Righteousness … comes from God on the basis of faith.
In Romans 1, Paul described several characteristics of genuine faith. He said that genuine faith encourages other people and endures unanswered prayer.
Genuine faith also enables us to receive the righteousness of God. In Romans 1:16-17, Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Have you ever been ashamed of the gospel? Maybe you were afraid to confront a non-Christian teacher in the classroom or a boss who did something overtly against the gospel. Or maybe you were fearful to share the gospel with a relative or close friend. You used the excuse that you did not want to offend them, but the truth is, you did not want to be rejected by them. Or maybe you have been hesitant in a group to articulate the belief that there is only one way to God, and that is through faith in Jesus Christ. The fact is, we have all been ashamed of the gospel at one time or another. We have all failed to stand up as we should. But Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.”
Paul gave us three reasons for not being ashamed. First, he said the gospel is our only hope for salvation. “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes” (1:16). All mankind is drifting farther and farther away from God. And there are not many ways back home to God; God has instituted one rescue plan, and that rescue plan is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Second, Paul said the gospel is for everyone. “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (1:16). The gospel is for the wealthy and the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the young and the old–the gospel is for everyone. Third, Paul said the gospel is received by faith. “For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith” (1:17). The gospel begins and ends with faith.
The Apostle Paul understood that truth perhaps better than anyone. In Philippians 3, Paul shared what his life was like before he came to Christ and after he came to Christ. Before he came to Christ, Paul was like many people who think their right standing with God is a series of pluses and minuses. You do some good things–pluses. You do some bad things–minuses. At the end of your life, if your pluses outweigh the minuses, then you go to Heaven. In Philippians 3, Paul said that was the way he used to view his life. But then he realized those things he had counted as gain were actually loss compared to the “surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus” (3:8). Paul said that when he was holding onto his works, his hand was not open to receive the gift of God’s grace through faith. That was why his prayer became: “that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which … comes from God on the basis of faith” (3:8-9). The righteous shall live not by works but by faith.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “(The) Just Live by Faith” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2014.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.