The Centrality of the Gospel in Preaching 16
It is in the gospel that God reveals His righteousness. To reveal (ἀποκαλύπτω / apokalyptō) means “to uncover or to disclose or make known.” God has revealed to sinners their need for salvation through the preaching of the gospel and that this need for a perfect and alien righteousness is found only in Christ Jesus.
How does God reveal His righteousness of God through the gospel? By faith! The text continues to state that God reveals His righteousness “from faith to faith” (Romans 1:17, ESV). What is meant by the phrase “faith to faith?”
The word “faith” (πίστις / pistis) is the noun form of the verb “believe” found in Romans 1:16. Paul states that his delight in the gospel is because it contains the power of God unto salvation for all who believe, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in the gospel, God’s reveals His righteousness through Jesus Christ “from faith for faith.” The application of the gospel’s blessings is always through the instrumentality of God given faith. The apostle makes it abundantly clear that salvation is by faith from first to last. Faith is the starting point and faith is the goal. It is of faith conceived by God in order to be by faith received by man.
To make sure there is no misunderstanding of the sole instrumentality of the God appointed means whereby the centrality of the gospel that is preached is applied to the sinner’s account, Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4: “the righteous shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4, ESV). This is the first of three occasions where this verse is quoted in the New Testament. See also Galatians 3:11 and Hebrews 10:38.
However, it is not only the truth regarding the sole means by which the finished work of Christ is applied to sinner that concerns Paul. What matters also is the impact such a faith based relationship will have upon the redeemed and justified sinner. Will his life be different now that he is justified? Will his new position in Christ impact the way he lives? Will he continue to live a self-centered life or will his life here on earth become Christ centered? Why does Paul cite Habakkuk 2:4?
When Paul refers to “the righteous” (δίκαιος / dikaios) he means the justified. These are the ones God declares just through the imputed righteousness of Christ and therefore evidence of such a privileged position is by observing and keeping God’s commands.
These righteous ones shall live (ζάω / zaō) personally and realistically in a morally righteous manner before God. As they do so they display the reality of their commitment to, trust in, dependence upon and worship of the One, True God. In short, they evidence their faith: the faith God sovereignly gave them to believe the gospel and subsequently to live out the gospel.
Therefore, the centrality of the gospel in preaching is not only for the lost, but also for the redeemed. The gospel not only communicates our need of forgiveness from the penalty of sin, but the gospel also stresses God’s ongoing presence for all believers in need of strength in the battle against the power of sin and to live a life glorifying God.