Friday, November 25, 2011

The Two Doors of Faith and Obedience

Romans 1:5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake

What does it mean to believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ?  As the Apostle Paul begins his great letter to the church at Rome, the mark of genuine saving faith is demonstrated by the willingness to live out God's word.  When you see that phrase "obedience of faith", that little word "of" tells us that there is a relationship between "obedience" and "faith".  The relationship in this verse is that of a specific effect arising from a particular cause.  The effect in this case is obedience - willingness to follow Jesus Christ in what He says in His word.  So what is the cause?  Faith.  

Faith is the door opened by God that invites me to enter into His life
The idea of "faith" being desribed by the great Apostle Paul is that of "saving faith". Faith in the original language refers to "persuading someone of the truth of a matter".   Ephesians describes this saving faith as a gift, given by God as a result of His Grace.  We also discover from passages such as Psalm 19:7, Romans 10:17 and James 1:18 that faith is granted to us by the agency of God's word.  As God in His grace is affecting the interior of my heart- that is - my human spirit - He is setting up a door.  His work in the interior of my heart - which the Bible calls "grace", puts up a door of invitation called "faith".

Therefore faith is likened unto a door that God places before me.  The Apostle Paul writes in Galatians 3:23 "But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed."  Once the Holy Spirit shows me what that door is, I act in response to His working and open that door, effectively entering or participating in the very life of God. (2 Peter 1:3-4)  It has been often said that we are saved by grace through faith alone, and that following our salvation we are ebing saved by a faith that is never alone.  Thus.... 

Obedience is the door I open to invite the life of God to enter into my own
Clearly God makes the first move in salvation, since He in His grace so moves in my heart to be firmly persuaded of His identity and claims through the gospel.  Following that work of grace, what demonstrates that I am operating by faith is in the obedience that issues forth from my faith.  When I choose to obey God, it is my way of putting an open door in my life, welcoming the life and power of God to affect that area. 

For instance, saving faith itself is a work of God that takes place apart from my effort.  I can't do anything to persuade God to save my soul - salvation is a work of grace, initiated by God on His terms.  It is based upon the work and life of another - Jesus Christ. Once that work has begun, and I respond, I discover that my faithwalk is characterized by a faith that works.  James 2:17 reminds us that "faith without works is dead".  Therefore as you grow in your faithwalk with Jesus Christ, every decision and event will be marked by whether or not you will take the saving faith you received and excercise it in obedience. 

Jesus is pictured in Revelation 3:20 as "standing at the door", knocking on the door of your heart, awaiting entry.  That's not a text speaking about salvation, rather it is addressed to believers who need to open the door of obedience so that Christ can come in and shine forth His life into their own so that they can have closer followship with Him. (Galatians 4:19)  May we be ever ready to open our life of Christian faith to obedience to the Lord.     

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