Sound Teaching

This is the teaching site of the West Side church of Christ in Fort Worth, TX. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials were written and prepared by Stan Cox

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Faith: A Study in Romans

The emphatic declaration of inspiration, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” This passage, found in the book of Romans (10:17), shows with clarity only God could supply that our faith is objective. Faith is based not on our emotions or superstitions, but rather on the revealed will of the omniscient God of Heaven. It is our reception of the testimony concerning the good news of our Lord’s sacrifice and victory that gives us the hope that springs eternal.

It is impossible to separate the hearing of the gospel from saving faith. Paul affirmed earlier in the epistle, (1:16), “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.” The powerful word of God, working upon the open and tender hearts of men, cultivates an active faith that accomplishes the redemption of the believer.

Thus Paul reveals for us a fundamental truth concerning God’s plan of salvation for man. “…it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (I Corinthians 1:21). The apostle has much more to say about faith in the Roman epistle. Following are three lessons derived from his writings. For a more detailed discussion of these aspects of faith, the reader is encouraged to read Faith and The Faith, by Roy E. Cogdill.

The Debt of Faith

A great obligation weighed heavily upon Paul in view of the eternal blessing he received through faith. Because the life he now lived he lived “in faith” (cf. Galatians 2:20), it was his desire to be always fruitful in his service to the Lord. He stated in Romans 1:13, “Now I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that I often planned to come to you (but was hindered until now), that I might have some fruit among you also, just as among the other Gentiles.” Significant is the agency by which he sought to bring about this fruitfulness in his service to God. It would be through the gospel of his Lord!

Paul preached the gospel! He had obtained a precious inheritance because of his faith in God, and he felt a responsibility to make the means to faith available to the Romans. Indeed to all men. “I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise. So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also” (1:14-15).

The lesson to us is plain. We too have received a Hope through the preaching of the gospel. It engendered faith within our soul, and it is the only agency by which the world might be saved. Do you feel the obligation Paul felt? Are you willing, as much as is in you, to preach that gospel? Imagine the joy in the heart of one who believes the Word you shared! Truly, we are debtors.

The Law of Faith

The third chapter of the epistle deals with the universality of sin, and the way of escape from sin’s consequences. Paul writes, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). As such, the Jew was in no way superior to the Gentile. “What then? Are we better than they? Not at all” (3:9). The Jew was inclined to boast in works of merit, done under the auspices of God’s covenantal law. Paul takes this boast away from the Jew when he writes, “Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? Of works? No, but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”

A recognition that Jesus died for our sins removes the possibility of boasting in our relative merit before God. The innocent man of God was sacrificed for me! I cannot address God as righteous based upon my deeds done under the law, rather only upon my faith in my Lord. The “law of faith” here mentioned references the requirements given me by God to acquire my redemption. That is, a faith in Christ as Lord, leading me to obedience to His will. Do I have reason to boast? “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). To God be the glory!

The Obedience of Faith

While I cannot claim a merited salvation, I understand that a proper concept of faith necessitates obedience to God. Paul makes this clear in the Roman epistle. He writes in his benediction, “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:25-26). Brother Cogdill put it well. He states, “God’s plan is that men shall be made righteous through the faith of Jesus Christ, by their faith in the faith of Jesus Christ. But our faith in the faith must produce obedience to the gospel.” (Faith and The Faith, pg. 77). The Bible clearly teaches that faith alone, apart from obedience, cannot save us (cf. James 2:24). If you say you have faith, show it by your obedience to your Lord.

The Roman epistle is a sublime example of the prescience of God. Do you want to know the part faith plays in God’s scheme of redemption for man? Read Romans and bask in the glory of God’s wisdom!