Saturday, October 31, 2015

Triplets of Hope: The Just Shall Live by Faith

Photo: Andreas F. Borchert 2015

In the New Testament, there are three mentions of our study verse – the just shall live by faith –(Romans 1:17; Galatians.3:11; Hebrews 10:38 ). All three were written by the apostle Paul, if we assume that he is the author of Hebrews as well as of the other two epistles. In Romans 1, he describes himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God (v. 1). All of these make him just, or holy and righteous, not by his own merit but by his relationship to Jesus Christ our Lord (v.3).

Only the Lord Jesus Christ (v.,7) can justify, or reconcile, sinful man to holy, Triune God, for He alone is the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Colossians 2:9). He is the Son of Man, or the seed of David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3), as well as the Son of God (God the Father) empowered by the spirit of holiness (Holy Spirit), Who raised Him from the dead (v.4).

When we are made just by having faith in Christ, we can live in Him! The essential belief we must have to be saved is that He died as the perfect sacrifice to pay for our sins, was buried, and rose again to give us eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:1-4; John 3:16).

Our abundant life in Him (John 10:10) includes the daily benefits of His ongoing grace; the privilege of apostleship, meaning that He has called, empowered, and sent us to be His ambassadors; and obedience to His Word, demonstrating our faith (Romans 1: 5-6). We are His beloved, to whom He gives grace and peace (v. 7). Following Paul’s example, we worship Him with thanksgiving, service, and prayer (v. 8-10).

Paul’s prayer for himself and the Roman church is that he could visit them, give them a spiritual gift to strengthen their faith, and be comforted with them by their shared faith in Christ (v. 11-13). He is thankful for the blessing of having led Romans, Greeks, and Barbarians to the Lord (v. 13-14) through the gospel of Christ, which is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (v.16).

That brings Paul to his summary statement, in which he repeats the word “faith” three times: For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (v. 17).

In contrast to Paul’s description in the above verses of the blessings of living justified by faith, his next mention, in Galatians 3, of “the just shall live by faith” points out the dangers of attempting to be self-righteous, which brings only condemnation by the law. He calls the Galatians foolish, bewitched, and disobedient for not believing the truth of the sufficiency of Christ’s perfect sacrifice (v. 1).

Paul asks them three times whether they received the Spirit, began their new life in the Spirit, and were ministered to by the Spirit by keeping the law, by being justified in their flesh, or by the hearing of faith (v. 2,3,5). Of course, faith is the only true answer, repeated three times (v. 7,8,9). Faith allows the believer in God to have imputed righteousness as Christ’s perfect holiness is credited to our account (Romans 4:6,11,22); to be the children of Abraham and thereby be grafted in to God’s chosen and blessed people (Romans 11:17-24); and to be justified before God, Who no longer sees our sins (Galatians 3:6-9).

But if we foolishly attempt to be saved by keeping the law, we are under a curse, because breaking the smallest part of the law makes us guilty of breaking all of it, and we cannot be justified by the law in God’s eyes (v. 10-11). Paul again concludes this passage with “The just shall live by faith” (v. 11).

In his last mention of this verse (Hebrews 10: 38), Paul describes how it applies to the past, present, and future of the believer. Once we were saved (justified) by grace (unmerited, life-giving favor) through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9) we were tested by our own hardships, those of fellow believers, and mocking from nonbelievers who seem to enjoy our suffering (Galatians 3: 32-34).

But Paul encourages us to find joy even in hardships (v. 34; Philippians 4:4), to be confident in God’s promises (v. 35), and to be patient as we wait for Him to fulfill them (v. 36). Our future is secure – a blessed, glorious and living hope (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3) – Christ is coming back for His church at the Rapture!

Hebrews 10: 37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry .
 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

Praise God that He will return for those who are just in His eyes by living by faith, without which we cannot please Him (Hebrews 11:6). May we have faith in His exclusive power to have saved us, to keep us securely in the palm of His hand (John 10:28-29), and to glorify us when He comes again!

© 2015 Laurie Collett
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  1. Dear Laurie,
    When I was newly converted back in the 1970's and grappling with salvation by faith alone, or whether it's faith mixed with works as defined by the Roman Catholic church in which I grew up, I found the whole letter of Paul to the Galatians extremely helpful. Along with Romans chapters 3 and 4.
    What I find so tragic is that there are many Catholic nations, such as Italy (my former home country), Spain, Mexico, and South American Countries (e.g. Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina) where the Catholic church all but forbidden the reading of the Bible by the laity, making the average Catholic woefully ignorant of the wonderful truths the book contains.
    If only your blogs go out to these people! God bless.

    1. Dear Frank,
      It is so true that Catholic churches in many countries read Scripture only in Latin and discourage parishioners from reading the Bible in their native language. No wonder Martin Luther rebelled against this, which not only kept the truth away from the people but allowed the church to propagate their own non-Biblical traditions, such as purgatory and indulgences. Salvation can only be by grace through faith, not by works.
      Thanks as always for your encouragement! God bless.

  2. Sadly, many who teach that salvation is by faith believe it is kept by our actions, rather than by the power of God. They spend their lives living in fear of losing their salvation, rather than enjoying it.

    Great post.

    1. Very true, Donald -- rather than realizing that He gave us richly all things to enjoy, and that we can have joy in Him, their lives are plagued by doubt and fear.
      Thanks for your encouraging comment, and God bless,

  3. Hello Laurie,
    This was very edifying. I'm glad I dropped by to read. Thanks for sharing this. God bless and keep you . :-)

    1. Thank you, Sateigdra! I'm blessed to hear you enjoyed the post!
      Love in Christ,