“God did not send his Son into the world for him to judge the world, but for the world to be saved through him. Whoever exercises faith in him is not to be judged. Whoever does not exercise faith has been judged already […].”
Does the Bible teach faith-based salvation?
While faith is a key component of our salvation, it is not the sole requirement.
God’s Word later explains that faith without works is useless. (Jas. 2:24,26)
What kind of works satisfy God’s standards?
To exercise true faith, we must follow in Jesus’ footsteps, sharing the message of God’s kingdom motivated by love. (Matt. 10:7,8; Jas. 2:8)
Still, we need to understand that faith and salvation are gifts from Jehovah God that are only possible through his own arrangement. (Eph. 2:8)
One Watchtower likens it to how we pray for our daily bread, and yet we understand we still have to go out and work for it.
Likewise, we have faith and work towards salvation, but left entirely on our own we could never attain it.
“[…] I have seen it, and I have given witness that this one is the Son of God.”
Before Jesus converted water to wine, healed the sick, tamed storms or resurrected the dead, John the Baptist already had faith that he was the Son of God.
John literally “cried out” about Jesus’ pre-human existence. (John 1:15)
He prophesied about Jesus’ sacrificial death. (John 1:29)
He even encouraged his own disciples to leave him for Jesus. (John 1:35-37)
This makes me wonder about my own zeal in the witnessing work.
Do I show the same enthusiasm and conviction John showed when it comes to announcing the good news of God’s kingdom?
After all, Jesus already fulfilled all the prophecies which proved he was God’s son.
Now it is our turn to imitate John and help others realize what God’s kingdom will bring. (Ps. 72:16; Is. 33:24; John 5:28,29; Rev. 21:4)
“[…] There was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, who was a good and righteous man. (This man had not voted in support of their scheme and action.) He was from Arimathea, […] and was waiting for the Kingdom of God.”
Joseph had previously put faith in Jesus but had kept it private because he was a member of the Jewish high court. (John 9:22; 12:42)
He did not vote in favor of Jesus’ execution.
Upon witnessing it, he was moved to openly promote his faith by facing the Roman governor and requesting responsibility for Jesus’ body. (Mark 15:43,44)
Many of Jesus’ disciples had expected Jesus to own his kingship and overthrow Roman imperialism. (John 12:13)
This false hope became a stumbling block to some of those who did not understand why he had to die.
But in the above passage, even after Jesus’ death, Joseph “was waiting for the kingdom of God.”
Opposite of stumbling, Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice served to solidify Joseph’s faith in God’s son.
Furthermore, by preparing Jesus’ body for burial, he risked becoming ceremonially unclean during the Passover celebrations. (Num. 19:11; John 19:38-40)
By ‘taking courage’ and overcoming his fear of man, Joseph not only provided a burial place for the Christ, but the site of the greatest miracle recorded in the Bible. (Luke 24:1-7)
“From now on the Son of man will be seated at the powerful right hand of God.”
Jesus kept a positive outlook throughout his trials, even knowing he was about to be executed.
He could have focused on the immediate pain and humiliation, the recent betrayal of his friends, or the impending agony he was about to endure on account of the sins of others.
Instead of doubting his father’s will, he proudly announced his solid hope of being reunited with his father before the ungodly violent audience of men who held his immediate fate in their hands.
More evidence of Jesus’ optimism comes from the words he told Peter even while knowing Peter would deny knowing him:
“[…] And you, once you have returned, strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:32)
Jesus never doubted the good in Peter’s heart and openly assured him of it.
This leads me to ask myself if I am as open to seeing the good in others and offering reassurance.
Do I focus on the moment so much that I lose sight of what really matters, like my standing before God?
A hopeful attitude can turn a painful situation into a blessing.
“In fact, neither can they die anymore, for they are like the angels, and they are God’s children by being children of the resurrection.”
While Jesus was asked about the earthly resurrection, his answer seems to apply to the heavenly resurrection, a new concept to his audience.
The earthly resurrection will be in the flesh, much like that of Lazarus or the little girl he rose from the dead. (Luke 8:53-55; John 12:9-11)
But here Jesus speaks of a spiritual resurrection, likening those resurrected to angels.
This begs the question: can angels not die?
In order to die, Jesus had to leave his angelic body and become a man.
When he was born again as a spirit, death no longer had power over him. (Rom. 6:9)
God’s Word never refers to angels as being immortal, the way faithful anointed servants hope to be. (1 Co. 15:53)
Nor does the Bible ever mention the death of an angel.
As my husband pointed out, it is only fallen angels, or rather, demons, who await God’s judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6)
I personally would like further insight into this topic, but it is clear angels who remain faithful to God cannot die.
“[…] Will not God cause justice to be done for his chosen ones who cry out to him day and night, while he is patient toward them?”
When we or someone we love is undergoing an unusual amount of suffering due to illness or persecution, we may wonder how God can be so patient. (2 Pet. 3:9; Rev. 6:9,10)
He promises to remove all evil, pain and even death, but as we personally face trials, that relief can seem far off in the horizon. (Ps. 37:9; Rev. 21:4)
Jesus said we should pray tirelessly, like the widow who sought justice in his illustration.
But Jehovah is a much more speedy judge than the one who initially ignored the widow.
How can we be sure Jehovah isn’t ignoring us?
Jesus made it clear that we need to pray with an extraordinary amount of faith. (Luke 18:8)
Though we may not physically see the answer to our prayers, we can be sure Jehovah has already taken the necessary steps to ensure lasting justice to us both individually and globally. (2 Pet. 3:13)
The real question is, can we endure the wait?
“[…] For this son of mine was dead but has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they started to enjoy themselves.”
In the illustration of the prodigal son, neither the repentant son nor his compassionate father dwell on the bitter past.
They focus on the present and rejoice in each other’s company.
When someone who wronged us, insulted us or even ruined our name and reputation, comes back humbly ready to make amends, are we able to bury the past?
Or what if we are like the prodigal son who squandered everything valuable and lost all sense of self-worth?
Do we trust in Jehovah’s mercy and let him heal us emotionally and spiritually, letting him use us to do his will again? Or do we resist his holy spirit and stubbornly hold on to negativity, even against ourselves?
Jesus’ illustration shows us the wisdom of focusing on the present and moving past sadness and anger. (Lu. 15:11-32)