Family of Faith

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

When people hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and respond in faith, their lives are changed forever. Immediately, they are justified before God, as Christ is the propitiation for their sins (Romans 3:24-25), taking on their iniquity and paying for it on the cross, while granting them his perfect righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). Though they were alienated from God and hostile toward him, they are now fully reconciled (Colossians 1:21-22), adopted into his family (Galatians 4:4-6) and recipients of an eternal inheritance (Ephesians 2:6-7). This inheritance is only for those found in Christ, who will one day be revealed to be the children of God to all creation (Romans 8:19), but until that day, God’s children are the bride and body of Christ on this earth—the church—and they live as a family of faith.

Unlike our friends and families in this world, the family of faith mentioned above will never end. This family crosses every division of language, ethnicity, culture, and any other physical distinction in this world, and those who belong to it will all partake in eternal life (Revelation 7:9-10) and share the fullness of their Master’s joy in the coming ages (Matthew 25:21). This means they will literally be a family forever. Furthermore, this kind of family is distinct from all those we currently enjoy in that there will be no more sin infecting our word and deed (Matthew 13:41), a work that Jesus began with our personal sanctification and collectively with our corporate unity (John 17:19).

The unity of the church, which is what makes us a family of faith, was purchased by the blood of Christ on the cross. Jesus prayed to his Father that those who trust him “may all be one” and not in just a generic sense. Jesus said: “Just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me” (John 17:21-23). This is what Jesus asked of his Father on his way to the cross: it is the heart of the unity of the church, and it is what makes those who believe in Christ a family of faith—a family closer than any biological or even chemical bond in the entire universe.

It is unsurprising to find in the early church this powerful reality of a new kind of family bursting into existence as the Holy Spirit opens hearts and minds to the truth of the gospel. Acts 2:42-46 and 4:32-34 show this family vividly at its earliest point, day to day worshiping, eating, and enjoying fellowship together, enjoying a bond closer than anything ever seen before. The New Testament takes great pains to show this unity and its importance in the church by telling us to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3). Paul explains that one of the reasons for this is that we have “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:6). We have one Father and, therefore, we are all in his family.

Nevertheless, since the body of Christ is spread across an entire planet and manifests in smaller local communities that serve and love in the areas they live in, these small, tight-knit families should look and sound like those in Acts 2. Risen Hope takes this aspect of our faith very seriously. Though we certainly love others in this world, we recognize that those who belong to Christ will never be separated, which stunningly means that this family will be together forever exploring their glorious inheritance—the immeasurable and unsearchable riches of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:8). And while living this way is a natural outworking of the gospel in our lives, we do not lose sight of the main reason for this unity: “that the world may believe” (John 17:21).