Faith To Faith
Text: Romans 1:16-17
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
Introduction: Joke, Captain on a Navy Destroy. every morning would take a key and unlock a drawer then a box inside the draw read a slip of paper and the carefully replace everything. In the midst a battle the captain was killed after the funeral the crew ran the drawer and open it.
Pulled out the sheet of paper. On it it said, “Port is left, starboard is Right!”
Everyone needs a motto, a theme something that reminds us of who we are and what we're doing. The apostle Paul had just such a motto its found in our text from Romans today. Romans 1:17 “The just shall live by faith.” That is actually the motto, the creed, the philosophy of every child of God. The just shall live by faith.”
Proud of the Gospel Rom 1:16a
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:
Paul says he is not ashamed of the Gospel. This is the way the ancient writers and writers like Paul, here in the New Testament, were actually saying I am proud of the Gospel.
I just learned this is called a Litotes, lī-tō′tēz, n. The negation of something in order to affirm the opposite; or understatement in order to give emphasis. (λιτότης, “simplicity”).
Did any of you know this? If you did, don’t tell me cause I’m so excited about discovering it that I don’t want to think it’s a word everybody already knew. So, Paul says “I am not ashamed, and he uses this figure of speech, a litotes, as an understatement to emphasize, the greatness of the Gospel.
So why would Paul tell the Roman church he was not ashamed of the Gospel?
At his point in history, the Gospel and Christianity, or the Way as it was first called, was identified with a poor unknown Jewish carpenter who had been crucified as a criminal. Crucifixion was the lowest form of execution given to the worst or worthless criminals. Anyone associated with someone like that should be ashamed. Rome was a proud city, the capital of the world, but the Gospel, Paul preached, came from Jerusalem, the capital of a small, backward nation that Rome had subjugated. The Christians, themselves were common people and Christianity was a religion that was appealed to common people and even to slaves. Christians considered each other as brothers and sisters, all equal in Christ, which went was directly opposed to the Roman idea of society and classes.
In 1 Corinthians 1:23, Paul said it this way, “But we preach (proclaim) Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;
That is why Paul wrote now to the Romans and said, “I’m not ashamed of the Gospel.”
Now just so we fully understand what Paul was not ashamed of, lets see exactly, what is the Gospel?
The word gospel comes from the Greek word, euaggelion yoo-ang-ghel’-ee-on. I’m sure you already know it literally means “good tidings or good news.”
When the apostles and early Christians declared “The Good News” they were proclaiming the story of Jesus Christ. How His death, burial and especially His resurrection, brings salvation. They would tell how when a sinner believes and puts his trust in Jesus, he is cleansed from sin and given eternal life.
Scripture: It is defined in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also ye have received, and in which ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached to you unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:
Paul was proud to be called to carry and preach such good news to anyone that he could share it with. So should we be proud, unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So are we …
Proud or Bowed?
Are we ashamed of the Gospel? Are we ashamed to tell others the Good News? Though we have much less societal pressure than Paul, we still can fall to what we might call the Trinity of Timidity, or The Troika of Tepidness. (Yes I got carried away with my Thesaurus this week.)
If you are 1, Unwilling to stand up, due to fear, 2, Unable to speak up because of ignorance. Or so Unconcerned that you won’t act up due to apathy, then you are ashamed of the Gospel.
Two Illustrations: The Church at Laodicea and David Livingstone
Jesus give his harshest condemnation to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Contrast to what the great missionary explorer David Livingstone said, “People talk of the sacrifice I have made in spending so much of my life in Africa. Can that be called a sacrifice which is simply paid back as a small part of the great debt owing to our God, which we can never repay?
Away with such a word, such a view and such a thought! Say rather it is a privilege. Anxiety, sickness, suffering or danger now and then with a fore going of the common convenience and charities of this life, may make us pause and cause the spirit to wave and sin,: but let this only be for a moment, all these are nothing when compared with the glory which shall be here after revealed in and for us. I never made a sacrifice. Of this we ought not to talk when we remember the great sacrifice which He made who left His father’s throne on high to give himself for us. -David Livingstone
Paul is proud of the Gospel message he write to the Romans about and the next phrase in the verse begins to explain why.
Power in the Gospel. Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
Power unto Salvation
Paul says I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the Power of God unto salvation.
Do you see the emphasis Paul places on the Gospel in this verse? He could have said as he does in other places, that God saves us but because the whole book of Romans is going to be about the Gospel, he is emphasizing it here and he says, “the Gospel is the power of God to save us.”
He is saying that the Good News, the story of Jesus life, death and resurrection and our faith in Jesus as our savior, is the means, the channel whereby God opens the floodgates of heaven and fills our souls with the blessing of salvation.
But Paul doesn’t just say hearing the Gospel saves you, he says believing the Gospel is when God unleashes His power to save. “To everyone that believes.”
Scripture: Romans 10:8-13 But what saith it? The word is near thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thy heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth to righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made to salvation. For the scripture saith, Whoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed. For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich to all that call upon him. For whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Power unto My Salvation
Paul says the Gospel is the power of God to save, but only to those that believe. It all hinges or the word believe. Because it is so important and because everything involved with salvation only begins with it, lets take just a moment to examine what it means to believe.
I know you are waiting for this so here it is. The word Believe comes form the Greek word, pisteuo. 239 times in the New Testament it is translated, you guessed it, believe. So far nothing new there but it is the other times that give us the full meaning of what it is to believe.
4 times it is translated “commit unto” and one time each it is translated commit to one’s trust, be committed unto, be put in trust with.
Vines word studies, uses the words “Belief, Believe, Believers, Commit, Commission, Intrust, Trust
The Amplified Bible, which tries to give the nuances of the Greek words, says it this way, “to everyone who believes with a personal trust and a confident surrender and firm reliance,” I like that.
The Gospel has the power to wash away sin, the power to make you new, the power to give peace, the power to relieve the burden of guilt, the power to give you eternal life, the power to give you joy, but… you must believe.
Illustration Mr. Stokes and the sheet.
When I was a young boy, I was a member of the Royal Ambassadors. It was kind of a Bible club for Southern Baptist Boys, I really enjoyed it. One of our counselors was the dad to a friend of mine. He was just Mr. or Bro. Stokes. One day, he brought a bed sheet to class stood a chair next to it and then asked all of us a question. “How many of you guys believe I could lift you in that sheet while standing on this chair?”
Now Mr. Stokes was a strong man, not to big but his arms bulged with muscles from years of hard labor at the copper mines. Every single boy in that class, we were all about 10 -12 years old at the time, every boy raised his hand and said, I believe you can do it. Then Mr. Stokes stood in the chair, gathered the ends of the sheet making a sling and said, “Okay, who will go first?” Of all the boys and there were at least 15 of us that day, none of us were willing to get in the sheet. Some said, you might fall out of that chair, othes the sheet might tear, Only one boy stepped forward and got into the sheet, my friend and Mr Stokes son, Danny. He sat in the sheet on the floor and then his father flexed his muscles and lifted his son with just one arm. He made the application that real belief means not just saying I believe, but putting our trust in and committing to the one we believe. For us that is Jesus Christ, the might to save.
Now in verse 17 Paul gives us the theme of his letter to the Romans, Faith.
Path of the Gospel. Romans 1:17
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
Paul says the Gospel reveals the "rightness" of God.
He gives us his next “For” his next purpose of proposition in his theme of the Gospel. Just for a moment notice the four Fors in vss. 17-18. This is what Paul is going to prove throughout the rest of his epistle.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:
For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth
For therein is the righteousness of God revealed
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men,
We are now at the third proposition, For number 3.
For therein, (in the Gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed.
There are two things that I believe Paul is saying with the phrase the righteousness of God is revealed.
First the Gospel shows me that God is righteous. He is just in the way He has acted to save mankind. God in his holiness must punish sin, but God in his love must pardon the sinner. In the Gospel story I learn how God was righteous in reconciling these seemingly opposite characteristics of his nature.
In the Gospel, First, I see my sin and my inability to deal with that sin. Then I see Jesus who came without sin, lived without sin and rose again showing his power over sin. I see Jesus as my perfect sacrifice for sin. Then I see that I must believe in Jesus as a gift from God to save my soul. Then I see, I understand that God truly is righteousness. He is just in the way he dealt with my sin through His son.
I also think the righteousness of God being revealed through the Gospel means that God makes me righteous. I not only see how God is righteous, but I also experience God’s righteousness as applied to my soul, when I am saved.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
There is so much to deal with here, but lets bring Paul’s theme of the Gospel to a close, with the final phrase in vs. 17. From faith, to faith as it is written, the just shall live by faith.
I don’t think this is hard to understand, but it is vital that we grasp it, not only as the theme of the Book of Romans but our theme, our motto, our philosophy of life as the children of God.
From faith, speaks of saving faith. The faith we first step out in, the faith that brings us salvation.
To faith, speaks of everything that follows in our path of life, but always stepping and acting in the power of that same faith:
Paul then gives his favorite scripture from the Old Testament, “As it is written, the just shall live by faith."
Its taken from the minor prophet book of Habakkuk 2:4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
God's righteousness is revealed not only in our salvation but now also in our daily lives, lives empowered and directed by the principle of faith.
The just, (the ones made righteous by the power of God through the Gospel) shall live by faith.”
Walking the Path of Faith
We must see this. We must understand that Paul’s theme here in Romans 1:17 must be the overriding principle of my life. I must move from faith to faith. I can’t dwell in the affects of the day I was saved, I must move from that faith to a daily faith, a growing faith, a progressive faith, a faith that should grow stronger my means of its use day after day after day as I walk the path of faith.
If I am saved, if I have believed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then I am one of the just, I have been justified, I am now righteous in the sight of God because Jesus has taken my sin upon himself and I have been given His righteousness! Now I must go from faith to faith. I am one of the just and I just can’t live any other way.
At the end of the Book of Romans, Paul gives some guidelines for walking the path from faith to faith. Look at what he says, in Romans 12:9-21 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
Listen to what Paul is saying about us as the children of God, who must go from faith to faith, and thereby revealing the righteousness of God by the way we live.
“The Just Shall Live By Faith!” That’s your life’s motto, that is our calling, that is our goal until our faith becomes sight when we step in Glory.
Where are you today in your Faith to Faith Journey?
I wonder if there are any here you have not started this journey?
Have you not yet experienced the power of God through the Gospel, the power to save your soul, to cleanse your sin, to give eternal life?
Every journey must start some where and the journey of faith starts at the foot of the cross as we look up into the face of Jesus who died for us. If you haven’t begun the journey of faith, it starts there and if you are willing it can start for you today.
If you have begun the journey, if you are one of the Just, then are you committed to make Paul’s theme of this book, the theme of your life? Will you live every day, every decision, every difficulty by a living growing faith? From faith to faith: The just shall live by faith.