Lucia's Blog: SALVATION "BY FAITH" DEMANDS OBEDIENCE
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Thursday, January 30, 2020

SALVATION "BY FAITH" DEMANDS OBEDIENCE

"Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him... "
Hebrews 5:8-10


The purpose of my study is to determine whether or not reverent obedience is vital to receiving eternal life, salvation.  God demands obedience for all mankind.  There are only two pathways:  to obey all that God has commanded us to do and receive eternal life, or obey Satan and his kingdom of darkness and be cast into the Lake of Fire for eternity.  The Catholic Church of the Dark Ages taught earnestly that man's salvation was contingent on his performing works and rituals or by making monetary contributions to the church.  On the other hand, Martin Luther, a former priest, broke away from what he considered to be the strict and hypocritical doctrines of Catholicism.  He then began to teach that man was justified "by faith alone."  You see, the Catholic doctrine of salvation motivated Martin Luther to teach that man was saved "by faith alone" without works whatsoever.  Moreover, John Calvin, a contemporary of Martin Luther, also rejected the concept of man being saved by works.  He likewise believed that man is saved by faith only.  Calvin taught that man was saved by God's grace and that he could surely do nothing to be saved (not even believe!!). Calvin believed it was God's sovereignty that determines who would and who would not be saved.

The crafty serpent told Eve that she would not surely die if she disobeyed God’s first command given to mankind. Emboldened by that lie, Eve disobeyed God and became an example of men throughout the ages who listen to the lie that men can disregard God’s commands and warnings. The serpent was philosophical and logical even though he based his reasons on speculation.  Let's consider what the Lord wants us to do about this controversy brought to us by the whispering serpent.


I.   SALVATION BY "FAITH ONLY"  VS. OBEDIENT FAITH:


  • Faith is Essential to Salvation:
In the Bible, the word "faith" has different meanings.  Jesus showed that in many of His statements. In Matthew 6:30, Jesus spoke of those who have little faith and do not trust in God.  He likewise used the same term to rebuke Peter in Matthew 14:31.  He also compared faith with doubt (Mark 4:40).  Jesus never implied that His disciples were atheists or anything similar but that they lacked complete trust toward Him.  However, Jesus told the Canaanite woman in Matthew 15:25-29"Great is thy faith."  In this story, her humility and total trust in Both the Father and the Son are emphasized.  Thus, there are many forms of the word "faith" from which faith and belief (with its accompanying verb and  adjective form) derive from the Greek words "pistis, pistos, pisteuo" meaning "faith, faithful, belief, believe."  The Greek word "apistos" is the negative form which is translated as "unbelief, unbeliever, unfaithful, infidel."  The word "peitho" is translated at times as "believe, obey, confidence, persuaded, trust."  Its negative form is "apeitheo," which is translated as "believe not, obey not, disobedient."  The lexicon definitions of these words display a variety of applications which one must be careful to apply rightly when using the Scriptures.

Moreover, the word "faith" is also used to refer to revelation from God.  Personal faith comes by hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).  The Word of God is the source of "faith" and is many times spoken of as "the Faith."  It is often classified by the definite article (the) before the word "faith."  The definite article often indicates something special about the word without saying what it is.  That is why one must allow the context to rule in such cases.

In the New Testament, the term "te pistei" occurs 23 times; half of them refer to the unique faith one possesses and not revelation.  Whether it is "pistis" or "pistos," the definite article preceding it usually points out the strong or full faith of a person.  Romans 4:19-20 speaks of Abraham's faith as an example of faith for us to follow, and what our faith must be (Romans 5:2).  In Acts 6:7the Jews were "obedient to the faith."  In Acts 14:22the disciples were urged to "continue in the faith."  In Acts 16:5the churches were "strengthened in the faith."  1 Corinthians 16:13the Corinthians were commanded to "stand firm in the faith."  Philippians 1:27the Philippians were to strive "for the faith of the gospel.  I Timothy 4:1some would "fall away from the faith" in the latter times.  In 2 Timothy 4:7, Paul declares, "I have kept the faith." He tells the Colossians"if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister"  (Colossians 1:23).  In Jude 3, we have the well-known statement that we are "to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."  In Galatians 3:2, 5 are the most accurate statements of that which was delivered "by hearing with faith (revelation)."  Other translations say, "the message of faith."  The message that was heard was called "the faith."  This sets the tone for Law versus the faith, the New Testament, in Galatians 3Thus the New Testament, the Gospel, is equal to the word "faith." 
"But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe (Galatians 3:22).

We find subjective faith in the phrase, "those who believe."  "The promise by faith in Jesus Christ" is the message that came forth from Jesus Christ.  This Scripture follows the statements made in verses 23-25"But before faith came, we were kept in ward under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 24 So that the law is become our tutor to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith is come, we are no longer under a tutor."

Notice that the word "faith" in these verses describes that which was revealed, as opposed to the Law, and it follows that by which justification occurs.  Indeed, the opening statement should read, "before THE faith came," as well as in verse 25"now that THE faith is come," as they are in the original text.  The same applies to verse 26"For ye are all sons of God, through faith, in Christ Jesus,"  as actually, "For ye are all sons of God, through  THE faith, in Christ Jesus."  Adding the definite article as it is in the original Greek text will definitely give full meaning to the context that deals with Law versus Gospel.  In Romans 1:16-17, we read, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is revealed a righteousness of God from faith unto faith: as it is written, But the righteous shall live by faith."

So what is the Gospel message? It is God's revelation, and righteousness revealed in it as the Scriptures explicitly say it, "ek pisteos eis pistin," "by, or out of, faith unto faith."  And though the definite article is missing, the first precedent of "faith" is "revelation, the gospel."  So what is the purpose of this revelation, the Gospel?  To generate or create our own faith that occurs as a result of hearing God's revealed will to us through His Word (Romans 10:17faith comes by hearing the Word of God).  However, this faith must be a lifelong commitment and dedication to serving God faithfully. As it should be translated, "the JUST BY FAITH shall live."  As verse 16 states, "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."

The word "believeth," means more than just accepting the facts of the Gospel.  It indicates the same as "the just by faith shall live."  Paul discusses this subject in Chapters 3 & 4, especially ch. 4, to speak of Abraham's faith.  I will discuss this later in my study.  In Romans 5:1, Paul declares that we are justified by faith, the kind of faith that Abraham had.  Romans 1:17 (the just shall live by faith), and Romans 5:1 (we are justified by faith) are merely sources of revelation.

Other Scriptures that teach that we are saved by faith (John 3:16; Romans 1:16; Romans 5:1-2; Eph. 2:8; Acts 16:31; 10:43; 15:9; 13:39; John 8:24; 3:36; 5:24; 6:40; 20:30-31; Romans 3:22-28; 4:3, 16).  So we infer that faith is essential to salvation, and without faith, no man can be saved. However, nowhere in the Bible does it state that we are saved by faith only or by faith alone.  It is an abuse of the above passages to say that faith is necessary to salvation while denying the necessity of baptism for salvation.  Is there any Scripture that states that we are saved by "faith only" or "faith alone"?  Is faith alone the only condition for salvation?  Are we saved by faith without baptism or without obedience?  None of these statements are found in the Bible.

All Scriptures mentioned above teach that we are saved by faith, but do not teach that we are saved by faith alone without obedience.  By the same token, many passages in the Bible mention faith but do not mention repentance or confession any more than baptism.  So shall we conclude that they are all not necessary?  Should we not acknowledge and accept the necessity of baptism?  Later in this study, I will discuss those things that are needed or essential to salvation.

  • The Bible Denies That We are Saved by "Faith Only."
Many passages in the Scriptures point out that faith in one's heart, by itself, will not save us.  Consider some of them:

    • John 12:42-43:  "Nevertheless even of the rulers many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 for they loved the glory that is of men more than the glory that is of God"  Were the rulers of the Jews saved and acceptable with God when they believed in Jesus? (CF. Rom. 10:9-10; Matt. 10:32-33).
    • James 2:19-20 "You believe there is one God. That’s good, but even the demons believe that! And they shake with fear.  20 You fool! Faith that does nothing is worth nothing. Do you want me to prove this to you?"  The demons believe and are aware that there is only one true God, are they saved?
    • James 2:14, 24 "My brothers and sisters, if a person claims to have faith but does nothing, that faith is worth nothingFaith like that cannot save anyone...  24 So you see that people are made right with God by what they do. They cannot be made right by faith alone."  So the question is, can faith save without obedience?  NO!  It is a dead faith (verses 17, 20, 26).  It implies that man is not justified by "faith only."  And though this passage mentioned “faith alone," it does say that we are not justified by "faith alone"!  Those who teach justification by faith only are teaching error and are false.  The Bible emphatically declares that we are NOT justified by faith alone!  Take heed!

Some say that unsaved believers may have the wrong kind of faith and, therefore, not be saved.  They have intellectual conviction but do not trust Jesus to save them.  When we present the Gospel, sometimes our friends will say, “I believe that ” but they're merely emphasizing their intellectual acceptance of what they are told.  In the New Testament or Gospel of Christ, the words for "faith" and "believe" are applied to subjective acceptance of facts.  The preaching of the Gospel might produce this acceptance.
"After he was raised from death, his followers remembered that he had said this. So they believed the Scriptures, and they believed the words Jesus said.  23 Jesus was in Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Many people believed in him because they saw the miraculous signs he did"  (John 2:22-23).
"Many of the Samaritan people in that town believed in Jesus. They believed because of what the woman had told them about him. She had told them, 'He told me everything I have ever done... 41 Many more people became believers because of the things he said.  42 The people said to the woman, 'First we believed in Jesus because of what you told us. But now we believe because we heard him ourselves. We know now that he really is the one who will save the world'"  (John 4:39, 41-42).
"I told them the words you gave me, and they accepted them. They realized the fact that I came from you and believed that you sent me"  (John 17:8)
"(His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue)"  (John 9:22).  

The rulers feared that they would be persecuted.  Confessing Jesus is more than just accepting the facts concerning Him like the demons did in James 2.  Jesus said that whoever confesses Him before men, He would confess before the Father and whoever denied Him before men, He would deny before the Father (Matt. 10:32).  The same is true in Romans 10:8-14, where belief comes before confessing.  Both are necessary to be justified
"But what does it say? 'The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart' (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, 'Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.' 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For 'everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'  14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?"'  

This passage demands total dedication to the Lord, not just momentary acceptance of facts. Philippians 2:10-11 illustrates this well, "so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."  However, just acceptance of facts alone, faith alone, is not enough to be acceptable to God (James 2:19).  This system of thinking acknowledges that faith is vital to salvation but that there are various kinds of faith.  Many forms of faith do not save, even when people believe in God and the Son.  So the question is, what kind of faith saves and what does it require? Does it require repentance, confession, baptism, and obedience to God's divine commands?

  • Obedience is Essential to Salvation:

There can be no doubt that obedience is key to mankind's salvation.  The doctrine of "faith alone" claims that faith is the one and only prerequisite to forgiveness and that all acts of obedience come "after" forgiveness.  That none are essential to obtain forgiveness of sins.  According to some, even the Gospel’s doctrine is not necessary to be saved, but it is important because we have been saved.  But the Bible contradicts what they say.  Consider some Scriptures that prove this:

    • 1 Peter 1:22-23:  "Seeing ye have purified your souls in your obedience to the truth unto unfeigned love of the brethren, love one another from the heart fervently: 23 having been begotten again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, through the word of God, which liveth and abideth."  How do we purify our souls?  By obedience to the Truth, by obeying from the heart to be made free from sin (Romans 5:9).
    • Hebrews 5:9:  "And having been made perfect, he became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation."  Who is the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him?  Jesus, our Lord!
    • James 2:24:  "You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone."  So, is man justified by "faith alone"?  NO!  By works and not faith only!
    • Acts  11:14; 10:34-35:  "He will declare to you a message by which you will be saved, you and all your household." "34 So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him,"   Peter told Cornelius those words that were necessary for him to be savedHe likewise said that to be accepted by God, everyone must work righteousness.  God shows no partiality. All who fear Him and do what is righteous are acceptable to Him.
    • Matthew 7:21-27; Luke 6:46:  "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... Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. 27 And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it."  Luke 6:46, "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?"'  So, can one accept Jesus as Lord (Ruler and Master) and not do what He says one must do to enter the kingdom of heaven?  Can one believe and confess Him only and expect not to be rejected because he refused to obey Him?  What do you think?
    • 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9; Romans 2:6-10:  "In flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might."  Romans 2:6-10"He will render to each one according to his works: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. 9 There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil... "  Can one who does evil and not obey the Truth receive eternal life, heaven?  Those who do not obey the Truth, the Gospel, will be condemned to hell forever.
    • 1 John 5:3; John 14:15, 21-24:  "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome."  John 14:15, 21-24, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments... 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me. Loving God demands that we keep His commandments (rules, laws).  We don't love Him when we disobey Him.  So, can one be saved if he does not love God (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22; Matt. 22:37-39)?

The doctrine of "faith alone" denies the need for all obedience to the commands of God.  It is a false view of the doctrines of the Gospel of Christ.  Consider some Scriptures that state the consequences of this system of theology that claims that obedience is not essential to man's salvation.
    • Matthew 22:37-39:  "And he said to him, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself."'  Notice that love is the greatest of all commands.  So, if obeying commands is not essential to man's salvation, then love is not necessary as commanded by the Lord.  Yet, in 1 Corinthians 16:22, we read, "If anyone has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed... "
    • Acts 17:30:  "The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent."  Do you suppose repentance is not a command?  So, if keeping commands, laws, rules is not vital and necessary for man's salvation, then repentance is not essential to man's salvation either.  Yet, Acts 2:38; 3:19; Luke 13:3; 2 Peter 3:9 declare that repentance is necessary!
    • Romans 10:9-10:  "Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth, one confesses and is saved."  Confession with our mouth is a command.  So, if obeying commands is not necessary to salvation, then confession is not essential either!  Yet, our passage plainly declares that it is vital or essential to man's salvation!  Notice, that confession is made with our mouth in contrast to the faith in the heart!
    • 1 John 3:23; John 6:28-29:  "And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us."  John 6:28-29:  "Then they said to him, 'What must we do, to be doing the works of God?' 29 Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.'"  Faith itself is another command.   Notice that it is a work that God demands that we obey or do.  So, if works and obedience are not essential or vital to man's salvation, then faith itself is not necessary.  Why? Simply because it is a work God has commanded us to do!!  If one admits that faith is essential, then one must disregard the false concept that obedience and works are not essential!  
    • Some claim that John 6:29 speaks of faith as a work that God does for us, and not something that we must do.  However, 1 John 3:23 still declares that believing is a command given to us (Mark 16:15-16).  John 6:29 answers the question asked in verse 28"What must we do, to be doing the works of God?”  The works of God in this Scripture imply the works that men must do as obedience to God's commands.  Notice the parallel in 1 Corinthians 15:58 when it says, "in the work of the Lord."  Here, the work of the Lord is that work that we abound in always; it is our labor in the Lord ("love of God" in 1 John 5:3).  Therefore, if faith is entirely a work that God does for us, then God is responsible for those who do not believe in Him, the unbelievers.  That makes Him a God who causes some to believe but not others.  It makes God a respecter of people, which is contrary to what we read in Acts 10:34-35 and Romans 2:11.  So, we infer from John 6:29 that faith is something that we must do, and that is essential to man's salvation as obedience is essential to forgiveness.  With this in mind, what command must we obey?  Is baptism one of those commands or works?  Does the Gospel include commands (law) and works (obedience)?  Consider the following.

  • Is obedience a necessary component of the Gospel?  
Again, I must stress that law is that which must be obeyed.  If law is not necessary under the Gospel of Christ, then neither is obedience.  On the other hand, if obedience is essential, then so is law also.  Consider the following.
    • Romans 6:17-18:  "But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness."  Paul declares that we have been set free from sin when we obey the standard of teaching (the doctrine delivered).
    • Hebrews 5:9:  "And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him,"  Jesus is the Author of eternal salvation to those who obey Him.
    • Matthew 7:21-27:  "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.  22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’  24 Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock... "  To enter the kingdom of heaven, one must do the will of God.  Learning Jesus' teachings or claiming to believe in Him is not enough if one does not do or obey the will of the Father.
    • 1 Peter 1:22:  "Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart."  When we obey the Truth, we purify our souls.
    • 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9:  "in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might." Those who do not obey the Gospel of Christ will be punished in flaming fire.  And though the Gospel is not a system of justification by works of the law, yet it is a fact that the Gospel is a law in which works and obedience to commands are vital to receiving salvation.  Take heed that the words "law" or "works" can have different meanings and can be different things.  So, the Gospel is a law that demands works.

II.   FAITH AND OBEDIENCE GO HAND IN HAND:

Many people agree that saving faith includes repentance and confession.  However, saving faith also requires obedience, and obedience is essential to salvation.  The faith that saves is a faith that obeys God to receive forgiveness from Him.  He will not grant any forgiveness to anyone until he obeys His terms of salvation.  In Hebrews 10:39 to chapter 11, we have many examples of people who "by faith" obeyed the will of God and pleased Him to be rewarded by Him (verse 6).   That is the kind of faith that believes to the saving of our soul (Heb. 10:39).  My question is, did the heroes of faith receive their reward before or after they obeyed God? Consider the following:
  • Noah:
"And Jehovah saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented Jehovah that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. 7 And Jehovah said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the ground; both man, and beast, and creeping things, and birds of the heavens; for it repenteth me that I have made them. 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of Jehovah" (Gen. 6:5-6).  

Noah was a man who feared God, wanting to do what was right before God (he stood faithful, obedient, and righteous), even though he lived amid so much wickedness.  Noah's sparkling qualities caught God's eyes in heaven.  And since Noah chose to live righteously before Jehovah, God chose to favor him as a result (Noah found grace in the eyes of God).  Noah was saved by faith (Heb. 11:7).  By faith, Noah prepared an ark to save his house, becoming an heir of righteousness according to faith.  My question iswas he saved by faith before he obeyed? Or was he required to obey God first?  Did God then save him from the flood?  Would God have saved him if he had not obeyed?  Noah was saved because he believed God was sending a flood and prepared an ark as God had commanded him.  We, too, are saved because we believe that God has already sent His Son, who was crucified for our sins, buried and raised.

Noah benefited from God's Grace because of his faith. In the same way, we benefit from God's Grace through faith in Jesus (Romans 5:1-2).  Even though the Grace of God was playing an essential role in Noah's salvation, he was not saved by Grace alone.  Did Noah's faith take away from God's Grace?  Absolutely NOT!  So, are we any less saved by grace if we are required by God to have faith?  NO!  Paul declares that it is by faith that we have access to God's Grace.  So, if we do not have faith, the Grace of God will do us no good (Romans 5:1-2).  Remember, Noah was saved by grace and by faith and not by any of them alone.  It is the same way with us today!

Noah was saved by works.  Without his works, Noah’s faith would have been useless.  "Thus also faith by itself if it does not have works is dead"  (James 2:17).  A faith that does not exercise works will die.  A dead faith is good for nothing!  An active faith has access to God's Grace.  God’s generous offer of Grace to Noah would have failed had he not believed God and obeyed His commands. Without works of obedience, we can never have access to God's Grace.  Works that simply do what God has commanded us to do!  (Phil. 2:13).  God demands that we do His will, and this requires works (James 2:24).  Therefore, man is justified by works and not by faith only!!
Noah was also saved by water.  Only eight souls were saved from the floodwaters.

God's Grace made salvation possible by faith and works (the building of the ark).  The floodwaters washed away the wickedness of that world back then. At the same time, the waters lifted the saving ark high above the destruction.  1 Peter 3:20 declares, "that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water." 

 And though Noah was saved by God's Grace and faith, he was also saved by his works and water.  God chose water to save Noah.  Today, God says that in the waters of baptism, one's sins are washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16).  Just like the flood was a new beginning, so it is with baptism.  Noah was saved by Grace, faith, works, and water.  Grace alone does not save!  Faith alone does not save!  Works alone do not save!  Water alone does not save either!  But all of these components together do save!  God's Grace teaches us to repent and deny worldly lusts (Titus 2:12). Our works will perfect our faith (James 2:2).  Baptism will put us into Christ (Gal. 3:27).  Only in Jesus, salvation is found (2 Tim. 2:10).  So, is man saved by grace, faith, works, and water?  Absolutely YES!
  • Abraham:
"By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed to go out unto a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing whither he went"  (Heb. 11:8).
Did God reward Abraham before he obeyed, or after he obeyed?  Would God have rewarded him had he not obeyed?  

Abraham did what God commanded him to do with trust and obedience.  This is faith that was counted for righteousness.  You see, when Abraham was commanded by God to leave Ur (Gen. 12), he departed to go to the land that God had promised to give him and his descendants.  "And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness."  (Genesis 15:6).  Indeed, his faith was an active one. 
"4 What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: 7 Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; 8 blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin." 

In this passage, we see Abraham's faith that was counted as righteousness. So, does Romans 4:1-5 teach that when Abraham obeyed God's command, he wanted to justify himself by "works"?  Does Paul teach that when he (Abraham) obeyed the command of leaving his land, his obedience was not necessary?  Though he did not have any children yet, God promised him that he would have offspring and that they would be like the stars in heaven (Gen. 15:5-6; Rom. 4:3).  Many twist Romans 4:3 into saying that Abraham was justified by faith only.  But in Romans 2:8, Paul states, "but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury."  So, faith that does not obey is nothing!  It is again a dead faith (James 2:26).

In James 2:21-24, we read, "Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God. 24 You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone." 

Abraham was justified every time he obeyed God. Our “faith only” friends avoid the insight of James by saying that this "justification" is not the same kind of justification that Paul is talking about. Citing Romans 4:2they say Abraham was not justified before God but perhaps before men. Yet, there were no human witnesses to Abraham offering his son as a sacrifice to God. Genesis 22:12, God himself said, “now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.”  Such an argument is pure foolishness designed to ignore the importance of Abraham's obedient faith, he walked by faith, Romans 4:12.  Justification is justification. Period! 

The only correct explanation is that Paul and James are speaking of different kinds of works. Paul is speaking of "works done by us in righteousness"  (Titus 3:5, as in the case of Cornelius, Acts 10, 11).  On the other hand, James is talking about works of obedience toward God, as in the case of Abraham and the other examples of the faithful ones mentioned in Hebrews 11 because of their works of obedience.

So, Paul states in Romans 4 that Abraham was not justified by "works," while James 2 says that Abraham was indeed justified by works.  Which of them is correct?  Obviously both!  Why? Because both James and Paul speak with one voice saying in Romans 4:12"and to make him the father of the circumcised who are not merely circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised."

Thus, Abraham's faith was not faith only.  It was a faith that walked in the footsteps of the faith.  His footsteps were actions, doings, or works of obedience.  Those who quote Romans 4:1-5 to teach justification by faith alone twist the Scripture to their own destruction (2 Pet. 3:16).  They ignore and do not care what Paul himself states in the same letter in Romans 2; 4:12 and James 2:20-24.  Take heed!

Indeed, Abraham never thought to justify himself like the Jews did (Luke 16:15).  That is, he never thought to justify himself because of his own works aside from God's forgiveness.  Paul continues in Romans 4:6-7"Just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works:  7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,  and whose sins are covered."  That is, those who seek God and accept His forgiveness on His terms seek out "righteousness apart from works," and are justified by faith and not by "works."  We must allow Paul to explain himself.  It is not necessary to abandon the text under consideration to fully understand the meaning of justification, not by works.  It is an abuse of verses 3-5 to not include the conclusion of Paul’s argument in verses 5-8. It is not honest!  They don't rightly handle the Word of Truth!  (2 Tim. 2:15).

So, was Abraham justified without obedience to God's commandments?  Of course not! Correspondingly, when Christ and the apostles teach baptism for salvation (the forgiveness of sins), obedience to this commandment is not "work" in the sense of Ephesians 2: 8-9, nor is the worship that we offer God each Lord's Day.
  • Israel at Jericho:
"By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days"  (Heb. 11:30).


Did the walls fall before the Israelites did what God said, or afterward?  Would they have fallen, had they not obeyed God?  Our text says that the walls fell "after they had been encircled for seven days."  There are many other examples of obedient faith in Hebrews 11God rewarded those who had an obedient faith.  They received the blessing "by faith," not before they obeyed or without obedience but only after they had obeyed (as a result of their obedience).  When faith leads to obedience, then one receives the reward "by faith."  A saving faith is a faith that obeys.  So, what about those who believe that obedience is not necessary?  Will God save them before they obey? Their faith is not a saving faith until they obey. The faith that avails is the faith that works.  God requires a working faith! (Gal. 5:6; 2 Cor. 5:7; 1 Thess. 1:3; Gal. 2:20; 2 Thess. 1:11; Rom. 1:5; 16:26).


CONCLUSION:

A truly clever person can nearly always find justification to exempt himself from doing what he ought to do, especially with the help of the Prince of Darkness. The brilliance of the Evil One is seen today in the belief that those who are scrupulous in obeying the Lord are the wicked Pharisees, and those who intend to honor Him, but actually don't, are the righteous.  When it comes to reverent obedience, many have the wrong attitude.  Why do I say that?  Because they think that obedience to God and His commands, His laws, is not really essential or vital for salvation, eternal life.  They claim that as long as one is doing what's “right,” it does not matter how strictly he adheres to all of Jesus' teachings of the "perfect law of liberty" (James 1:25).  As a consequence of this, they give the label of "legalists" to those of us who suggest that kind of adherence to Jesus and His Lordship.  No matter which law God had placed over man, he was expected to diligently learn and know the law, and do it because that was the will of God.

It is true that no man is sinless. So, of course, no man will be saved by living a perfectly sinless life (Rom. 3:23). Though no man's obedience deserves eternal life (no man is saved without grace and faith). It is also true that because of sin, there are things man must do (besides grace and faith) to obtain forgiveness of sins.  The blood of Jesus has the power to forgive sins.  Once man sins, there is nothing that he can do to compensate for his sins. Only the blood of Jesus can overcome sin.  However, the Word of God instructs us that obedience is essential for us to benefit from the cleansing power of Jesus' blood. Jesus' doctrines are essential to salvation.  Obedience to the terms determined by Jesus' Lordship is vital to receiving eternal life.  He is the only Lord, Master, Ruler, and the One who exercises all authority in heaven and earth.  So to accept Him as Lord demands that we obey His rules, laws, and commands. We must submit completely to Him and to His authority with complete and reverent obedience.

We must understand and accept the importance of grace, faith, works, and law that we not belittle the importance of God's conditions for receiving the forgiveness of our sins.  Instead, we must rather trust and obey.  We must not belittle the importance of living a life that is pure and holy, devoted to service to God.  When we have an obedient faith like Noah had, we meet the conditions of salvation and are saved by Grace through faith even as Noah was (Acts 18:27; 8:22; John 1:12-17; Gal. 5:4-6; Titus 3:3-8; Heb. 12:14-15).  Saving faith requires obedience.  Obedience to God's commands is vital to receiving salvation.

God's laws cannot be violated, no matter how unreasonable they might seem to us.  God has not changed His commands or precepts and still demands that we obey Him, without adding to or subtracting from His Law, His Word.  God must be obeyed!  One cannot obey just a portion of what He has commanded and still please God and receive eternal life.
"For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is become guilty of all (James 2:10).  

Today, we have many who willfully ignore and disobey, violating the requirements (the obedience to the Gospel of Christ) to be saved.  Most people understand that salvation is by grace, i.e., that man cannot save himself (have his sins forgiven), but he must rely on the blood of our Lord and Savior.  However, the same people who acknowledge that salvation is by grace also must admit that salvation is not universal.  Jesus said,
For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few”  (Matthew 7:14).
"And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?" (1 Peter 4:18)
Also, 
“And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him  (Heb. 5:9).  

God has been very specific about the requirements that man must obey to be saved.  This is what it means:
  •  “To obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (Romans 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17). 
  •  It is also “obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).  
  • And “obedience to the Truth” (1 Peter 1:22).  
  • The Bible (especially the Book of Acts) is full of examples of those who obeyed the Gospel of Christ (Acts 2:37-41; 8:12; 8:35-39; 9:18; 11:14; 10:48; 16:30-34; 18:8; 19:5 and 22:16).

Many stubbornly insist on teaching error, saying that salvation is by “faith alone.”  They ignore what the jailer asked Paul and Silas:
“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?''  And they said, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.'  And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house”'  (Acts 16:32).  

Take note that the “word” they spoke to him and his family was the Gospel of Christ, which included baptism.  After they had heard the Gospel, they wanted to obey it and were baptized at once (Acts 16:33). Therefore, there is only one baptism and one plan of salvation, and man must obey the Gospel to be saved, be forgiven, be justified, and have the hope of eternal life (salvation).

The Law of Christ consists of rules, requirements, and commands.  They all demand obedience. In Matthew 7:21, 24, 26 Jesus said,
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…  Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock… And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.”  

Jesus says it is foolish not to obey His words, His Law, His Gospel.  The apostles also insisted that we must obey the Gospel (Acts 2:38; 1 Peter 4:17; 2 Thess. 1:7-8).

Today we have the Law of Christ (the New Testament), which demands the same obedience to God altogether.  Disobedience to God was not, nor ever has been, tolerated under either of the two systems. Under both systems, obedience has always received the blessings of God.

Sadly, many choose to obey only the portion of the Bible; they believe fits them well.   I will then leave you with these questions:

Have you obeyed the Lord?

Are you willing to obey Him and everything that He has commanded us to do?

Do you suppose that we can make it to heaven without knowing and obeying our God?  We cannot know God if we do not walk in the same way in which Jesus walked, completely obedient to His Father's will. 

May we always do our very best and be like Noah and all those heroes of faith and not like Saul and all those who chose to disobey God following their own ways and reasoning.  May we walk in total obedience (faith) according to all that God has commanded us to do.  May our faith (obedience) be demonstrated by the way we walk, that is, by our actions.  May we obey God even when we disagree and cannot understand the rationale behind His instructions or commands.  May we be willing to hear His Word and become doers of the same, that we may enter the kingdom of heaven and receive our eternal reward.


Luci

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