As discussed in previous post, the Gospel of John portrays two types of faith: believing in the name of Jesus and believing in Jesus. The former relates to recognizing Jesus’ power and that God is with Him, whereas the latter relates to receiving Jesus’ words that ultimately point to His love. Roughly put, believing in the name of Jesus relates to the power of Christ, whereas believing in Jesus relates to learning from Jesus and seeing His loving charachter.
It is important to emphasize here that believing in the name of Jesus is not consider some sort of inauthentic or false faith. They are not judged. The only ones who are spoken of as falling in judgment according to the Gospel of John are those who do not believe in the name of Jesus. Otherwise, both forms of faith puts one within the sphere of God’s mercy and grace, but the former have not come to realize the life that those who believe in Jesus do. For instance, is never stated those who believe in Jesus’ name have not been worked on by the Holy Spirit. We might assume that of Nicodemus in John 3, but Jesus doesn’t say that Nicodemus wasn’t born above, but rather challenges Nicodemus to understand the deeper realities of the kingdom of heaven. What is true is that Jesus does not make Himself known to those who believe in His name, as he see whats is within them (John 2.23-25). This need not be taken as a statement of judgment or condemnation, but only that they operate in the middle-ground somewhere where they are neither doing evil, but nor are they practicing the truth (John 3.17-21). In such a place, they wouldn’t be able to understand and accept Jesus’ teachings. This happened with many of Jesus’ so-called disciples in John 6.60-71. The point being is that the Gospel of John recognizes one stage of faith that is defined by recognizing the power of Jesus, whereas another stage of faith is related to recognizing the life and love of Jesus Christ. Both, however, operate within the sphere of God’s gracious love.
We see a similar breakdown in 1 Corinthians 2. Paul describes the Corinthians as believing in the power of God in 1 Corinthians 2.1-5. However, in 1 Corinthian 2.6-16, Paul describes the mature as loving God. While Paul doesn’t use faith in that passage, we can certainly see the progression from a focus on power to a focus on love. It is the people who love who receive and understand the wisdom of God, much as it is those who believe in Jesus that Jesus entrusted Himself to. We can see an overlap between the Gospel of John’s description of faith and Paul’s portrayal in 1 Corinthians 2.
I would suggest we something similar in Romans as it pertains to the resurrection. In Romans 1.3-4, we see Paul describing Jesus being declared the Son of God based upon the resurrection. Yet, if one pays attention to the rest of Romans, Paul does not connect the resurrection to power elsewhere. In fact, we see the resurrection being connected both explicitly and implicitly with Christ’s character in overcoming sin. Romans 6.1-11 connects death to overcoming sin and we see this more expressly with Jesus in Romans 8.3. Against this backdrop, resurrection is about God’s vindicating and redeeming power for Jesus over death. So, when we see Paul talk about believing in the resurrection in Romans 10.9-13, we see belief in the resurrection associated with righteousness in the person. When we recognize that Daniel 12.1-3 is the prime passage for resurrection in the OT and it connects resurrection with a moral vindication, reading Paul’s discussion about the resurrection in the rest of Romans certainly portends to the resurrection as an action communicating Jesus’ moral character. As Paul describes Jesus as the revelation of God’s righteousness (Romans 3.21-26), we can perhaps understand the resurrection to be God’s statement that Jesus is His righteousness that is ultimately a reflection of Christ’s love that allows people to conquer the sufferings and hardships of the world (Romans 8.37-39). We see within Romans two ways of understanding the resurrection: as a declaration of Jesus’ status and power as the Son of God and as a vindication of Jesus’ character. While Paul agrees with the former in Romans 1.3-4, it is the latter that takes precedence in the rest of Romans.
In conclusion, perhaps it is helpful to understanding the development of Christian faith as starting from a recognition of God’s power in Christ that moves towards a moral appreciation and trust in the loving, faithful, serving character of God made known in Jesus Christ. The former are consider to be part of the Church, as Paul does not consider the Corinthians who are not mature to be on the outside of God’s people, but they will not progress nor understand until their morals lives are transformed (1 Corinthians 3.1-4), much as it is what was within people that prevented Jesus for disclosing Himself to them in the Gospel of John.
Something to think about when it comes to evangelism, discipleship, and Spiritual formation!