This week in our L3 journals, we have been reading through the first few chapters of Romans, and came across one of the foundational verses for Paul's entire case for the gospel through this letter, Romans 1:17. In this verse, Paul quotes from Habakkuk 2:4: "The righteous shall live by faith." In this post, I just want to help clarify a few things, which will help us as we set out on our journey through the book of Romans.
In the previous verse, Paul had just finished saying that the gospel is "the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes," and then continues in this verse by saying, "for in it (the gospel) the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith." What Paul means in these statements is that the gospel message reveals God's righteousness, which has always been through faith (the unusual phrase "from faith for faith" or "from faith to faith" is most often interpreted as meaning "faith from beginning to end" or "faith from start to finish"), is the power of God for our salvation. The message of Jesus Christ's life, death, and resurrection reveals the righteousness of God, and is our means for salvation.
Paul then quotes the verse from Habakkuk that we mentioned earlier, "The righteous shall live by faith." There is another way to translate this from the original language, and it is often mentioned in the footnotes of our Bibles: "The one who by faith is righteous shall live." This verse says that life (i.e. salvation and eternal life) belongs to those who are righteous by faith. These are the ones who have been declared righteous by God through our trusting in Him.
What does Paul accomplish by bringing this verse into the discussion? He proves his previous statement. God's way for us to be saved has always been through faith in His work on our behalf. His plan was never for us to think that we could save ourselves by being good enough or by working our way into His good graces. It has always been by trusting in God's righteousness and mercy.
Christ was the perfect fulfillment of God's plan from the beginning. While many religious leaders from the time of exile through the first century had corrupted this message and lost sight of the true way of salvation, God had always intended for His people to be redeemed by trusting and believing in His work on their behalf. In this way, as Paul will soon tell us, God is the one who gets the credit and glory for our salvation; not us.
In these two small verses of Romans 1:16-17, we find the theme that Paul will emphasize throughout his letter to the church in Rome. Salvation is, and has always been, through trusting in the Lord - in His work on our behalf, in His righteousness, in His goodness. In Christ's life, death, and resurrection, it is now clearer than ever. As a result, Jesus Christ is the one who is worthy of all praise and honor and glory. He is the one who has saved us. He is the only one is deserving of our worship.
As it has been written, "The righteous shall live by faith."
In the Son,
FBC Worship & Arts Pastor
Sun, January 22, 2012
by Bill Horn filed under