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Faith AloneA Daily Devotional
ZondervanCopyright © 2005 James C. Galvin
All right reserved.
For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
You have often heard me say that the Christian life has two dimensions: the first is faith, and the second is good works. A believer should live a devout life and always do what is right. But the first dimension of the Christian life-faith-is more essential. The second dimension-good works-is never as valuable as faith. People of the world, however, adore good works. They regard them to be far higher than faith.
Good works have always been valued more highly than faith. Of course, it's true that we should do good works and respect the importance of them. But we should be careful that we don't elevate good works to such an extent that faith and Christ become secondary. If we esteem them too highly, good works can become the greatest idolatry. This has occurred both inside and outside of Christianity. Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. They preach about and praise their own works instead of God's works.
Faith should be first. After faith is preached, then we should teach good works. It is faith-without good works and prior to good works-that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone.
For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written:
When I was a monk, I didn't accomplish anything through fasting and prayer. This is because neither I nor any of the other monks acknowledged our sin and lack of reverence for God. We didn't understand original sin, and we didn't realize that unbelief is also sin. We believed and taught that no matter what people do, they can never be certain of God's kindness and mercy. As a result, the more I ran after and looked for Christ, the more he eluded me.
When I realized that it was only through God's grace that I would be enlightened and receive eternal life, I worked diligently to understand what Paul said in Romans 1:17-a righteousness from God is revealed in the gospel. I searched for a long time and tried to understand it again and again. But the Latin words for "a righteousness from God" were in my way. God's righteousness is usually defined as the characteristic by which he is sinless and condemns the sinner. All the teachers except Augustine interpreted God's righteousness as God's anger. So every time I read it, I wished that God had never revealed the gospel. Who could love a God who is angry and who judges and condemns us?
Finally, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I took a closer look at what the prophet Habakkuk said: "The righteous will live by his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). From this I concluded that life must come from faith. I therefore took the abstract to the concrete level, as we say in school. I related the concept of righteousness to a person becoming righteous. In other words, a person becomes righteous by faith. That opened the whole Bible-even heaven itself-to me!
Excerpted from Faith Alone Copyright © 2005 by James C. Galvin. Excerpted by permission.
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