The Obedience of Faith
Is your Christian life and church life boring, ritualistic and monotonous or are you part of a vibrant flow of the Holy Spirit? Jesus came to link us with dynamic ‘invasion’ of earth by heaven. He came to take us out of formalistic service to God and connect us with the river of His own mercy and life giving Spirit. Having begun in the spirit it is easy for all of us to settle into Christian routines that have lost touch with the Spirit and presence of God.
A phrase in the writings of Paul may give the key to unlock this trap. The phrase, used at the very beginning of the Book of Romans and at the very end of it is “the obedience of faith.” “… we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles.. who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, (Romans 1:5-6) “Now to God, who is able to strengthen you … and to bring about the obedience of faith be the glory forever! Amen.” (Rom. 16:25-27)
The thrust of the gospel is to bring about a new kind of obedience to God – the obedience of faith. In the past we either walked in obedience to religious rituals and rules (believing that by this kind of obedience we were serving and pleasing God) or we walked in rebellion towards God, ignoring Him and following our own way.
Christianity is a “new and living way”. It does not consist in replacing Jewish ritual and ordinances with Christian rituals and ordinances. It is following Him in a life of faith as Abraham did. Each believer relates to Him directly and follows Him by faith in the power of the Spirit. Each community of believers is directed by the Spirit to become a team of love, hope, truth, salvation and healing in their local area.
The Kingdom of God is not a switch from the rituals of Moses to the rituals of the New Testament, or from the rituals of The New Testament to the rituals of the Catholic Church, or from the rituals of the Catholic Church to the rituals of The Protestant Church, or from the rituals of the Protestant Church to the rituals of the Pentecostal Church or the latest denomination or movement. Similarly to follow the latest popular teaching by mere imitation of what others are doing or saying, without seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit or leaning on His power, is simply another form of Christian religion. What others are directed to do is not necessarily a universal direction to all believers. Let’s be inspired by everyone but let’s not imitate anyone. Our Christianity can become stuck, unfruitful, and lifeless when we settle into a pattern of rituals such as just showing up on Sunday and singing a few songs paying our tithe etc. (all of which are valuable) rather than also pressing on to know God and giving our lives and time to fulfill the Great Commission. We can easily settle into obedience to “form” and routine rather than constantly seeking to be led and guided by the Resurrected Jesus through His Spirit. The solution to this formalism is the obedience of faith mentioned by Paul in Romans. He challenges believers to come into a new kind of obedience that is appropriate to their personal relationship with God and new status as sons of God and bearers of the divine nature. This new obedience is no longer obedience to ritual and form but to the leadership of the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and to the ways of Jesus. It arises out of the new relationship of close fellowship with God, created by faith in the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus and by the gift of His Spirit. The way of religion is an effort to restrain and train separated man as he seeks to please God. The new obedience is obedience to God from a restored relationship with Him. The Gospel reveals that our relationship with God is not established by obedience to religious ordinances but through faith in the work of Jesus on the Cross, and participation in His Resurrected Life. The old obedience was meant to be a temporary state of affairs until the Kingdom of God was revealed and the life of the Spirit had come. As Luke writes “the law and the prophets were until John the Baptist and since then the Kingdom of God is preached. ” (Luke 16:16) “The law was our custodian until Christ came.. but now that faith has come, we are no longer under a custodian.” (Galatians 3:24-25) We are no longer under the custody of religion – we are under the custody of Jesus Christ and His life-giving Spirit. Jesus did not preach obedience to the ritual of the Temple but He calls us all to follow Him, receive His life and live His ways. The obedience of faith is a life not limited to or by ritual. It is a life of total dependence on the life of the Spirit to fulfill His moral teachings and the direction of the Spirit to carry out His living directives.
Components Of The Obedience Of Faith
• It is obedience arising out of the new relationship we have with God through faith in the Gospel. (Romans 5)
• It is obedience of a life that has been rescued from the penalty of sin, the power of sin, the agenda of the world, the control of the flesh, the drive of the ego and the oppression of evil spirits. (Romans 8:1-2)
• It is the obedience of a life that is laid down as a living sacrifice and choosing to live in total dependence on God. (Romans 12:1-2)
• It is the obedience of a life that has renounced self-righteousness and completely relies on the life of the Spirit to live by the loving and upright ways of the Spirit. (Romans 7 & 8)
• It is the obedience of those who believe that God exists and rewards those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:)
• It is the obedience of those who choose to live the teachings of Jesus (Mt. 7:24)
• It is the obedience that takes no initiative without leaning on and consulting with God. (Rom. 8:14)
• It is the obedience of those who lay down their opinions and bring everything into obedience to His ways. (2 Corinthians 10)
• It is the obedience of those who seek to hear His voice and obey His voice knowing that Gods voice is always in line with His word and with the fruit of the Spirit. (John 10:26-28)
• It is the obedience of those who choose His ways even when it results in enmity from the world and temporary loss. (Heb 11:24- 25)
• It the obedience of those who are not led by opinion, culture, family or tradition but by the Spirit of God. (Gen. 12:1, Heb.11: 7-9)
• It is obedience of those who believe that God fulfills His Word and who look to Him to fulfill His promises. (2 Pt. 1:3-5)
• It is the obedience of those who trust the Lord is directing their steps in the ordinary events of life and making all things (even the evil that is on the earth) work together for our good. (Pv. 20:24; Rom. 8:28)
• It is the obedience of those who seek God’s direction and step out in faith to do those things that He directs them to. (Heb. 11:32- 33)
• It is the obedience of those who work cooperatively with the Body of Christ. (1 Cor. 12:12:27) • It is the obedience of those who do nothing of their own, but who do all things though those Him who strengthens them. (Jn. 15:5; Phil 4:13)
• It is the obedience of those who would prefer persecution rather than be unfaithful to God. • It is the obedience of those who walk in forgiveness and love towards all including their enemies. (Mt. 5:43; Matt. 11:25; Jn. 13:34)
• It is obedience who know the Spirit of God can direct them from within and can show them what to do where to go what to be involved in and what not to be involved in. (Romans 8:14)
• It is the obedience of those who lean not on their own understanding, but who test every thing with wise counsel and the word of God. (Prov. 3:5)
• It the obedience of those who rely on the Holy Spirit to bring forth God’s reaction to every situation. (Rm. 8:1-4)
• It the obedience of those who live a life of thankfulness knowing that the heavens are open to us and that God is with us in all things. (Eph. 5:20)