By Gene Warman
In Rom. 16:25, the apostle Paul said, “Now to him that is able to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through times eternal, but now is manifested, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, is made known unto all the nations unto obedience of faith.” Rom. 1:5 states, “through whom we received grace and apostleship unto obedience of faith among all the nations for his name’s sake.” We have seen that in these verses of Romans Paul uses the expression “the obedience of faith”. Now, what does Paul mean by such an expression? The term simply has reference to the obedience which is produced in the Christian life by faith. Paul tells us that the purpose of his apostleship was unto the obedience of faith. The apostle refers here to the proclaiming of the word; he is attempting to get people to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. On the basis of this faith, he is moving them to be obedient to the commands of God. We are not to have the obedience that is pleasing to us, but the kind of obedience that pleases God. That is the kind of obedience that springs from our faith in Him.
In this world in which we live, we walk by sight. You go to the bank to borrow money and the banker wants to be assured that you are able to repay the debt. That is the way we live in our everyday life. And yet, when it comes to being a Christian, we understand the words that our God has spoken, and we propose to do the thing God has required of us. To say that we are saved and justified by the obedience of faith, is not at all to say that we are justified by faith only. Some are afraid of the word “obedience”. We are not saved by faith only. But one is saved when he has enough faith in God that he will do whatever God says. It is an active faith that pleases God. Our faith must be strong enough to do the thing that God requires.
James 2:24 records, “You see that by works a man is justified and not only by faith.” James speaks of the example of Abraham in the days of old and the offering of Isaac by Abraham. Was it by faith only? James 2:24 gives us the answer-that it was by both Abraham’s offering and by faith; nevertheless he did something and his works, therefore, were but a manifestation of the faith that he had in the Almighty God. When we have enough faith in the Lord that we ate willing to follow Him and do what he says, it is that faith that is pleasing in the eyes of God.
Let us examine the kind of faith that produces obedience in the individual. The kind of faith that you and I must have is the faith that pleases the Lord. If we have that faith in the Lord, He is the sovereign of our lives. What think you of Christ? Is He the Son of God, or is He a mystery. The world agrees that He was a good man but not the Son of God. The answer to that question itself determines where we will spend eternity. In John 8:24 Jesus said, “I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for except ye believe that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” God has given enough evidence to produce faith in our hearts. A person who is honest and conscientious, and who really wants to go to heaven when he dies, will find enough evidence to prove that Jesus is the Christ. Mark 16:15, 16 records, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that disbelieveth shall be condemned.” We see then that one must be obedient to the faith that is revealed in God’s Word.
So our faith must be centered in the right object, if we are going to be guided in the right direction. Our faith must not be centered in Moses or one of the prophets. When Jesus took His disciples up to the Mount of Transfiguration, there appeared Moses and Elijah-Moses, the great law giver, and Elijah, the prince of the Prophets. They said, “Let us build three tabernacles, one for Jesus, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” Then Moses and Elijah disappeared and there remained none save Jesus only. Then the great God of heaven spoke saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt. 17:5). This especially teaches us that we are not to follow Moses or the prophets, but we today are to follow Jesus Christ. We have confidence not in man but in the Lord. Then as we turn to the words of our Savior, and we have followed what He says, we will be, therefore, on the way to heaven. A faith which is centered in the word of God will save us.
But again, may we emphasize the kind of faith that produces obedience? Whatever God tells us to do is right. -I must be right. Like the apostle Paul, when our thoughts and minds come to the place where they are conflicting with God’s commands, let us surrender our own thoughts. Let us put our words down as false teaching when they come in opposition to God. God will not tell us to do anything that we ought not to do or that will not build us up spiritually. With that kind of confidence, we can go forward in the will of God, knowing that whatever we do is in harmony with His will and we will not be wrong.
May we go a step further and raise the question as to the kind of obedience that faith produces. I think we are impressed with the thought that the obedience which , faith produces is the obedience that is always prompt, which always does the thing that God tells the person to do. In Genesis, the 12th chapter, God told Abraham to leave Ur of the Chaldees. When Jehovah spoke, Abraham left and did what God said. God told him to get out of that country; Abraham went out not knowing whither he went. That is the kind of faith that the Bible holds up as an example. Abraham did not ask questions; he did not begin to apologize and give excuses. When Abraham understood what God wanted him to do, he proceeded to do it. His was the obedience that was prompted by faith.
In the New Testament, in the 16th chapter of Acts, Paul and Silas were put in prison in the city of Philippi. While they were there, an earthquake occurred and the doors of the prison were opened; the jailer supposed that the prisoners had escaped, and was about to kill himself. But Paul and Silas saw him and called out, “Do thyself no harm, for we are all here.” The jailer sprang in and fell down and said to them, “What must 1 do to be saved?” It was then that Paul began to preach unto him the word of the Lord. And the Bible says that the same hour of the night, this Philippian jailer and his household were baptized. We see in this, that he did not put off obedience. Paul preached to him about Jesus and told him what Jesus wanted him to do. When the jailer understood, he obeyed in the same hour of the night. That is the way it ought to be with all of us. When we know the will of God, we ought to do it, not begin to make excuses for not doing it.
But again, if we have the right kind of faith, that faith will produce in our life obedience that is unwavering. It is the sort of obedience that is continual. This faith will not be a matter of having religion only on Sunday, then the rest of the week forget about it. We are going to be constantly and everlastingly obedient to the commands of Jesus Christ.
In the Old Testament, Noah is held up for our example. Noah was a righteous man. God looked down and recognized the righteousness of Noah. God determined to destroy the people of the world by a flood, but he determined also that He would not destroy Noah, because of his righteousness. So it was that God told him to build an ark. He told him what kind of wood to use and what size to make it, and furthermore what should be done in preparation for the flood that was to come. People went on unconscious that their life was about at an end. Many scoffed at Noah. Nevertheless, Noah went on with his work in obedience to God. But his faith in God rested on the promise that God made. You and I know the result. He was rewarded. His life was saved while the lives of the others were destroyed, all because of his obedience toward God.
Likewise, Abraham was told to take his son and offer him on the altar. That was a strange request. He understood that he was to be the father of a great nation. He had only one son, through whom this promise could be fulfilled. How then could he kill Isaac? Abraham rightly deserves the name of the father of the faithful. We are told that Abraham thoroughly believed that he would have to kill Isaac and that God would raise him from the dead. Abraham staggered not. That is the kind of obedience that all of us must have.
Throughout the New Testament the same principle prevails. Paul is a classic example of one who was obedient to faith. Though he was often persecuted, he was always obedient to the faith that he had in Christ Jesus. Now some men preach that if you have once been saved, you cannot be lost. They refer to this as the eternal security of the believer. No doctrine could be farther from the truth of God’s will. Just as one may cease or discontinue believing, one may stop living as God would have him to live. If it is, or was, impossible for a man to be lost after he has been saved, why are there so many warnings in the writings of Paul, Peter, and other inspired men concerning the danger of falling? ‘Take heed lest ye fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Paul warned the Gentiles that they would be cut off if they did not continue in belief (Rom. 11). Paul recognized the possibility of his being lost for he says in 1 Cor. 9:27, “lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.” No friends, the doctrine of eternal security of the believer, is just another false doctrine that is being set forth by men.
Truth Magazine XXII: 6, pp. 102-103
January 9, 1978