GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
BEING JUSTIFIED BY FAITH
By Keith L. Estes
In Paul's letter to the Romans he states, "It is the man who is in a right relationship with God as a result of his faith who will live." In the King James Version the rendition is like a clashing chord and the one we are most familiar with - "The Just shall live by faith."
We might begin by saying that faith in its simplest form is loyalty. Faith also means belief, the conviction that something is true. If Jesus did not rise from the dead then our faith is vain. Faith is the assent that the Christian message is true. Faith can also mean the Christian Religion. Paul says to his opponents in another letter to examine themselves to see if they are holding to their faith, that is, to see if they are still within the Christian Religion.
The story is told about the Sheriff who went to see hillbilly Cholly about who was stealing the chickens. "Cholly," said the Sheriff, "I know you are a man of faith and that's why I've come to you to ask you to tell me who stole the chicken from Mr. Beebe's coop last might. Do you know?" "Yas suh," replied Cholly, "I know who he is, he stole it cause he doesn't has it." "What do you mean he doesn't has it?" said the Sheriff, "Did he give it away?" "No suh", replied Cholly, "He got de chicken awright, he jest doesn't has the faith."
"We walk," writes Paul, "by faith and not by sight." What he is saying is that faith means total acceptance and absolute trust. It means, "betting your life that there is a God, and that he is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him." It means being utterly sure that what Jesus said is true, and staking all time and eternity on that assurance.
Justification, on the other hand, is a word that can have several different connotations. If we justify ourselves, we produce reasons to prove that we were right; if someone justifies us, he produces reasons to prove that we acted in the right way. Barclay says that the Greek word used here for justify always means to treat, or account or reckon a person as something. If God justifies a sinner, it does not mean that he finds reasons to prove that he was right- far from it. It does not even mean, at this point that he makes the sinner a good man. It means that God treats the sinner as if he had not been a sinner at all. Instead of treating him as a criminal to be obliterated, God treats him as a child to be loved. That is what justification means. It means that God reckons us not as his enemies but as his friends, not as bad men deserve but as good men deserve, not as law-breakers to be punished, but as men and women to be loved. That is the very essence of the gospel.
The gospel is the power of God. The English words dynamite and dynamos are derived from the word “power”. If Paul were writing today he would probably speak of atomic power. The gospel is so powerful that it takes people all the way into heaven. “Therefore being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
References: Rom. 1:16-17, 5: 1, 2 Cor. 15:17, 13:15, 5:7. The Holy Bible
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