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No Faith No Righteousness

There are two types of faith:

  • Saving faith and
  • Living faith

Saving Faith

True saving faith is a personal trust and belief in Christ. It involves personally accepting and acknowledging the finished work of Christ's sacrifice as the only basis for forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. It is total reliance on Christ and Christ alone. By grace, we are saved through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). This faith is saving faith! The questions, "Do you have faith in God?" and "Do you believe in God?" are basically the same. Saving faith is the act of believing in God, having confidence in Him.

When we put our faith in God, we are made righteous in the sight of God. We have the righteousness of God imputed or transferred to us by the Blood of the Lamb. It is through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ that God demonstrated His salvation plan of how to obtain righteousness and reconciliation with Him. Whosoever believes in Christ will receive this righteousness of God. God accounts or transfers the righteousness of Christ to those who trust in Him (Philippians 3:9). We do not become righteous because of our inherent goodness. God sees us as righteous because of our identification by faith with His Son.

Without this saving faith, we cannot have the righteousness of God. Without His righteousness, we cannot have any relationship with Him. Therefore, no faith no righteousness.

Saving faith goes beyond mere intellectual understanding and agreement. This truth is illustrated in James 2:19, where even demons agree and believe that there is one God. However, they are obviously not made righteous with God by having this mental belief. We need to connect our minds to our hearts! The Word of faith is near us. It is in our mouths and in our hearts. If we confess with our mouths, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in our hearts that God raised Him from the dead, we will be saved. For it is with our hearts that we believe and are justified, and it is with our mouths that we confess and are saved (Romans 10:8-10). It is believing in Jesus as both our Saviour and our Lord that will grant us His glorious salvation. Unless He is Lord of all, He is not Lord at all!

Living Faith

Living faith is the total commitment to God by faithfully following Him in righteous living. Abraham not only believed and trusted God, he was also faithful in obeying His voice and keeping His charge, commandments, statutes and laws (Genesis 26:5). God considered him righteous because he lived by his faith and his faithfulness. The faith of Abraham was perfected and completed in his faithfulness to God (James 2:22). Abraham was firm in his commitment to God. Thus God could count on him to fulfill His covenant and calling. Abraham trusted God. He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in living faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform. Therefore it was accounted to him for righteousness (Romans 4:20-22).

Abraham did not stagger by doubting God. He was steadfast and faithful, determined to walk with the Lord in total obedience and submission. Living faith is a personal life commitment to follow Christ in total obedience to His commands. The Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 1:12: "For this reason I also suffer these things; nevertheless I am not ashamed, for I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day." Living faith is this firm belief in God, being confident of this very thing, that He Who has begun a good work in us will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).

Faith is part of the Christian life from beginning to end. We begin with saving faith when we receive the free gift of salvation by His grace alone. But that is just the beginning. We need to live by faith. It is here the living faith kicks in. It is here we produce good works! It is here we become His living epistles, to be read by all men. It is here we are to be the light and the salt of the earth!

What is living faith? It is the confident assurance we have from God that something we desire is going to happen. It is the certainty from Him that what we hope for is waiting for us, even though we cannot see it up ahead with our physical eyes (Hebrews 11:1). But with our spiritual eyes, God will reveal to us in His perfect timing.

Living faith was present and evident in the experiences and encounters of all the godly men and women throughout the Old and New Testaments. It was a key element in their spiritual lives and journeys with God. The righteous shall live by faith. This truth was mentioned once in the Old Testament, and thrice in the New:

See, he is puffed up; his desires are not upright--
but the righteous will live by his faith--
Habakkuk 2:4

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: "The righteous will live by faith."
Romans 1:17

Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because,
"The righteous will live by faith."
Galatians 3:11

But my righteous one will live by faith.
And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.
Hebrews 10:38

The righteous will live by faith. Without faith, it is impossible to please God. This truth in Hebrews 11:6 is written with reference to Enoch (Hebrews 11:5-6):

By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, "and was not found, because God had taken him"; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

Enoch was living out his testimony, and He pleased God! Herein we can see that it is living faith that pleases God. Without living faith, it is impossible to please God! God is not just interested in we believing in Him, but also that we are seeking Him diligently in righteous living.

We have encountered many types of Christians. Some have great Bible knowledge but lack an effective testimony for Christ. Whatever they share will fall on deaf ears as visions and actions speak louder than words! However genuine their motives are, they still need the refining and molding processes under their Potter's hands. They have a long way to go! Some have gone through the Holy Fire, and are powerful witnesses for Christ in living out their life testimonies before God and before men! They are the faithful and righteous ones of the Lord!

We are saved by faith, let's live by faith. From saving faith to living faith, He is transforming us to become more like Him. From glory to glory, and from faith to faith!

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Written on:
11 June 2004