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Obedience of Faith

 

“And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”   Acts 6: 7

“Through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake. Romans 1: 5

“But now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandments of the eternal God, who has been made known to all nations, leading to obedience of faith.”    Romans 16: 26

On just about any position you will find those who hold extreme views.  The subjects of obedience and faith are no exception.  On the one hand you have those who believe that salvation is by faith alone, without any obedience or supposedly any other response (most believe you must repent).  Then you have those that maintain that  obedience is the greatest quality a Christian can possess.  As is usually the case. both of these extremes are out of balance.  When you are driving a car you can run off the road either to the left or to the right.  Either way you are still in a ditch, and that is not desirable.

 

What is the obedience of faith?eeeeee

Because we believe that Jesus is the Son of God and that He did not speak on His own initiative, but spoke as the Father commanded, we should heed and obey His words.

 

Is the “obedience of faith” important?

Paul said in Romans 1: 5 that he and others had received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among the Gentiles.  That sounds important to me.

 

Do we obey only because we have been saved?

Certainly we obey because we have been saved.  The Scriptures say:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them

 (Ephesians 2: 10).

But this is not the whole story.  The Scriptures also speak of obedience that precedes salvation, an obedience that leads to salvation.

Jesus has told us that those who enter the kingdom and share in eternal life will:

·        We must be converted and become like a little child (Matthew 18: 3)

Let lay this myth, that we only obey because we have been saved, to rest.  It is not true and has been around far to long.

 

 Is obedience essential to salvation?

Another myth that has been around far to long is, “Yes we should obey but obedience is not essential to salvation.  Yes we should obey, but if we don’t it’s okay because in the last analysis, we must only believe.”

This myth is wrong because it first misrepresents faith.  The Scriptures tell us that faith is the sole basis of appropriation of the grace of God (Romans 5: 2)  But they also tell us that faith alone is dead and useless. (James 2: 14- 26).  Faith alone is ineffective and incomplete; it is always completed or perfected by the obedience of faith.

Secondly, there are many Scriptures that indicate that obedience is essential to salvation:

           (Hebrews 5: 9).

What nonsense to claim that obedience is not essential to salvation.  Can you be saved without the remission of sins?  Can you be saved and not enter the kingdom of heaven?  Surely not!  Put this myth away also.

 

Do we obey in order to secure salvation?

Surely not!  Salvation and eternal life  are not conditional gifts.  They are the result of a promise of God; they are not based on an agreement between God and man (1 John 2: 25).  God has promised to give eternal life to those that obey through faith.  We do not earn or merit salvation on the basis of our obedience.  We do not obey in order to secure salvation; we obey because He has promised salvation to those that obey and we believe His promise.  This is a common misunderstanding among those who know that obedience is essential to salvation.  I held that incorrect view many years.  I believe I now have a better understanding, thanks to the Spirit of God.  Let’s put this myth to rest also.

 

Since salvation is a gift of God, can man have any part in appropriating that gift?

This is another myth that has been around far to long.  Thankfully we have statements about the Holy Spirit to gain insight into this issue.  The Holy Spirit is both a promise and a gift of God (Acts 2: 28, 39).  Yet the Scriptures say that God gives the Holy Spirit to those that obey Him (Acts 5: 32).  The truth is that God has promised to give the Holy Spirit to those that repent and are baptized.  The same is true of salvation.  Salvation is both a gift and promise of God, yet He has promised to give it to those who through faith obey Him.  Put this myth in the trash can with the others.

 

Can man have any part in his salvation? 

This question is based upon another myth.  God alone, is effective in the salvation of man.  Certainly God initiated and carried out His purposes in regard to salvation.  And it is true that God gives grace to man to follow up.  But this grace is not imposed on those who do not want it, rather it is given to the hunble, those that will deny themselves.This myth is based upon someone’s supposed idea of the sovereignty of God and the supposed total inability of man to do anything in his own behalf.

The truth is that God is sovereign and He can do any thing that pleases Him that is not contrary to His nature.  He has chosen to present man with two alternatives.  It is up to man to choose (Joshua 24: 14, 15; Matthew 7: 13, 14).

Despite man’s supposed inability to act on his behalf. Paul says So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only but much more in my absence, work out you salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who is at work within you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2: 12, 13)  To those that would hurriedly say, yes, but this was spoken to those that are saved and have received the Holy Spirit, I would suggest that they thoughtfully read 2 Thessalonians 1; 8, 9).  As we have already seen, God gives the Holy Spirit to those that obey Hin.  The power to salvation is not in man; the power is in the gospel of Christ (Romans 1: 16)    

 

Can you give a little more evidence that obedience is a response of faith?

By faith Enoch was taken up.    Hebrews 11: 5

By faith Noah prepared an ark.  Hebrews 11: 7

By faith Abraham obeyed.  Hebrews 11: 8

By faith he lived as an alien.  Hebrews 11: 9

By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive.   Hebrews 11: 11

By faith Abraham offered up Isaac.  Hebrews 11: 17

By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau.  Hebrews 11: 20

By faith Jacob blessed each of his sons.  Hebrew   11: 21

By faith Joseph made mention of the exodus and gave orders concerning his bones.  Hebrews 11: 22

By faith Moses was hidden for three months.   Hebrews 11: 23

By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaohs daughter.

Hebrews 11: 24

By faith he left Egypt.  Hebrews 11: 27

By faith he kept the Passover.   Hebrews 11: 28

By faith they passed through the Red see.   Hebrews !!: 29

By faith the walls of Jericho fell down.  Hebrews 11: 30

By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish.    Hebrews 11: 31

By faith (some) conquered kingdoms. Performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight, etc.  Read it all for yourself  Hebrews 11: 33-40

 

Some say that faith indeed obeys but salvation is the result of the faith not obedience.

This simply is not true.  If you approach the Scriptures with an open mind rather than trying to find support for some particular doctrine, we will find that obedience is essential to salvation.

First, faith alone (without obedience) is dead and useless.  That means it is not effective in producing life or salvation.

Second, He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him (John 3> 36)..  This is the negative statement.  Both faith and obedience ar essential to salvation but faith is primary. 

Third, Dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1: 8)   This is another powerful negative statement.  Who can misunderstand?  If you don’t obey the gospel of Christ you will not make it.

Fourth, And having been made perfect, He became to all that obey Him the source of eternal salvation. (Hebrews 5: 9).  This is a powerful positive statement.  Since obedience is the only factor given (not the only factor involved in salvation). we surely cannot miss the import.

 

Friends there are many other passages that could be cited but these should be sufficient.  Both faith and obedience are essential to salvation.

 

Conclusion:

Obedience is not a bad word.  Our Lord and Savior humbled himself and became obedient even to death on a cross. (Hebrews 5: 8; Philippians 3: 8)  He is our example.  Surely we should follow in His steps.  Obedience and faith are not only compatible; they are inseparable..

 

God bless.  

 Arland  Pafford  

 

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Last Update   09/26/12