Does God Require Obedience? (Part 2)

Christian Living, Law, The Church, The Gospel, Theology

I cannot read the Bible without the profound sense that we are constantly being called to yield to Christ as Lord in order to inherit eternal life. Of course, we cannot overemphasize the fact that salvation cannot be earned by works of the law. Salvation is by grace through faith; it does not come from ourselves; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). But the Bible, in loud, symphonic nature, resounds with the truth that the faith which justifies also sanctifies (Acts 15:9). In other words, if we build a firm foundation (Luke 6:46-49), the foundation doesn’t sit there by itself – we build something upon it! All our faith in Christ produces obedience (1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Gal. 5:6; Hebrews 10:35-36; 11:8). So with a little help from John Piper, I want to provide a list of texts that point to different aspects of necessity in the life of a true disciple. In other words, the Bible points to numerous proofs, or fruits, that help us to determine whether or not we have true, saving faith in Jesus Christ. These are the works of obedience that flow out of genuine faith in Jesus Christ. In the words of the Apostle James, “By my works I will show you my faith . . . faith apart from works is useless . . . faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:18, 20, 26).

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of doing good works:

Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

John 5:28-29: “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.”

Romans 2:6-10: “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of obedience:

John 3:36: “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”

John 14:15: “Jesus said, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments.’”

Romans 6:12,14: “Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions… For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.”

1 John 2:4: “Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to forgive others:

Matthew 6:12, 14-15: “‘Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors…’ For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Note: The eternal significance of this forgiveness in Matthew 6 is made plain in the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. Jesus is not merely talking about losing fellowship. He is talking about losing God if we go on through life with an unforgiving spirit.

Matthew 18:32-35: “Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity not to live according to the flesh:

Romans 8:12-14: “So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.”

Galatians 5:19-21: “Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of being free from the love of money:

Luke 18:18-22: “And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.”’ And he said, ‘All these I have kept from my youth.’ When Jesus heard this, he said to him, ‘One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.’”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of love to the Father and to the Son:

John 8:42: “Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here.’”

Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

1 John 2:15: “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to love others:

Galatians 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

1 John 3:14: “We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to love the truth:

2 Thessalonians 2:10: “The Lord Jesus will kill all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity to bridle the tongue:

James 1:26: “If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of perseverance:

Mark 13:13: “He who endures to the end will be saved.”

Luke 9:62: “Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.’”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of walking in the light:

1 John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

The Bible emphasizes the necessity of repentance:

Luke 5:32: “I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”

Acts 3:19: “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out.”

(By: Nick Kennicott)

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