An Obedient Faith

 

You are saved by grace alone all you have to do is believe and you will receive God blessings and salvation. These are the kinds of statements that you will hear very often from the religious world and I wish these statements were true because it would mean that I could become a Christian by merely believing I was saved and then I could do whateverI wanted to because if there is nothing more to salvation and making it to heaven than believing in God and believing Iím saved then it doesnít matter how many sins I commit, it doesnít matter whether I go to church or read my Bible because I will be saved if I am saved by grace alone by merely believing on God.

 

Now this probably sounds ridiculous to us but that is exactly what the false teaching of being saved by Grace alone by merelybelieving in God logical takes you. What amazes me is that the same people that teach this have no problem telling you that you must not allow sin to enter into your life or they will speak for a entire hour talking about how you should give of your money so they can continue what they are doing. The question I would have to ask is why. Why should I? If am saved by grace alone through belief in God then I donít need to waste my time avoiding sin or giving away my money because I am going to make it to heaven anyway.

 

Now of course the Bible does not teach this concept at all. But what happens is people get confused and preachers take verses out of context and try to teach that a person has absolutely nothing to do with their salvation. They get this from several passages where Paul teaches the concept that we are not saved by works but by grace or by faith.

 

For example note:

 

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.

 

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

When people look at the verses out of context they teach that a person cannot add one wit to their salvation because if they did it would be considereda work and therefore one can only be saved by grace alone by merely believing on God. This is what happens when you was part of Godís word instead of the whole council of God. If we every hope understand what Godís word says we must keep things in context because whenyou do you will see that Paul is teaching that a person cannot be saved by the works of Moses law because it was not longer in effect. You see there are different type of works. There are works of the Old law and there are works of merit that is where earn something. Neither one of these are going to add one wit to you salvation. However there is another kind of work mentioned in the Bible that every Christian must do in order to accept Godís Grace and his blessing and this an obedient faith. This is why you see Jesus saying things such as,

 

John 14:15" If you love Me, keep My commandments.

 

Matthew 7:21 " Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

 

This shows us that Jesus expects something out us in order to be saved and to make it to heaven. You see salvation by means of grace is God part and we can never earn or merit our salvation. However God demands that we accept his salvation and keep his salvation by means of an obedient faith and this is not a new concept because we God has always demanded action on our part to receiving his gift that he has given to us freely. To prove this I want to show several examples through the 3 different periods of time which will prove that God has never changed his mind about his people accepting his blessing and salvation by means of an obedient faith.

 

Our first example comes from Noah and his family.

 

Genesis 6:5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.7 So the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them."

 

This is certain a sad section of scripture because all of mankind was doing things for their own pleasure and God was not found in any of their lives and so God was sorry that he had made us and he wanted to destroy us. However there was one exception in our next verse.

 

Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.9 This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations. Noah walked with God.10 And Noah begot three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

 

Here we have one man and his family who are faithful to the Lord and because of their faithfulness God was going to spare them.

 

Genesis 6:11 The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.12 So God looked upon the earth, and indeed it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.13 And God said to Noah, "The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold, I will destroy them with the earth.14 " Make yourself an ark of gopherwood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and outside with pitch.15 "And this is how you shall make it: The length of the ark shall be three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits.16 "You shall make a window for the ark, and you shall finish it to a cubit from above; and set the door of the ark in its side. You shall make it with lower, second, and third decks.17 "And behold, I Myself am bringing floodwaters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.18 "But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall go into the ark -- you, your sons, your wife, and your sons' wives with you.19 "And of every living thing of all flesh you shall bring two of every sort into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.20 "Of the birds after their kind, of animals after their kind, and of every creeping thing of the earth after its kind, two of every kind will come to you to keep them alive.21 "And you shall take for yourself of all food that is eaten, and you shall gather it to yourself; and it shall be food for you and for them."22 Thus Noah did; according to all that God commanded him, so he did.

 

Now I want you to think about this. God gave Noah and his family away to be spared from the flood but God didnít have to do this but he did. But Noah couldnít just believe that God was going to save him no he had to have an obedient faith and work with his own two hands to accept Godís gift of life. God gave Noah a specific pattern on how to build the ark and he had to use specific materials. Now it took Noah around 120 years to build this life saving vessel and the verse 22 makes it clear that Noah did all that God asked him to do. We see the simple pattern that God provide Noah with Grace by giving him a means to save himself and his family but in order for him accept this grace and to enter into this new covenant with the Lord he had to build the ark and follow Godís instructions. If he hadnít had had obedient faith, well you and I would not be alive today.

 

Now lets move up in time to the time of Abram.

 

Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."

 

Now think about this. Abram had been living in this country for 75 years. Anytime you live anywhere for a long time it is hard for you to leave what you used to you. However God is calling Abram out and is promising to make him a great nation if he does so. Again God didnít have to do this but he has offered this blessing to Abram but again we can see that it requires Abram to do something to accept this blessing and that is to follow Gods instructions.

 

Genesis 12:4 So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.5 Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother's son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.

 

Here we see that Abram decided to have an obedient faith and went where God told him to God and as we know the rest of the story we know that God did for Abram what he said he would do because he had an obedient faith.

 

Now lets move up to the time of Moses. The Bible teaches us that Moses life was is jeopardy as the Pharaoh was having all the male babies put to death. But because of his mothers faith she saved her son by putting him on the river so that the Pharaohs daughter would find him and when she did she fell in love and raised Moses as here own and for 40 years Moses was raised as a Egyptian and a possible heir to the thrown. But, at the age of 40 he didnít like how an Egyptian was treating one of his Hebrew brethren so he struck him dead which lead him fleeing for his life. He then becomes a husband and father and works as shepherd for another 40 years. At the age of 80 he sees a strange site. He sees a bush that is on fire but it is not being consumed and then God speaks to Moses from this bush.

 

God had big plans for Moses. He wants Moses to be the childrenís of Israelís leader and he wants Moses to go and talk to the Pharaoh and tell him let his people go. Now the reason why God was doing this was because he had heard the cries and prayers of his people and now he was going to give them their gift of freedom but it would require action on Moses part and latter on it would require action on the peoples part to follow God instruction.

 

But in this instance Moses does what some Christians do today. He starts making excuses of why he cant obey Gods commands. Lets take a look at how begins to try to avoid having an obedient faith.

 

Exodus 3:11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?"12 So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."

 

How many times have we used this excuse as Christians? We like to convince ourselves and others, that we are not good enough or talented enough to do certain things when in fact we are.

 

13 Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

 

Again thissound like another excuse that we might use in that we might say well I would teach a class or someone but I wouldnít know what to tell them.

 

Exodus 4:1 Then Moses answered and said, "But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, 'The LORD has not appeared to you.' "

 

Once again Moses is looking for a way out but God take Moses rod and turns into a serpent and he causes Moses hand to become leprous and he says he can use these 2 signs to prove that his message is from God.

 

This another thing that Christians say to keep them from reaching out to the lost because they are concerned about how people will react to what they have to say about God.

 

Exodus 4:10 Then Moses said to the LORD, "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue."11 So the LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?12 "Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say."

 

Now we certainly know this was an excuse because Acts 7:22 tells us that Moses was strong in his words and God once again tells him that he will be with him and help say the right things.

 

This is something we should learn is that it doesnít matter how well our speech is if we will try we can take comfort in knowing that God will be there for us.

 

13 But he said, "O my Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send."

 

We finally see Moses reveal the truth that he simply did not want to obey Godís will. God allows his brother Aaron to help be a speaker for him. Well after all of the excuses Moses finally obeys God will and because he finally obeyed his word sure enough he ends up leading the children of Israel out of Egyptian bondage and the people had to have an obedient faith in following Moses lead and crossing the Red Sea.

 

Again we can see that it took an active faith to receive Godís salvation and blessing.

 

There are certainly many more examples we could look at from the OT such as Joshua and how God gave him Jericho as gift but Joshua still had his part to do as he had to follow Godís instruction and walk around Jericho for 7 days and then shout blow the trumpetand then once God made the wall the fall they still had to overpower their enemy once again showing God giving a gift but Joshua having to do something to accept it.

 

The last example I want to look at from the OT is Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Naaman was very honorable man and he was the commander of his army and he had been victorious but he was a man of leprosy. Well, he finds out that there is a prophet who could heal him and so a letter is sent to the king of Israel requesting Naaman to be cured and Elisha the prophet agree to do this.

 

2 Kings 5:9 Then Naaman went with his horses and chariot, and he stood at the door of Elisha's house.10 And Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, "Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored to you, and you shall be clean."11 But Naaman became furious, and went away and said, "Indeed, I said to myself, 'He will surely come out to me, and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place, and heal the leprosy.'12 "Are not the Abanah (AB-ah-nah) and the Pharpar, (Fahr-pahr) the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?" So he turned and went away in a rage.

 

Now Naaman probably thought it was due him to cleansed from his leprosy and so when he arrived at Elisha house I image he expected Elisha to come greet him but he did not instead he sent a servant to give him instruction to dip in the Jordan river. Boy that made Naaman mad because he didnít get what he expected and he didnít see at the time why he should go dip in the ole dirty Jordan river so he left in a huff.

 

This same thing happens to people who want to become Christians. They might know that God can save them but they think it should be done one way in their head but when they find out what Godís word says about salvation and how includes baptism and living an faithful live they get mad and the walk away.

 

13 And his servants came near and spoke to him, and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, would you not have done it? How much more then, when he says to you, 'Wash, and be clean'?"14 So he went down and dipped seven times in the Jordan, according to the saying of the man of God; and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean.

 

Fortunately for Naaman, his servants talked some sense into him and he realized that doing what the prophet said to do wasnít that bad and that is was necessary for him to follow his instructions if he wanted to receive his gift of cleansing. So, he followed through and on that 7th time of dipping his leprosy was gone. Again, this is another great example of where God provided a free gift but Naaman had to accept that gift by an obedient faith.

 

So, at this point in our lesson is should be very easy for us to see that from the pre-flood time all the way through law of Moses God required and obedient faith. But now let turn our attention to the NT time which is our authority. Did God change his way of thinking and make it to where he gave us the free gift of grace without us having to have an obedient faith or work to do? Is the religious world correct when they say faith alone through grace save you?

 

Well, actually I already answered this question at the beginning of my lesson when I showed where Jesus said if we love him we will obey him and where he said that only those that do the will of his farther will be saved and find heaven. Now I one thing I pointed out was how some people get confused when they start reading the book of Romans and they see Paul saying that we justified by faith and not works and as I already pointed out he was talking about the works of the old law which was no longer the authority and he was not ruling out works of obedience. To help show this in this same book I want you to notice what this Roman church was know for.

 

Romans 16:19 For your obedience has become known to all.

 

This tells me that the Romanchurch had no problem understanding what Paul meant when he said that they not justified the works of the Old Law. Letís examine a few more passages that clearly show that we must have an obedient faith to have salvation.

 

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.

 

We can see that these people had obeyed the gospel and Paul commanded them to continue to work out their own salvation. Friends it doesnít get much clearer than that. We must have a obedient faith to have salvation. The writer of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was obedient and in

 

Hebrews 5:9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,

 

Obviously obey is an action word and cannot and will not ever mean simply believing. Now I have saved the best for last and it comes from the book of James. Please notice the question he ask.

 

James 2:14 What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

 

This is what we have been dealing with in this lesson. Can faith alone save us. Watch what James says,

 

James 2:15 If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food,16 and one of you says to them, "Depart in peace, be warmed and filled," but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?17 Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.18 But someone will say, "You have faith, and I have works." Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.19 You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe -- and tremble!20 But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar?22 Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect?23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." And he was called the friend of God.24 You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only.

 

Friends it doesnít get any clearer than this. James makes it crystal clear that faith alone will not save you but that it requires works of obedience. Just as a side point the Bible never says that phrase you are saved grace alone and the only place where you will see the phrase faith alone or faith is right here in the book of James and it clearly states that you are justified that is you are not saved by faith alone. So we come back full circle and we can see that God had given us his grace but we must accept that Grace by an obedient faith and not by just merely believing.

 

Now we have came a long way in this lesson showing how that God never changed his mind on how does things in regards to mankind accepting his blessing and salvation by means of an obedient faith. But now I want you to pay very close attention because what I am about to share with you will change you life forever if you have never been obedient to Godís perfect will. I want to share with God plan of salvation and what he requires from us to accept the forgiveness of our sins and I will do this using the whole council of God.

 

First of all obviously we have to hear Godís Word because without His word we could never know what he wants from us or how to be saved.

 

Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

 

Upon hearing this word we must make the decision to I believe it? Do I believe that Jesus is the son of God?

 

John 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins."†††††††

 

Without believing you will die in your sins. But we also must remember that James made it clear that faith alone will not save you. Once you believe that Jesus is the son God you must also realize that you are a sinful person and that your only hope to have the forgiveness of your sins is through Jesus Christ. Then we learn that we must repent of our past sins which means we are going to turn away from them and start allowing God Word to be our guide as,

 

Luke 13:3 "I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

 

Once you repent the Bible also command to confess Jesus as our lord.

 

Romans 10:9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.

 

Now at this point I want to make it very clear salvation has not occurred because your sins have not been removed. Now all of these things that I have talked about so far are absolutely necessary for salvation but just like our story about Naaman he to follow all of Godís instruction and dip 7 times in the Jordan river before he received his healing. You see there is still one more instruction that a person must do in order to accept Godís saving Grace and that that step is allowing yourself to baptized into Christ for the remission of your sins.

 

1 Peter 3:21 There is also an antitype which now saves us -- baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,

 

Baptism is just as necessary as hearing, believing, repenting and confessing. All of these things work together to bring about salvation and the remission of your sins. We can know without a doubt that it is at the point of baptism that a person receive the forgiveness of their sins.

 

Acts 2:38 Then Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

 

Baptism is for the remission of sins. Again just like in our story of Naaman it not the water that washes away your sins it your faith in God knowing that when you are being baptized that you sins are being removed and that you are becoming a child of God. Just as God Naaman to dip 7 times before he received his cleansing God wants us to be baptized in the name of Jesus for remission of our sins to receive our salvation from Him.

 

Acts 2:41 Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.

 

Those who gladly receive the truth that I have presented today will accept Godís plan of salvation as these people did at the day of Pentecost and they will allow themselves to be baptized in the name ofJesus for the remission of their sins. Please notice that only those that were baptized that is those who accepted the whole council of God were added to the church. When you look at the conversion in the book of acts you will see that those that obeyed the good were baptized in the same way as the 3000 souls at the day of Pentecost.

 

Today is the day of salvation you have no guarantees of tomorrow so if you are here the morning and you have never accepted God grace by having an obedient faith make today you day of salvation. Donít be like Moses and make excuses of why cannot do it today, Donít be like Naaman and be to proud to follow God instructions. Allow yourself to have an obedient faith and accept God free gift of salvation by believing, repenting, confessing and be baptized today.