Obedience Confirms Our Faith
The word believe, as used in most scriptures, is a verb. It denotes action! This is the kind of belief that the apostle James referred to, when speaking of Abraham.
Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God (James 2:21-24).
Abraham's faith was active and powerful - not in word only. The Adams Clarke Commentary emphasizes several points concerning these scriptures, which will help us understand the close relationship between faith and actions.
He believed God; this faith was never inactive, it was accounted to him for righteousness; and being justified by thus believing, his life of obedience showed that he had not believed the grace of God in vain.
It is evident from this example that Abraham's faith was not merely believing that there is a God; but a principle that led him to credit God's promises relative to the future Redeemer, and to implore God's mercy: this he received, and was justified by faith.
His faith now began to work by love, and therefore he was found ever obedient to the will of his Maker. He brought forth the fruits of righteousness; and his works justified-- proved the genuineness of his faith; ...Obedience to God is essentially requisite to maintain faith. Faith lives, under God, by works; and works have their being and excellence from faith. Neither can subsist without the other... (Emphasis Mine).
Living faith and works are just as inseparable as the wine and the bread at communion services. They are incomplete apart from one another. The apostle James makes several very dramatic statements about the relationship between faith and works (James 2:14,17,20,26).
14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.
20But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
The word that James uses for "dead" means totally lifeless - as in a dead carcass. His point could not have been more clear; faith is lifeless and without strength for the purpose of sanctification - unless accompanied by actions and works.
James also makes the point that "the devils also believe" (James 2:19). However, does a demon's belief in God save him from God's judgement? Of course not, because their belief in God is not coupled with obedience and a way of life that is in concert with God's will and principles. They refuse to live by God's laws, and consequently, have no hope for the future. The same also holds true for us today. Faith is either confirmed, or nullified, according to our attitude toward obedience.
In James 2:23 God calls Abraham "the friend of God," because of his active and obedient faith. In John 15:14 Jesus testifies that "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." These scriptures teach us a very important point; that friendship with Jesus does not reduce the need for obedience.
It is extremely important that we understand the correct marriage relationship between faith and works. In today's religious system there seems to be primarily two schools of thought surrounding this matter.
One group of believers embraces the viewpoint that just believing in the crucifixion is enough for their personal salvation. They have erroneously adopted the belief that God's laws have been abolished and "nailed to the cross." Many of their doctrines are based upon partial truths and cannot be found within the Holy Scriptures. Their understanding of Christianity is centered upon their lifestyles and need for personal convenience. They long to be told what they want to hear. Fables have replaced the truth of God (11Tim. 4:3-4). This group's religion centers on their feelings and emotions. Truth is not the most important element in their belief system. They hold onto these false beliefs and fables with a grip so tight that only Jesus can wrest them from their minds and hearts. Such a believer feels that their faith has saved them, regardless of whether their doctrines and works are in accordance with the Holy Scriptures.
On the other hand, you have a subsequent group of believers, which does not understand the need for absolute faith in the saving blood of Jesus Christ. They seek to gain entrance into eternity, primarily by self-righteous means involving acts of self-discipline. They believe that justification is mainly achieved by adhering to a strict set of rules. Their belief system is centered around their ability to please God from their human efforts. This group believes that God's free gift of being accounted righteous, is really based upon their own personal achievements. There also seems to be an inherent need and desire to somehow pay-God-back. Sadly, some have even proclaimed that, "Jesus earned His righteousness by His obedience, therefore, "we must also earn our righteousness based upon our obedience."
Unfortunately, most mainstream Christians have adopted one of these two forms of worship and they will rarely experience a deep and personal relationship with God and Jesus Christ. Mainly because they find themselves too busy “practicing the art of religion,” to cultivate a genuine relationship with God.
Clearly, neither of these forms of worship originated from the truth, as revealed in the Word of God. For in reality, there is a beautiful marriage and balance between grace and works. Each plays an important role in the Christian's life, and they will become a part of the Believers daily walk with God and Christ. However, the simple and balanced truth is that grace, obedience and God ordained assemblies of worship comprise the foundation of true Christianity. They each have a specific role to perform in the Christian's life and do not stray from the purpose for which they were created.
Grace shows us the love that God has for humanity. The most costly thing God ever did, was to love mankind. It cost Him the life of His precious Son, Jesus Christ. It is a gift from God and cannot be purchased by human works of righteousness. It does not give us a license to sin; rather grace should make us want to give ourselves totally to our God who loves us so deeply. We are saved through the blood, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - alone. The Lord finished our salvation. Nothing can be added to, or taken away from His perfect sacrifice. Jesus is our only hope.
God's laws of love enable us to understand the mind of our Heavenly Father and teach us how to love Him and our fellowman. Our faith in God's grace is proven by our obedience to His laws of love, as revealed in the Ten Commandments. Our obedience proves that we have made Jesus the Lord of our lives, as well as Savior. Obedience is not earning one's salvation, but is a fruit of grace and shows appreciation for God's love and mercy.
The annual festivals of God celebrate the works of Jesus Christ. They are a tribute to the love, sufferings and sacrifices that our Lord and God have made for humanity. They show us God's plan for saving the human race. These festivals were created in the mind and heart of God as a memorial to the redemptive works of Jesus. God has blessed them, and they are the only ordained assemblies of worship revealed within the scriptures. These foundational truths are an indispensable part of a balanced Christian life in Jesus Christ.
Pastor David Hill, Seventh Day Baptist Association, relates a balanced understanding of legalism, obedience and grace in his article, Why Do Some Christians Observe the Sabbath?
The charge of legalism is freely bandied about as though the Christian has no right to allow his spiritual relationship with God to dictate his actions in the physical life. Such physical things as Sabbath-keeping, fasting, and tithing are not inherently legalistic, although each can be abused and become no more than legalism. Since legalism is not a Biblical term, it should be defined.
have become estranged from Christ you who attempt to be justified by
law; you have fallen from grace" NKJ (Gal
It is vitally important to understand that, faith - without a heart willing to obey, is not the kind of saving faith that God seeks and desires His children to possess. We must keep our eyes focused upon Jesus and let the Holy Spirit lead us into God's perfect and balanced plan of salvation. It is imperative for every Believer to remember that,
JESUS WAS A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ETERNAL PENALTY OF OUR SINS
BUT, HE WAS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR OUR OBEDIENCE.
Help Keep Us On Line