January 8, 2018 • Life for Leaders
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,
To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.
Even today, when religious participation is decreasing in the United States, the majority of Americans say that they believe in God. Yet, for many, even for those who claim to believe in Jesus Christ, their faith experience is rather thin. Some are fine with this. Others yearn for a faith that is deeper, truer, and more relevant—for a faith that really matters.
Such a faith is offered to us, but it involves coming to understand that faith is more than what we usually mean by faith. Believing in God is more than we usually mean when we talk about believing in God.
If someone asks you, “Do you believe in God?” that person is probably wondering if you believe that God exists. Similarly, if someone were to ask, “Do you have faith in Jesus?” you might answer by saying, “Yes, I believe that Jesus is the Christ” or something like that. In both examples, the language of belief or faith is used to indicate that which we think to be true. Belief has to do with our ideas.
The biblical use of the language of belief includes this sense, to be sure, but it is much richer. We see this, for example, in Ephesians 1:1 where Paul refers to the recipients of his letter as “the faithful in Christ Jesus.” “Faithful” translates the Greek word pistos, which has a range of possible meanings. You can be called pistos if you are faithful or trustworthy in life, a person who can be counted on. Yet pistos can also be used as we would use the word “believer” in English (see 2 Cor 6:15). It’s almost a technical term meaning “Christian, that is, someone who has faith in Christ.”
When Paul refers to the recipients of his letter as “faithful in Christ Jesus,” he is certainly pointing to the fact that they are “believers” in Jesus. This means that they affirm the unique role of Jesus as Messiah, Savior, and Lord. Yet their faith goes beyond mere affirmation. It is a personal response to Jesus, an acceptance of his saving work that includes both affirmation and trust. Their wholehearted commitment to Christ defines their life and puts them in a transformational relationship with him as people “in Christ.” Moreover, because they believe certain things about Jesus and have put their full trust in him, they also have begun to live in a whole new way, a way inspired, governed, and empowered by the Spirit.
If you want a faith that really matters, then by all means believe the truth about Jesus. But don’t stop there. Put your faith, meaning your full trust, in him to be your Lord and Savior. And don’t stop there either. If you trust Jesus as your Lord, then you’ll follow his guidance and live by his truth in every part of life. As you do, you’ll have a faith that really matters.
Something to Think About:
Are you “faithful in Christ Jesus”? If so, what helps this to be true? If not, why not?
How might your life be different if you were to trust Jesus each moment of each day?
Something to Do:
This week, as you begin your day, put your full trust in Jesus. Choose to follow him in all you do. Ask for his guidance and help. Don’t just believe in him. Trust him and live in him.
’Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at His Word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus says the Lord!”
O how sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to trust His cleansing blood;
And in simple faith to plunge me
’Neath the healing, cleansing flood!
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
I’m so glad I learned to trust Thee,
Precious Jesus, Savior, Friend;
And I know that Thou art with me,
Wilt be with me to the end.
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more! Amen.
“’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” by Louisa M.R. Stead, 1882. Public domain.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
God’s Grand Plan: A Theological Vision (Ephesians 1:1–3:21)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.