Confronted with personal frailties, I voluntarily chose to become a believer in the name of Jesus Christ in 1990. I had found myself in a situation within which I resented someone because I could not bring myself to love this person. In the recognition that I lacked power in of myself to love this person, this because in my heart I felt the person was stealing love that ought to have been directed towards me, I realized that absent connection with the God who Himself is Love, there exist limits to man’s capacity for love.
In the intervening years, I have seen Jesus Christ provide me with deep capacity for love. You know how you look back at an interaction and wonder just how you were able to be gracious in face of provocation, this while the provocateur was the person in position of weakness? Since I decided to believe in the name of Jesus Christ, I have experienced this many times over.
While I can point to a deficiency of love as reasonable rationale for believing in Jesus Christ, I since have come to realize that most Christians, and non-Christians in search of truth, do not have a deep understanding of what exactly it means to believe in the name of Jesus Christ. But then, I started off like most Christians knowing only that I needed help Jesus said was available. Thankfully, I understand much better now.
I started off like most Christians. I know much better now.
If non-Christians do not really understand what Christians mean when they declare faith in Jesus Christ, they can reject Jesus Christ for non-tenable reasons — for reasons that seemingly relate to faith in Jesus Christ, but which in reality have nothing to do with faith in Jesus Christ.
It took me a little over 20 years to arrive at full understanding of what it means to believe in Jesus Christ. This is not to say I no longer have room for growth. Rather, I merely declare that there is a difference between walking up a gently inclined plateau, and climbing up a mountain needing all hands and feet. The joy of the climbing always lies in anticipation of the capacity for walking on the plateau, for knowing exactly why it is you have such a great view. The gently inclined plateau always is reward for mastering of the mountain.
In what follows, I provide a brief synopsis of the five most important practical truths or realities implied in the decision to place faith in the name of Jesus Christ.
The first practical truth embedded in the decision to believe in the name of Jesus Christ is, ‘as God in human form Jesus lived a sinless life’. Note God in human form — Jesus Christ — never claimed to be God. Always declared Himself, Son of God. There does not exist any precedent in Christianity for a Savior who claims to be the almighty God, Creator of you and I. Jesus is referred to as God only to the extent His Father has declared all worship due Him be directed to Jesus Christ. While Jesus then is not the almighty God, for all practical purposes that relate to mankind, He functions in capacity of God. This is no different from how each of a king who has abdicated running of his kingdom, and the son who now runs the kingdom both are given exactly the same regard by their people.
If Jesus did not live a sinless life, if He did not succeed where Adam failed, belief in His name would be a waste of time. The devil would remain undefeated, all of our attempts at righteousness could not be rewarded. As evinced in his temptation of Jesus Christ while He was in the wilderness, when Adam and Eve sinned, the devil earned the right to reign over this earth.
By living a sinless life, Jesus defeated the devil, earned the right to reign over this earth. Now, in this day and age, the devil rules only to the extent people choose evil over good. If all men and women choose good over evil, the devil cannot prevent the good chosen from bearing good fruit. If you find yourself struggling to choose what is good, that probably is signal you need Jesus Christ.
The second practical truth or reality that is outcome of placing of faith in the name of Jesus Christ is, in Jesus’ death, the debt of sin — spiritual and physical death — is paid. Note this is not just about you, it’s about all of the sin ever committed in this world, all of the sin yet to be committed. In one death, God in Jesus Christ paid for all sin.
What does this then mean? It means the devil no longer can demand the price of sin from you or I. The price of sin already is paid, no longer can be demanded. The devil no longer can demand man’s life as consequence of man’s sins. Note, however, that if a man or woman voluntarily chooses the devil via deliberate choice of capricious evil, he or she voluntarily hands his or her life over to the devil.
Consider that if this is true, whether you believe in Jesus Christ or not, you are able to believe in waking up whenever you sleep only because of Jesus’ sacrifice.
When Jesus died, He in the Spirit took from the devil the keys of death and the grave — the abyss within which souls of the dead lay until Jesus died on the Cross at Calvary.
So then, while death can come calling for you whenever your time on earth is up, the devil cannot. There is a difference here. Death is an agent of justice. When a man lives right and his time is up, death comes calling. When a man lives an evil life, and justice becomes due, death comes calling. When God seeks to rescue a child from the evil consequences of his or her parents’ evil choices, a child can die in infancy.
Death is an agent of justice, in Jesus Christ never again to be feared. Who would you rather hold the keys to your death? Can you think of anyone more gracious, more forgiving, more loving than Jesus Christ?
The third practical truth or reality that is outcome of believing in the name of Jesus Christ? In the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, we have assurance that there does not exist any weakness or sin which has power to hold us down.
As famously explained by Francis Schaeffer, when we reckon ourselves to have died with Jesus Christ, and reckon ourselves raised back to life in His power, with His essence, we have power to overcome all sin, all weaknesses.
If we never come to believe that we can overcome all sin or weaknesses, we never are able to realize this reality because we always will attempt to justify sin or weakness. The first practical step towards harnessing of reality made possible by the resurrection of Jesus Christ is belief that there does not exist any weakness or sin which cannot be overcome.
I was born primarily a melancholic. I was melancholic in Elementary School and in High School. I believed in Jesus Christ just before I gained admission to College. In College, I was not melancholic. I was more balanced. I still had beneficial melancholy, but also had begun to develop beneficial sanguine, beneficial choleric, and beneficial phlegmatic. I was becoming more balanced. I know for a fact that the balance I was attaining was made possible by grace I was receiving via my faith in Jesus Christ.
Today, outside of my research work, work which requires odes of time spent reflecting, mulling, or poring over theories, data, and programs, you probably would not regard me melancholic. Over the years, belief in Jesus Christ has helped me overcome many weaknesses, more weaknesses than sins.
Most of the things that make us unhappy are not our sins, they are our weaknesses — the things we sense hold us back from being the person we see, sense on the inside.
When a person is shy, they are afraid to let loose the person they see, the person they sense on the inside. Jesus freed me from all of my holdbacks, turned me into a new creation. But then that exactly is what He promised to those who believe — a new creation.
The fourth practical truth or reality about believing in the name of Jesus Christ? In the ascension of Jesus Christ to heaven, we have access to the Holy Spirit — the ultimate aim of God’s redemption of man through Jesus Christ.
At Christmas, people are wont to sing, ‘Jesus is God’s gift to the world’. In a sense they are right. But then again, they are more wrong than right. Jesus is the person who makes possible God’s gift to the world — the Holy Spirit. With respect to this most important truth, I proffer four Scriptures, three spoken by Jesus Christ Himself, the other given to Christians by the Holy Spirit through Apostle Paul (words in bold and in brackets mine).
If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? — Luke 11:13
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to Gentiles through Christ Jesus (the Father gives the gift, but the gift comes through Jesus Christ, so then the Father had to give the Son so the Son could make possible receipt of the Holy Spirit), so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified — John 7:38–39.
Jesus answered, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life — John 4:13–14.
First, Jesus declares that every good gift those who believe in Him expect comes through the Holy Spirit. Second, Jesus redeemed us only so those who believe in Him can receive the Holy Spirit. Third, Jesus Himself declares He is not the gift, He is facilitator or giver of the gift. If Jesus is the giver of the gift, He cannot simultaneously be the gift. How then to rationalize the famous John 3:16?
The Father gave the Son, only so the Son makes possible receipt of the Holy Spirit. But in order to make possible receipt of the Holy Spirit, the Son had to live right, die right, resurrect right, ascend to heaven right. The Son did all this only so you and I could have opportunity to receive the Holy Spirit.
To receive the Son, yet not endeavor to receive the Holy Spirit is to inviolate the giving of the Son. If a process requires two connectors, and a person only activates the first connector, the process never can be completed.
Whenever something is done so it can facilitate another, it cannot be the end of that specific matter. Without Jesus we cannot receive the Holy Spirit. Yet, to believe in Jesus Christ and not recognize and receive the Holy Spirit is to have US$100 million in the bank in your name, yet not have any means whatsoever of withdrawing any of it.
If Jesus declares that rivers of living water which are to flow out of those who believe in Him only can come through the Holy Spirit, to believe in Jesus Christ, yet not recognize and seek fellowship of the Holy Spirit is exercise in wasteful living.
The fifth practical truth or reality that is outcome of reposing of faith in the name of Jesus Christ is, because Jesus lives forever to intercede for those who believe in Him, the blood, and power of the Holy Spirit necessary for our cleansing from sin always are available from Him. The blood is His, so always is available. The Holy Spirit comes to us through Jesus Christ so always is available. Whenever sin multiplies in the world, the grace of God available in Jesus Christ multiplies even more for our salvation.
I have experienced the five practical truths or realities that I enunciate in my very own life. In my book titled, In Jesus Name (Createspace, 384 pages), written and published in 2016, I refer to the enunciated five realities as, “the five facets of what Jesus has done or is doing for those who (choose to) believe in His name.” (In Jesus Name, pg. viii). Every truth I enunciate in ‘In Jesus Name’ is Holy Spirit taught. The writing of the book? Never pre-planned. The Holy Spirit stopped me in my tracks on January 1, 2016 told me I needed to put in writing what I had learnt about realities implicit in placing of faith in the name of Jesus Christ.
Whether you choose to believe in Jesus Christ or not, I hope you will choose good over evil, right over wrong, justice over injustice. But I dare hope that ultimately you find reasonableness of faith in Jesus Christ so compelling, like C.S. Lewis you find yourself drawn to the beauty that is the person and life of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior of mankind.