Faith the Way to Go

KEY VERSE: “The just shall live by faith.” —Romans 1:17

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: Romans 1:1, 3-17

IN A previous lesson we attributed much of the Apostle Paul’s excellence as an expounder of doctrine to his thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. We read concerning our Lord Jesus that immediately following his baptism and spirit-begettal at Jordan, as he came up out of the water he saw the heavens opened. Jesus, of course, had been faithfully taught in the Scriptures from childhood, but it would seem that there, at Jordan, the details of his Father’s plan of salvation for the world and his own essential place in it were clearly revealed to him.

So also it may have been with Paul. Prior to his experience on the road to Damascus his Judaic training led him cruelly to persecute the struggling Christian church. But immediately after his spirit-begettal in the house of Judas these same Scriptures took on a completely new meaning, revealing an entirely new and glorious way of life. Now, suddenly, instead of Paul persecuting Christians, the Jews were seeking to destroy him! Today’s lesson gives an excellent example of Paul’s ability to teach, based on his new, spirit-begotten understanding of the Word. It is a simple, yet solidly supported presentation of the doctrine of justification by faith.

Some sixteen centuries before the Christian era, God had made a covenant with his typical people, Israel. He said, “Ye shall … keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them.” And the people replied, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do.” (Lev. 18:5; Exod. 19:8) But the people continued to die; for the Law was the measure of a perfect man’s ability, and since imperfect, sinful men could not meet its requirements none could thereby gain life. “Therefore,” concludes Paul, “by the deeds of the Law there shall no flesh be justified in … [God’s] sight.”—Rom. 3:20

But the spirit-begotten Paul now had learned that God had provided a way for sinful man to escape the just penalty of death. He cites the Prophet Habakkuk, and says, “As it is written, The just shall live by faith.” (Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17) Paul elaborates on this ancient promise, and says that although “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God,” and are thus worthy of death, yet these same ‘all’ may be “justified freely by his [God’s] grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood.”—Rom. 3:23-25

As a foregleam provided by God of this gracious feature of his loving plan of salvation, and as an example of one who long ago had been justified by his faith, Paul again reaches back into the ancient Scriptures and presents the experience of Abraham. “What saith the scripture?” asks Paul. “Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.” (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:1-8) This, Paul explains, was a preview of the justification by faith that would later be offered to believers in the shed blood of Jesus as a propitiation for their sins. Paul continues, “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it [justification] was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.” Paul then demonstrates the universal scope and wisdom of God’s great plan for man’s redemption from sin by epitomizing that glorious doctrine of the ransom for all. He writes, “For as by one man’s [Adam’s] disobedience [the] many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one [Jesus Christ] shall [the] many be made righteous.” And in his letter to the church at Corinth he repeats, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”—Rom. 5:19; I Cor. 15:22

To all whose eyes have been opened and whose hearts have been touched by this matchless display of Jehovah God’s wisdom and justice, and his abiding love for all his human creatures, the Apostle Paul makes a moving appeal: “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” All such who are faithful even unto death will gain the crown of life. This wonderful invitation is still sounding forth!—Rom. 12:1,2; Rev. 2:10

Dawn Bible Students Association
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