“The Just shall live by faith”: the message that changed the world. Part 2.

The message that changed the world:-

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, the just shall live by faith”. (Romans 1:17 KJV).

Luther was not unfamiliar with the above text for remember he had studied the bible, his first degree was in biblical studies and his doctorate was in theology.

Yet in reading this verse he missed it. He concentrated on what he had to do to become righteous as opposed to becoming righteous or just by faith in Jesus Christ.

From the beginning man has sought to get right with God. This is how religion comes about.

Adam and Eve – sewed “fig leaves” to covet their nakedness. They did not hide from each other they hid from God.

Human sacrifices were made to appease the gods, please the gods and to curry favour with the gods. There was no evidence that this act worked but it was the invention of men.

Pilgrimages. The idea of travelling a long distance sometimes treacherous terrain was viewed as holy. In some religions the annual pilgrimage includes crawling on one’s stomach from home to the temple as a sign of obeisance.

God told the prophet, however, to tell Israel: “But we are all as an unclean thing , and all our righteousness’ are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away”. (Isaiah 64:6).

Martin Luther’s revelation transformed his life and the course of this world. He read from Romans and Galatians about being justified (declared righteous) by faith.

Apostle Paul got it from Habakkuk. Not much is known of this prophet. The book that bears his name has only three chapters.

In chapter 1 – Habakkuk asks God why you whose eyes are pure don’t do something about the evil in the land. Habakkuk as a man is troubled by the injustices he sees and wonder why the wicked go unpunished.

Chapter 2 begins thus: “I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved”.

Note: the prophet expects every encounter with God to be one of chastening and punishment. Some children reluctantly go to parents when they do wrong and even when they don’t do anything wrong because all they get is telling off.

Some children stop laughing and playing when parents enter the room because they make the child feel bad if they are having fun. A new era was coming that would change the relationship we have with God. No matter what we did to be righteous failed. Instead of working to please God all we need do was to believe what God did for us.

The guilty in prison waits to serve his or her time. He or she may be released from prison for good behaviour however, the record show that recidivism is high even for the worst offenders.

“And the Lord answered me, and said, write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith”.

Note: the soul that is lifted up/presented to God as holy or righteous is not upright or pleasing to God: “but the just shall live by faith” .

“And he (Jesus) spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are , extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14).

Was the Lord saying the sinner’s prayer is more successful than the righteous? No. But rather, “never trust in your own righteousness, and never use others as your standard”.

In Romans 3, Apostle Paul wrote: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24] Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say , at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [29] Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also: [30] Seeing it is one God, which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith. [31] Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law”.

God rejected Adam and Eve’s covering but he then provided them with aprons that was a better covering for it covers front and back. This was foreshadowing the covering that Christ would provide for the believer.

In Romans 10, Apostle Paul also wrote: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. [6] But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above 🙂 [7] Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) [8] But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; [9] That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”.

Five hundred years ago this single act was the catalyst that would bring true salvation to men and women. God told Habakkuk that the plain vision (simple message) would cause men to run with excitement. No more would one have to do things to be justified. No more would one have to flagellate oneself to be right with God and no more would one have to confess repeatedly every day to a priest in a booth then going away only to return the same day or soon to go through the process once more.

Instead, our confession would be unto the Lord as we believe with the heart. For this agrees the scripture, again as written by Apostle Paul: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. [10] For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. [11] For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. [12] For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. [13] For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. (Romans 10:9-13).

Our platform is the world and our congregation the people.

The Lord’s servant 

Lloyd Denny