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THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
The Gospel announces a righteousness from God for men
by Given O. Blakely
"17a For therein is the righteousness of God revealed . . . " Here we begin the doctrinal portion of this Epistleand it is lofty. Keep in mind, this is a declaration of the Gospelan opening up of the good news. It will immediately be apparent to you that what is here proclaimed is rarely heard in Christian circles. In the sense of this text, I have scarcely ever heard any reference whatsoever to "the righteousness of God." This is, however, an extensive theme that will be expounded from this point through the conclusion of the eighth chapter.
The word "therein" refers to the Gospel of Christ. Not only is it "the power of God unto salvation," the Spirit now tells us WHY it is: "FOR therein . . . " I have rarely heard a message, or read an article, dealing with Romans 1:16 that associated it with the Divine explanation of its power, which is verse seventeen. I credit this significant omission to the effect of institutionalized religion upon those embracing it. A systematized religion has the tendency of imposing spiritual blinders upon the soul, producing extremely restricted understanding.
The Gospel is more than a simplistic message. It is a spiritual container in which much can be found. Too often the Gospel is viewed entirely apart from this fundamental consideration: it is an appointed receptacle that holds life-giving benefits. Further, it is what is IN the container that makes it effective.
Illustrated In Nature
The Gospel is much like a complex fruit, containing many nutritious elements. A marvelous example of this principle is the peanut. From this seemingly uncomplicated crop George Washington Carver produced over 300 different products. They included cereals, oils, dyes, soaps, flavors, and food substitutes. He found a use for the nut, the shell, and the plants left in the ground. His work in this area is one of the remarkable achievements in this world.
By simply viewing a picture of a peanut in the shell, or of the nut within the shell, or of the plant in the ground, these incredible things are not evident. It required someone with insight to open the possibilities of the peanut to us mortals. However, even if brother Carver (himself a believer in Christ) did not discover these uses, they were all still resident in the lowly peanut.
The Gospel Reveals Something
"Therein is revealed . . . " Whatever is "revealed" in the Gospel is what gives it effective "power unto salvation." We are to understand that salvation cannot be realized apart from what is "revealed" within it. This is something that is found wherever the Gospel is found. It is not a mere part of the Gospel, but is revealed in the Gospel. The Gospel, then, sheds light on somethingsomething that is required for our salvation.
The surface view of the Gospellike looking at the peanut itselfis the proclamation of the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. These are the pillars upon which the Gospel are founded. However, it is what is made known by these pivotal accomplishments that brings "power unto salvation."
This is the bane of declaring the Gospel from merely a historical perspective: i.e., "two thousand years ago." It is also the weakness of seeking to buttress the Gospel with tangible evidence and logical proofs. Neither of those things, however useful they may appear, possesses the "power of God." I suppose that both, like the law, are good if a man uses them lawfully (1 Tim 1:8). However, a considerable amount of effort is yet to be expended to support that supposition.
Remember, the Spirit is accounting for the power and effectiveness of the Gospel of Christ. The proclamation of the Person and accomplishments of Christ reveal what is now affirmed. Any Gospel that does NOT reveal this, is really "another gospel," and is to be discarded as theological garbage.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
The "righteousness of God" is mentioned five times in this book. In every case, it is a pivotal deliberation (1:17; 3:5,21,22;10:3). This is not an academic considerationlike learning a mathematical tablebecause it is "revealed." Later, the Spirit will affirm "the righteousness of God" is "manifested," or "made known" (3:20). This is, then, something to be perceived, comprehended, or understood.
Not Referring to God Being Righteous
This is NOT referring to an understanding that God is righteous. It is certainly the truth that "God is righteous" (Isa 41:26). Unquestionably, "the LORD our God is righteous in all the works which He does"NKJV (Dan 9:14). He is "righteous in all His ways, and holy in all His works" (Psa 145:17). Whatever He has done is right, and is not to be questioned by mortals. His judgment, whether condemning or justifying, is always "righteous" (Rom 2:5; 2 Thess 1:5). In delivering up His Son He was righteous (Rom 8:3). He is also righteous in justifying the ungodly (Rom 3:25).
However, this is not the sense in which "the righteousness of God" is used in this textor in any other texts using that expression.
A Conferred Righteousness
The Gospel reveals a righteousness that God confers upon menand it is His very own righteousness. The glorious Gospel does not make known that God is righteous, although that can certainly be seen in it. That revelation, however, has been affirmed from the beginning of Gods dealings with men (Gen 18:25; Judges 5:11; Ezra 9:15; Job 36:3).
Righteous"the righteousness of God"is a premier consideration in the Kingdom of God. Jesus said, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness . . . " (Matt 6:33). This is a righteousness to be appropriated. Seeing this, Paul affirmed his life was lived in order to be "be found in Him (Jesus), not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith"NKJV (Phil 3:9). He knew that righteousness was imperative to be accepted by God, and that he could not develop it himself.
I am persuaded the masses of professed believers have not yet been convinced of the necessity of righteousness. They have heard a Gospel so thoroughly diluted with the wisdom of this world that they can scarcely arrive at a valid conclusion concerning righteousness or Divine acceptance.
We must exercise ourselves to break free from shallow and distorted views of salvation. It is still true, "the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9), and without holiness, "no man shall see the Lord" (Heb 12:14). Make no mistake about this, the unrighteous man has a mandate from heaven, and there is no way to avoid it with impunity. "Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts" (Isa 55:7-9). Unrighteousness, then, has to do with more than our deeds. It has to do with our way, or manners, and our thoughts as well. Unless we are righteous in both of those areas, our future is hopeless!
Two Ways to be Righteous
There are two types of righteousness mentioned in Scripture. One depends upon men, and the other comes from God.
Of the Law
The first is called a righteousness which is "from the Law." This is NOT a righteousness from God, but one proceeding from self-effort alone: "my own righteousness" (Phil 3:9). When Jesus comes, He will "find" all men. At that time, there will be no hope whatsoever for any person having only his "own righteousness, which is from the Law."
In this righteousness, the individual fulfills the "righteous requirements of the Law," carefully and without flaw doing everything that God requires. This "righteousness" is particularly described for us. Appropriately, the description is provided by Moses, through whom the law was "given" (John 1:17). "For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them" (Rom 10:5). The Levitical law declared, "Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD" (Lev 18:5). Nehemiah also said of Gods laws, "which if a man do, he shall live in them" (Neh 9:29). Ezekiel made the same statement: "which if a man do, he shall even live in them" (Ezek 20:11,13,21). Jesus said the same thing in answer to a man asking about obtaining eternal life: "Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live" (Lk 10:28).
The Spirit declares that this approach has nothing whatsoever to do with faith. "Yet the law is not of faith, but the man who does them shall live by them" (Gal 3:12). The Amplified New Testament reads, "But the Law does not rest on faithdoes not require faith, has nothing to do with faithfor it itself says, He who does them (the things prescribed in the Law) shall live by them, [not by faith]." This is too strong for those with a propensity for Law. But it is the truth!
Here DOING is compared with BELIEVING. Under Law, becoming righteous is traced back to DOING as its cause. Mind you, this is not the doing of God. Remember, the Law is "not based upon faith." This is not speaking about God working in us "to will and to do of His own good pleasure" (Phil 2:13). The life of the individual is thus placed in his own hands. There will be NO Divine intervention, no new birth, and no provision for reconciliation. Being alive to God will depend solely upon the impeccable and flawless performance of the individual. That is the "righteousness of the Law." A single offence voids all other seeming works of goodness, making the individual guilty of breaking every jot and tittle of the Law (James 2:10).
Let us imagine for a moment that we did, in fact, find someone who did everything they were commanded to do. Even though that is only an imagination, Jesus did tell us what would occur were such a person found. "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do"NKJV (Lk 17:10). Ponder what good word is ever said to an "unprofitable servant!" Tell me if there is so much as a spark of hope held out to such a servant.
But let us take the matter even further. Hear the Spirit as He reasons concerning our father Abraham, "the friend of God." "What then shall we say that Abraham our father has found according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God" (Rom 4:1-2).
If you have ever thought yourself equal to the challenges of the Law, quickly abandon such foolishness! The righteousness that comes from the Law is a vaporous one. It simply is not possible, for the Law "was not made for a righteous man" (1 Tim 1:9). It can neither produce or sustain a righteous man. The Law itself is "righteous," but it cannot produce a single righteous deed, or right a solitary wrong. Its ministry is that of condemnation, not justification. As a covenant, the law was "the ministration of death," and "the ministration of condemnation" (2 Cor 3:7,9). It did not remove sin, but defined it and confirmed men were guilty of it (Rom 3:19-20).
Throughout history, men have had a propensity to imagine they could become righteous by keeping the very Law they had broken. Once broken, however, the Law cannot be mended together in such a manner as to produce righteousness. That should be apparent to every thoughtful soul. It will also produce a strong longing in the tenderhearted for a righteousness that is accepted by God. The Gospel announces just such a righteousness.
The Gospel reveals a righteousness that comes from faith. It is called "the righteousness of faith" (Rom 4:13), or "the righteousness that comes by faith."NIV This righteousness must be revealed before it can be appropriated, confirming it does not proceed from man. Rather, it is brought to manquite different from the righteousness of the Law. This will be more fully developed in the next section.
THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD
There is only one righteousness that is acceptable to God, and that is His own. Here is a spiritually technical point that will yield much benefit. Some have viewed this righteousness as the "righteousness of Christ," even though no such reference is ever found in Scripture. This view sees Jesus as fully keeping the Law in our behalf. Because of His flawless obedience, His righteousness is then imputed to us. Although Jesus was flawlessly righteous, it is not His righteousness that is imputed to us. That is, it is not the righteousness developed in the arena of spiritual warfare that is given to us. It is Gods own righteousness that is granted to us because of our "faith in His blood" (Rom 3:25)i.e. , our persuasion of its effect.
The purpose of Christs righteousness life was not the development of a righteousness to be imputed to us. Rather, it was in order to qualify Him to make the required sacrifice that would atone for the sins of the world. It was in order that He might fulfill the righteous demands of God for reconciliation.
While the righteousness of our text does, indeed, come from God, it also belongs to Him. It is a righteousness to which men submit themselvesnot one that is developed by them. This is precisely the point developed in the tenth chapter. "Since they (Israel) did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness"NIV (10:3).
Thus the Gospel not only reveals that God Himself is righteous in reconciling the world to Himself, but that He graciously and willingly confers that very righteousness upon all who believe in Christ. This is a required righteousness, without which there is no hope of heaven. That is a righteousness that will stand uncontested before the tribunal of heaven, both now and in the last day. It is revealed in the Gospel of Christ, and appropriated by faith.
FROM FAITH TO FAITH
"17b . . . from faith to faith . . . " This is doubtless one of the most profound of all utterances. It declares the means by which righteousness is appropriated, and the effect it has upon the individual. The phrase "from faith to faith" is my particular focus. The thing that is revealed through the Gospel is this: the righteousness of God is "from faith to faith." Other versions read, "through faith for faith"NRSV, "by faith from first to last"NIV, "from faith unto faith"ASV, "from start to finish by faith"NLT, and "based on faith and addressed to faith"NJB.
The idea is that our experience of the righteousness of God springs from faith, then feeds, nourishes, and enhances faith. To put it another way, we must believe in order to be given the righteousness of God, and we must possess the righteousness of God in order for our faith to be perfected. Righteousnessthe imputed righteousness of Godis the Divinely appointed link between "first believing" (Rom 13:11) and possessing faith when the Lord comes again (Lk 18:8). Fighting the good fight of faith and laying hold of eternal life (1 Tim 6:12) is contingent upon this righteousness. At no point is righteousness severed from faith.
It is no wonder Paul was so eager to be found possessing this righteousness in the last day, when nothing else will really matter. "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" NASB (Phil 3:8-9). The relevance of this to the life of faith is confirmed in the Apostles next words. "that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead" (Phil 3:10-11). Thus the righteousness received by faith is seen as itself provoking further faith. The more aware the believer is of the possession of the righteousness of God, the more strength faith gains.
RIGHTEOUSNESS THROUGH FAITH
The righteousness of God is appropriated by appointed means FAITH. Apart from faith, it cannot be possessed. Later in this Epistle, the Spirit will strongly affirm this to be the case. With a soul-jarring emphasis it is declared, "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness" (10:10). The NASB reads, "with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness."
When early believers were lured into the snare of Law, they were reminded, "knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified"NKJV (Gal 2:16). The word "justified" means to be "made righteous." Not only is the individual exonerated from all sin, but is given a new and spotless naturethe "new man." The "new man," or the "new creation," is nothing less than "the righteousness of God," granted upon the basis of faith in and reliance upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The perception of this will clarify First John 3:9 and 5:18.
And what is it that sparked that indispensable faith? Was it the Law? Indeed, not, for "the Law is not of faith." It was the Gospel that brought the righteousness of God within our reachthat declared Christ died and has been exalted because He thoroughly pleased God in His atoning death. That is why it is written, "faith comes by hearing"the hearing of the Gospel of Christ (Rom 10:14-17).
To put it another way, the righteousness is offered by the Gospel and received by faith. Someone has well said that when we are first born again, we see the Lords favoring look toward us but at a distance. As our faith grows, however, that favor of the Lord toward us is seen more clearly. This produces a bold confidence and determined perseverance. Without faith, it is not possible to obtain the righteousness of God. Further, without the righteousness of God, it is not possible for faith to grow. Thus His righteousness comes to us through our faith, and our faith is strengthened by His righteousness"from faith to faith."
This arrangement confirms to our heart that salvation is not a once-for-all matterat least not from the participative point of view. Salvation is a work that can only be brought to a culmination while we are within the favor of God. It cannot be accomplished from a distance, or while men are in a state of practical alienation from God. The imputation of the righteousness of God allows for the completion of the work.
Because this subject will be developed extensively in the third and fourth chapters, this should suffice to introduce it to us. Your own experience will confirm to you that there is scarcely a word being uttered in modern churches on this subject. Where this is true, the work of God is not being done, people are not being perfected, and victory is not being experienced.
Should a person choose to still cling to the foolish notion that the Gospel is not for the believer, let him ponder how utterly absurd this text would be if that were true. The Gospel is as essential as it is to be found in Christ possessing the righteousness of God that comes by faith.
Now the text will elaborate on the phrase "to faith," or "in order to faith." We will see that it is not possible to remain spiritually alive without faith. Also, it will become apparent that faith is not possibleat any point of life in this world--apart from hearing the Gospel of Christ. Faith and the hearing of the Gospel are joined together, and cannot be separated.
The Gospel continues to be a feast of fat things, and wine one the lees, nourishing our faith.
THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH
"17c . . . as it is written, The just shall live by faith." Here is one of the most frequently quoted sayings in Scripture.
It is first affirmed by the prophet Habakkuk. He states it with a very personal tone. "Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith" (Hab 2:4). Here believing is contrasted with pride, so that the unbelieving soul is the proud one, and vice versa. The prophet also concludes that only personal faith can sustain the soul. One person cannot live toward God upon the basis of the faith of another.
Paul concludes from this statement ("the just shall live by faith") that it is evident no man is justified by the law. "But that no one is justified by the law in the sight of God is evident, for the just shall live by faith"NKJV (Gal 3:11). Those, therefore, who fail to see this are blind.
Notice that living is associated with justification as well as being born again. Those imagining they can remain justified while believing only "for a while" (Lk 8:13-14) are in the grip of delusion.
In the book of Hebrews, the Spirit makes a strong case for the necessity of faith, showing that without it condemnation is inevitable. "Now the just shall live by faith; But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul"NKJV (Heb 10:38-39).
Here, faith is contrasted with drawing back from God, shrinking into the bushes of delusion. From this perspective, faith is leaning and pressing toward the Lord. It is getting closer so He can be the better heard, and His hand can be placed upon us, as Jacobs hands were placed upon Josephs sons.
The statement, "For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith" is now expounded by the avowal"The just shall live by faith." This is a fundamental consideration.
A "just" person is a "righteous" person, or one whose life is marked by uprightnessas God views uprightness. The standard by which the state of rightness is measured is the will or character of God. Viewed from the standpoint of legality, the "just" person is one who can stand before the Divine tribunal and NOT be condemned.
Prior to the Law
NOAH. Prior to the giving of the Law, the first man said to be "just" was Noah. It is said of him, "Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God" (Gen 6:9). Considering the time in which he lived, and the scarcity of Divine revelation, Noah is a most remarkable man. Of the multitudes living at that time, he is the ONLY man who "found grace in the eyes of the Lord" (Gen 6:8). His righteousness was viewed in comparison with the wicked generation in which he lived: i.e., "perfect IN his generations . . . "righteous before Me IN this generation" (Gen 6:9; 7:1). From Noah to Abraham, nearly a thousand years, no person was said to be "just" or "righteous."
ABRAHAM. In Abraham, God introduced the kind of righteousness experienced in Christ Jesus. Abraham was righteous, but not merely in comparison with his generation. His righteousness, or becoming "just," was imputed to him. Thus it is written, "And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness" (Gen 15:6). This affirmation is the basis of Apostolic doctrine (Rom 4:3-6,9,11,20-25; Gal 3:6-14; James 2:23). The Psalmist also referred to this imputation of righteousness in Psalm 106:31). Thus we are introduced to a man that was MADE righteous by God because of his faith.
THE LAW. Under the Law, being "just," or "righteous," had to do with approved conductmeticulously keeping the Law. Viewed in the strictest sense of the word, Solomon said, "For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Eccl 7:20). It is further confirmed in the Psalms and this very Epistle, "There is none righteous, no not one" (Psa 14:1-3; 53:2-3; Rom 3:10). In the general sense of the word, there were people considered "just" because of their upright character and devotion to keeping the Law. Among them were Joseph, husband to Mary (Matt 1:19), Zecharaiah and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist (Lk 1:5-6), John the Baptist (Mark 6:20), Simeon, who blessed Jesus in His infancy (Lk 2:25), Joseph of Arimathaea, in whose tomb Jesus was buried (Lk 23:50), and Cornelius (Acts 10:22).
When our text speaks of "the just," or "the righteous"NASB,NIV, it is not speaking of a comparative righteousness like that of Noah. Nor, indeed, is it speaking of people who are "just" in the sense of Joseph, Zecharaiah, Elizabeth, and Simeon. This is not "just" as defined by the Law: i.e., "Moses describes in this way the righteousness that is by the law: "The man who DOES these things will live by them" (Rom 10:5).
In this text "the just" are those who have been MADE just. Like Abraham, their righteousness has been imputed to them upon the basis of their faith. This is the whole argument of the text. The Gospel is Gods power in order to salvation to all who believe that Gospel. Therein, by means of the Gospel, a "righteousness from God" is revealed (1:17; 3:20).
I must be emphatic on this point. This is not a mere technicality. The Spirit will reason on this precise point through the eighth chapter. It is one of the most extended developments of a subject (if not the most) in all of Scripture. We learn from this that men are easily blinded to this. We also see that no real progress will be made in spiritual life where this is not comprehended.
Now, the Spirit will tell us how the life, granted in justification, is maintained. He will declare how those who have gained Gods approval remain in that status. He will affirm how those who have been raised from death in trespasses and sins keep alive.
LIVING BY FAITH
"The just shall live by faith," or "The righteous will live by faith."NIV Note, it does not say the just OUGHT to live by faith, but that they will. Their faith has brought them life, and their faith will maintain that lifespiritual life.
"Living" is not mere existence. It is not simply being in a certain place, or maintaining a certain identity. In professed Christian circles, this is too often the view. Being "alive" involves being "married" to Christ and bringing forth fruit to God (Rom 7:4). It includes the capacity to hear "what the Spirit is saying to the churches" (Rev 3:22).
Being alive is running the race with endurance while "looking unto Jesus" (Heb 12:1-2). It is wrestling against the inimical powers of darkness (Eph 6:12), and waiting for Gods Son from heaven (1 Thess 1:9-10). It involves the "fruit of the Spirit" being found in us (Gal 5:22-25; Eph 5:9), and working out our "own salvation with fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12).
Those who are "living" are wearing the "whole armor of God" (Eph 6:10-17), "hastening unto the coming of the day of God" (2 Pet 3:12), submitting to God and resisting the devil (James 4:17). They are anticipating a "better country," and thus consider themselves to be "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb 11:13-14,16).
And how are these justified ones able to maintain that life? How is it that they are able to "endure unto the end?" They are living by faith, for that is how the person who has been made "just" lives. Elsewhere it is said, "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Cor 5:7).
How marvelously Paul testified of his own life in Christ Jesus. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me"NKJV (Gal 2:20). There simply is no other way to remain "dead indeed unto sin and alive unto God" (Rom 6:11).
The very thing that brought us life keeps us alive. The Spirit says it this way. "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him" (Col 2:6). Faith constrains us to lean the weight of our souls upon the Lord, depending upon Him to "bring us to God" in a blameless and joyful state (1 Pet 3:18; Jude 24-25).
Faith and the Gospel
If "the just shall live by faith," then how is that faith kept strong and vibrant? Settle it in your mind that there is no spiritual life where there is no faith! How can we "continue in the faith grounded and settled," seeing as that is an absolute requisite to being presented before God "holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight" (Col 1:22-23)? IT IS OUR EXPOSURE TO, AND EMBRACE OF, THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST!
Do not imagine this to be an overly simplistic and powerless statement. Men may accent human effort, which is indeed required. But the Spirit will associate our faith with the Gospel, never allowing it to be sustained without that Gospel. Thus believers are admonished to strive together "for the faith of the Gospel" (Phil 1:27). And what is "the faith of the Gospel"? It is not the faith itself of which the Gospel speaks, for the Gospel does not speak of faith, but of the One in Whom faith resides. Faith "comes" us as we reach out, taking hole on the Gospel.
This is nothing less than the faith that "comes from hearing" the Gospel (Rom 10:14-17). Colossians 1:23 refers to a faith that does not allow us to be moved Away from the "hope of the Gospel"i.e., the hope produced by the embrace of the Gospel. When Paul determined to strengthen and encourage the Thessalonians in their faith, he sent Timothy, a "fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ" (1 Thess 3:2). This is why Paul was ready to "preach the Gospel" to the believers in Rome. He knew it was the nourishing root from which faith springs and by which it is also sustained.
If it is true that "the just shall live by faith," then spiritual life cannot be found where faith is not present. Further, faith cannot come or remain independently of the Gospel of Christ. That is why we begin our spiritual lives by overtly participating in the Gospel through our baptism (Rom 6:1-8). It is also why we continue to refresh our hearts and minds by the regular remembrance of the Christ of the Gospel around the Lords table. Faith will never take you beyond a need for hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ, for it cannot remain without that life-giving message.
Further, as Scripture affirms, the Gospel is anything but simplistic. It is more than an historical narrative. Neither, indeed, is it the statement of a lifeless theological creed. It is THE message through which God reveals what we so sorely require. How we need to hear it! It towers above all other messages, bringing life and hope to humanity, and nourishing and sustaining our faith.
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