About six centuries before the Christian era, God gave the prophet Habakkuk a revelation that would provide the basis of the gospel; But the righteous will live by faith.( Habakkuk 2:4). Habakkuk struggles with His faith when he sees men flagrantly violate God’s law & distort justice on every level, without fear or divine intervention. He wants to know why God allows the growing iniquity to go unpunished. God’s answer satisfies Habakkuk that he can trust Him even in the worst of his struggles because of His matchless power & wisdom. This is the key verse in Habakkuk 2, which accurately express the prophecy of the theme of the Christian message; it is actually stated three times in the New Testament: in Romans 1:17, Galatians 3:11 & Hebrews 10:38.
Of these three passages, Habakkuk’s prophecy is most fully expounded in Romans. In fact it provides the central theme for the epistle. To obtain a proper perspective on the book of Romans as a whole, we may compare the book to a symphony by a great composer like Beethoven.
The first fifteen verses of chapter one are the introduction. Then in verses sixteen & seventeen, Paul presents the main theme: But the righteous shall live by faith. (Verse 17).
The symphony is then divided into three main movements. The first consists of chapters through eight. In this movement, Paul’s approach is doctrinal. He worked out a detailed, logical analysis of his theme, showing how it harmonises with the prophecies & patterns of the Old Testament. The second movement consists of chapter’s nine to eleven. Paul here applies his theme to Israel. He shows how Israel’s attempt to achieve righteousness by works rather than by faith had blinded them to their Messiah & so deprived them of the blessings offered to them by God through Christ. The third movement consists of chapters twelve through to sixteen; where Paul emphasises the practical. He shows how his theme must be worked out in various activities, relationships & duties by daily living.
To appreciate a symphony properly, we need to pick out the composers main theme when it is first
introduced & then follow it carefully through the whole piece. Unless we keep the main theme in mind, we will not fully appreciate the various modifications & developments it undergoes in the successive movements. The same is true to the book of Romans. First we need to grasp the main theme that runs through the whole epistle: The righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). We now need to keep this theme always in mind as we study the epistle’s main division, noting how it applies to each particular subject that is dealt with. This will give unity & consistency to our understanding of the whole epistle.
In Romans 1:16 Paul states one of the basic requirements for experiencing the power of God for salvation: For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile (N L T).
The Jew first: Paul’s missionary practice in every city was to begin preaching the gospel in the Jewish synagogue, & then once the Jews had heard or refused to hear, to preach than to the Gentiles. This follows the pattern of God throughout most of the Old Testament, the pattern of Jesus during His earthly ministry, & the pattern of evangelism in the early church (Acts 1:8)
We should all be proclaiming the gospel boldly. Faith closes boldly & unswervingly to believe what God has said. Faith must learn again to believe totally the testimony of Scripture! Among the keys to faithful living is the truth of our conversion. Faith frees us to live as never before for the good of others.
In Verse 17, Paul tells us how this truth of salvation can be known: This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
The word faith occurs three times in the King James Version which says that God revelation comes from faith to faith. That means that it originates in God’s own faith-faith that His Word will accomplish its preordained purpose. It is transmitted through the faith of the one who delivers the message. It is appropriated by faith of the one who receives the message. & the
message itself is, again “The righteous man shall live by faith.” From beginning to end, the theme is faith.
Let’s examine the message more closely. It could not be stated more simply: “The righteous man shall live by faith. We learn from this verse that those who are just shall live by faith. Faith is having confidence in God. It is important that we learn to be consistently confident, & NOT occasionally confident. Let me give you an example of this.
In my early days of preaching I was absolutely terrified of getting up to speak, I had never done any public speaking But the thing that got me over my fear was I knew without a doubt that the Holy Spirit would be with me & of course He was & I might add that He still is. I couldn’t do it without Him, He is there helping from the start of putting my message on paper & all the way through to the end of delivering it.
This of course didn’t happen overnight I had to grow in my confidence to place where I am now;
whether they reject or accept me it does not alter my confidence level. My confidence is in God & not people.
Romans 1:17 speaks about the whole issue of faith. It says that we shall live by faith. The King James Version of the Bile says “The righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” In other words we can go from faith to faith. We can lose a lot of precious time till we become consistent in our faith walk.
We all can have consistent & confident faith; we need to ask God to help us to resist the enemy’s attack when he tries to rob us of that faith. We must learn to go from “faith to faith” with overcoming confidence.
In the Gospel of John he continually focuses on the divine eternal life. John 1:4 The Word gave life to everything that was created,[a] and his life brought light to everyone. In 3:36, he reordered John the Baptists testimony concerning Jesus; He who believes in the Son has eternal life. John 4:6 I
tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 10:10 says... My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 10:27-28 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, finally in 20:31 ... that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.
John’s first epistle returns to this theme 1John 5:11-12And this is what God has testified: He has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life.
It is so important to see that John used the present tense throughout. “He who has the Son has life” You who believe...have eternal life.
Paul also spoke of this life we have in Christ in brief & vivid phrases in Philippians 1:21 he said For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better.& in Colossians 3:4 And when Christ, who is your[a] life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory. For Paul & likewise for John, life in Christ was a present reality, not just a future hope.
We see that this is the essence of the gospel message. There is a divine, eternal life that has its source in God alone. God has made this life available to us in Jesus Christ. As we receive Jesus by faith into our hearts & yield our lives to Him in full obedience, we receive in Him the very life of God. Now this life is not something reserved for another world or a future existence. But it is something that we can have & experience here & now. Whoever has the Son has life... (1John 5:12). We learn from this passage that we have everlasting life at this very moment & on into eternity. It is ours at the very moment that we truly put our faith in Jesus Christ.
Having received this new kind of life through faith in Christ, we are faced with a challenge of working it out from day to day in practical living. I hear you ask “How can I do this?” Simply by faith. This truth is contained in Pauls opening theme: The righteous man shall live by faith (Romans 1:17). From a practical standpoint, the verb “live” is one of the most all-inclusive words we can use. Everything we do at any time is included: eating, drinking, sleeping, working & the innumerable other activities of life. Through Faith, every one of these common activities can become a way to express the life of God that we received within us.
We are often prone to assume that mundane actions of daily life have no spiritual significance & offer no place for the application of our faith. But Scripture actually teaches the opposite. It is only after we have successfully applied our faith in the simple, material areas of life that God will promote us to higher spiritual responsibilities. Jesus laid down this principal in Luke 16:10-11. If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. 11 And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven?
God will test our fitness to receive the true riches of heaven by our use of material possessions.
Therefore, in examining how w can work out our faith in daily living, we will consider two practical, down-to-earth areas: Food & finance. Once a believer has learnt to apply his or her faith in these two areas is likely to be leading a successful Christian life. On the other hand, if a person has not brought these basic areas under God’s control, it is usually a indication that his or her whole life needs to be adjusted.
Romans 12:1 And so, dear brothers and sisters,[a] I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Paul here is telling us that we are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God that is not just our possessions money, time, energy & efforts, but also our bodies, heads, hands, tongues & even our mind, motions & attitudes.
We are to dedicate everything about ourselves to God as a living sacrifice, holy, devoted consecrated & pleasing to Him. This is our reasonable or rational intelligent service to Him. All too often we get the impression that to totally serve & worship God means to involve our bodies & spirits, but there is more. Here Paul says that we are to serve & worship Him with our minds & emotions also invite God to think & speak through you. Let Him touch people through you. You can even serve God with your face by smiling & showing yourself to be friendly to other people. Allow God to use you all of you. The more of yourself & your life that you release to Him the more you will fulfilled & experience His peace & joy.
Paul deals with a variety of practical issues related to the Christian life. In Romans 14:2 he says For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables.
Among Christians there is room for toleration & differences of strictness regarding such issues as eating & habits (Verses 2-4) & observing special days in the Christian life (verses 5-6). Since both parties do it to honour God (verse 6) neither should look down on the other. Yet Paul does say that the Christian who refuses to eat certain things is weak or immature in the faith since eating is really morally relative. & in verse 23 he states But if you have doubts about whether or not you
should eat something, you are sinning if you go ahead and do it. For you are not following your convictions. If you do anything you believe is not right, you are sinning. This verse means that if a person has scruples about matters not wrong in & of themselves should not act contrary to his conscience because to violate the conscience is not acting in faith but sin.
1 Timothy 4:4-5 Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks. 5 For we know it is made acceptable[a] by the word of God and prayer.
Every creature God made for man’s health & nourishment is good for that purpose & is to be received with thanks. Our food consumption should be preceded by the Word of God & prayer as we believe that the Lord will sanctify & bless it.
1Corinthains 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
Through faith our daily meals take on the nature of a sacrament, of which we partake for God’s glory. This was one of the most immediate & obvious effects produced in the lives of the first Christians by the out pouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Their meals became spiritual feasts of worship. Luke says in Acts 2:46-47 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[a]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
This gives us a snapshot of the life of the believers in the early church. Being part of a local church is one of the great joys & responsibilities of every believer. However, it involves more than showing up on a Sunday! How do you participate in the life of your Church? While you experience different levels of involvement in a church during different seasons of your life, be sure to consistently avail yourself of opportunities to fellowship, worship serve & receive teaching of the Word.
We will now turn to the book of Ecclesiastes & 5:17 (NKJV) All his days he also eats in darkness, And he has much sorrow and sickness and anger.
To eat in darkness is just opposite of eating from faith. Such a man does not acknowledge his food is a gift from God. Therefore it is not blessed & sanctified. The result is that he has much sorrow, sickness & anger. To eat without faith is to invite sorrow sickness & anger.
For the sake of time I am going to pause here & continue next time.
Acknowledgements Derek Prince.