Since faith is the depending upon the word of God only, for what that word says, being justified by faith is simply being accounted righteous by depending upon the word only.
And since the word is the word of God, dependence upon the word only is dependence upon God only, in the word. Justification by faith, then, is justification—being accounted righteous by dependence upon God only, and upon him only because he has promised.
We are all altogether sinners—sinful and ungodly. We are, therefore, all subject to the judgment of God. (Romans 3:9-19) Yet for all of us there is escape from the judgment of God. But the only way of escape from the judgment of God is to trust in God.
When David had sinned in numbering the people and so had incurred the exemplary judgment of God, the Lord gave him his choice as to whether there should be seven years’ famine or he should flee three months before his enemies or there should be three days’ pestilence. But David would not choose at all. He deferred it all to the Lord, for him to choose, saying, “Let us fall now into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great.” (2 Samuel 24:11-14)
When depending upon God alone, in his word, for righteousness, we have peace with God, because thus we really obtain righteousness and “the work of righteousness shall be peace, and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance forever.” (Isaiah 32:17)
When depending upon God alone in his word, for righteousness we have peace through our Lord Jesus Christ, because “He is our peace, who hath made both” God and man “one,” “having abolished in his flesh the enmity” “for to make in himself of twain—of God and man”one new man, so making peace.” (Ephesians 2:14, 15)
Further: when depending upon God alone, in his word, for righteousness, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, because God has “made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself . . . whether they be things in earth or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death to present you holy and unblameable and unreproachable in his sight: IF ye continue in the faith”—if you continue to depend only upon God alone in his word. (Colossians 1:20-23)
When he has made the way so plain, the justification so complete, and the peace so sure to all, and asks all people only to receive it all by simply accepting it from him and depending upon him for it, why should not every soul on earth be thus justified and have the peace of God through our Lord Jesus Christ?
This is “what the Scripture means when urging upon us the necessity of exercising faith.” Are you exercising faith? Are you justified by faith? Have you righteousness by faith? Have you peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ?
“Have faith in God.” (Mark 11:22)
(This article was first printed in the February 14, 1899 issue of The Review and Herald. It is also found on pages 33, 34 of the book Lessons on Faith by A. T. Jones and E. J. Waggoner. Editor)