THE GOOD NEWS -- FAITH
1. In Rom. 1:18-3:20, Paul has pictured the undone condition of man in sin. Note 3:9-18.
A. But, there is GOOD NEWS: "A righteousness of God hath been manifested... through faith in Jesus Christ unto all them that believe." Rom. 3:21,22.
2. Man is estranged from God because of sin. Isa. 59:1,2.
A. But, "being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we had access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God." Rom. 5:1,2.
3. Salvation by faith is a New Testament doctrine.
A. But it is also a matter of prophecy. Hab. 2:4; Rom. 1:17.
1) Yet, we have a host of those Old Testament worthies that lived and acted by faith. Heb. 11.
2) Even though, "they without us should not be made perfect." Heb. 11:40. Their age -- without our age. Their dispensation -- without our dispensation.
B. The words, "belief, believing, and believe" are found less than 30 times in the Old Testament.
C. Actually, the righteousness of God by faith is revealed in the gospel, the GOOD NEWS. Rom. 1:16,17.
I. LET US TAKE NOTE OF SOME DEFINITIONS:
A. Faith, believe, and belief; come from the Greek words, PISTEUO, PISTIS, AND PISTOS, these words are also akin to the word, PEITHO, which means to persuade.
1. Mister Thayer says; "Conviction of the truth of anything. In the New Testament, a conviction or belief respecting man's relation to God and divine things, generally with the idea of trust and holy fervor born of faith and in connection with it." Thayer Pgs. 511-514.
2. The main elements of faith in its relation to God are these:
a. A firm conviction, produced in full acknowledgement of God's revelation or truth. 2 Thes. 2:11,12.
b. A personal surrender to Him. Jno. 1:12.
c. A conduct inspired by such faith. 2 Cor. 5:7.
3. By metonomy: it is, what is believed, the contents of belief, the faith. Gal. 2:20; Jude 3.
B. Let us take note of some words that are related to the GOOD NEWS of faith in the New Testament.
1. Justification, or justify: denotes the act of pronouncing righteous, acquital; signifying the establishment of a person as just by acquital for guilt.
2. Just: denotes righteous, a state of being right.
3. Righteous: righteousness: is the character or quality of being right or just.
4. Live, life: spiritual life, is again a New Testament word. Rom. 1:17; Gal. 2:20.
II. THE CASE OF ABRAHAM, THE FATHER OF THE FAITHFUL. Gal. 3:7; Rom. 4: 17.
A. The object of Abraham's faith was God. Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Jas. 2:23.
1. His faith was not just in the promise of God, this was but the occasion of its exercise. Rom. 4:17,20,21.
2. Faith comes by revelation. Rom. 10:17; 1 Cor. 2:1-12.
a. Subjective faith comes from within, from man's reasoning; objective faith is based on revelation.
3. Saving faith then is based on evidence that comes from God.
a. The gospel of John is a contrast in belief and unbelief; the evidence was presented that Jesus is the Christ.
1) Some believed and accepted, some disbelieved and rejected.
B. Abraham's faith was an active faith, not passive. Jas. 2:21. He was justified by works.
1. But works of the law of Moses can't justify. Rom. 3;20; Gal. 2:16.
a. Abraham's faith was accounted for righteousness before the law. Gal. 3:6-8.
b. The faithful are blessed with Abraham by promise. Gal. 3:9.
c. Justification by the law would demand perfection. Gal. 3:10-12.
d. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. Gal. 3:13,14.
1) It was a curse because the law condemned the transgressor of the law, and offered no means of justification.
2. What about the works of righteousness that we have done? Rom. 4:1-5.
a. These are works devised by man wherein he can glory. Rom. 10:1-3; Eph. 2:8,9; Titus 3:5.
b. This is a work that puts another under debt to us.
1) It is impossible for man to so work that God is under debt to him, thereby earning his salvation.
c. Man has sinned; the wages or debt of sin is death. Rom. 6:23.
1) No matter how many good deeds a man does he is still in debt to sin, so his righteousness cannot save him. Lk. 17:10.
3. Justification implies sinlessness or acquital from sin.
a. To be justified by works alone, one must have so obeyed the law as to be found guiltless.
4. Works that justify are those of God by faith. Jno. 6:28,29.
a. By this type of faith plus work Abraham was justified. Jas. 2:21-24.
1) This is the faith that responds to the will of God. Gal. 5:6.
b. this is not works of merit wherein man can glory. Rom. 4:2.
c. Faith without works is dead, useless, profitless, barren. Jas. 2:14-26.
d. One who yields to God is said to be "obedient to the faith." Acts 6:7. Faith requires obedience.
e. Paul refers to "obedience of faith". Rom. 1:5; 16:26. And those who are "of faith" or depend on it. Gal. 3:;7,9; Rom. 3:26.
f. Where the KJV has "unbelief", "believeth not", and "unbelieving" in some passages the ASV has "obeyeth not", "disobedient", and "disobedience." Jno. 3:36; Rom. 11:30; Acts 14:;2; 19:9; Heb. 11:31.
C. The nature of Abraham's faith.
1. He had to believe what was humanly impossible. Rom. 4:18-22.
a. That his and Sarah's dead bodies could produce a child.
b. Promise given at 75, Isaac was born when he was 100. Gen. 12:1-4; 21:5.
2. He had to believe what was humanly illogical.
a. Commanded to sacrifice Isaac in whom the promise was to be accomplished. Heb. 11:17-19; Jas. 2:21-24; Gen. 22:1-14.
3. The faith of Abraham was exemplified in others.
a. At the first passover, how could blood on door posts save the first born? Exo. 12:13; Heb. 11:28.
b. How culd looking upon a brazen serpent cure the deadly bites of real snakes? Num. 21:4-9.
c. How could marching around the walls of Jericho cause them to fall down? Jos. 6 Heb. 11:30.
d. How could dipping in the Jordan River cure leprosy? 2 Kgs. 5.
e. How could clay of spittle and bathing in the pool of Siloam give the blind man sight? Jno. 9.
4. Our justification by faith is also of like nature. Rom. 4:12, 23-25; Gal. 3:6-9.
a. To believe in miraculous creation as opposed to organic evolution. Gen. 1.
b. The virgin birth of Christ. Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-21; Lk. 1;35.
c. Heaven and hell, such realms are beyond man's experience and concept, hence they are rejected by those without faith. 2 Thes. 1:7-10; Rev. 21:1-27.
d. Resurrection of the body. 1 Cor. 15:1-58; 2 Cor. 4:18, 5-7.
e. Salvation, who then can be saved? Matt. 19:25,26.
1) The atoning blood of Christ, how can it save? Rom. 3;24,25; Eph. 1:7.
2) Baptism, what connection can it possibly have with our salvation? Rom. 6;1-18 Mk. 16:16.
a) But all the "what ifs" man can imagine won't change God's will.
b) Baptism is an act of faith just as those acts of Abraham and others.
f. Faith in God's local organization, the local church, to accomplish His work. Acts 14:23; 1 Pet. 5:2, etc.
g. That God will take care and supply all needs for those that seek Him first. Matt. 6:33.
Yes, faith that saves is truly GOOD NEWS to all those that care.
By Jim Sasser
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