For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith.
The apostle Paul did not believe in the inclusivist’s view of salvation that says, “Because Christ died for the sins of the world, everyone is going to heaven whether they personally believe or not.” Some Christians believe that the death of Christ resulted in salvation for everybody whether or not they believe in Christ or even know the name of Christ. That’s not what Paul said. Notice in Romans 1:16 he didn’t say, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone.” No, he said, “It is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Paul believed faith was necessary to receive the rescue, the salvation, that God offers.
Just as a life preserver can only rescue from the deep somebody who will grab hold of it, so the gospel only saves those who believe in it. That is why Paul said the gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” Notice in Romans 1:17 he emphasized again the importance of faith: “For in [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, ‘But the righteous man shall live by faith.’” Faith is what connects our need with God’s provision to meet our need. We are not saved by faith; we are saved through faith. Faith is the connection between our need and God’s provision. We have a need–salvation. God has a provision–Jesus Christ. Our faith is what connects God’s provision with our need.
Every day we are required to exercise faith in some aspect of our life. My friend John Bisagno observed, “Faith is the very heart of life. You go to a doctor whose name you cannot pronounce. He gives you a prescription you cannot read. You take it to a pharmacist you have never seen. He gives you medicine you do not understand, and yet, you take it!”
Faith is important for this life, but it’s even more important for the next life. Over and over again Paul talked about faith connecting our need to God’s provision. In Romans 3:21-26, Paul talked about faith in relationship to salvation: “Now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith . . . that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” Paul was clear we are not saved by faith; we are saved through faith. Faith is the connection between God’s offer and our acceptance.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The World’s Most Famous Jew Who Found Jesus” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
John Bisagno, as quoted in John Maxwell, “Today Matters” (Nashville: Center Street, 2004), 205.
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.