This study is based upon the New City Catechism.


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I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Exposition

In the New Testament, two truths are presented with clarity: Christ died in our stead, and we died with Christ. We see this tension in Galatians 2:20. The Christian has been crucified with Christ, yet Christ gave himself for the Christian. At face-value, these may appear to be contradictory, but they speak in different senses. Historically, Christ died in our place. Christ suffered the wrath of God on a cross circa. AD 27, and because He did that, His people do not have to. Covenantally, when Christ died on that cross, His people died too. In Romans 6, Paul explained this concept of covenantal union in further detail:

We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

vv.6-11

In Salvation, a union is formed between God’s children and Christ. It is similar to the union of a train engine and subsequent cars. Wherever that engine goes, the cars will follow. Christ died and rose, and so His people shall die and rise (v.8). More than this, union with Christ means that Christ is our covenant head, our second Adam, our representative. He obeyed the law we could not keep and suffered the death we could not bear.

First, notice the instrument of this union. The instrument of union between Christ and His people is faith. “The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). This is the point at which the branch is united to the vine (John 15:1-6). “I live by faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20) might well be put, “I live in dependence upon Christ,” or, “I abide by the mercies of Christ.” This is a man who has embraced Jesus, as He is revealed (i.e. the true Christ), and is therein knowingly dependent upon Him for salvation. There is no need for great theological knowledge, only for awareness of one’s great poverty, and a falling upon His bosom.

In the first place, faith is a good work. Some ignorantly oppose this, but it is by no means offensive to the Gospel. Faith is something we do. Faith calls on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13). Faith comes to Christ for living water (John 7:37-38). This does not oppose the Gospel because faith is an instrument of, not a basis for, union with Christ, and is itself a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9). In the second place, as just stated, faith is wrought by the Holy Spirit. Faith springs up from a regenerate heart, which itself is the new creation of the Spirit (John 1:11-13; 3:1-15).

Second, notice the object of our faith. In the first place, it is Christ Himself: “faith in the Son of God” (Galatians 2:20). Faith seeks after the person of Christ. For this reason, it is impossible for misplaced faith to save. If we are not united to the vine, then we shall not have life. In the same way, if we have not come to the Christ for salvation, then we shall not have salvation. Faith in Allah, in science, in the effeminate Jesus of liberalism, will not do. These vines shrivel in temptation and wither by the tombstone.

In the second place, it is in the work Christ accomplished. The basis of our faith is in substitutionary atonement: “the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” This atonement is personal, in that it has in view single individuals. Otherwise, the Apostle could not say, “For me Christ died.” Christ offered Himself singularly for Paul, and singularly for all other children of God. This atonement is also covenantal: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” The life that is possessed and enjoyed is a consequence of the death that is suffered in covenantal union with Christ.[1]


Question: What is faith in Jesus Christ?
Answer: Receiving and resting on him alone for salvation as he is offered to us in the gospel.


[1] See Rendall, The Epistle to the Galatians in The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Printing Company, 1983), 166.

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