Why the gospel calls for faith (Romans 1:17)

We live because God does right out of his faithfulness to us. So, faithfulness to God leads us to do right as we live.

The opening verses of Paul’s letter to Rome contain the message the whole letter unpacks. By verse 17, the key theme comes into view:

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

Questions? What is the righteousness of God? How is it revealed in the gospel? What does from faith for faith mean? And why include a quotation when he’s packing the message so densely?

Continue reading “Why the gospel calls for faith (Romans 1:17)”

Should the faithful fight evil? (Habakkuk 2:4)

How does God fulfil his promise that the righteous will live by faith?

Should good people stand up against the forces of evil in our world, so the whole thing doesn’t go down the drain? You’ve heard the proverb: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

If we were looking to good men to save us, that approach might make sense. Habakkuk wasn’t. He was looking for God to save. But he didn’t see God intervening. We could summarize his complaint as: All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for a good God to do nothing.

God gave Habakkuk a lifeline. God does not act as we expect, but he is in charge of history and this is his promise: those who do right [even in the face of all the evil] will not die out; they will live by their faith(fulness).

The New Testament relates this promise to the gospel. In Romans and Galatians, Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4 to support his teaching that God’s goodness saves those who trust him. Before we discuss faith from a Christian perspective (a future post), we need to hear Habakkuk’s message in his context.

Habakkuk’s book is a two-sided conversation: the prophet’s concern, and God’s response.

Open Habakkuk.

Continue reading “Should the faithful fight evil? (Habakkuk 2:4)”

Righteous people? (Matthew 10:40-42)

How can Matthew talk about righteous people? I thought there weren’t any.

Open Matthew 10:40-42.

In the grounds of the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem is the Garden of the Righteous. It honours gentiles who protected Jews under Nazi threat, people like Shindler or Corrie Ten Boom. They’re considered righteous because they did the right thing by the people of God, even though they themselves were not descendants of Jacob. The way you treat God’s people is the way you treat God.

That’s how the word righteous (ṣǎd·dîq in Hebrew) functions in Jewish thought, but Christians tend to be horrified by this word. For the last 500 years, protestants have emphasized texts like Romans 3:10: “No one is righteous, not even one.”

Then we’re thoroughly confused when other texts talk about righteous people. The Gospels label several as righteous (dikaios in Greek):

  • Joseph (Matthew 1:19)
  • Abel (Matthew 23:35)
  • John the Baptist (Mark 6:20)
  • Elizabeth and Zechariah (Luke 1:6)
  • Simeon (Luke 2:25)

Jesus taught that God sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous (Matthew 5:45). He spoke of many righteous people (Matthew 13:17). He even expected Galileans to recognize his disciples as righteous people (Matthew 10:41).

What do you do when one part of the Bible doesn’t match other parts? Continue reading “Righteous people? (Matthew 10:40-42)”