“For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'”
When I was a teenager I rode in some motorcycle enduro events. An enduro is a rally covering about 90 miles of wood trails, dirt roads, creek-crossings and “you-name-it”. The goal for the the crowd of riders that begin at each minute, four abreast is to average 25 miles an hour. This sounds a bit slow until you get stuck in a creek or have to scramble up the side of a hill, dodging stuck riders. The starting point was an area where all the cars and trailers (that carried the off-road motorcycles) would park. After several hours of the rally, the riders would finish at the same spot. That finish line would be a sight for sore eyes–and sore everything else! The enduro’s staring point was also its finishing line. Similarly, faith is the Christian’s starting point and finishing line. The life of faith is not a sprint; it’s a “marathon.” The One we depend upon in this race is Christ Himself–“the Author and Finisher of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
The epistle of Romans gives us a systematic explanation of the gospel and its implications for our lives. The theme is given in Romans 1:16,17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘The just shall live by faith.'” The NIV translation reads, …”a righteousness that is by faith from first to last.” The Greek prepositions show the scope of faith in gaining God’s righteousness: it is “from” (ek) faith, “to” (eis) faith. “ek” speaks of agency–“by means of”; “eis” here denotes direction–“into, unto.” So, saving faith is God’s appointed agency of being declared righteous and the direction for the justified one to live a righteous life.
Faith: the starting point
First, note that faith is the starting point. We cannot merit God’s pardon and righteous standing. In chapters 1-3 of Romans, the inescapable conclusion is drawn that, “whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Rom. 3:19,20). We could never earn God’s favor.
But it is always darkest before the dawn. The good news of God’s salvation is, “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed … through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe. . .” (Rom. 3:21-22). The basis for this pardon is Christ’s substitutionary death and His victorious resurrection: “being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness… “(Rom. 3:24,25).
Notice again how God’s righteousness is imputed to us by repentance and faith: “Therefore, having been justified [declared righteous] by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1,2; cf. 2 Pet. 3:9).
Charles Finney, the great evangelist, testified of how he came to faith in Christ for salvation. On October 10, 1812 he went to a wooded area–instead of his law office–in order to find peace with God. He recalled,
“Just at this point the whole question of gospel salvation opened up to my mind in a manner most marvelous to me at the time. I think then I saw, as clearly as I ever have in my life, the reality and fulness of the atonement of Christ. I saw that His work was a finished work; and then instead of having, or needing, any righteousness of my own to recommend me to God, I had to submit myself to the righteousness of God through Christ. Gospel salvation seemed to me to be an offer of something to be accepted; and that it was full and complete. . .”
I trust, dear reader, that you have come to the point in your spiritual journey where you have confessed that you cannot save yourself, that you believe in Jesus Christ as the Lord, and that He died and rose again to rescue you. Trust fully in God’s grace and turn to Him, calling upon Him to be your personal Savior (Rom. 10:9-13). This is the starting line!
Faith: running the race
Second, note that faith is the means of running the race. Have you thought that, although becoming a child of God is by grace through faith, it’s your task to live a life pleasing to God? If so, you’re not in the minority! But notice that God’s plan for a righteosness standing and righteous living is from faith to faith.
Faith is the essential condition of discipleship! The Scripture declares:
- “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love”(Gal.5:6).
- “For we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor.5:7).
- “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me”(Gal.2:20).
- “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive”(Matt 21:22).
- “Above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one”(Eph.6:16).
The Galatian church fell into the deception of trying to achieve spiritual growth and effective ministry by self-effort. Hear Paul’s strong correction:
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal.3:1,2).
Do we need the same reminder?
Part 1 of 2
 V. Raymond Edman, They Found the Secret, (Zondervan, 1960), p.39
Copyright 2000 by John Woodward, 3rd edition. Permission is granted to reprint this article if credit is given to the author and GraceNotebook.com. Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version (copyright by Thomas Nelson).