|Volume 24 Number 6 June 2022
We Must Obey God!
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
One of the games I remember from my younger years was quite the illustration. In a group of young people, one person would be the “coach,” another would be the “walker” and the rest were all “distracters.” Here is how the game would unfold. The “walker” would be blindfolded and tasked with walking across a room filled with all kinds of obstacles. Beside the “walker” was the “coach” who would direct and guide the “walker.” Sounds easy enough, right? Well, placed around the room were the “distracters,” and their job was to confuse the “walker” and shout louder than the “coach” so that the walker would never make it successfully across the room. The “walker” often would simply be overwhelmed with too many commands and not be able to navigate the room at all. The only way the “walker” could be successful was to focus on the “coach” and block out the “distracters.”
It was quite an ordeal but very illustrative of life’s journey. You see, the only way to truly navigate this life successfully and reach our eternal destination is to block out the distracters and listen solely to the Coach! After being specifically told not to preach and teach by the authority of Jesus, the apostles were faced with a similar dilemma. “But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men’” (Acts 5:29 ESV). This powerful principle was their priority, and the same must be our priority today if we are ever to reach Heaven. Consider the following.
A Certain Principle
Carefully notice throughout the book of Acts the attitude of the apostles regarding this certainty. In Acts 4, the apostles were called in question by the Jewish leaders regarding the miracles they performed and the message they proclaimed. The apostles were warned and commanded, “…not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus” (Acts 4:18b). However, this certain principle overrode the opposition, and God’s men answered, “…Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19-20). The Jewish leaders did not like that answer and threw the apostles into prison (Acts 5:18), which they thought would surely thwart the agenda and change the attitude of the apostles. Nevertheless, this certain principle was steadfast in the apostles’ hearts, and they answered for certain, “We must obey God…” (Acts 5:29). This certain principle was how the apostles and many of our first century brethren lived and died! Should we harbor less certainty concerning overriding obedience to God?
A Challenging Principle
The principle to obey God no matter what the cost is often a challenging one indeed. Obeying God was challenging to those who were given a choice to obey God or to suffer persecution (cf., the books of 1 Peter, James, Revelation, et al.). When other Christians surround us in times of peace, obeying God is not really a challenge. However, when we find ourselves at school, on a date, in the locker room, at the water cooler, among unbelievers or on the job site, obeying God can become a challenging feat. Young people are being loudly distracted each day with issues of morality, and sometimes the Coach’s voice is muffled. I may take a firm stand for God’s authority to withdraw from the disorderly, but when the disorderly is one of my family members, obeying God can be quite challenging. I believe in the fruits of the Spirit way of life until someone crosses me or mistreats me, and then obeying God is a challenge! To obey God is not always the easiest way to live our lives, but we can rest assured it is the best way!
A Costly Principle
When we take the principle of obeying God to heart, we can be certain that it will be costly. Sometimes folks erroneously believe that obeying God will somehow cost them next to nothing, but that has never been the case. Even the apostles who made this choice to obey God instead of men had to pay with their own blood. Jesus warned that many were going to have to pay a great deal to obey God (Revelation 2:10). Jesus warned each would-be disciple to count the cost before agreeing to follow Him (Luke 14:28-32). Obeying God is to take up one’s own cross, deny self and follow Jesus each and every day (Luke 9:23). Obeying God even cost His sinless Son His life (Luke 22:42). Most folks are always looking for a bargain in life, but when it comes to obeying God, there are no bargains, no shortcuts and no freebies! Obeying God is a costly principle.
Like participants in a blindfolded contest, Christians are called to listen to one and only one voice. Life holds numerous loud distractions that can muffle our Coach – Jesus. Yet, if we determine to focus and concentrate solely on Him, we can navigate this obstacle-filled world and successfully reach Heaven. It really comes down to one thing, which is, “Will we obey God rather than man?” Obeying God will never be easy, but it will always be right! We must obey God!
God, the Almighty
“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8 NKJV). There are several descriptive phrases used in the New Testament to describe the nature of God, but one that expresses the fullness of what it means to be deity is the term Almighty. It is used only of God in Scripture. The word is a compound term, which means all power, strength and dominion. Obviously, God is the only One Who can fit this description, as no earthly ruler or human authority can claim all power over everything and everyone.
In the Greek translation of the Old Testament (the Septuagint), the Hebrew term “Shaddai,” or “El Shaddai,” is translated by this same Greek term. It speaks not just of the promises God makes but of the power He has to fulfill those promises. It is used in Genesis 17:1 when God changed Abram’s name to Abraham, as he would be the father of a multitude, beginning with Isaac the son of the promise. Only God could accomplish through Abraham and Sarah what He would bring about in their old age (Genesis 21:7).
The Greek term is used 10 times in the New Testament, 9 of which appear in Revelation. “…Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and is and is to come!” (Revelation 4:8). It is not just descriptive of the power God possesses but of His eternal nature, His infinite knowledge of us as His creation and His unending purpose for our lives. When considering the nature of the gods humans have invented from their own imaginations, we need someone who is Almighty, not limited by the constraints of the flesh, lacking in wisdom and knowledge, limited in ability to help and direct the course of life, and subject to the whims of fleshly desires. How ironic it is that people reject the one true and living God Who is the Almighty for their own desires and limited vision of life, which will only disappoint. “Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” (1 Corinthians 1:20).
We must humble ourselves before God, because He alone knows our lives and what is best for us. We must live in submission to His will for us, for it is in obedience to God He is able to work His purposes for our lives, which are not just for life today but for life eternal. Our vision of life is so limited due to the weaknesses of the flesh that we need the Almighty to direct our paths for our good, even when we don’t really know what is best for us.
We may think, “This is how I feel, this is what I want, this is the way I believe I should go,” but our assessments of life can be completely inaccurate. God directs us through His revealed will as to how we should order our lives, and He alone has the power to provide what is really needed in life. Submission to the Almighty is not a matter of being put down or vilified, as people tend to think today. It is acknowledging God as Sovereign, who alone knows what is best for us and is willing to offer us His best. It is finding how we were made to live, not apart from God, but for Him and in Him. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up” (James 4:10).
God is the Almighty. His authority over us is exercised in His love, seen in the sacrifice of Jesus for our sins. He created us, sustains us, redeems us and saves us. Who knows better what we need and how we should live than our Lord? May we find the way that truly honors God and offers us the best by allowing God to be the Almighty in our lives – His beloved children.