A Faith that Works in View of Both Comings of Christ
Eight weeks ago, we began our study of The Just Shall Live by Faith: A Faith that Works with four major objectives:
- evangelistically: explain properly to lost people how faith and works interrelate in how we come to God
- sharpen our skills in using these passages for personal edification/correction as well as for helping others; counseling self and others, including working with believers who may have lapsed into erroneous thinking about faith/works
- challenge others to live righteously in keeping with their righteous standing before God
- motivate ability to address these issues
We ended our first lesson by briefly considering Hebrews 10:35-39. In this last lesson, we will first consider how Habakkuk 2:4 is used in Hebrews 10:38.
We will then conclude our series, The Just Shall Live by Faith: A Faith that Works, by looking at many other passages that show that the just who live by faith have a faith that works in view of both comings of Christ.
How Hebrews 10:37-38 Uses Habakkuk 2:3-4
Hebrews 10 is the third NT passage that uses Habakkuk 2:4. Note that Hebrews 10 uses not just Habakkuk 2:4 but also Habakkuk 2:3:
Hab 2:3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.
4 Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.
Heb 10:37 For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Comparing the wording of these two passages brings out what initially might seem to be a key change made by the writer of Hebrews. Whereas Habakkuk 2 talks about the coming of the vision at its appointed time, Hebrews 10 speaks of the coming of “he that shall come.”
As we have seen, however, the vision that Habakkuk 2:3 speaks of is in fact a prophecy of the Lord’s coming in judgment to destroy the wicked and save the just (Hab. 3:3-15). The writer of Hebrews is not changing the sense of Habakkuk; he is bringing out the truth that Habakkuk was teaching all along!
Hebrews 11 goes on to mention the faith of Enoch, who diligently sought God for 300 years but never saw the fulfillment of the coming of the Lord to judge that he prophesied (Jude 14-15). Both Habakkuk 2-3 and Hebrews 10:37 thus speak of the just who live by faith having a faith in the future coming of the Lord!
From the use of Habakkuk 2:3-4 in Hebrews 10, we learn that the writer of Hebrews was exhorting suffering believers to endure in view of the certain coming of the Lord that had been promised to them. Doing so, they would show that they are just people who live by faith.
Faith without Works is Dead
We have now examined the use of Habakkuk 2:4 in Romans 1, Galatians 3, and Hebrews 10 to learn more about how the just who live by faith have a faith that works. In order to develop fully our understanding of how faith and works relate, we also need to consider James 2 because it is a key passage about that subject.
Although James 2 does not quote from Habakkuk 2:4, it still has vital teaching about a faith that works. James 2:14-26 has caused many people to have questions about how faith and works relate in a person’s being a just person who lives by faith.
We can summarize the teaching of this passage with three key statements that James makes:
1. A faith that has no works cannot save (James 2:14).
2. A faith that has no works is dead (James 2:17, 26).
3. A faith that has no works is useless (James 2:20).
We need to compare the statements here about Abraham (James 2:21-23) with the closely related teaching about Abraham in Genesis 15, Romans 4, Galatians 3, and Hebrews 11, which all teach us that Abraham was justified before God by faith without works. Through comparing Scripture with Scripture, we therefore understand that James 2 is not talking about his being justified before God by faith and works.
In fact, Hebrews 11 makes clear that Abraham had a faith that pleased God (Heb. 11:8; cf. Gen. 12:1-4; Heb. 11:9) long before he offered Isaac (Heb. 11:17-19). At the same time, we must understand from what James teaches us about Abraham that his faith was perfected through the works that he did (James 2:22).
Key Points about a Faith that Works in View of Both Comings of Christ
We end our series with six key points that summarize what we have studied about how the just who live by faith have a faith that works in view of both comings of Christ.
1. In faith toward God (1 Thess. 1:8), we are to turn to God from idols to serve a living and true God and to wait for the Second Coming of His Son, whom He raised from the dead (1 Thess. 1:9-10).
2. We are to evangelize sinners with information about both Comings of Christ (Acts 10:38-42; 17:30-31; cf. 1 Thess. 5:1-10), including that the Father sent Him to be the Savior of the world (1 John 4:14).
3. We are to refrain from assessing one another in unrighteous ways because we will give an account to the Christ who died and lived again to be the Lord of both the dead and the living (Rom. 14:9-12).
4. We are to endure persecutions and sufferings by faith in both comings of Christ (Heb. 10:35-39; 12:1-2; 2 Thess. 1:3-12; James 5:6-11).
5. As we fight the good fight, finish the course, and keep the faith (cf. “Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel” [2 Tim. 2:8]; “the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” [2 Tim. 4:1]), we must love the Lord’s appearing as the righteous judge who will reward us all (2 Tim. 4:7-8).
6. We are to read, hear, and heed what is written in the book of Revelation, which was given to us by Jesus Christ, “the first begotten of the dead” and He who “washed us from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5). We must behold that “He cometh with clouds” (Rev. 1:7). We are to pray for His Second Coming (Rev. 22:12-21).
See all the lessons in this series here.