Faith – Works – Romans

FAITH – faith is a word with many meanings. It can mean faithfulness  (Matt 24:45) It can mean absolute trust, as shown by some of the people who came to Jesus for healing (Luke 7:2-10). It can mean confident hope (Hebrews 11:1). Or, as James points out, it can even mean a barren belief that does not result in good deeds (James 2:14-26). What does Paul mean when, in Romans, he speaks of “saving faith“?

We must be very careful to understand faith as Paul uses the word because he ties faith so closely to salvation. It is not something we must do in order to earn salvation – if that were true, then faith would be just one more deed, and Paul clearly states that human deeds can NEVER save us (Galatians 2:16). Instead, faith is a gift God gives us because He is saving us (Ephesians 2:8). It is God’s grace, not our faith, that saves us. In His mercy, however, when He saves us, He gives us faith – a relationship with His Son that helps us become like Him. Through the faith He gives us, He carries us from death into life (John 5:24). Even in Old Testament times, grace, not deeds, was the basis of salvation. As Hebrews points out, “it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4) God intended for His people to look beyond the animal sacrifices to Him, but all too often they instead put their confidence in fulfilling the requirements of the law ~Like the Pharisees~ That is, performing the required sacrifices. When Jesus triumphed over death, He cancelled the charges against us and opened a way to the Father (Colossians 2:12-15). Because He is Merciful, He offers us Faith. How tragic if we turn faith into a deed and try to develop it on our own!! We can never come to God through our own faith any more that His Old Testament people could come through their own sacrifices. Instead, we must accept His gracious offer with thanksgiving and allow Him to plant the seed of faith within us.Everyone has sinned. {Romans 3:23} The penalty for sin is death. {Romans 6:23} Jesus Christ died for sin {Romans 5:8} To be forgiven for our sin, we must believe and confess that Jesus is Lord. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ {Romans 10:8-10} The problem: We resist God. We ignore God, We attempt to deceive God. We work against God’s interests. We acknowledge God only when we are in trouble. We consider our plans and desires before God’s. We do not love God with all our heart, soul, and mind. False solutions: Create our own god out of something or someone else, or what we want Him to be. Live in guilt, punishing ourselves or masking the guilt behind alcohol or drugs. Use religion (Works, church attendance, service) as a substitute for faith, loving God, and obeying Him. Assume or vaguely hope God will save us anyway. Conclude God is too demanding and live in despair or apathy. True solution: Recognize the answer to our problem is faith and trust in Christ. Accept God’s gracious gift of forgiveness, believing in His love. Realize that God is willing to declare us not guilty, and that He alone can do that. Live in the freedom provided by God, enjoying the opportunity to express our thanks by obedience rather than trying to earn His acceptance. Humbly accept the fact that Christ’s substitution for us accomplished what we could not have done for ourselves. CRUCIAL CONCEPTS IN ROMANS: Election {Romans 9:10-13} God’s choice of an individual or group for a specific purpose or destiny. Justification {Romans 4:25; 5:18} God’s act of declaring us “not guilty” for our sins, making us “right” with Him. Propitiation {Romans 3:25} The removal of God’s punishment for sin through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Redemption {Romans 3:24; 8:23} Jesus Christ has paid the price so we can go free. The price of sin is death; Jesus paid the “death price”. Sanctification {Romans 5:2; 15:16} Becoming more and more like Jesus Christ through the work of the Holy Spirit. Glorification {Romans 8:18-19, 30} The ultimate state of the believer after death when he or she becomes like Christ (1 John 3:2)

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