Salvation 2.0: Part 5.6: Why faith in Jesus?

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While Paul uses a lot of ink arguing for faith rather than works, he never really argues that faith in God without faith in Jesus is insufficient. To modern ears, that seems to be the obvious question.

We know that Paul believes this because his entire life as an apostle was dedicated to teaching Jews and God-fearing Gentiles to believe in Jesus. Why bother if faith in God would have been enough? Why bring salvation to people who already believed in God if they were already saved?

So what is it about Jesus that makes faith in him essential? Well, consider what Paul says in 1 Cor, perhaps his earliest surviving letter.

(1Co 1:2 ESV) To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:

Those who “call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Lord Jesus, the Messiah)” is another obvious reference to Joel 2:32, which promises salvation to all who call upon the name the “Lord,” that is, YHWH. Paul is also calling Jesus YHWH!

He makes the clear all the more clear in chapter 8 —

(1 Cor 8:5–6 ESV) 5 For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”— 6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Paul insists on faith in the one-God of Judaism — but only as understood through Jesus.

Paul’s point is not just that there is a single deity. Staked out here is one’s relation to that deity, the characteristics of that deity, and what we know about that deity–these are what really matter. Life must be lived in light of the deity who is in control (cf. 3:21–23). It is not an option to be unrelated to that God. Life must be lived, moral decisions must be rendered in keeping with what we know about that God. The nature of all being is imaginable only within the scope allowed by and dictated by the nature and purpose of God.

A fundamental issue is engaged here: How does what one believes and knows about God bear on the relatively mundane decisions of everyday life? Paul’s answer: absolutely critically and definitionally. To whom does one belong? What are the characteristics of the one to whom one belongs? These are recurring issues in 1 Corinthians because they are fundamental to living the life of faith, to understanding one’s place in the world, and to moral reasoning.

J. Paul Sampley, “The First Letter to the Corinthians,” in The Acts of the Apostles-The First Letter to the Corinthians (vol. 10 of New Interpreters Bible, Accordance electronic ed. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2002), n.p.

We know that there is in fact only one true God and one true Lord. The key words of v. 6, “Lord,” “God” and “one,” are taken from Deuteronomy 6:4 (“the Lord our God, the Lord is one”), in which Lord and God both refer to the same (one) God. Here Paul “has glossed ‘God’ with ‘the Father’, and ‘Lord’ with ‘Jesus Christ’, adding in each case an explanatory phrase: ‘God’ is the Father, ‘from whom are all things and we to him’, and the ‘Lord’ is Jesus the Messiah, ‘through whom are all things and we through him.’” Paul thus simultaneously reaffirms strict Jewish monotheism and the highest possible Christology imaginable. Christ finds his identity within the very definition of that one God/Lord of Israel.

Roy E. Ciampa and Brian S. Rosner, The First Letter to the Corinthians (Pillar NTC; Accordance electronic ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010), n.p.

Amazingly, in 1 Cor 8:6-8, Paul takes the Jewish Shema (“Hear, O Israel, the Lord your God is One God …”) and turns it into a declaration that Christians worship but one God, but that the One God is both God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

In Paul’s mind, God has now revealed himself as both God the Father and Jesus who both Lord and Messiah. Believing this is “faith” and nothing else will do. Again: you can’t enter a Kingdom if you deny the King.

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About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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19 Responses to Salvation 2.0: Part 5.6: Why faith in Jesus?

  1. Jim H says:

    My understanding is that capitalized LORD = YHWH.

  2. laymond says:

    1Co 8:4 So then, about eating food sacrificed to idols: We know that “An idol is nothing at all in the world” and that “There is no God but one.”

    This should tell us that we are to accept only one God. Yet we read only two verses more and we are told this.

    1Co 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

    This is a completly different discription of two different relationships with two different persons, yet we are to believe what Paul discribes here is a deception.
    that it really describes two gods acting as one.

    Paul continues by saying. 1Co 8:7 But not everyone possesses this knowledge. —————.
    And I believe Paul was and is right.1Co 8:6 simply says that God made all things, and he has offered to share all things he made with us, through his son Jesus Christ even eternal life.

  3. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Here we go again…

  4. John Grant says:

    Why Not?

  5. laymond says:

    Atta boy John, Why not, unless you have something to be afraid of , but when you teach that Jesus is God’s equal you do have something to fear.

    Jhn 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

    Is this the words of one who thinks he is the power behind the throne.

  6. Profile photo of Kevin Kevin says:

    Not at all. Jay, Monty, and others have done a fantastic job in making a scriptural case. I just don’t see the need for you to bring your position up in thread after thread. It’s already being discussed in another thread.

  7. Dwight says:

    We are told that God is one and we are told that Jesus is God. This is equal to: Man is one (as in type and form) and there are many men. In the case of God there is the Father and the Son and possibly the H.S., although he is neither the Father or the Son, but is somehow interconnected and vital. My father used to think the H.S. was the force of God or perhaps an agent, distinct from the angels.
    But as Salvation 2.0 suggest belief in God isn’t enough, but rather belief in Jesus and belief that He is the Son of God and the savior and can only reach God through Him. This belief should cause a response based in obedience and out of the faith.
    An interesting thing is that while the Jews had the OT to work from, the gentiles largely didn’t, unless they were taught later or within the realm of the Jews teachings. But they did and were supposed to know of Jesus, at least.

  8. laymond says:

    This is a big argument against saying Jesus is God, when in the old testament there are many places where God (through others) says this is not so.

    Mat 12:31 Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.
    Mat 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

    Mat 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
    Mat 26:65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

    blasphēmia
    1.slander, detraction, speech injurious, to another’s good name
    2.impious and reproachful speech injurious to divine majesty

    Dwight, does the followind help you on knowing just who the Holy Ghost/spirit of truth is.

    Jhn 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
    Jhn 14:17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
    Jhn 14:18 I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.

  9. Dwight says:

    Knowing what the HS does, doesn’t explain how he fits in the Trinity in comparison to God the Father and Jesus the Son), just as knowing that God is spirit doesn’t explain what the spirit is in form and how the spirit comes into and out of man and how more than one spirit can be in one person. The fact is we don’t have to know. All we need to know is that the HS is active and part of God and directed by God to help us.
    John 1 argues that Jesus is God, but not God the Father. And the fact is that while Jesus was baptized the HS came down to Jesus and God spoke from above.
    Why, one can’t blaspheme the HS, but can blaspheme Jesus is not entirely clear, but it doesn’t argue against Jesus as God, but rather not God the Father who the HS is directly connected to. It might have had to do with the fact that Jews might be mistaken with Jesus, but they couldn’t be mistaken with the HS. And yet even the HS has no real solid representation in the OT.

  10. Monty says:

    Laymond,

    Is Jesus ever referred to as the mighty God? Or is he ever called the everlasting Father?

  11. laymond says:

    Monty, I believe he is called both in this way, “he will be CALLED” , But I believe he was accused of blasphemy, and doing miracles through the power of Satan. I don’t accept either as truth .
    So no he was never referred to by the two names you quote, but it is said that “he would be called by those names”. And I am sure he was called by many more that did not fit him.

  12. laymond says:

    Dwight, if you are trying to get me to prove that the “hg” is a member of a trio of Christian gods I can’t help you any. question: why could not Jesus send this comforter unless Jesus first died.?
    Remember Jesus called him the spirit of truth, and the spirit of truth was fully tied up at the time.

    description of the (Holy Ghost) not promised to anyone except the apostles
    if you can find anywhere in scripture that Christions all recieve the “Holy Ghost”
    please inform me.

    John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,
    that he may abide with you for ever;
    John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will
    send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your
    remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

    John 15:26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the
    Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify
    of me:

    John 16:7 Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away:
    or if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will
    send him unto you.

  13. Monty says:

    Laymond,

    So, if I understand you correctly you feel the prophecy from Isaiah saying the child to be born to a virgin would be called mighty God, prince of peace, wonderful, counselor and so forth was predicting how he would be falsely referred to? That none of those titles were accurate and they do not fit Jesus?

  14. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Laymond, Monty, et al.,

    As much as Laymond enjoys redirecting conversations toward his heterodox views on the divinity of Jesus, I’ve repeatedly asked him to stop, and I must reiterate that request. Laymond’s arguments have been fully presented here on multiple occasions, and the opposing, orthodox case has been made very well on many occasions.

    I will grant this one exception. I’ve just posted an article pointing out the Peter and Paul both refer to Jesus as YHWH in Acts 2, Rom 10, and 1 Cor 9. If Laymond wishes to demonstrate that I’m mistaken in my reading of those passages, he is welcome to do so. But I would like to limit the discussion to NT passages that use OT YHWH passages to refer to Jesus. In particular, when Paul quotes Joel 2:32 in Rom 10:13 as referring to Jesus, to support his statement that the confession of Jesus as Lord saves (Rom 10:9), how does that not make Jesus the “Lord” referred to in Joel 2:32, which is YHWH in the Hebrew? Same argument as to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2?

  15. Profile photo of Jay Guin Jay Guin says:

    Just thought I’d check the commentaries to see if they agree with my reading of the text.

    The significance of NT quotations that use the title κύριος of Christ are debated because it is apparently the case that pre-Christian MSS of the LXX did not use this Greek word to translate the tetragram (reproductions of the Hebrew script were used). But there is good evidence that Greek-speaking Jews before the time of Christ were already at least orally substituting the Greek word κύριος for the tetragram. The NT application of texts that identify Christ with “the Lord” therefore suggest that the early Christians viewed Christ as in some sense equivalent to Yahweh. On this issue, see esp. J. A. Fitzmyer, “The Semitic Background of the New Testament kyrios Title,” in A Wandering Aramean: Collected Aramaic Essays (SBLDS 25; Missoula, MT: Scholars Press, 1979), 115–42; also Koch, 84–88. A few scholars argue that Paul intends the κύριος in the quotation to refer to God the Father rather than to Christ (G. Howard, “The Tetragram and the New Testament,” JBL 96 [1977], 63–83; Gaston, Paul and the Torah, p. 131), but the flow of the context makes this almost impossible.

    Douglas J. Moo, The Epistle to the Romans, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996).

    Romans 10:9–10 has long served as one of the most helpful portions of Scripture for pointing out the way of salvation. In an A-B-B-A format it lays out both the necessity of believing from the heart and the role of public confession. What must be believed is that “Jesus is Lord.” This quintessential affirmation is perhaps the earliest Christian confession of faith (cf. 1 Cor 12:3; Phil 2:11). It proclaims in the simplest possible words that Jesus of Nazareth is in fact God. The Greek word used throughout the LXX for Yahweh (over six thousand times) is here applied to Jesus.50 The implications of this are staggering. …. [FN50] The evidence supports Cranfield’s conclusion that “for Paul, the confession that Jesus is Lord meant the acknowledgment that Jesus shares the name and the nature, the holiness, the authority, power, majesty, and eternity of the one and only true God” (Romans, 2:529).

    Robert H. Mounce, Romans, The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 27.

    ‘Confessing Jesus as Lord’ was what people did when getting baptized. This makes a link with Romans 6, but also reminds us of two other points, both of which are relevant to what Paul is saying here and throughout the letter. First, in Paul’s world ‘Lord’ was a title for Caesar. Saying Jesus was ‘Lord’ meant, ultimately, that Caesar wasn’t. Second, when Paul quotes from the prophet Joel in verse 13, ‘Lord’ in that passage refers of course to the ‘Lord’ of the Old Testament, YHWH, Israel’s God. As in several other places, and here looking back to 9:5 in particular, Paul is quite clear that Jesus the Messiah, who died and rose again, was the personal embodiment of Israel’s God, coming at last to do what he had always promised. In and through him, reversing the disaster of Israel’s earlier failure (2:24), the name of Israel’s God has now at last been glorified among the nations of the world.

    Tom Wright, Paul for Everyone: Romans, Part 2: Chapters 9-16, (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2004), 33.

    When v. 13 is compared with v. 9, it becomes evident that the Lord of Joel 2:32 is being identified with the Lord Jesus Christ. This poses a problem for those who refuse to ascribe full deity to the Savior.

    Everett F. Harrison, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans through Galatians, 1976, 10, 113.

    call upon him In the OT, this expression referred to prayer directed toward Yahweh (Gen 4:26; 12:8; 13:4). The Greek word kyrios, translated “Lord,” refers to Jesus Christ. Thus, Paul identifies Jesus Christ with Yahweh of the OT.

    John D. Barry, Michael S. Heiser, Miles Custis, Douglas Mangum, and Matthew M. Whitehead, Faithlife Study Bible, (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2012), Ro 10:12.

  16. laymond says:

    “Thus, Paul identifies Jesus Christ with Yahweh of the OT.”

    I dont know how Paul made such a mistake in the following statement, if he knew better.

    1Co 8:6 But to us there is but one God,(Theos) the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord (kyrios ) Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.

    theos — 1.a god or goddess, a general name of deities or divinities
    (the one who created us along with everything else, and gave his son power of master, and Lord over all he had created)
    kyrios – 1.he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord .(the one who paid for us with his own blood)

  17. laymond says:

    Jay, I am working on the bible class you gave me, it is late and I am old, will finish tomorrow 🙂

  18. laymond says:

    Jay said
    In particular, when Paul quotes Joel 2:32 in Rom 10:13 as referring to Jesus, to

    support his statement that the confession of Jesus as Lord saves (Rom 10:9),

    how does that not make Jesus the “Lord” referred to in Joel 2:32, which is

    YHWH in the Hebrew? Same argument as to Peter’s sermon in Acts 2?

    Joe 2:32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of

    the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be

    deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall
    call.
    At the time Joel wrote this, God retained full lordship over all he has created.
    Yes the word Lord referred to Yehovah because Yehovah was the Lord over his
    creation. He had not made his son lord over all at that time. and as Paul so
    correctly said God will be Lord over all his creation again. even his son.

    1Co 15:27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things
    are put under [him, it is] manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things
    under him.
    1Co 15:28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son
    also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be
    all in all.

    Rom 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the
    same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.
    Rom 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    How does this stack up against what Paul wrote in 1Co 15:27 don’t you think
    Paul might be speaking of “God Almighty” just as Joel was.?

    Acts 2 who is doing all the work mentioned in Peter’s sermon. I don’t think Jesus
    raised himself from death . I believe Jesus said what I do is by the will of God, the
    Father. I can’t find any place in scripture where Jesus was called Jehovah, it is
    just not there.
    No I am not Trinitarian a believer in three separate but equal gods, however I am a
    believer in God almighty, Jesus Christ, and the holy spirit of truth. as being separate.

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