By Robert C. Welch
We have a few soft headed people who are thinking and saying that God does not require strict obedience to his will. They think that such a strict view is either Pharisaic legalism or stupid bigotry, or both; and that such a view is despicable. They have the impression that it may be necessary to do precisely what the will of God is in becoming a forgiven child of God; but that after he becomes a citizen of the kingdom of God his lapses due to ignorance or weakness will be overlooked. Their theory . is diametrically opposed to the example and attitude of the Son of God:
“Then said I, Lo, I am come (In the roll of the book it is written of me) To do thy will, O God . . . then hath he said, Lo, I am come to do thy will. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.” (Hebrews 10:7, 9).
If the Son of God must empty himself and come to this earth to do the will of God, even to die the ignominious death of a criminal, it is the height of arrogance to suppose that God will accept less than obedience to his will on the part of a mere man. He left us “an example, that we should follow his steps: . . . when he suffered, threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously.” (1 Pet. 2:2123).
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:21). There is no substitute for obedience. There is no such thing described as “the spirit of obedience.” Such expression has been devised by men to justify themselves in deviation from specific obedience to the will of God. Such deviation was not acceptable from Ananias and Sapphira. It was not acceptable from Cephas at Antioch. It was not acceptable from the Corinthians in their assemblies. Neither will God accept such deviation from men today as they try to avoid specific obedience in the matter of the Lord’s supper, the singing of praise, the organization and work of the church in evangelism and benevolence, or in personal spiritual and righteous character.
When we insist upon following the steps of our Lord in doing God’s will we are not substituting works for the grace of God, we are neither rejecting nor denying the need for his grace: “When ye shall have done all the things that are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants; we have done that which it was our duty to do:” (Luke 17:10). It is by this obedience that we appropriate his grace: “For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world.” (Tit. 2:11, 12). The grace of God is conditioned upon living righteously or obediently.
The difference between the first and the second covenant is not that obedience was required then but is not required now. The difference is that God has provided salvation in Christ now, which was only in promise then. But who can live without transgression? No one (1 John 1:8). Then, will that failure to obey not prevent every man from entering the kingdom of heaven? In that case of disobedience we have the will of God: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9). Does this argument for obedience and then providing for forgiveness not involve an inconsistency? It will only seem inconsistent to the man who has espoused the theory that God does not require obedience to his word. When we humbly “come to do thy will, O God” we will claim his amazing grace, and will confess our failures, being “not a hearer that forgetteth but a doer of the work” we will “be blessed” in the doing. (Jas. 2:25).–(The Restorer, January 8, 1975).
Truth Magazine XIX: 17, p. 266
March 6, 1975