Scripture Memory Meditation | Galatians 2:20
I have been crucified with Jesus, and I no longer live, but Jesus lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20 (CSB)
What is faith in Jesus?
If we consider this verse in isolation, we may think Paul is saying that his audience should no longer rely on their law-keeping but instead have faith in Jesus. But if we look at the context of the verse, we see that Paul is more likely contrasting human faithfulness vs. Jesus’ faithfulness. In other words, a person is not justified by their faithfulness to do the works of the law but by Christ’s faithfulness. While faith in Christ and the faithfulness of Christ go hand in hand, here, Paul is emphasizing the inadequacy of human faithfulness.
Faith in Jesus accepts the whole of God's Word, and seeks to act as God requires and to trust what God promises (1 Tim. 4:8). Jesus is our perfect example as he accomplished the Father’s will without sinning. Faith is presented in many ways: to “receive” Jesus, as John puts it (John 1:12); to “believe” Jesus, as Peter puts it (Acts 15:7) or to accept Jesus or “rest” on Jesus, as this confession puts it. No matter how you say it, the point is that faith does not simply look to promises. Nor does faith look to the blessings that Jesus brings to Christians, such as the forgiveness of sin or the gift of righteousness. No, faith looks to Jesus and his faithfulness.
It is only through Jesus that justification, sanctification and eternal life are given to sinners. We don’t try to separate Jesus from the benefits that come to us when we believe in him. After all, it is by the gospel that we are saved. So when we are spreading the good news, it should always be clear that the good news is Jesus himself. Isn’t this what Paul meant when he told the Philippian jailor to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved in Acts 16:31? Our hope of eternal life is placed in Jesus, for we believe it is through the grace of Jesus that we are saved, just as they are (Acts 15:11).
This confidence in Jesus’ faithfulness and a firm faith in God's Word, ought to characterize every Christian. Christians with even a small amount of self-awareness know that faith not only varies in strength among people, but also in strength in our individual experiences (Heb. 5:13, 14, Rom. 4:19, 20; Matt. 6:30; 8:10). The reality is that our faith is often assailed by sin, suffering, and the devil. It is, at times, weakened. We see this as Paul urged the Ephesians to take up the shield of faith to protect themselves from the same enemy who attacked Peter (Eph. 6:16).
Because of the weakness that we carry with us, we need to remember that there is hope for Christians. The Apostle John tells us that the very existence of our faith is in some way the victory that overcomes the world (1 John 5:4). Although we are often tempted, the experience of many Christians is to have an authentic assurance of faith in our salvation and in our final victory, even in the midst of severe trials. The letter to the Hebrews speaks of a 'full assurance of hope' that comes from faith and patience; elsewhere it urges us to draw near to God in 'full assurance of faith' (Heb. 6:11, 12: 10:22).
The most important thing is that we should always be found “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith. For the joy that lay before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). The author of Hebrews is describing Jesus’ faithfulness. Because Jesus was faithful to the end, we can look to him and be confident that he is interceding for us now as we strive to walk in his example.
Christian Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2020), Gal. 2:16nE. An alternate translation of v. 20 is “The life I now live in the body, I live by the faithfulness of the son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
The Gospel Coalition and Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The New City Catechism (Wheaton, IL: Crossway), 77.
Van Dixhoorn, Chad. Confessing The Faith (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust), 192.