Rom. 1:16-17 ¶ For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “BUT THE RIGHTEOUS man SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.”
This is the scripture that was like a lighting bolt in the 1500’s. These verse became the fountainhead of the revolution that birthed the Protestant Reformation. The righteous man will live by faith. How does one become this righteous man? For centuries, mankind had been bound by a system of human works and efforts, hopelessly trying to become that righteous man. They were praying to saints, paying money to purchase people from purgatory, and doing various deeds of penance trying to achieve the righteousness of God. Luther’s proclamation, “The righteous man will live by faith” was the beginning of a whole new era. Here is how Matthew Henry explains this powerful, important scripture.
“This evangelical righteousness, is called the righteousness of God; it is of God’s appointing, of God’s approving and accepting. It is so called to cut off all pretensions to a righteousness resulting from the merit of our own works. It is the righteousness of Christ, who is God, resulting from a satisfaction of infinite value. It is said to be from faith to faith, from the faithfulness of God revealing to the faith of man receiving; from the faith of dependence upon God, and dealing with him immediately, as Adam before the fall, to the faith of dependence upon a Mediator, and so dealing with God; from the first faith, by which we are put into a justified state, to after faith, by which we live, and are continued in that state: and the faith that justifies us is no less than our taking Christ for our Savior, and becoming true Christians; from faith engrafting us into Christ, to faith deriving virtue from him as our root: both implied in the next words, The just shall live by faith. Just by faith, there is faith justifying us; live by faith, there is faith maintaining us; and so there is a righteousness from faith to faith. Faith is all in all, both in the beginning and progress of a Christian life.”
In today’s world, we have slipped away from the message of justification by grace through faith. God has been painted as some kind of benevolent Santa Claus that, at the end of the day, just overlooks all of our sins. Absolute heresy, The Lord never overlooks sin. Sin has to be judged. It was judged by The Lord at the cross. We appropriate this righteousness on our own lives by faith. It is very simple. We accept the work of Christ for our sins at the cross or we bare the weight of that sin ourselves. I love the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, after all, it is the power of God unto salvation to all that believe.