Monday, August 21, 2006

It's Always Been by Faith (Romans № 9)

My observations in today's blog from Romans chapter 4 , et al., will be greatly abridged.

Paul asserts that faith is the way anyone ever is justified in the eyes of God (Rom 4.9-12). This covers both Jew and Gentile. There never has been any other way to find salvation for Adam's fallen race. The Jew never was saved by Torah and the Gentile never was lost without Torah. It came down to faith in God in each case. This is the way that anyone, anywhere at anytime is reckoned righteous before God.
"For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression." (Rom 4.13-15 ESV)

Can we just ignore Torah? Can we act as if the Law of Moses never existed? No, and there's no reason to ignore it. Paul makes a point in his letter to the Galatians that is crucial to our understanding: The Covenant by Faith came before the Covenant by Torah! After bluntly saying that nobody can be saved by observing the Law (Gal 3.1-14), Paul then makes these remarks:

"To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, 'And to offsprings,' referring to many, but referring to one, 'And to your offspring,' who is Christ. This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void. For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise." (Gal 3:15-18 ESV)

This is how the Hebrew Patriarch, Abraham, can be the father of many nations--both Jew and Gentile. All who believe in Christ become spiritual children of Abraham because he introduced us to the Covenant of Faith which preceded Torah (Rom 4.16-25). The Law of Moses is now unnecessary and, in fact, impotent to save souls:

"Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law." (Gal 3.21 ESV)

So, did God give Torah to the Jews at all? It was to show them that, devoid of the Spirit in regenerating power, they were hopelessly powerless to sin! (Gal 3.19-22).

Abraham was saved by his faith in God...based on what was going to happen when Christ reconciled the world to God. We are saved by faith in Christ...based on what has already happened when Christ lived his sinless life, died on the cross as an atoning sacrifice and rose from the dead.

Salvation has always been by faith.