Thursday, April 05, 2007

Walking through Romans Pt3: Romans 1: 16: "The Just Live by Faith”

Romans 1: 16: "The Just Live by Faith”

Romans 1: 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.”

I know I have already written a bit on this passage, yet still we are walking through Romans. These two verses alone have had such a profound impact on the Christian faith.

The verse “The just shall live by faith.” is found in three places. First in Habakkuk 2: which is the source in which I believe the best translation is Hab 2:4 “Behold, the soul of him is lifted up, and is not upright; but the just shall live by his faith.” Though many translations do not have the word “his” I think the reason that it is not in the NT is that in the Septuagint, it is left out, yet saying that, it is still implied or at least understood that it is faith is a gift from God Himself and that in times of struggles and tribulation, God also gives us faith.

Faith is most misunderstood. It is not a commodity as some teach, nor is it “ours” in the sense as like a muscle we must build up. I was taught as a young Christian that I must exercise my faith to build it up to become stronger in Christ. I have come to realize that such a teaching is actually contrary to the teachings of scripture. In fact we are to become weaker, or as John the Baptizer stated of himself, Joh 3:30 “He must increase, but I must decrease.” We too must decrease and Jesus must increase. We must become more and more dependant upon Jesus.

Just some interesting sidelines here.

The phrase “just shall live by his faith” is used three times in the New Testament:

Romans 1: 17b
Galatians 3: 11
Hebrews 10:38

Each one emphasizes a different point:

Romans faith
Galatians shall live
Hebrews the just

It seems that the Holy Spirit has set a theme throughout the books that hold the most foundational teachings of the Christian faith of the Just shall live by faith.

Some I have found seem to think that faith is seeing. I recently had a conversation where someone tried to use the verses in 1 Jo 1:2 "for the Life was revealed, and we have seen it and bear witness, and show to you the everlasting Life, who was with the Father and was revealed to us, 3 that which we have seen and heard we declare unto you, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ."

This is a great verse that tells us that John was an eyewitness to the Life of Christ, and that we can trust those who have literally seen Jesus and all His earthly works. Yet this person seemed to want to misuse the passage to say that he himself had seen and heard. He did this as he was telling me I was blind and did not have the light of Christ in me or else I would be able to see the heresy around me… I agree that one must have the light of Christ in them to "see"… and pointed out his misuse of Scripture and that he has not lived at the time of Christ so there was no way he could have seen or heard as John had. (Grin)

So what is faith? Hebrews 11:1 gives the clearest “definition” of faith as being

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Though I am not one that sees the Rapture as commonly taught as being biblical I do see that the word substance seems to be a bit wanting in this passage. I think the word better used is used by Darby in his translation:

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

For faith is not just a substance, rather it is the confirmation of the things hoped for. It is not that we have yet grabbed hold of what is to come in it’s fullness, rather we have the Holy Spirit in us to confirm that by faith the things that are yet to be will be as God states.

It is like if I looked at a chair and saw that it might hold me yet I will never know unless I have sat in it. I believe it will and believe the builder at his word, yet until I sit in it I am not substantiating the belief in the chair holding me. As I sit in the chair I find it to hold me and the builders words are true. So, also as we walk in faith, we learn to trust God at His word more and more ever becoming more dependent on His Word. His word is confirmed in us. Of course the difference is that the Kingdom though having come has yet to come to its fullness and we still must trust God at His word and the Holy Spirit within leads and guides us in truth and life as we walk. The Spirit is given as proof and confirmation to our spirit that God is faithful. Or as Romans 8: 16 “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.”

So we must walk in faith not by sight as I pointed out to my friend. (2Co 5:7 “for we walk by faith, not by sight”)

With this confirmation of the Holy Spirit that indwells believers we should then have the confidence to proudly proclaim the Gospel. We need not be ashamed as we no longer are depending on our righteousness but that righteousness of God Himself and as we do we experience the Power unto salvation. It is not just our own, but that of all fallen creation that is even now redeemed and waits only for the Sons of God to be revealed.


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