A recent survey by the Barna group revealed that most Christians seldom study their Bibles. They might read a chapter or a verse in a day, but they seldom, if ever, take the time to study the Bible and learn what God wants to tell them through his word. Bible study is left to the pastor, but this opens up for the possibility your pastor might be wrong. So how do you know that what your pastor is telling you is actually in the Bible? If you never study the Bible for yourself, you have no way of knowing, and you might already be deceived. One subject you must undoubtedly don’t want to be deceived about is righteousness by faith.
We, as Christians, believe in righteousness by faith. If we believe in Jesus, his righteousness will be imputed to us. But what exactly does it mean to have faith in Jesus? According to Google, being righteous by faith means trusting in what Jesus did for us when Jesus fulfilled all righteousness. If we keep believing in Jesus, we will remain saved and go to heaven when we die. How do you know this is what the Bible says if you never study the Bible for yourself?
To understand Paul’s teachings on righteousness, we first must remember that Paul was a Jew and never stopped being a Jew. Being a Jew, his understanding of words such as faith and righteousness differs significantly from ours. If we do not take this into consideration, we will end up misinterpreting Paul’s teachings, and by doing so, we might end up losing our own salvation. (Matt 7:21-23)
Hebraic understanding of faith is always relational, something you can watch and observe. If your faith is not visible, you have a dead faith unable to save you because there is no relationship between you and Jesus. So for Paul, when he speaks of saving faith, he constantly refers to a relational trust in Jesus that can be seen and observed. What does a relational trust in Jesus look like? Paul answers this question in Romans 1:17, quoting Habakkuk 2:4; it is trusting Jesus’s instructions and living them out in our daily life. What did Jesus instruct us to do? We never see Jesus telling anyone, “I am going to the cross, believe in what I am about to do, and you will be saved.” Instead, we see Jesus saying things like; when the Pharisees teach from the written law of Moses, listen to what they say, and obey them. (Matt 23:2-4). Jesus instructed us to obey the written law of Moses. So if you have faith in Jesus, according to Paul, you will choose each and every day to obey the written law of Moses.
In Romans 2 and 1, Paul says those who have faith in Jesus are righteous; in Romans 2:13, Paul says those who obey the law are righteous, so Paul is speaking about two sides of the same coin. Faith in Jesus is trust in Jesus shown in obedience to the Torah (the written law of Moses), which makes you righteous.
We know Google was wrong, but you would still be deceived if you had not studied the Bible with me. Do you now see the benefit of studying the Bible?