This is another post in our series, “A Call to Obedience,” how Christ-followers should respond to his commands. Previously, I have discussed various responses and argued the correct one is obedience, but that even that obedience is not of ourselves, but a gift of God (click here to go to the last post – “Obedience: A Gift of God’s Grace”).
As Obedience is a gift of God, it is not an act or series of actions by which we are saved. No work or works we can perform are able to accomplish or earn our salvation. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
However, obedience is the sign that we have been saved through true faith, and not simple belief.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” – John 14:15
Jesus’ statement is in a straightforward “if A, then B” structure. Therefore, as Boolean logic tells us, if condition B (obedience) does not exist, neither does condition A (love for Christ). And so, while obedience is not a requirement for salvation, which is by faith alone, it is the unmistakable product of such saving faith.
This stands in contrast to the false doctrine that acknowledgement equals faith, the heresy that clings to the first part of Romans 10:9, “If you confess with your mouth…” but ignores the second, “…and believe in your heart…” There is a difference between acknowledging facts and accepting their implications.
But someone will say, “You have your faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe – and shudder! Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? – James 2:18-19
And so when we come to that saving faith… when we become a branch grafted to the One True Vine, tended by the Vinedresser, it is natural that the Spirit will empower our obedience.
A satisfactory spiritual life will begin with a complete change in relation between God and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner’s whole nature. The atonement in Jesus’ blood makes such a change judicially possible and the working of the Holy Spirit makes it emotionally satisfying. (A.W. Tozer, The Relentless Pursuit of God)
And conversely, if we do not practice that obedience, a joyful obedience that springs out of gratitude and love rather than the scripted compliance that results from legalism, we must ask ourselves if we have indeed received salvation. This question will be the topic of my next post.
Whether you agree or disagree, I would be very happy to hear your comments!