Where is the ‘salvation through faith-talk’
ABOUT: This post is part of my YouVersion.com notes
CONTEXT: Written while doing the Reading Plan for the gospel of Matthew
Let me first admit. I’m naughty! I’m very naughty in stating that salvation through faith is overrated; but I’m speaking from the heart of Matthew and what he wanted us to understand in his gospel.
Matthew is a person you know and for him it was really important that we should understand kingdom living – the doing part. You’ll recall in the later part of the book a story about separating the goat from the sheep. The criterion that Jesus used was ‘have you done this for me.’ ‘This’ means accepting strangers, attending to those that hunger, thirst and are ill, visited those in jail and so on in Matthew 25 from verse 31 (nothing on ‘those that accepts him as saviour’). There are many such instances that reflect that we should do as a basis of acceptance that I’m not going to reference here again. So how can this be – a gospel without the heart of what we believe, which is that salvation is based on my belief that Jesus died for my sins (in effect my sin of omission as well, what I’m neglecting to do in the above Matthew 25 reference – the things Matthew feels so strongly about).
While reading through Matthew I asked myself where I can find this notion of salvation through believing in Jesus. Naturally it ís there and I’ve done the reading so you don’t have to (but you’re welcome to add).
There are however ways/ instances that reflects the notion of sin and salvation. Two of these are explicit and one the more important one, for Matthews first century audience that is, is implicit that you’ll only notice if you read Matthew as story and ask the right questions. (You can also see the idea of repentance of sin in chapter one with John the Baptist but this is not tied to salvation through faith as such. Then there is in chapter sixteen the crede of Peter that Jesus is the Christ but again in the ensuring remarks of Jesus it is rather an indirect hint at salvation).
In my opinion the weightier considerations:
(1) Matthew 26:28
“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (NIV)
(2) Matthew 20:28
“[J]ust as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and give his life as ransom for many.” (NIV)
(3) The kind of questions that we need to ask: What’s up with all this references and quotations from the Old Testament and funy references ‘Son of David’ ‘Son of Man’ and so on.
Bearing in mind Matthew is speaking predominantly to Jews (at first however) he was trying to make a case for the fact that Jesus is (1) an extention of what they believed. He is not something different. He belongs to the lineage of the important people (Abraham and David) for Matthew’s audience (the whole point of the lineage in chapter one). Then (2) he indicates that Jesus is not only part of the Hebrew-story (which later becomes the Judaism-story), but is in fact the expected Messiah.
This relates to salvation in the way that the Messiah would free, save, redeem his people and Jesus’ last words clearly indicates that he has everyone in sight not just the Jews as it might have seemed earlier in the gospel.
Although this freedom that the Messiah would bring might have been thought of by some as a sort of political freedom or reinstatement of the Jews as the primary culture, the story of Matthew clearly does not have this in mind.
The Jesus of in the gospel of Matthew favours the have-nots and advocates kingdom living in the way Jesus is portrayed in Matthew. The idea of sin and salvation is present but I think it is somehow assumed as part of the Christian belief system of the ancient people.
From the mouth of Matthew (Jesus) I learn that doing is an expression of the fact that I believe in Christ as my saviour (Matthew 1:8). If my life does not reflect in some way the ‘will’ of the Father (Matthew 7:20, 21) do I really know Christ as my saviour?