As we continue through Habakkuk we find more and more New Testament quotes and themes riddled throughout the prophet’s recollection. Is it not a coincidence that our faith finds its roots in the New Testament in light of the testimony of God in the Old Testament? Of course not. For God has chosen to reveal himself to us by means of personal interaction with His people in the Old Testament, revealing to them the Law, providing prophets to speak words of truth from God, installing Kings for His people and revealing Himself in countless other spectacles. The entire Old Testament points to the fulfillment we as Christians stand upon in the New Testament, “justification by faith alone” in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our Savior. The Old and New are inextricably linked to one another for all time. You can’t have one without the other. With this said:
Our Christian faith finds it’s roots first and foremost in the New Testament, for it is here we learn the truth of Christ and justification by faith. Romans, possibly the greatest letter ever written, has for it’s thesis:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘the righteous shall live by faith.’” Romans 1:16-17
All of Romans, that wonderful letter that confines the foundations and doctrines of being justified by God alone, apart from any of our own works and abilities, testifies to the truth that God has implanted in his prophet Habakkuk. For in Habakkuk we find the thesis for Romans quoted:
“Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith” Habakkuk 2:4
Is this not why Paul continues in Romans 3 to say that “we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28) and goes on to use the father of our faith, Abraham, as an example of faith, “for the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith” (Romans 4:13). Paul knows the truth of Habakkuk, and the truth of our God, that we are justified by faith alone, apart from any works of our own or merit we could possibly acquire. God spoke the same word of truth to Habakkuk some 700 years earlier. Hence we find in congruence between Paul and Habakkuk that God’s design has always been justification by faith alone. Those that claim that we find salvation in anything other that God himself and his grace is an anathema to the church. And how often do we find the notion that those in the Old Testament were saved by their works, how they followed the law, since they didn’t have Christ the savior yet. Was not Abraham himself justified by faith, “that is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to his offspring” (Romans 4:16a).
For it is by faith alone that we can see God face to face, it is by faith alone that we have turned from the folly of our sinful nature and now look towards the love of God in Christ renewing us to be images of Him, it is by faith alone that we can come to church week after week still a sinner, it is by faith alone that our hope rests and thank God it is! If what Paul says in Romans 4:16 that “the promise may rest on grace” alone is true, then as countless others have affirmed (Calvin, Luther, Augustine, Barth) we do nothing in faith, but accept the grace to which God has extended to us. Grace is something wholly outside of ourselves, something only a perfect righteous God could extend and produce for us. We can only accept the gift of grace with an open hand called faith. And if that is true, then faith itself is a byproduct of God’s grace, it too is a gift. May we thank our maker for inviting us into the dance of fellowship through faith alone. For it depends wholly upon God alone for this gift of faith that we have. And he will sustain it! Amen.
(ORIGINALLY POSTED: July 1st, 2008)