men glad and bold and happy in dealing with God and all His creatures.
And this is the work of the Holy Spirit in faith. Hence a man is ready and glad, without compulsion, to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer everything, in love and praise to God, who has shown him this grace (Commentary on Romans).
And this from Calvin:
Since faith embraces Christ as the Father offers him, and he is offered not only for justification, for forgiveness of sins and peace, but also for sanctification, as the fountain of living waters, it is certain that no man will ever know him aright without at the same time receiving the sanctification of the Spirit . . . (The Institutes).
Finally, from the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1674):
Q. 8. How is Jesus Christ offered to us in the gospel?
A. Jesus Christ is offered to us in the gospel, as priest, prophet, and king; and we must receive him if we would be saved by him.
When we receive Christ, we become partakers of His anointing. We, too then, become prophets, kings, and priests… active agents of the kingdom of God in this world. We become His heroes.
Our battles and challenges may be big or small. They may be personal or public. But God calls us, day in and day out… to fight the good fight and overcome by faith.