The obedience to the faith: Faith made active by works
Without obedience to the faith, there will be no growth, no progress and no fruit …
“… declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name …” Romans 1:4-5.
Legalistic faith or the faith of Christ?
Before faith came, we had a faith—a legalistic faith—which was so strong that it was able to restrain us by the law and keep us for the faith which would afterward be revealed. (Galatians 3:23) That legalistic faith cannot be called the faith of Christ. Rather, it is a human faith in Christ. Therefore, it is not the ultimate faith. It is only something temporary which, along with our conscience and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, works as a legalistic tutor to bring us to Christ. When a person has come to Christ and been made one with Him, the faith of Christ will become active by works. These works are the fruit of obedience to the faith. Power for this comes from the Father of spirits.
Why obedience to the faith is vital
In the kingdom of God, everything depends on obedience. The fall came because of disobedience, but we are raised up through obedience. The faith of Christ is the law of the body—. Without it no sanctification can take place, for we, through the Spirit, eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. (Galatians 5:5) This tells us that righteousness brings hope, but it is impossible to be righteous in any other way than through obedience to the faith, because the righteous shall live by faith. (Romans 1:16-17)
There is no grace under the law, because outside of the body there is no sacrifice. “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:4. In the body, however, we receive both grace and truth, which God is able to give because the body is sacrificed. Everything that pertains to life and godliness has been given to us in Christ Jesus. (2 Peter 1:3-4) In Him we receive grace so that God’s longsuffering continues until we personally begin to participate in the sacrifice of Christ. That is when we begin to appreciate the riches of God’s longsuffering and grace.
By faith we are united with Christ Himself and with grace, and from that time on, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but only faith working through love.
Obedience—acting according to the faith of Christ
People usually have their own ideas about what they are going to believe and not believe, but that kind of faith has nothing to do with the faith of Christ. The faith of Christ is revealed to us in our human spirit and consciousness. It will always lead us in the direction of greater godly fear, more devotion, greater care and more sacrifices according to the flesh.
The faith of Christ has its roots in God Himself. Human reasoning cannot comprehend it, yet it is in perfect harmony with God’s reasoning and His plans of sanctification for us. Only by being fully confident that God sincerely desires our best are we able, by God’s grace, to act according to this faith—the faith that is revealed to us without seeing an end or any results. God has chosen to keep to Himself the revelation of our glory for the day of Jesus Christ. At that time, we will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and receive our reward according to what has taken place in our body, whether it be good or evil. (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 3:2-3)
The faith of Christ = The works of Christ
There is a covering over everything that is glorious. It is not pleasant for the natural man to blindly follow the way of faith, but when we exercise ourselves in doing this, we will be surprised time and again to find God’s glory safely hidden under the covering—a glory other people are oblivious to. When we continue to diligently search for God’s hidden treasures under this covering, we will eventually come so far away from religious greatness and reputation that we will be viewed as weak, lowly people who have some strange ideas and who will never be able to dazzle people from the religious heights. By God’s grace we are still determined to remain in the lowly place with those who have no reputation.
According to God’s law and His will, the way goes downward and then upward. The faith of Christ is our guide through life, and those who have the faith of Christ must also have the works of Christ. If a person has the works of Christ and the faith of Christ, then he will also have the life of Christ.
It is impossible to believe something unless it has been spoken, because faith comes by hearing. Our mediator, the Holy Spirit, is always active with us and in us, while we are at work and while we are at rest. We must believe and obey what the Spirit speaks to us and convicts us of in our inner being and in our conscience. This is what the Bible calls obedience to the faith.
It was for obedience to the faith that Paul received apostleship among the nations. Without obedience to the faith, there will be no growth, no progress and no fruit. It is true that you can be a faithful meeting-goer in some religious assembly and appear to rejoice now and then, but you can never become a straightforward, direct, purposeful man or woman until you learn to walk in this great mystery: obedience to the faith.
This article has been translated from Norwegian and was first published under the title “The obedience to the faith” in BCC’s periodical Skjulte Skatter (Hidden Treasures) in October 1912.
© Copyright Stiftelsen Skjulte Skatters Forlag
You may be interested in reading more on our topic page about obedience to the faith, or in the selected articles below:
This sermon on The Obedience of Faith,” by C.H. Spurgeon may also be of interest.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.