Title:  Habakkuk 2:1-4 - "The Just Shall Live By Faith - The Difference It Makes"

Subtitle:  The Bible's Most Important Verse, and God's Most Important Promise!

Friendship Baptist Church, Warwick, RI 02886 Pastor Bob Reid RFRFBC777@cs.com

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Few passages in the Holy Scriptures have had a greater impact on all of human history than these words, "The just shall live by faith."  They gripped the heart of the Apostle Paul who found that his godly background in Judaism, all his works and traditions were to no avail with the Lord; but that Ďthe just shall live by faithí  prevailed with the Lord. He included these words in 3 of his New Testament Epistles.

These same words gripped the heart and changed the life of another man - a , man who was born in Eiselben, Germany in 1483; and, through him, eventually changed the world. The young Luther had a thirst to know God and a hunger for salvation. He felt the burden of his sin and wanted to be free of it but he didnít know how.

In Lutherís day, the Biblical truths of salvation, forgiveness & eternal life by grace through faith alone had been buried in the traditions of medieval Catholicism much the same as these truths of the Gospel have been forgotten and lost in many so-called Christian churches today.

But the only church in those days was the Roman Catholic church, and so Luther studied for the priesthood looking for answers, and then entered a monastery at age 21. The monastery meant a life of renunciation of self, abandoning home & family, begging, fasting & prayer - sometimes 3 days without sleep, food or water, - vigils by night and labors by day, rituals & works, chants & masses, even the painful beating of self. Every hour of Lutherís life was regulated. He later wrote:

"If ever a monk had gotten to heaven by monkery, I would have gotten there."

But through all of this Luther gained no sense of pardon, no sense of drawing nearer to the Lord, no sense of release from guilt. His studies in the Bible spoke of a jealous, wrathful & vengeful God, who delighted in punishing sin. His dreams were haunted by the fires of hell. He was not sick or crazy as some have claimed - he was simply immersed in the religious system of his day - the system that he was following and that system condemned him because he knew that he did not measure up to its standards.

That which he considered his own sin tormented him. He wondered if his works were good enough and this tormented him. He wondered if his contrition was deep enough and this tormented him. He wondered if his confessions had included every sinful thought, word & deed and this tormented him.

God had promised (Matthew 5:6) "Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled." But it wasnít happening for him.

He made a pilgrimage to Rome hoping to find peace. There he went to every church and every holy place so that he would miss none of the indulgences offered.  He climbed down into the catacombs where 80,000 martyrs and 26 popes lay in stone niches.

He stared at the rope with which Judas supposedly hung himself. He went to the holy stairs, supposedly stained with the blood of Christ which Jesus was supposed to have climbed in the judgment hall of Pilate and bled upon after He was beaten. He began crawling up those holy stairs on his knees. kissing every glass-protected step along with other pilgrims and all the while his thoughts were reeling.

What he was doing, others next to him were doing - others whom he had seen scornfully blaspheming every day and living in lust and sin. There were stories going through his head of the reigning Pope, the evil Alexander, who wanted to poison his own son and whose daughter was the ill famed and wanton Lucrezia.

There were shameful stories of his formerly highest ideal, the church, which he now saw as the birthplace of evil men, evil money making schemes and wicked sin. He wondered, "All these good works, performed daily a thousand times in Rome and elsewhere - were they not dead works disgraced by a thousand unbelieving and hypicrital blasphemers such as me who were performing them?"

He rose from his knees, turning his back on the sacred stairs and left. Further questions were still ringing in his ears - "How can anyone stand before God?"

"How can anyone be righteous before God?"

"How is it possible for anyone to be saved?"

And the words he had read from Habakkuk, which he did not yet understand, kept ringing in his heart, "The just shall live by faith."

He ended up at Wittenberg, and took his thoughts and questions to the Word of God which began to be his foundation and true joy. He was to lecture at the University on the Psalms and so he began his preparations. He came to Psalm 22 and discovered a "Savior Who literally and unsparingly suffered every shame and rejection of God", but he didnít understand it.

He came to Psalm 32 - ""Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered," He could not seem to understand it but the Word was beginning to be his foundation and joy.

As he continued in his studies, the passage from Habakkuk kept pouring through his mind. Then he was driven to the book of Romans and in the middle of chapter one beginning with verse 16, he found the beautiful words that set his heart free - "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believethÖfor therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith." There it was again - the just shall live by faith.

It was as though lightening hit him. He threw down his pen and fell upon his knees with tears of understanding. He knew that the Holy Spirit had come upon him - the narrow little tower room opened up and the wide open gates of heaven greeted him.

Later Luther wrote, "Before those words broke upon my heart, I hated God and I was angry with Him. I was His very own creation but the holy standards of the Creator were so far and high  above my ever attaining them - But when by the Spirit of God I  understood those words "The just shall live by faith", then I felt born again like a new man; I entered through the open doors into the very paradise of God.

Now I saw the Scriptures, altogether in a different light - they were now my darling and comforting Word - they were not there to condemn me but to save me."

The Lordís promise was fulfilled, "Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled."

Luther was filled -- blessed!

That dawning of the truth marked the beginning of a new age.  Soon the 95 theses were nailed to the church door and the reformation that was soon to sweep over Europe and change the history of the world had begun.

Now listen carefully to these crucial facts: In the original Hebrew the words "the just shall live by faith"

are only 3 words. "The justified man" is one word.

"By his faith" is another word.

And "will live." Is the third word.

"The justified man by his faith will live."

The phrase is quoted 3 times in the New Testament to underline and emphasize their truth and their importance.

They are found in Romans which brings us understanding concerning the first of these words - "the justified man." - concerning justification.

They are found in Hebrews which brings us understanding concerning exactly what the believing faith which is counted for righteousness truly is.

They are found in Galatians which emphasizes the third word and brings us understanding concerning living the life we now have as believers. Oh, how truly beautiful and perfect is Godís Word! The answers are always here. Praise the Name of the Lord!


Now, Lutherís torment had been born in his consciousness of personal sin and unworthiness - especially when compared to the holy standard - the Lord Himself.

His experience proclaimed that there was no way anyone could achieve that standard of righteousness and be justified before God. Since the days of Job, seeking hearts have everywhere asked the same question, "How can a man be made right before God?"

Turn to the Book of Romans as Luther did, and you see that everyone is in the same boat - we are all sinners, unworthy and without righteousness.

3:10 "As it is written, there is none righteous, no, not one."

3:23 "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."

These are just two verses; but, Chapters 1 through 3 in their totality bring the whole world and every person in it before God and declares them to be guilty.

Chapters 2 & 4 tell us that you cannot be justified by the law, or by good works, or by any rituals or traditions - itís impossible.

But then the grace of God breaks through the clouds and the happy dawn crashes through! As the Apostle Paul points us to the great revelation of the watchtower, "The just shall live by faith."

He goes all the way back to Abraham as his prime example of justification - Abraham, who believed God and was justified by faith.

Listen to these words about Abraham in Romans, chapter 4, beginning with verse 20:

4:20-5:1 "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform and therefore, it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to  him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on Him, that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, Who was delivered for our offenses and was raised again for our justification. Therefore, being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." Praise the Lord!

Could anything be clearer than Romans 3:24 "Being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus."

Thatís it! Good works, rituals, baptism, communion, church attendance, lighting candles, traditions, will not avail, but the redemption in Christ Jesus prevails.

Again thereís Romans 4:4&5 "Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt; But to him that worketh not, but believeth in Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness." Praise the Lord!

So the justified person is the one who has stopped trying to reach heaven by his own good works because he has realized that he cannot - itís impossible. Isaiah saw that in the 8th Century BC "All our  righteousnesses are as filthy rags" - Isaiah 64:6

The justified person is the one who has turned to Jesus for the perfect righteousness of God that He freely gives by grace. "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but  according to His mercy he saved us by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, which He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior that being justified by His grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." Titus 3:5-7

This is the Christian life - not what we can do for God, but receiving what God has already done for us.

The great transaction is recorded in 2 Corinthians 5:21 "For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him."

And how do we receive the gift? By faith. In the Book of  Hebrews as the Holy Spirit is showing us the Christianís path through this world to the glory of heaven, he clearly shows that itís all by faith.

"Without faith it is impossible to please God"

The way to justification, the road to glory, the entrance into the family of God, the secret of the new birth, the promise of forgiveness and everlasting life - itís all by faith.

Chapter 11 of Hebrews ebrews shows that true saving faith is more than a wishy-washy easy believism - the nature of faith is commitment, persistence, turning from sin, and action. Thatís the example of every person mentioned in the great faith chapter, chapter 11.

Abel believed God and offered up a better sacrifice than Cain did. Noah believed God and built an ark. Abraham believed God, followed His leading, and even was willing to offer up his son Isaac as a sacrifice.

The list goes on displaying the true nature of faith - that itís a drive in the heart operating 24 hours a day as long as life lasts. A drive freely and joyfully followed.

Thatís the message of Galatians - how does a Christian live?

By following the law? NO.

By a list of legalistic doís and doníts? NO

Paul tells the Galatians that this is not the Gospel they received and these are not the rules for Christian living. The rule of Christian living is Ďliving by faith.í - that is our joyful, loving and freely given response to Calvary and the love of God. "I live by the faith of the Son of God Who loved me and gave Himself for me."

And if anyone preaches any other gospel than this - that person or that church is under Godís curse. The just shall live by faith.

I love the hymn we sang earlier:

"Years I spent in vanity and pride,

Caring not my Lord was crucified,

Knowing not it was for me he died, On Calvary.

By Godís Word at last my sin I learned;

Then I trembled at the law I spurned;

Till my guilty soul imploring turned To Calvary.

Mercy there was great and grace was free,

Pardon there was multiplied to me,

There my burdened soul found liberty, At Calvary.

Now Iíve given to Jesus everything,

Now I gladly own Him as my King;

Now my raptured soul can only sing of Calvary."

This is the secret of life and the difference it makes - the just shall live by faith

And this secret of life, made known to Habakkuk so long ago, became the battle cry of the reformation and the cardinal principle of life for those who have lived since and who know the Lord and His Word.

In the beginning Habakkuk was distressed and perplexed; but as he waited on the Lord, the answer came. 

Waiting on the Lord is faith in action.

Waiting on the Lord is faith working.

Waiting is one of the great Old Testament words for faith in Isaiah 40:31, "They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary, and they shall walk and not faint."

There is always room in Godís mercy when we wait upon Him.

There is always deliverance in Godís strength when we wait upon Him.

There is always forgiveness through Jesusí blood when we wait upon Him.

There is always an answer in the Word of God when we wait upon Him.

Trust in the Lord.

Delight thyself in the Lord.

Commit thy way unto the Lord.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him. And He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the Light.

Thatís what Psalm 37 tells us!

Will you do these things?

What is your need this morning? Whatever it is He is the Answer.

"Softly and tenderly, Jesus is Calling, calling for you.

Will you respond to His call?

We need to repent of our sins.

We need to believe on His Name.

We need to receive Him as our Savior.

Come and do that. He is calling for you to come.


If you have received Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, but have been very lukewarm in your spiritual walk with Him, you need to immediately ask Him for forgiveness and for renewal. He will instantly forgive you, and fill your heart with the joy of the Holy Spirit. Then, you need to begin a daily walk of prayer and personal Bible Study.

If you have never received Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and the approaching End of the Age, and want to obtain His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you receive Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that the Kingdom of Antichrist will not touch you spiritually.

If you would like to become Born Again, turn to our Salvation Page now.

 We hope you have been blessed by this ministry, which seeks to educate and warn people, so that they can see the coming New World Order -- Kingdom of Antichrist -- in their daily news.

Finally, we would love to hear from you.

You can contact us by mail or email.


God bless you.

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