Sunday, June 5, 2011

It Was Faith All Along (Romans 1:8-17)

Salvation Through Jesus Was Not a New Promise... It Was the Completion of the Old Promise.
Text: Romans 1:8-17
First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God's will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. I want you to know, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”

Let's jump all the way back to the beginning of the Bible: Genesis. When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, God provided a way for mankind to be made right with God again- faith in His son Jesus Christ.

"Wait a second... Jesus didn't die for the sins of mankind until thousands of years after Adam and Eve lived."

True. But just the same, every person who obtained a righteous status with God in the Old Testament did so through Jesus.

"What about all the animal sacrifices that God had His people do to cover their sin?"

It wasn't the blood of animals that pleased God... the Bible says: "And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Paul begins this passage of Romans by rejoicing that the faith of the Roman church is being proclaimed throughout the world. He doesn't praise their good works, their righteousness, their knowledge of God, or their obedience to His laws... he thanks God for their faith.

He ends this passage by saying "For I am not ashamed of the gospel (good news of Jesus)... for in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, 'The righteous shall live by faith.'"

Ok, that "as it is written" part... that's an Old Testament throwback:
Habakkuk 2:4-
"[T]he righteous shall live by his faith."

And the "from faith for faith" part? I think it's easier to understand in the NIV:
"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Think about that phrase: "By faith from first to last"... from beginning to end. Since the beginning of creation, God's way of restoring us to a place where we are right with Him is revealed by faith.

Take Noah:
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Heb. 11:7)

Or Abraham:
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. (Heb. 11:17)

Or Moses:
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward. (Heb. 11:24-26)

Of all these men, the Bible says:
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar... Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Heb. 11:13,16)

Noah, Abraham, Moses... their hope was the same as our hope. Noah wasn't trusting in the ark to save him. Abraham and Moses knew that their sacrifices were merely a temporary forshadowing of something greater to come. Just as we look back with faith to the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as our hope for salvation, these men looked ahead in faith with the same expectation of God's coming provision. Romans 3:25-26, when speaking of Jesus's sacrifice says this:

"This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

God's righteousness is proved throughout the ages by Jesus's death on the cross... whether you lived 6000 years ago and were looking ahead in hopeful expectation, or you live now and are looking back 2000 years in faith of what God has already done.

"For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: "The righteous will live by faith."

Hope always has and always will come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
I pray that seeing God's sovereign hand all throughout history will give you a deeper appreciation for His grace and mercy.
Have a blessed Lord's day!


Mindie Hilton said...

wanted to invite you to join my fun new anything goes link party starting next Friday. You can grab the PMS Party Mindie Style button now. I have enjoyed your link parties in the past and follow with gfc. Hope to see you there.

K-Sue said...

I remember that years ago I was confused when our pastor would refer to Old Testament persons as Christians. But it is clear when you read the passages you cite that faith is in same promise.