The Righteous Will Live by His FaithHabakkuk 2:4


My Closing Conference Address, October 28, 2007


David H. Linden, Action International Ministries††††



I attempt to provide notes for those who attend my lectures. You have the Habakkuk notes which were distributed at the Conference, they are also available on my website: This closing sermon was given from my notes. Of course, I cannot remember all I said that evening, but much of it is here. I have added some detail and more Scripture references. It was wonderful to see you in ------- (Location deleted).


We have been studying Habakkuk at this conference. There we come across this famous line, ďThe just shall live by faithĒ (Habakkuk 2:4). The Apostle Paul gave much attention to that statement. He quotes it in Romans 1 and Galatians 3. If he wrote Hebrews, then he quoted it again in chapter 10. In Romans, Paul makes his most detailed presentation of the Christian gospel, which goes on for several chapters. He used Habakkuk to introduce his gospel. The apostle taught that it is by faith that a person becomes righteous.


Ö I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome. I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 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 1:15-17)


All men are sinful. It is important for us to admit that Godís people have sin in them and do sin. I have sin in me, and I have genuine reason every day to confess sins to the Lord. How then can God call anyone righteous? He knows everything about us, yet He has a way to do it honestly. He really does forgive sins, even though in this life no one is free from the sin in us. Christians are righteous in one sense and sinful in another.


The Three Questions:


1.     Is there a Holy God Who requires perfect obedience from all men? ††††††††† Yes.

2.     Does this Holy God find perfect righteousness in any man? ††††††††† No.

3.     Then how can God call anyone righteous?


Q. 1:Be careful to follow the questions carefully. Is God holy? Yes. Does He really require that we obey Him? Yes. Does He allow us a certain amount of sin which He overlooks? No. Did He require perfect obedience of Adam and Eve? Yes. Were they expelled from the Garden for the sin of eating a piece of forbidden fruit? Yes. (The Bible calls Adamís sin one sin in Romans 5:16,18.)


Q. 2:Does God find perfect righteousness in any man? No, all have sinned. The most mature and godly person on earth has made only a small beginning in a life of holiness. Christians certainly have righteousness, yet not one of us meets the standard of God in this life, no one anywhere. In all of history there has been only one human being Who has kept the law of God fully, and that was Jesus Christ.


Q. 3:So we agree that God requires perfect obedience and finds it in none of us. How then can God call anyone righteous? The wonderful answer is that God gives us a righteousness not found in us. What God requires in His law, He provides in His gospel. The Bible is very clear that this righteousness is a gift. As a perfect righteousness from God to us (Romans 1:17), it cannot be a righteousness that appears in us.

In Romans 5:15-17 this righteousness is called a gift five times. If we miss that it is a gift, we miss the grace of God. If we change Godís gift into something we merit, we destroy the Christian gospel and make it like all other religions!God gives sinners who come to Him the righteousness we need but do not have. The Bible emphasizes that we do not work for this gift. (See Romans 4:2-5; Romans 11:6; Galatians 2:16; Ephesians 2:8,9; Titus 3:4-7.)


How Does This Work?†† The Sinner in Godís Court


Imagine the problem the sinner has with God. It is God we have sinned against. He knows it and charges man with his sin, so God is the prosecutor. He sees all our sin, so God is the witness against us. It is against God that we have sinned, so God is the offended party. Since God is God, He is the judge. It gets worse for the sinner, because God is also the executioner. It is God Who sends sinners to hell! Because it is God we have sinned against, we have no place to hide. If it is only God and a sinner face to face, the sinner is in eternal trouble.


Jesus Representing Us


The good news is that God has done something so that a sinner need not face God alone. The Lord has sent a Mediator to come between Himself and us, Jesus Christ His Son. Jesus is our defense lawyer before the Father (1 John 2:1,2). He is a different kind of lawyer, because He agrees with the prosecutor that all the charges against us are true. He makes no excuses for us. He even agrees that we deserve our penalty. He never defends our sin. But Jesus came to take our trouble as His, our guilt as His. The Father sent Him to do this for us.


Righteousness as a Gift


The Judge, Who was angry with us for our sin, loved us while we were still His enemies (Romans 5: 8) and gave His Son that whoever believes in Him will never perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). The Bible is clear: 1) the righteousness we need is first a gift, and 2) this gift is the righteousness of Jesus Himself. Christ is our righteousness according to 1 Corinthians 1:30.


I consider them [i.e., his own attempts at keeping the law] rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ Ė the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.†††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† ††††††††††(Philippians 3:8,9)


But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man [Adam], how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man [Adam], how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.


Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man {Adam] the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man [Jesus Christ] the many will be made righteous. ††††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††† †††††††††††(Romans 5:15-19)



In your notes there is this helpful definition of justification:


Justification is an act of Godís free grace, wherein He pardons all our sins, and accepts us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.

The Two Sides of Justification


We understand the need for Godís gospel better if we see two sides of His law. It requires and it prohibits. The gospel is not that WE must satisfy what God requires in His law and get rid of our sin of breaking it. We are unable to do either one. By ourselves, we could only atone for our sins by suffering in hell forever. The law orders us what to do, while the gospel proclaims to us what God has done for us. For us to be declared righteous, Christ had to obey the law for us. His entire life was one of obedience to God. He also had to suffer the penalty of our law-breaking. This is what He did when He died on the cross.



The Law of God



Positive Requirements

Negative Prohibitions

The commands

Obey God; do right.

Do not disobey; do not sin.

The reward for each



Our problem

We have not obeyed.

We have disobeyed; we have sinned.

The sentence

God denies eternal life.

Godís verdict is death.


The Gospel of God



Jesus & the Requirements

Jesus & the Prohibitions

Our salvation

Jesus obeyed for us.

Jesus died for us.

In other words

Jesus met the requirements of Godís law in our place.

Jesus endured in our place the punishment we deserve for our sins.

The two sides of justification

God pronounces righteous the one who believes in Christ.

God forgives the sins of the one who believes in Christ.

The exchange of

2 Corinthians 5:21

We become the righteousness of God in Christ.

By accepting our guilt, yet without Him sinning, Christ became sin for us.

How does the exchange happen?

Jesusí righteousness is imputed to the one who believes in Him when he believes in Him

The sin of the believer was imputed to Christ when He died on the cross.


Jesusí Life of Obedience


The Lord Jesus could never represent us before God unless He had become one of us. He had to become a human being (Hebrews 2). He was born under the law (Galatians 4:4) and obeyed it. His righteousness was severely tested when the devil tempted Him for 40 days. Adam was tested in a garden full of food, but Jesus was tempted in the wilderness that had no bread. Jesus did not yield to sin. He did not sin as a child, a teenager, or a young man. His experiences were severe, but His lifelong righteousness was complete.


Adam made decisions for us. When he sinned, we sinned in him. Adamís guilt became our guilt. Christ acted for us too (Romans 5), His obedience became our obedience, and His righteousness became ours. God showed His approval of Christís obedience, by raising Him from the dead, thereby declaring Him righteous (Romans 4:25). Thus: 1) when we believe, God considers Jesusí death as ours; we need never die for our sin. And 2) when we believe, He considers Jesusí obedience as ours; we do not rely on our conduct to gain eternal life. We have no righteousness that God will accept, but when Christís is ours, we do not need our inadequate righteousness. God has been fully satisfied by the law-keeping and death of Jesus.


The Lord produces good works in everyone He justifies (Ephesians 2:10). The Holy Spirit writes Godís laws on the hearts of believers (Ezekiel 36:26,27; Jeremiah 31:33). This change in us is the result of God accepting us in Christ. It is not the reason He declares us righteous. On the cross on a Friday long ago, Jesus Christ our Lord experienced what we deserved. On Sunday, when God raised Him from the dead, He received from God the life He deserved as a righteous man. Our justification depends on Jesusí obedience and blood. It is received by simple faith in Him.


The Judgment Day


Those who have been justified by faith are no longer alienated; we have peace with God (Romans 5:1). A new status as righteous/forgiven children has been granted to us. When God justified us, that meant that the Judge pronounced His verdict. Before the Judgment Day, He has already assured us that all who believe have been acquitted. There is no longer any condemnation (Romans 8:1). (Condemnation and justification are opposites.) On the Judgment Day we will wear the robe of Jesusí righteousness, because God has already credited it to our account (see Romans 4). The verdict now and the verdict of that day rests only on the moral purity of Jesusí lifelong conduct, not ours. God will not take back the righteousness proclaimed in Philippians 3:9. When that great day comes, the Judge appointed by the Father will be Jesus! (John 5:22). We have no fear when the One Who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20) judges us. He cannot reject His own righteousness or His own atoning blood. He will publicly acknowledge His own people and welcome every believer into His eternal kingdom (Matthew 25:34). The Saviour Who died to secure our pardon will never accuse us of sin He has already forgiven. He will not cast us away (John 6:37). He will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5), and no one can remove us from His protecting hand (John 10:28).


Two shirts


The last night of the conference I had a bag with two shirts. I wanted you to imagine God requiring that we be clothed in a clean white shirt. Nothing else would be acceptable to Him. But we have a serious problem; we are sinners, so I pulled out a bright red shirt. The red shirt is our sin. If that is how a person appears before Him, he will be rejected as a sinner. Then the Lord Jesus came. Knowing our trouble, He took our shirt and put it on as His and went to the cross. He took our sins as His. Then I pulled out a clean white shirt, which I called the righteousness of Christ. Jesus took our shirt and gave us His. Wearing it, we go to heaven. This is the gospel; this is justification.


Be sure your faith is only in Christ and never in yourself. Do not wear your own shirt; it will take you to hell! It humbles us to admit that in ourselves we are unacceptable to God. But look what He has done to save sinners! Since God provided Christ, He cannot reject any soul who trusts in Him. He cannot reject His Son. He cannot reject Jesusí obedience. God commands us to come to Christ, and when we do, He gives us eternal life. The Lord Jesus is all we need. Never turn from Him to any other hope of God receiving you. There is no other way. There is no better gift than God giving His Son for us. There is no better message to tell the world.


A Closing Prayer and Benediction


O holy Lord God, thank You for sending the Lord Jesus, Your righteous Son, to become a man, to obey Your law, to die for us law-breakers, that we might be forgiven and have the gift of righteousness Ė the righteousness of Jesus, the only man to obey You perfectly. And all this You have given as a gift we do not deserve, because You love us and are gracious to us. We thank You Father in Jesusí Name.


Now unto Him Who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy Ė to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. ††††††††††† †††††††(Jude 24,25)


David H. Linden,2803 Lionel Cres. SW Calgary, AB Canada, T3E 6B1 †††††