The Man Who Walked by Faith

AntinomianismThere’s a great section in Mark Jones’s book, Antinomianism, that is subtitled Christ’s Life of Faith. He begins talking about the two natures of Christ, his divine nature and his human nature. I appreciated this section because it’s easy to overlook what was going on in Christ’s humanity between the incarnation and his resurrection. Here is an excerpt from Jones:
Jesus of Nazareth was no ordinary man. He was the God-man, without spot, stain, or wrinkle in his human nature. But he still had a human nature, and because the finite cannot comprehend the infinite (finitum non capax infiniti), there was room for real advancement in his human nature. He knew no sin in his own experience, and the unity of his person---he is one person with two distinct natures---meant that he was unable to sin. Nevertheless, while he lived on earth during his state of humiliation, he lived by faith, not by sight. Because Christ is the holiest man ever to have lived, he is the greatest believer ever to have lived (Heb. 12:2). There has never been, nor will there ever be, a more perfect example of living by faith than Jesus. Reformed theologians have historically agreed---though, I fear, we have lost this precious truth today---that Christ had faith for justification (i.e. vindication, Isa. 50:8). Of course, unlike us, he did not have to go through a mediator to be justified by his Father, for he was not ungodly like us (cf. Rom. 4:5). But he still needed justification, which culminated at his resurrection (1 Tim. 3:16), because of his accursed death (Gal. 3:13). By faith, he believed the word and promises of God. Furthermore, Christ did not exercise faith merely for himself; he also exercised faith for all those for whom he died, so that they may receive from him that particular grace. For there is no grace we receive that was not first present in Christ himself, particularly the grace of faith. As Richard Sibbes notes, “We must know that all things are first in Christ, and then in us.” The life of holiness therefore is the life of faith. The way we begin the Christian life is the way we continue in the Christian life until we get to heaven, where faith becomes sight. If that was required for the sinless Lamb of God, how much more so for us, who have remaining indwelling sin? (22-23)
I particularly appreciated this while still having Scott Oliphint’s book God With Us fresh in my head. God assumes covenantal attributes to condescend in a covenantal relationship with man. Jones just described how this relates to our life of faith. In Christ, God has communicated to us that which we will image. Jones stresses that Jesus lived a perfect life of faith and obedience to God’s Word. He points the reader to Heb. 10:38-39, where we see the connection of Christ’s faith and obedience with our own:
but my righteous one shall live by faith,
and if he shrinks back,
my soul has no pleasure in him.”
But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
Jones reminds us that this verse applies to both Jesus and believers. He was the man who walked by faith without shrinking back, and those united to him also walk by faith in dependence on the Spirit. Because of this, we really can respond to the earlier exhortation to hold fast to our confession of hope without wavering, because he who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23). “In the life of the believer, then, faith is the instrumental cause of their sanctification” (24).