“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) The Obedience of Faith (Steve Dewhirst)
2) Save Yourselves (Terry W. Benton)
The Obedience of Faith
How odd, that one of the Bible’s most fundamental teachings should have become so puzzling to folks. God is not the author of confusion, but man is. And during the centuries since Jesus walked the earth, the very nature of the faith that saves has been obscured by an improper balance of principles.
Without controversy should be the straightforward declaration, “by grace you have been saved through faith…” (Ephesians 2:8). To deny the truth of the statement is to deny the gospel. But, as with other subjects, to isolate this verse to the exclusion of all others is to guarantee oneself the wrong perception. This verse surely tells us of salvation through faith, itself. We should never question that we are saved through faith, but we should certainly arrive toward a better understanding of what faith is and how it is expressed.
Faith can be defined as a deep, abiding trust and confidence in God — but to stop there is to leave the picture incomplete. It is this notion that faith is nothing more than the intellectual acknowledgment that God exists, that has led many to think that He makes no requirements of us. But that simply won’t square with Scripture. After all, Hebrews 5:9 says that Jesus is “the Author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” Now faith, or belief, is not the same as obedience. But obviously, weighing the principle of faith beside that of obedience should cause us to dig a little deeper into the nature of the faith that saves. Saving faith cannot exist in a vacuum. In other words, faith doesn’t exist as an isolated concept, separate from the life of the believer. Faith is a living, active ingredient of one’s character. It effects the believer’s conduct for good. James 2:14 poses two critical questions. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? That faith cannot save him, can it?” These are rhetorical questions; requiring no answer. A “faith” that does nothing cannot save anyone. Even demons believe that God exists (James 2:19), but no one believes they will be saved. No, faith needs something else to make it complete. James cites the example of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to God and asks, “Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?” (James 2:22).
So our earlier definition of faith needs to be amended. Faith is a deep, abiding trust and confidence in God, that creates a willingness to do what God says. Any definition of faith that excludes an obedient heart has failed to consider God’s Word completely. But just a note of caution is in order. Just as some men incorrectly deem faith to be a mental assent of God’s goodness, others ignore faith and believe that righteousness lies in obedience. Both views are woefully wrong. No one will ever be justified before God on the basis of his obedience, for no one’s obedience is perfect (Galatians 3:10,11; Romans 3:23). Obedience for the sake of “scoring points” with God is an exercise in futility. The only obedience God will accept is that which is born of our faith in Him. The obedience of faith is that service which is motivated by our trust that God knows best, and our desire to honor His Will. It is this faith that Paul advocates in his great epistle to the Romans. In introducing his theme, Paul says he has received grace and apostleship “unto the obedience of faith among all the nations” (Romans 1:5 ASV). Plainly put, Paul is working as an apostle in order to bring about the obedience which rightly stems from faith. Paul never taught “rote” obedience in keeping with a ritualistic traditionalism. Instead, Paul taught that we can only be saved by recognizing our sinfulness, seeking the grace and mercy of God, and coming to Him through a faith in Christ that is willing to meet His conditions of pardon.
Man’s salvation through faith shouldn’t be puzzling. The most natural thing in the world ought to be our willingness to obey the God in whom we have faith. If we have come to redemption through the sacrifice of God’s only Son, how can we fail to humble our spirits before His Word? A faith that refuses to obey is really no faith at all.
— via Gospel Power, Vol. 12, No. 17, April 24, 2005
“By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household…” (Heb. 11:7, NASB).
Terry W. Benton
Only because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and only through knowledge of what He did can we engage in the activity of faith that will result in our salvation. There is a common expression these days that “there is nothing you can do, Jesus did it all for you” which is misleading. Jesus did not believe for you. He did not repent for you, and He was not baptized for you. When Peter told the Jews who asked “what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) what they should do (Acts 2:38), and then told them with many other words to “save yourselves from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40), he was not denying that Jesus had paid the price for their sins, but he was affirming that the benefit of what Jesus did is not automatically applied to our account until and unless we meet these conditions. No one is saved by the blood of Christ until and unless they truly believe enough to meet these conditions: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for remission of sins….” The gift is offered freely on those terms. Those who believe will “gladly receive his word” (Acts 2:41) and be baptized accordingly. Those who do not will be condemned (Mark 16:15-16).
Now, let us also observe that baptism is to be “in the name of Jesus Christ,” which is by His authority. On our own authority we could not be baptized and the act itself save us or give us remission of sins. But, baptism that is done in the name of Jesus Christ will be active faith that puts us in the position to have saved ourselves from this perverse generation. It is a separating act that cuts out sins and ties to a perverse generation of people and allows us to cross the Red Sea of Jesus’ blood to rise on the other side totally free from the past sins and now totally committed to the leadership of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior (I Corinthians 10:1-3; Romans 6:3-5; Colossians 2:12; Acts 22:16; Acts 8:33ff). 3,000 gladly received his word, were baptized, crossed over into the heavenly land, the heavenly places in Christ (Ephesians 1:3,7; Colossians 1:13), and were saved from sin and condemnation (Romans 8:1). They were now risen to new life in Christ with Christ as their head. This is what happens when a person gladly takes the exit route Jesus offers. This is how they were able to “save themselves.” This is how we must cut the ties we have to a perverse generation and save ourselves from the condemnation that is certain to come upon a world of spiritually blind people (II Corinthians 4:2-4). Jesus wants you to be saved (Matthew 11: 28ff; II Peter 3:9). Jesus died to pay for your sins. He told you what to do now to save yourself. Have you done it? If not, why not?
— Via Articles from the La Vista church of Christ
“casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7, NASB).
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)