The Just Shall Live by Faith
The Just Shall Live by Faith
Habakkuk 2:4 “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith.
Romans 1:17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Galatians 3:11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
Hebrews 10:38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM.
The Bible doesn’t avoid the hard questions. Habakkuk raises the Problem of Evil:
A good God would destroy evil.
An all powerful God could destroy evil.
Evil is not destroyed.
Therefore, there cannot possibly be such a good and powerful God OR God "will" destroy evil. This requires faith.
The minor prophet Habakkuk (2:4) is cited three times in the NT. This well known text, “The just [righteous one] shall live by faith,” is multi-dimensional. According to my old pastor-teacher, Lynwood Boudin (now with the Lord), each citation holds a different emphasis: The just shall live by faith.
This text and its theological import became the “Material Principle” of the Reformation was justification by faith alone. Faith is the only instrument needed in connecting us to Christ in order to receive all His benefits of righteousness. The truth that faith alone connects us to all the righteousness in Christ we need is a beautiful and deeply pastoral truth, indeed. The Reformers taught that “justification” is forensic, that is, it is the legal declaration that we are “not guilty.” It is not “making a person righteous,” but receiving the legal/forensic sentence that we are “righteous” because of Christ alone. Because of this, we can stand as sinners reclaimed and redeemed before a holy and righteous God on the basis of Christ’s work alone. It is true that those who exercise this saving, justifying faith indeed are changed from the inside out, but our interior change is not the ground or foundation of our acceptance before our Almighty Triune God. As the Westminster Confession of Faith says, “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.” The Genevan Confession likewise pointed out the necessity of those justified living by faith saying, “We confess that the entrance which we have to the great treasures and riches of the goodness of God that is vouchsafed us is by faith; inasmuch as, in certain confidence and assurance of heart, we believe in the promises of the gospel, and receive Jesus Christ as he is offered to us by the Father and described to us by the Word of God (Genevan 11). The Augsburg Confession urged, “men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works, but are freely justified for Christ’s sake, through faith, when they believe that they are received into favor, and that their sins are forgiven for Christ’s sake, who, by His death, has made satisfaction for our sins. This faith God imputes for righteousness in His sight (Rom. 3 and 4).”
FINAL EXHORTATION: WHY FAITH IS NECESSARY
1) Evil is in the world, we have no way to reconcile this with the goodness of God except to believe in something we can’t see for now; that God has a sufficient reason for all of the evil He permits in the world. So then Perseverance in a life of Faith is necessary.
2) Evil is in us; we are sinful. Habakkuk 1:13b asks the question - “Why do you say nothing when the wicked devour those more righteous than they are?” The sliding scale points to the truth that “none are righteous” in themselves. It is just because no one can “be righteous” that those that want righteousness can only get this by receiving it from another, by receiving it, we mean nothing other than saving faith. (Rom. 4:16
3) THAT’S THE WAY GOD IS. He is hidden for now; He works in succession in unfolding layers. Life requires faith. Faith is the means of walking through the God-designed world.
Gregg Strawbridge, Ph.D., is the pastor of All Saints Church in Lancaster, PA. He became a committed follower of Jesus Christ at age 20, discipled in the context of a University Navigator Ministry. As a result of personal discipleship he went on to study at Columbia Biblical Seminary (M.A., Columbia, SC, 1990), as well as a Ph.D. in education and philosophy... read more