If we take a statement out of a context, then we should, as much as possible, keep the right keywords in place, so that we will not create misunderstanding and be easily distorted by others.
Let go back to the original Bible text, Gal 2:16
In most translations, using ASV as an example, it is translated as:
Gal 2:16 yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
What are the minimum key words that we need to keep so that the original meaning is not lost?
May I suggest "The just shall live by faith in Christ". (trying to keep as close the proposed quote by Luther).
Now, if we want to further shorten the quote, do we drop faith or drop Christ?
- The just shall live by faith
- The just shall live in Christ
I would suggest that 2 "The just shall live in Christ" as more accurate especially the context is not cited in the quote.
Faith alone does not save. Having faith is not the key at all. Having Christ is the key to a new life.
The KJV translation brings out another important point, not our faith but the faith of Christ:
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
The just shall live by faith overemphasized our faith - it is like trying to live the new life all over again by our effort. We exercise our faith in Christ. We try to believe and trust in Christ. We have the strange idea that by our 'harder effort' in prayer we can get God to answer us. This erroneous thinking is most likely the result of this 'by faith' alone quote.
We will be glad to know that it is not our faith but the faith of Christ given to us that really work. What are the keywords for New Creation living? The words are abiding, yielding, follow-after, resting, etc. It is not about us exerting but about us yielding to, resting on, follow the leading, pulling, strength and accomplished works, walked out paths of Jesus Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Our job is to receive and then resting on and in Jesus Christ. It is less about us and more about Jesus.