It's been a silent one for years, but the question of whether it is our faith or the faith of our Heavenly Father that saves or saved us has been a matter of debate for years! Passages like Ephesians 2:8 & 9 seem to be at the heart of the issue, engendering questions like, 'is Paul saying that our faith is not of ourselves, or is he simply saying that GRACE is a gift of God?' Christians, conservatively speaking, have been taught for centuries that they are ( still? ) totally depraved & there is no way in hell that they could, on their own, exercise the faith required for salvation. This whole argument is rendered somewhat moot by the fact that the object of the Messiah's Advent, scripturally speaking, was Israel under that first covenant. This is not to say that this Grace no longer exists or is necessary, just that the apostle's words were written for & had the greatest meaning to the original recipients of his letter.
Jesus WAS, according to Scripture, the only begotten Son of God! As the Son of God, He was, or is, according to the creeds, 'of one essence with the Father': this is without doubt! Just like you & I, Jesus, the Son of Man, as Scripture also calls Him, was without doubt a normal human being, as far as that goes. Although He, also according to Scripture, bore possibly more pain & suffering than most human beings could withstand, eventually His body succumbed to the abuse & stopped functioning, finally assuming room temperature. That He rose again, also without doubt, proves that He wasn't merely human: by the Power of the Highest, the Energy of which we all partake, His Resurrection is celebrated among Christians as the Crowning & Pivotal event that changed our spiritual landscape forever!
For the past several years, I have been toying ( rather seriously ) with the notion that, beyond eschatology, we, as the Body of Christ, or simply Followers of Christ, corporately speaking, are the Son of God! This notion, in the past year or so, is further strengthened by the notion, fairly radical among most Christians, that we are spirits having a human experience. Pagans & Stoics have believed this for ages, interestingly enough! If we are actually spirit beings inhabiting custom-made bodies of the biological order, we might ask ourselves if we are all that different from Jesus Himself. In fact, one might go so far ( shudders ) as to wonder if we are all that far separated from the One that some call 'The Source', 'Energy', 'The Creator', even 'Our Heavenly Father!
This is not to say, though some will go that far, that we are our own creators, though in some sense that is true: to whatever extent, we do create our own lives through the choices we make, both good & bad! There is One Creator, a Divinely Intelligent Being, One who brought into being the universe & all it contains; however, this One Supreme Being is of the same Essence, the same Energy that empowers humanity. Scripturally speaking, most if not all Christians would beg to differ with me at this point because they clearly ( ? ) indicate that only those who place their faith in Jesus as the Son of God can rightly be called sons ( notice the difference between 'Son of God' & 'sons of God'? ) of God. This is very defensible from Scripture & doubtless has application today, though it would seem that, in this day & age, many Pagans are truer disciples of Jesus than those who call themselves Christians!
Though there are those who deny it still, the Resurrection of Jesus is clearly laid out in the pages of Scripture. The Messiah of Israel was a man, yes, but obviously, not a mere human being; there was Something in Him that enabled Him to rise, in the self-same Body, from the Grave, from Hell, if you will. We, the disciples of Jesus, or as Scripture metaphorically calls us, the Body of Christ, have inherited His ministry, which, although it was fulfilled as regards eschatology, is ongoing & calls us all into that Higher Calling of which you have heard many speak!
While all human beings are, by nature, spirits having a human experience, there are those who have squelched their spiritual nature! Many have all but smothered it & are merely human beings, others have in fact lost their spirit & are hardly more than drones eking out an existence with only two certainties in view, 'death & taxes'. Some, though, are coming out of their stupor & realizing that, in fact, we are more than our humanity. Christianity may rightfully claim responsibility ( in part ) for this awakening, though they themselves, for the most part, put an unhealthy focus on the biological aspect of Life, but ultimately, it is the Spirit Within, that Energy that consumes us all, that awakens us to our true nature!
'Begotten of the Father before all worlds', is simply one line from one of the Christian creeds. According to Scripture, the Son, or the pre-incarnate Jesus, was with the Father as the Creator at the Creation. However, with the Advent of Fulfilled Eschatology, our own understanding of these passages may evolve. for example, since Fulfilled Eschatology naturally points back to a localized, particular Creation event, should we understand John, in His Gospel, as saying, as I believe, that the 1st, 2nd & 3rd Persons ( ? ) of the Trinity were simply an eschatological phenomenon, specially constructed for Israel's transition period. In other words, was John, as well as other writers of Scripture, merely using constructs with which his readers would be familiar to mark the Creator's introduction into His Creation?
Speaking of Scripture, how often did Jesus tell those He healed, in other words maybe, that their faith had saved them? Was it truly their own faith that saved them? Did Jesus grant them immediate healing simply because they believed in His Power to do so? Again, we must look at the context, especially historical, of these events; when Jesus healed these people of their physical maladies, what was at the heart of the healing? It was their sin, indicative of the sin of His People, that Jesus often mentioned as having been forgiven in order for their physical maladies to be cured. This was not always the case, but as you read the Story of Israel, you may notice that many of the diseases & maladies that the prophets, Jesus & the apostles were faced with were indicative of the Sin of Israel!
Our Faith, expressed by Truth In Living, does save us! We are creators in that the choices we make determine our existence, to whatever extent, on this biological plane. On the spiritual plane, the choices we make also determine our relationship with the Creator, with the Energy that fills every living being, human & otherwise. Life is all about choices & depending on how we choose to spend our existence in this biology, we may or may not enjoy our life in the spiritual plane. If we choose to embrace our spiritual nature, we will note that spirit in those around us, even mere ( ? ) animals & so our actions in this biological plane will be affected in a positive manner.
The Grace of God, as enumerated in Scripture, is a free Gift! In the context of Scripture, it was a Gift for Israel, though this, again, is not to say that Grace no longer exists. While we must understand that the apostle's words were eschatologically based, being written for the instruction & comfort of their original audience, these instructions benefit us as well, though we simply reap the benefits of the Grace that Israel received, through Fulfilled Eschatology.
The Eschatology of Israel, finding its Fulfillment in Jesus, wrought a change in our spiritual landscape, which depending on our choices, will make itself apparent in this biological plane! The same Spirit which once showed Grace to Israel now shows Grace through us. We now engender that Faith that saved Israel & through the expression of that Faith, we can save the world!
Charles Haddon Shank