2019-01-18 - The Obedience of Faith
Romans 1:1-5 (NASB) Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, 4 who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, 6 among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ;
The obedience of faith found in Romans 1:5 is a rather interesting phrase in Paul's introduction of himself. It could be interpreted in multiple ways.
First, obedience leads to having the faith. It is the cause of faith. I do not believe this to be a biblical view, so I will not attempt to twist scripture to justify it. This is legalism, which was struck down at the first council of Jerusalem, regarding the need to circumcise and become a Jew first, before becoming a Christian. It has been struck down throughout the history of the church as heresy, as well. Thus, we can quickly eliminate this notion. Only the Lord has perfectly obeyed all of God's commands; that is why elsewhere in Romans, Paul himself states "all have sinned."
Second, obedience follows faith. It is the result of faith, just as acts of courage are actions that come from courage. This view can be supported by other passages such as the writing of James, which states that faith produces good works, and a workless faith is a dead faith. In the words of my seminary teacher, this is to say that you must first accept in faith "only Jesus," but that leads to doing whatever you can to "please Jesus."
Lastly, obedience is faith. The obedience is itself the faith, just as a block of wood is itself the wood. This is supported by commands to ask for forgiveness, to confess with our mouth, to believe. Obeying these things are what the faith is all about. This becomes the action at the single moment that is often referred to as the moment of salvation. Jesus called sinners to repent and believe, so saving faith is simply following, or obeying, these instructions.
Both options two and three are plausible and biblical, but an article I read on the internet makes a very valid point. It is possible that Paul phrased it in this way so that we thought not only of the obedience that is faith - but also the obedience that comes from faith.
As we look at the verse as a whole, what we see is that Jesus gives grace that brings about faith, in an act of obedience that leads to more faith-filled acts of obedience. As Paul wrote in Ephesians, salvation comes by grace - through faith, not of our works - again dispelling the first interpretation. Paul viewed himself to be a servant whose job was to share the good news of God's grace, made available to everyone through Jesus, so that others could accept it by faith. We would be wise to do likewise.
All scripture references from King James Version (KJV) unless otherwise noted
BTW - I post a written version of each message God gives me the privilege to preach. I write it from the same notes I speak by so the two are not identical, but should be very similar in content. If you would like to read the March 29 message, you can on my personal site at http://www.msnusers.com/TheCainFamilyGeorgia/weddingfeast.msnw