|Volume 24 Number 6 June 2022
The following passages were brought to my attention by one of the sisters in a recent ladies’ Bible class. I had mentioned the necessity of living in obedient faith to the will of God. Her comments made me realize that in all my years of striving to teach God’s Word, this phrase in these two passages of the declaration “for obedience to the faith” had completely eluded me.
Romans 1:5 says, “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name” (NKJV). Romans 16:25-27 says:
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began, but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith – to God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
What does obedience to the faith look like? How is this done? In the Gospel Advocate Commentary on the New Testament Epistles: Romans, David Lipscomb made these observations on Romans 1:5.
Obedience which springs out of faith as its moving cause. No act of obedience is acceptable to God which is not prompted by faith in him who performs it. This shows that there is something in faith to be obeyed. This obedience is rendered not simply by believing; for that is to exercise the faith, not to obey it. But faith in Jesus the Christ as the Son of the living God demands a course of life in accordance with that which is believed, and to follow this course is to obey the faith by yielding to its demands. (22)
On Romans 16:26, he commented, “For the obedience to which faith in God leads” (282). Belief without obedience is called out in James 2:19 in the most uncomplimentary way. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the devils believe – and tremble!” Will Satan or any of his minions ever bow in obedience to the will of God?
Our Leader by perfect example, Jesus Christ, showed the world throughout the ages what obedience to the faith looked like and how it was done. Hebrews 5:8 proclaims, “though He was a Son, He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” No human mind or any group of human minds will ever be able to properly envision the suffering that Christ endured, whereupon, then, to show sufficient gratitude.
The book of Acts is the volume of conversions and of the establishment and spread of the church. The examples of conversion to the faith in Acts involve:
An extreme example of conversion being the result of obedience to the faith was in the action of numerous Jewish priests. Acts 6:7 records, “Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith.” The word “obedience” demands action. Our cars would never move if we only believed they would carry us where we wanted to go. Our belief must be coupled with proper action.
Paul penned in Ephesians 6:10-11, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes] of the devil.” Paul named several pieces of armor that are vital to our spiritual survival. In verse 16 he wrote, “[A]bove all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.” What is faith? Hebrews 11:1 reads, “Now faith is the substance [realization] of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Obedience to the faith is acting upon what we have been instructed through divine revelation. How do we know this? Romans 10:17 is very clear. “So then faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Paul was bluntly clear to the church in Philippians 4:9. “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you.” Isn’t that rich? Biblical faith in God is preceded by knowledge of His Word. Obedience to the faith is imperative to inherit eternal life through Christ!
Lipscomb, David. A Commentary on the New Testament Epistles: Romans. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1989.
[Editor’s Note: The faith about which the apostle Paul wrote throughout his epistle to Christians in Rome is sandwiched between “obedience to the faith” appearing in Romans 1:5 and Romans 16:26. Therefore, “justified by faith” (Romans 5:1) does not equate to saved by faith only. The sole “faith only” passage reads, “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). ~ Louis Rushmore, Editor]