It is difficult for an intelligent person to misunderstand what God says through the apostle. Because of the vile practices that mankind displays before Him, He is not obligated to save anybody! However, He will offer salvation to some as He chooses because He is motivated from within Himself to accomplish His purposes.
God's existence is a truth that some dogmatically refuse to believe. Another, larger population of men and women accept that He may exist, but their acceptance of His existence does not motivate them to live by what He says. Their further commitment to Him is stalled because they refuse to accept and believe His guidance found in the Bible.
A much smaller group believes enough to study His Word and start down the path toward accepting and doing what He says. They may even believe strongly enough to commit to baptism, but for whatever reason, they lose interest, stop growing, and depart from Him and His way.
Finally, an exceedingly smalto ler group believes with all their heart. They are consistently committed to Him, and His cause becomes their cause in life.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Was Hebrews Written? (Part Eleven): God Is Not Silent
These verses show that the gospel is the means or the vehicle that God uses to save us as long as we live by faith.
We cannot let the idea of "power" slide by without comment. From this Greek word, dunamis, English derives the words "dynamite," "dynamo," and "dynamic"—all of which convey an idea of stored energy that is waiting for the cue to burst into action, sometimes explosively! The gospel Jesus Christ preached contains a dynamic message that is primed to propel a believer to eternal life!
Notice, however, that the gospel is not universal in its application. John 6:44 says that the Father calls specific people to the choice of accepting Christ's gospel. In Romans 1:16, Paul makes this same distinction in the phrase "everyone who believes." The gospel will not save even those who profess Christ if they do not believe. As Christ's disciples, we must believe what He teaches us (compare John 6:28-29, 63).
What is belief? Jesus answers in Matthew 7:21: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Paul says in Romans 16:25-26: "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now has been made manifest . . . for obedience to the faith. . . ." He also writes in Hebrews 5:9: "And having been perfected, [Christ] became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." Simply put, belief is not just agreement with Christ, but also doing what He says. If a person truly believes Christ, he will live like Him. (Faith, belief, obedience, and doing God's will are all intricately related concepts.)
This is why Paul continues as he does in Romans 1:17: "For in it [the gospel] the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, 'The just shall live by faith.'" The gospel teaches us what righteousness—right doing—is. God reveals it to us by faith so that we can be faithful ourselves. Succinctly, the gospel instructs us in doing or living what is right, godly, and faithful. As he puts it in II Corinthians 5:7, "We walk by faith, not by sight."
From this, we can see that the gospel is far more than "believe in name of Jesus, and you shall be saved" (an oversimplification of Acts 4:12).
Richard T. Ritenbaugh
The True Gospel (Part 3)
In the spiritual sense, "eating" occurs primarily when one hears and reads. A person ingests messages and concepts into the mind through words, which establish and nourish his pattern of life. Those words, if one permits it, create a faith upon which one bases the way he lives. This faith is almost entirely dependent upon the quality of what is heard and whether a person believes it enough to follow it. These verses reveal that only the words of God or Christ, His gospel, His truths, will form the faith that leads to salvation because they will form the correct beliefs and thus the correct way of life. This is the faith of Christ; the person who has it believes what Christ believes. This is a simple, understandable, true formula.
Zephaniah 3:1-2 shows what happens when a person rejects or disbelieves His words: "Woe to her who is rebellious and polluted, to the oppressing city! She has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the LORD; she has not drawn near to her God." That person comes to great dismay. This does not mean we cannot have words other than God's in our mind, but the children of God must filter everything through God's words to test their validity before they allow themselves to believe them firmly enough to make them part of their belief system.
Put another way, there is faith and then there is the faith, the faith that brings salvation. This faith arises from believing God's words. What we believe will determine our conduct and attitudes whether or not we stop to think about those beliefs because what is contained in the heart will come out (Matthew 12:34-35). Only God's words truly produce spiritual strength. In our recent past, "eating" and believing the wrong words set the church up for the scattering that has occurred. For quite a while, worldly things gradually corrupted the spiritual health of God's children, weakening them through spiritual malnourishment and changing their faith.
I Corinthians 1:10 provides a first-century account of a congregation suffering from this process of ingesting the wrong words: "Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment." Division troubled this congregation because the members held dissimilar views on beliefs that are basic to spiritual unity. I Corinthians shows disorder, confusion, argument, and offense as symptoms of spiritual weakness.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Eating: How Good It Is! (Part Seven)
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Romans 1:16:
2 Timothy 3:16-17