America is a free country. We are constantly being told that we are "free
to live our lives however we want. No one has a right to tell you what to do.
Be your own boss. Challenge authority." These ideas and slogans have conditioned
people's thinking. So much so that the concept of obedience rubs many people
the wrong way. And it seems to be getting worse, not better. Having to obey
someone is seen as degrading. After all, we send dogs to obedience school.
However, people realize that there are certain situations in which obedience is necessary. Most people obey the laws of the land. Some do it reluctantly, or only when they think they will get caught. But they will do it. Some people may not like their employers, but they obey them in order to keep their job. We realize that there are consequences to disobedience, so we obey. But deep down it is something that many people would just as soon not do.
Why should it be any different when we talk about religion? Most who profess to be Christians are good people. They read their Bible, go to church, pray and talk about how much God has blessed them. But instilled within their heart is the idea that they are "free to live their life however they want. That they shouldn't let anyone tell them what to do. That they should challenge authority." Thus, they will not bring themselves to obey God's will.
Some religious groups cater to this mindset. They preach that you don't have to do anything to please God and be saved. Just believe. We can understand how a doctrine like this would be so appealing to many Americans, but is it true? Is it really what the Bible says? We had better be sure! Consider the following:
1. Jesus is Lord. "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?" (Luke 6:46). Good question! The word lord means "a person having great power and authority; ruler; master" (Webster's New World Dictionary). Many would love to claim Jesus as their Lord. But they are not about to make anyone their master, much less submit to anyone's authority or rule. We can't claim Jesus as our Lord until we do the things which He says. Is obedience necessary? Yes, if we are going to make Jesus our Lord.
2. Eternal Salvation Depends On Obedience. The Hebrew writer says, "though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Heb. 5:8-9). Eternal salvation does not come to those who just believe in Jesus, love Jesus, pray, etc. It comes to those who obey Jesus.
Peter says that "you have purified your souls in obeying the truth…" (1 Peter 1:22). Not just believing the truth, but in obeying the truth.
"But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered. And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness" (Rom. 6:17-18). Many people go to the book of Romans to prove that we are saved by faith alone, without works of obedience. But Paul says that it was their obedience to the doctrine delivered to them that freed them from sin. Not just their belief.
3. Being A Christian Depends On Obedience. Consider the following passage from First Peter 4:16-18: "Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God? Now 'If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?'"
Peter is saying that judgment is coming to all. Two groups of people are mentioned in this passage. The judgment will begin with "us first," those in "the house of God." These are the ones who suffer as "Christians" in verse 16, and the "righteous" ones who are "scarcely saved" in verse 18. In contrast, those who are outside of the house of God are described as those who "do not obey the gospel of God" (1 Peter 4:17). Thus, a Christian (one in the house of God, one who is righteous) is one who obeys the gospel of God.
4. The Gospel Calls Men To Obedience. Paul wrote in Second Corinthians 10:4-5, "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ." Paul was in a great battle for the souls of men. This battle was not fought on land, in the air or the sea. It was fought in the hearts and minds of men. The arguments against the truths of God's word had to be cast down. The strongholds of unbelief had to be pulled down, allowing the gospel to sink deep into the hearts of men. This would bring about a change in man's thinking - resulting in obedience to Christ. The gospel not only calls upon men to believe, but also to obey.
5. Disobedience Has Consequences. We know that if we fail to obey the law or our employers we could face consequences (go to jail or lose our job). The same is true of disobedience to God's will, however there are much greater consequences! Paul said that indignation, wrath, tribulation and anguish will be rendered to those who "do not obey the truth" (Rom. 2:6-10). Paul also said that Jesus is coming back "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:8). Notice: it is not enough to know God or believe in Jesus, we must obey the gospel in order to escape the Lord's fiery wrath.
Conclusion: Faith is important (Heb. 11:6), but it is not enough. Obedience is essential to our relationship with God. Solomon concluded, "fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all" (Eccl. 12:13). It is not enough for us to just believe in God. That will not get anyone into Heaven. Our faith must lead us to respect God and obey His word. What hope can we have otherwise?
What are the commandments of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ? Jesus said that we must believe in Him (John 8:24). We must repent of our sins (Luke 13:3; Acts 17:30). We must confess our faith in Christ before men (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9-10). And we must be baptized in water for the remission of our sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38).
by Heath Rogers
Returnto the Beginners Bible Study page
Return to the Question/Answer Index page
Return to the General Articles page
Home / Bible studies / Bible Survey / Special Studies / General Articles / Non-Bible Articles / Sermons / Sermon Outlines / Links / Questions and Answers / What Saith The Scriptures /Daily Devotional / Correspondence Courses / What is the Church of Christ / Book: Christian Growth / Website Policy / E-mail / About Me /