Why Faith Saves: The Great Exchange
You have heard it before from the mouths of celebrities, preachers, your friends, and in church.  "My faith in Jesus Christ has saved me from my sins!"  Every religion and every philosophy known to man requires some level of faith.  Faith connects the dots in religion, in our way of living, in the decisions we make.  Of course faith is rooted in fact, historical evidence and experience, but no matter how much evidence or how much we have experienced ourselves, in the end, what we choose to believe takes some amount of faith.  For the follower of Jesus faith is incredibly important and absolutely necessary for salvation.  Paul writes in Ephesians 2:8-9, "For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this (faith) is the gift of God."  By how does faith save?  


Paul says we have been saved from something.  If we are saved from something that means something was killing us.  Earlier, in the same passage of Scripture, Paul said that we were all "dead in our trespasses and sins."  Every human being has sinned.  Most of us are not arrogant enough to think that we have not committed some kind of of sin.  We have lied, cheated, envied, we lust, we get greedy, we steal, we hate, we get angry, and we are prideful.  I've never met anyone who has claimed they have never sinned or hurt anyone.  All have sinned because all have been born into sin.  The problem is that our sin is primarily against God.  God is perfectly righteous and has no darkness in Him at all.  He loves us dearly, but He must judge our sin for He is also perfectly just.  Sin is only worthy of death and separation from God.  

Paul says in Ephesians 2 that we were children of wrath which means that we deserve to die for our sins.  Our nature is to sin, to hate God, and to disobey God.  God has promised death for sin (Romans 5).  If every human being is born into sin, and therefore under God's wrath, we need to be saved.  So Paul offers the remedy.


When a Christian says they have been saved by faith they are claiming several things.  First, they are saying that their faith in Jesus Christ has united them to Jesus in his perfect obedience.  Jesus did what we could never do.  He obeyed the Law of God, of which he was the author, and he obeyed it perfectly.  He did this as our substitute and on behalf of those who would believe that he is their substitute.  God could not just accept us as we are because He is perfectly just and holy and we are not - remember that we are born into sin and we love to sin.  What place does sin have among Him Who is holy?  Jesus did not sin.  He completed the job that Adam, the first great sinner, was not able to do.  When we say we have faith in Jesus we are saying that we believe that Jesus was perfect and that we are united to Jesus' work and that God gives us credit for the work that Jesus did.  Faith is resting in the work of Jesus Christ and believing God at His word that He credits Jesus' perfect obedience to us by faith.  


Paul says in Romans 6:3 that we were united to Jesus in his death.  What Paul means is that God accepted the punishment that Jesus endured on the Cross as if we ourselves took the punishment for our sin.  You see, Jesus became our sin.  He died our death on the Cross.  He suffered what we should have suffered.  There is this great passage of Scripture in Isaiah 53 that says that God laid on the Messiah (Jesus) the iniquity of us all.  That is why Paul can say that we have been united to Jesus in his death.  Jesus became our sin even after living perfectly righteous before God and men.  


When we say that faith in Jesus has saved us we mean that we believe that when Jesus rose from the dead he secured our resurrection.  In Romans 6:5 Paul says that we have not only been united to Jesus in his death but that we have also been united to Jesus in his resurrection.  That means that Jesus' resurrection is our resurrection.  We can expect that we will experience exactly what Jesus experienced.  John writes in his first letter that as the children of God we will become like Jesus when he returns.  


It's pretty simple, yet mind-blowing.  We were born into sin and deserved death.  God loved us too much to allow death to come to us all.  God also hates sin so much that He must punish it.  God agreed to die for us because He loves us.  God is asking us to have faith that Jesus took care of the problem of sin and paid our debt.  What happens in faith is a great exchange.  Jesus has taken all of your sin and the debt that you owe God and in return for paying off your debt he is offering his righteousness - his obedience in life, death, and resurrection.  He is offering life for death.  He is offering righteousness for unrighteousness.  He is offering to be united to you, to give you everything, to make you a co-heir of the greatest Kingdom ever known to the universe.  He wants to exchange his perfection for our garbage.  

Faith saves because of this great exchange.  Faith is believing the facts.  The facts are that God loves us and is perfectly just.  He cannot simply overlook our sin, so He decided to be the remedy for our sin.  Faith means you believe God at His word - that faith in Jesus Christ saves us from the punishment our sin deserves.  

If someone offered you to pay off all of your debt and to give you all the money and resources you would ever need and could ever spend in a lifetime, in exchange for faith that they would do it, would you believe them?  Would you put your faith in them?  How much greater is God's promise?  How much more sure is God's deliverance from our sin?  What a great exchange.  

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