There are two fundamental pillars of salvation. The first is a belief. What is the belief? Paul tells us very succinctly that it is the sincere belief that Jesus is Lord (Romans 10:9). That sounds very simple, doesn’t it? Almost too simple to be true? It’s like believing that so-and-so is President, or that Columbus sailed the seas in 1492.
But a little reflection reveals that the belief isn’t quite so simple as that. Jesus after all was a man just like us, someone with a heartbeat and personal memories and bodily needs, someone who grew from a baby through childhood into young manhood, and then was killed. And what Paul is saying, succinctly, is that we must believe that Jesus, that man, was brought back to life and glorified in His flesh, and has now taken the place of the Son of God as the substance of the creative power of love, as the source of all coherence and meaning, and as the wellspring of everlasting life for every human being ever born. That man, Jesus. Not some unknowable Spirit. That particular man. The one with the heartbeat and childhood memories of Mary and Joseph.
When we put it that way, it seems like something that’s impossible even to understand, much less believe. And of course that’s right. The ‘belief’ cannot be arrived at or ‘proven’ by any line of rational thought, whether empirical like the scientist’s or theoretical like the metaphysician’s. Whatever this ‘belief’ is, it is disconnected from our understanding. We either have it – however tentatively – or we don’t; we’ve either been given it, or we haven’t (yet).
Let me put this another way. At the height of our loftiest speculation about God, it is possible I suppose to arrive at some conception of those qualities mentioned above: the creative power of love, the source of coherence, and so on. But that’s not what we’re asked to believe. What we’re asked to believe is that Jesus is all those things.
The man, Jesus.