Thursday, November 30
Believe and obey
Scripture: Romans 1-4
Romans 1:5 Through him God gave me the privilege of being an apostle for the sake of Christ, in order to lead people of all nations to believe and obey.
The good news is that we are saved by grace through faith, not by works, so no one can boast. As Paul says in Romans 1:17, “For the gospel reveals how God puts people right with himself: it is through faith from beginning to end.” We often say that the gospel is DONE, not DO: it’s about what God has done for us in Christ, not what we do for Him. We put our faith in God’s work, not ours.
Does this mean that we do nothing? Does “faith from beginning to end” mean that we do nothing? Absolutely not.
In Romans 1:5, Paul says that he is called to “lead people of all nations to believe and obey.” The NIV renders this, to call all people to “the obedience that comes from faith.” We are called to believe and obey. Faith leads to obedience. When we trust Jesus and what He’s done for us, we also want to do what He says. We not only believe what He says, we do what He says.
Faith and obedience cannot be separated. I don’t really trust God if I don’t do what He says. If you say it’s going to rain so take an umbrella, and I don’t take an umbrella, I didn’t really believe what you said or trust you and your words.
There is a tension here. It would be easy to take this too far and begin to think that I’m saved by my obedience. Not so. I’m saved by God’s grace through faith—and my faith expresses itself in obedience. I don’t obey to be saved; I obey because I am saved.
When Paul wrote, the battle was raging with Jewish Christians who insisted that keeping the Jewish Law was essential for salvation. When Paul rejects works as a basis for salvation, he was saying that we don’t need to keep the Jewish Law to be saved. He wasn’t saying that we don’t need to obey as an active part of our faith. If Paul was writing today to the American church with our indifference to obedience, he would have a different emphasis!
This is the message of James: faith without works (obedience) is dead.
Today, I want to joyfully do what Jesus says. Listen and obey…because I trust Him.
Prayer: Lord, help me to trust and obey!