The Just Shall Live by Faith

INTRODUCTION: On July 8, 2000, I visited the OnlineBible.org web site, and updated my software to the current version. As I was exploring the revisions, I came upon an interesting comment and passage from Habakkuk. Thus began the seed for this MPN, focusing on a verse that is better known for its inclusion in Romans. Using the search feature, I found four books, which contain this phrase, and gathered surrounding text to consider the thought being conveyed by the Holy Spirit through the authors to us. I have spent much time in these passages, and other activities through the summer have disrupted my continuity of study. This final presentation is by no means a thorough examination of the bountiful text, but rather an extended glimpse to enrich my understanding of the focus verse. The weeks have stretched into months since I began this study. As I conclude this pursuit. My desire is now to summarize my thoughts on the focus verse (from 4 books) in a brief manner. My overview follows, then I will compose a prayer in reflection.

NOTE: Bible passages are taken from the KJV.


A - THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

Habakkuk 2 "4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith."

COMMENTS: The first few verses of Habakkuk chapter 1 provide the setting in which this man wrote his prophecy over 600 years before the birth of Messiah, and therefore centuries before the Apostle Paul penned inspired letters, with his additional affirmation that faith in the person of God is the only pathway to life. During Habakkuk's time, the glory of Israel had been lost, and Gentile nations were lifted above Israel. In the perspective of the brief span of a man's lifetime, it often seems as though the LORD does not desire to bring about his justice, but the wicked will not go unpunished, and the utter vanity of their rejection of the true and living God for idols of their own making, will come to naught in the Lord's "fullness of time". He is so masterful as to use their wickedness to bring judgment on others, while they are steeped in their pride so far as to imagine that they are the reason for their own apparent success; over those who are in reality, being judged by the LORD.

But the end of the proud and self-proclaimed upright person, will come with certainty and swiftness. In contrast, those who are truly just (righteous) through the only one who can justify, will live eternally. We must not become discouraged by the appearance of the brief present, but rather remember to measure all things against the eternality of God's promise to those who trust in him. And as the final verse of Habakkuk chapter 2says, despite all appearances, "But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him."


B - PAUL WROTE TO THE ROMANS

Romans 1 "17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith."

COMMENTS: Paul tells us in Romans 1 that he was "separated unto the gospel of God" and this indicates that Paul did not take that action on his own. Paul further tells us "The gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith." So, the righteousness, which provides everlasting life and saves from eternal death, is completely from God to the believer by faith. Paul continued in that chapter , and I have used a variation of his wording in the next paragraph.

But, God's wrath is revealed from heaven against all unrighteousness, because the unrighteous man is without excuse for his rejection of salvation, in light of God's revelation of himself to all men from the creation of the world. Failing to glorify god, and professing themselves to be wise, the unbelievers and God-rejecters became fools, And changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.


C - PAUL WANTED THE GALATIANS TO KNOW THIS

Galatians 3 "11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith."

COMMENTS: The opening in chapter 1 from Paul in his letter to the Galatians reminds us of several important facts:
1) Paul's apostleship came from both Messiah Jesus and from God the Father,
2) god the Father raised Jesus from the dead,
3) Paul knew that grace and peace emanate from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ,
4) Jesus gave himself (in sacrificial death) for our sins,
5) the sacrificial purpose of Jesus' death was that he might deliver us from this present evil world, and
6) the sacrificial plan was according to the will of God and our Father.

Then Paul expresses his amazement that the Galatians now seem to be forgetting the gospel of Christ (good news) of Christ's sacrifice to provide righteousness to the one who accepts that righteousness by faith. They are ready to exchange the true gospel for a "gospel" which is not good news at all because it depends on themselves, not god!

So in chapter 3, Paul calls them foolish, asking who has bewitched them, and why, if they received the spirit of God through faith by hearing the truth, should they return to dependence on works to provide their salvation? And that term "bewitched" is translated from a Greek term, that appears only here in all of the New Testament. It can carry the idea of someone convincing another of their own independent thoughts, rather than the revealed word of God. But Paul reminds the Galatians that even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness, so all those who believe God become part of the same faith family as Abraham. Through faith, not biological bloodline, they are children of Abraham, because Abraham became part of God's family through faith. And scripture, showing us beforehand, that God would justify all nations through faith, presented that gospel to Abraham saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.

But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangs on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. For to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He said not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to your [Abraham's] seed, which is Christ.


D - THE LAST REFERENCE TO THIS TRUTH

Hebrews 10 "38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him."

COMMENTS: To provide a more clear understanding of the author's perspective on the focus verse in chapter 10, we need to see some thoughts from chapter 1. The Hebrew would understand and accept that God spoke to their forefathers through prophets, who recorded scripture; and sometimes an angel carried the message from God, often with miraculous demonstration of power. Angels therefore would be viewed with respect in awe, even above a prophet. The Hebrew would understand that God has promised an inheritance to the nation of Israel, but here in the first chapter, the author says that God has spoken in the last days through his Son whom he also has appointed heir to ALL things! So the heir is now seen as being God's son, not just the son of Abraham.

The author of Hebrews continues by saying these things about God's Son: he made the worlds, he is the brightness of his glory and the express image of his person, and he upholds all things by the word of his power. The author further declares this about the Son: when he had by himself purged our sins (not by accepting anything WE DO to purge our sins), he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance (keeping the promise of God about the inheritance) obtained a more excellent name than they. These things speak of the qualities of god, referring to the Son as God; and this establishes for the Hebrew that God has not abandoned his promise, but rather has fulfilled it in Christ. The Son of God has appeared as a man, and the descendent of Abraham named Jesus, but Jesus and God are one.

In Hebrews chapter 10, we find that the law was only a shadow of good things to come, and we know that a shadow does not have the substance of that which casts the shadow. The sacrificial system at the temple was part of that shadow, and the sacrifices did not purge sins. But when Jesus came to fulfill the prophecy of scripture, he offered his body once for all, and removed the need for the shadow of sacrifice. He took away the first (the picture of sacrifice), and replaced it with the reality, so we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Unlike any human priest who would need to continue offering picture sacrifices every day, the man Jesus Christ after he had offered one authentic and acceptable sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God; From that point forward confidently waiting until his enemies be made his footstool. By this one offering he has perfected forever those that are sanctified.

And we are further convinced of this substitutionary sacrifice, by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because the scripture tells us that after those days, the covenant will be that the Lord says "I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. ". So, if our sins are completely forgiven, there is no more offering for sin, and our lives have a different purpose than trying to "balance out" our sins. Therefore, we should hold tightly to the daily profession of our faith by our actions, without wavering; for our faith comes from him, and he is faithful. And let us stimulate and encourage one another to Christian love and to good works as we assemble with other believers regularly. We should even urge one another more earnestly to avoid sin and honor Christ "as we see the day approaching".

For if we continue in sin, there is no evidence that we have been saved by faith, and if not saved by faith, then judgment awaits us as an advisary of Christ. But don't cast away your confidence (in Christ) which has great recompense of reward. For you have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, you shall receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not delay. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.


--- Reflections in prayer ---

From Habakkuk
Forgive me Lord for those times when I am disturbed because the unrighteous have so many material blessings in this present world, and they mockingly boast of their accomplishments with no help from God, or flatly declare that God does not exist. At the same time, some of those who put their trust in Christ bear many difficulties, seemingly not of their own making. Thank you for the reminder in Habakkuk that even before the birth of Christ, your unchangeable nature establishes that the self-indulgent and proud are not righteous in God, but rather the just shall have life by faith in God alone. We cannot see beyond the grave and therefore we confidently place our trust in your promise to the faithful. I believe Lord, help me in my unbelief.

From Romans
Guide me in securely apprehending the truth that the gospel of Christ is the power of God unto salvation. For this concept strengthens the truth that those who are righteous and just in your sight will live eternally because of faith in your Son. When Paul wrote that the just shall live by faith, he was guided by the Holy Spirit and he was quoting from Old Testament scripture of truth already established, not his independent thought. Protect me Lord from any temptation to drift away toward thoughts of men apart from God, or to worship the creature or creature comforts rather than the creator who is forever to be praised! Amen and Amen!

From Galatians
Guard me Lord from the pride of men, which confuses the truth with tradition, and can cause me to drift from the solid foundation of Christ alone for my salvation. Keep me from putting tradition of any local church, denomination, or human heritage ahead of my new birth in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Do not allow any convincing arguments of man, or my own reasoning, to wrest the gospel of Christ from within me, but empower me to worship you alone with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength. The just shall live by faith! Hallelujah!

From Hebrews
Thank you Lord for making provision for men from every tribe, tongue, and nation to be saved through Abraham, even before you established your nation Israel in the descendents of Abraham. My redeemer is faithful and true, and I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Your plan was that Israel, the law, and temple worship all foreshadow the coming of Christ for the salvation of all men who would believe. Please continue to strengthen me to hold tightly to the daily profession of my faith by my actions, without wavering. And enable me to stimulate and encourage other believers to Christian love and to good works. Keep me faithful in assembling with other believers regularly. Help me to urge other believers more earnestly to avoid sin and honor Christ, because "the day is approaching". Thank you for the reassuring words in Hebrews that we of the faith family are not those who draw back. Come quickly Lord Jesus! Amen.

Published 31 May 2004, first issued 30 September 2000