Believing In The Living God
Content Of Our Faith
In a Brief Survey of the Epistle of Paul to the Romans
Based on sermons preached in PCC Worship Services, July 2003 to Sep 2005
Part 19b of 83

. 23  Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was reckoned unto him; 24  but for our sake also, unto whom it shall be reckoned, who believe on him that raised Jesus our Lord from the dead, 25  who was delivered up for our trespasses, and was raised for our justification” (Romans 4:17-25).

 [The book of Romans is about Justification by grace alone through faith alone. Faith is believing, but what must we believe? Our text answers this question. We saw in our first instalment of our exposition of this passage that Abraham believe God and everything He says. In this second instalment we must consider what we are to believe if we are to be justified by faith. - JJL]

2.  What Must We Believe?

a.   What things or truths must we believe?

Abraham believed in the sovereign living God. Therefore He believed that He would keep His promises. The object of Abraham’s faith was the sovereign living God. His faith in God expressed itself in his believing in God’s promise that (1) He would give him children; (2) amongst his children would be Christ and His elect; and (3) he and his children would be redeemed by Christ.

What about us? What shall we believe? Well, the context in which God gave Abraham the promise and the context in which God gives us His promise is not exactly the same. But the object of our faith and the object of Abraham’s faith must be the same. It is the living, sovereign God, who is able to do what is impossible to man. Paul says:

23 Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; 24 But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;

Now, just as the highlight of Abraham’s faith centred on the Messiah to come. So too the highlight of our faith must centre on the Messiah. The Messiah is the Christ. Christ is the Messiah. It is the same word which means the “Anointed One.”

We are justified if we believe in God. We must believe that He exists and “that he is the rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb 11:6). But in particular, we must believe Him in regard to the person and work of the Messiah. This is why Paul tells us that the righteousness of God shall be imputed to us…

…if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; 25 Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (v. 24-25).

If we believe in God, we will believe in all that God reveals about Himself.  And He has revealed to us particularly about the Lord Jesus Christ, the God-Man. The Lord Jesus Christ came and was delivered for our offence. And He was raised again from the dead because His sacrifice on our behalf was accepted. He laid down His life for our justification. If this is so, how could we not believe these things if we say we believe God?

Thus, elsewhere, we find the Scriptures speaking about believing in Christ. To believe in God is to believe in Christ.

Turn, for example to Acts 16. The Philippian Jailor had asks Paul and Silas: “What must I do to be saved?” They answer, verse 31— 

Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Act 16:31).

But now read a few verses down, verse 34—

“And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house” (Act 16:34).

Do you see it? Believing in God and believing in the Lord Jesus Christ is the same thing?

The unbelieving Jews claimed to believe God. But they did not truly believe Him. They believed only an idol of their own imagination. This idol requires them to work for their salvation. They did not believe in the Living and True God who sent the Messiah for our justification.

b.  Those who believe God must believe in the Gospel, for the Gospel is revealed that we may be saved in Christ. But do not forget that believing in the Gospel without believing God is meaningless.

Let me put it this way: The modern idea of salvation promoted by para-churches is wrong. It is wrong to think that we can be saved simply by believing in a few points of doctrine. There are many who say: here is the minimal set of truths you must believe: You must believe that you are a sinner, and that Christ died for your sin. If you believe these two points then you are a believer, they say. Well, this is a caricature of Christianity. It is not Christianity.

In Christianity, the believer believes God completely. To believe in Christ is to believe in God. To believe in God is to believe in Christ.

We must believe in God. We must believe all that God reveals concerning himself. I am not saying that we must know and understand everything that God has revealed. But I am saying that all that is revealed, we must believe. If we know them, we must believe, or we cannot be a saved. In particular, as the Gospel has been clearly revealed for our salvation, we must believe the Gospel or we simply cannot be saved.

And of course, we must not only believe intellectually. We must believe and our lives must be changed. The devils believe God and tremble, but they remain in rebellion against God. Genuine faith involves knowing, believing, trusting and loving God or knowing, believing, trusting and loving Christ.

Such as believe God believes and obey the Gospel and all else that God has revealed. No one can claim to be a Christian who says he believe a few points of doctrine, but do not believe everything else.  No one can claim to be a Christian who is not interested to learn about anything else.

Sadly, there are many like that today.

But what is that to you?

…to be continued, next issue

—JJ Lim