Saving Faith – Romans 1:16-17

16 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. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Rom 1:16-17)

Last time we looked at this passage, we saw that the gospel is the answer to man’s greatest need- namely deliverance from sin; in it is revealed that perfect righteousness , which we sinners need to be accepted with Him.

We also saw that this salvation which was brought to us through the gospel can only be enjoyed by those who believe. As it says “it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes”.

This leads us to ask the question as to the nature of this saving faith. How do I know if the faith that I posses is one that will save me at the end? The scripture tells us that the devils believe and tremble (James 2:19); and we know that they certainly will not be saved. It also tells us that “many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. 24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men” (John 2:23-24); Jesus did not acknowledge their faith as being genuine. It also tells us that “Not everyone who says to me Lord Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 7:21). These along with other passages compel us to examine our faith in light of scripture, to see if it will stand up to Christ’s scrutiny in that final Day of Judgment.

So what is saving faith? The Shorter Catechism gives us a helpful summary:

“Faith in Christ is a saving grace, whereby sinners receive and rest upon Him alone for salvation, as He is offered to them in the gospel”

The first thing we see is that it is of grace. That is, it is an unmerited favor from God. It’s not something we’re born with, or can earn, nor could anyone confer it on us. God is the author of this faith. When the disciples were asked as to who they thought Christ was; Peter responded without any hesitation that He was the Christ the Son of the living God. To which Jesus replied “.. flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven” (Matt 16:15-17). Most everyone saw Jesus as a mere prophet, or a good teacher; but Peter saw Him as the Messiah- the anointed one. Hence we see that this faith is a supernatural faith. No one can receive Christ as savior and Lord unless they are born again by the power of the Spirit.(2 Cor 4:4-6; John 3:3,6)

Secondly we see that saving faith is not a mere agreement with the facts of the gospel, as many do today; but rather it is receiving Christ as Lord and Savior. These are a couple of important features of saving faith; God willing we will look at more during the sermon.

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Rising He Justified

…“It was accounted to him (Abraham) for righteousness.” Now it was not written for his sake alone that “it was accounted to him,” but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our trespasses, and was raised for our justification. (Romans 4:22-25)

Thousands of years ago, a man by the name of Job asked a question that has puzzled humanity for ages: “How can a man be right before God?” (Job 9:1). Perhaps the clearest answer to this question is found in Paul’s epistle to the church at Rome. The book of Romans chapter 4 is the chapter in the Bible that most clearly tells us how we might gain a righteousness that is acceptable in the sight of God. Romans 4 teaches the doctrine of justification by faith apart from works of the law. In this chapter we learn that because Abraham believed God, that his belief was credited to him as righteousness. That is, that he was legally counted righteous on account of his faith – before he was circumcised – making Abraham the father and model of all who would follow him by believing. We learn in verse 23 that this faith that was counted to Abraham as righteousness was not for his sake alone, but we are told of it, so that we too might know the basis for our justification; that it is not based upon what we do, but what we believe. In verse 25 we see the familiar phrase telling us that Jesus was “delivered up because of our trespasses.” Here we see the doctrine of Christ’s substitutionary atonement – that He bore our sin on the cross. Any true Christian knows that the basis of his forgiveness and justification is found in Christ’s atoning sacrifice. But then what does it mean when it says, “he was raised for our justification?

While Christians are often comfortable with the idea that we are justified by the blood of Jesus, we must not forget that our individual salvation is secured in our union with Christ in his obedient life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. To include the resurrection in our understanding and our preaching of the Gospel need not downplay the centrality of the cross. In fact we can rightly say that the resurrection gives meaning to the cross. Neither the cross nor the resurrection achieves anything without the other. Obviously, the resurrection could not have occurred unless Jesus actually died on the cross – and certainly on the cross, sin was abolished and death annihilated. But likewise, the cross on its own means nothing, for if Jesus had not risen, we remain in our sin. It is the power demonstrated in the resurrection (2 Cor 13:4) that declares that Jesus is the Son of God (Rom 1:4) and proves that Christ secured victory over death on the cross.

John Calvin insightfully wrote in the Institutes regarding the resurrection, that without it,

…all that has hitherto been said would be defective. For seeing that in the cross, death, and burial of Christ, nothing but weakness appears, faith must go beyond all these, in order that it may be provided with full strength. Hence, although in his death we have an effectual completion of salvation, because by it we are reconciled to God, satisfaction is given to his justice, the curse is removed, and the penalty paid; still it is not by his death, but by his resurrection, that we are said to be begotten again to a living hope (1 Pet. 1:3); because, as he, by rising again, became victorious over death, so the victory of our faith consists only in his resurrection. The nature of it is better expressed in the words of Paul, “Who (Christ) was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification,” (Rom. 4:25); as if he had said, ‘By his death sin was taken away, by his resurrection righteousness was renewed and restored.’ For how could he by dying have freed us from death, if he had yielded to its power? How could he have obtained the victory for us, if he had fallen in the contest?

Romans 5:1-5 A Tale of the Bride and Her Bridesmaids

From Thomas Brooks’ A Cabinet of Choice Jewels

Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
Romans 5:5

Some Christians live under high enjoyments and singular manifestations of God’s love to them; they have God every day a, shedding abroad of his love into their hearts by the Holy Spirit (Romans 5:5). God is every day filling their souls with life, light, love, glory, and liberty (Psalm 63:2-4). Christ every day takes them up into the mount (Mat. 17:4), and makes such discoveries of himself and his glory to them, that they are ready frequently to cry out, “It is good to be here!” Christ often whispers in their ear, “O man O woman, greatly beloved,” (Dan. 9:22-23). Christ’s “left hand is every day under their heads, and his right hand does embrace them,” (S of S 2:6). “They sit down every day under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit is sweet unto their taste.” He makes out every day, such sweet and clear manifestations of his admirable favor to their hearts, that their souls are daily satisfied as with marrow and fatness (Psalm 63:2-5). There are some precious Christians—I say not all, I say not most—who live daily under singular glances of divine glory, and who are daily under the sensible embracements of God, and who daily lie in the bosom of the Father, and who every night have Christ as a bundle of
myrrh lying between their breasts (S of S 1:13).

These choice souls live daily in the glorious manifestations of the Spirit, and enjoy a little heaven on this side heaven, these many times are so taken up with their high communion with God, with their spiritual enjoyments, and with their tastes of the glory of the eternal world.

O Lord I want to be in that number! Do you?