THE LAW OF FAITH
"Where then is boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? Of works? No, but by a law of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law" (Romans 3:21-28, NASB)."
Devotion 6 of 30
THE USE OF THE WORD "FAITH"
As used in our text, the Holy Spirit uses the word "faith" twenty-two (22) times in the book of Romans (1:5,12,17; 3:22,25,26,27,30,31; 4:11,12,13,16; 5:1; 9:30,32; 10:6,7; 12:3,6; 14:23; 16:26). In each of the cases, the "faith" is possessed by individuals. It does not belong to them, nor is it generated by them. It exists independently of them until it is received.
It is not, as some have supposed, a belief system, or a body of doctrine. The "faith" is to the human spirit what the senses are to the body. It is the divinely appointed means of grasping the real, or spiritual, situation. Faith is the eye and hand of the soul. It enables the individual to apprehend God, Christ, and salvation.
A brief review of the Romans texts dealing with faith follows. The comments are only introductory, and are not intended to be exhaustive. The remainder of this
series of devotions will deal extensively with several of these passages.
OBEDIENCE--Romans 1:5; 16:26 "Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name . . . "But now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith." The phrase "obedience to the faith" speaks of the proper expression of faith--acting in harmony with the reality grasped by faith. The NIV reads, "the obedience that comes from faith." Obedience is primarily an expression of faith. Where it is lacking, faith is lacking. Where it is prominent, faith is prominent. A response to God that is not prompted by faith is no obedience at all.
PROFITABLE--Romans 1:12: "That is, that I may be encouraged together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me." Faith makes the individual profitable to others possessing it. Through faith, we become capable of ministering to one another.
LIFE--Romans 1:17: "For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'" Faith is the activating principle of spiritual life. It is what makes us responsive to God and productive in His Kingdom.
RIGHTEOUSNESS--Romans 3:22: "Even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. For there is no difference." Faith is the Divine equalizer, bringing all of the saved before God upon the same basis. Natural abilities, human works, and the wisdom of men do not distinguish one saint from another. They all stand before God on the same basis--faith.
DIVINE PROVISION--Romans 3:25: "Whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed." The marvelous atoning death of Christ is appropriated through faith. In this arrangement, God's righteousness is displayed. It vindicates Him for passing over the sins committed prior to Christ. Those who had faith in the coming Savior have also been cleansed by His blood.
GOD REMAINS JUST--Romans 3:26: "To demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." Faith permits God to remain just and righteous, while also being the Justifer of the believer. This is because faith rests in what God has done through Christ.
BOASTING EXCLUDED--Romans 3:27: "Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith." Faith awakens the soul to the magnificent glory of God as revealed in Christ Jesus. That glory so overshadows the imagined works of men that all boasting in self dries up and becomes repulsive.
A SINGLE BASIS--Romans 3:30: "Since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith." Both Jew and Gentile come to God upon the basis of faith. Herein is a marvelous thing. The Jews received the Law, and the Gentiles did not: yet they come to God upon the same basis. The Jews were given the Divine service, whereby they became acquainted with the manner in which God was approached. The Gentiles were afforded no such thing. Yet, now they both come to God upon the basis of their faith.
THE LAW--Romans 3:31: "Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law." Faith is not a substitute for the Law, but a means of thoroughly satisfying its demands. It embraces the Law as a friend, not as a Savior. It does not rely upon the Law for justification, but heartily embraces the holiness and spirituality which it demands.
BEFORE WORK--Romans 4:11: "And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also. And the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised." Faith appropriates Divine favor BEFORE works enter the picture. The reason for this should be clear to us. The approval obtained by faith so powerfully influences the soul, that what God commands becomes reasonable to the individual. Divine commands are no longer grievous or burdensome when faith "comes."
PROMISE--Romans 4:13: "For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith." God's commitment to bless Abraham, and the world through His Seed, was not based upon law-keeping, but upon faith. Faith must have a word from God. It cannot rest upon a commandment, for "the law is not of faith" (Gal 3:12). However, where there is Divine promise, faith has found a resting place.
GRACE--Romans 4:16: "Therefore it is of faith that it might be according to grace, so that the promise might be sure to all the seed, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all." Contrary to Law, faith can appropriate grace, or Divine favor. This is why faith is the "law" of the Kingdom of Christ. Jesus is the administrator of grace, and only faith can obtain grace, without which salvation is not possible.
PEACE WITH GOD--Romans 5:1: "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Our justification has already taken place because of our faith. If justification were based upon works, we could not be justified unless our works were perfect throughout our entire lifetime. Now, being at peace with God, we can live out our lives in a state of justification and Divine acceptance.
ATTAINED WITHOUT THE LAW--Romans 9:30: "What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith." While the Law was not given to the gentiles as a covenant, nor the promise made to them "the man who does them shall live by them" (Gal 3:12), believing Gentiles have still appropriated the righteousness of God.
FINDS WHAT OTHERS MISSED--Romans 9:32: "Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone." The failure of the Jews to appropriate righteousness was owing to their lack of faith. When Jesus came to them, they failed to see that trusting Him was the whole point. Rather than embracing Him through faith, He became the occasion of their stumbling--even though He had come to them (John 1:11). Likewise, all who do not have faith in Christ today, have stumbled over Him, refusing to trust in Him.
THROUGH A MESSAGE--Romans 10:6-8: "But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, "Do not say in your heart, 'Who will ascend into heaven?' " (that is, to bring Christ down from above). or, " 'Who will descend into the abyss?' " (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (that is, the word of faith which we preach)." If salvation was based upon human works, then we would be required to bring Jesus down from heaven, and raise Him up from the dead. No person of sound mind will deny that Christ Jesus is an absolute requisite for salvation. Yet many who wear His name stubbornly cling to the notion that it is what they do that saves them. Very well. If that is the case, then we are challenged to bring Him down from heaven and raise Him up from the dead! Instead of our righteousness being based upon such absurdity, it comes from believing a message that is announced to us. Thus righteousness is obtained by means of faith.
EFFECTIVE MINISTRY--Romans 12:3,6: "For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith . . . Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith." Faith is both necessary and practical. God has dispensed it to all of His children, and done so in measure. The word "measure" is not intended to speak of limitation, but of expression. It is the means through which God enables each member of Christ's body to minister. This is the source of "spiritual gifts," as confirmed in the expression, "if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith."
PRAYER POINT: Father, in Jesus' name, open my eyes to behold wonderful things in these marvelous expressions concerning faith.
-- Tomorrow: TRUE OBEDIENCE --