The Righteous Shall Live by Faith

Posted On January 13, 2017

For the first chapel of the New Year, school president, Dr. Stephen Nichols, preached from Habakkuk 2:2–4. As one of the Minor Prophets, Habakkuk is often overlooked, but it is full of deep significance. This passage is where the Reformation gets the phrase “the righteous shall live by faith,” which is echoed by the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:17 and Galatians 3:11.

Dr. Nichols said, “You can’t have the Reformation without this phrase.” Sinful man has a perennial tendency toward self-righteousness. We all think of ourselves as worthy in and of ourselves. As Martin Luther explained, the soul has an inward curve (incurvatus in se) that fills us with pride. God’s standard of righteousness can only be reached by faith, not by our works or anything we bring to the table. “Faith is the death of self-righteousness,” observed Nichols, “and the perfect cure to self-righteousness.” It is in the living that we see the evidence of faith, since unrighteousness leads to death. In the life of faith, things don’t always go according to plan, but the vision of Habakkuk 2 is that of future restoration. In God’s timing He will set all things right, and those who live by faith take joy in the Lord, who is their strength (Hab. 3:19).