"He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."
Colossians 1:18

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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Three Things We Learn from the O-Word

Fear not.  The O-word cannot hurt you.
1.  Obedience Is an Indispensable Part of Loving God.  "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome." (1 John 5:3; cf. John 14:21)  Do I love God as I should?  Have I a genuine love for Him?  Says John, look to your obedience - is it genuine and heartfelt?  Do you desire to obey Him freely?  If these things be so, then I have a clear indicator that I do truly love the Lord.  Simply keeping the commandments, according to John, is not enough - we must find the yoke to be easy and the burden light (Matt. 11:30).  Such an attitude is not possible unless we are resolved in our hearts that God's ways are best, and that He is praiseworthy and gracious in His ways.  If we truly love God, our hearts should be glad to obey Him.
2.  Obedience Is an Indispensable Part of Belief in God.  "He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (John 3:36)  Here, belief and obedience are equated:  one either believes in Christ unto eternal life, or one disobeys Christ unto eternal damnation.  And before the clamor of "works based salvation" arises, let us note that these two ideas are mutually exclusive; John the Baptist does not say here that one may believe but disobey, and thus lose salvation.  He says in effect that to believe is to obey, and vice versa.

What is here rendered "obey" is in some translations given as "believe," but this is misleading, as it is a different word in the Koine than the "believes" earlier in the verse, and, unsurprisingly, carries different connotations.  To believe in God is to possess obedience toward God; belief without obedience is like a song without sound.
3.  Obedience Is an Indispensable Part of Having a Relationship with God.  "By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments." (1 John 2:3)  Knowing God, of course, goes far beyond mere intellect assent or understanding.  It is used as a term of intimate relation by the Bible writers - thus Adam knew Eve and she conceived (Gen. 4:1).  Christ the judge tells the hypocrites, "I never knew You; depart from Me." (Matt. 7:23b)  The Galatians are urged, as they have come to be known by God, to not enslave themselves to worthless things (Gal. 4:8-9).  According to 1 Corinthians 8:3b, "If anyone loves God, he is known by Him."

To know God, then, is to possess a close and loving relationship with Him.  This is the state of salvation, friends - such a relationship could never be, otherwise:  our deadness of soul will prevent it every time.  The loving walk with God must be tended with obedience from His children.  Yes, Lord; we are walking together and I agree with you as my Lord wholeheartedly; I see who You are and what You have commanded, so I respond with obedience to Your revealed will.

So we see how, in one deft move, our obedience irreplaceably contributes to the proof of our love for, belief in, and walk with God.  See how obedience cannot help but strengthen all of these!  We rightly view God as our Father; it is just and good that our hearts love and obey Him.  We believe in Him as our sovereign God; our obedience lends hands and feet to that otherwise false and hollow belief.  And we know Him as a kind and gracious King; the more we know Him, the more we seek to follow Him. 

His commandments are by no means burdens!  Far from it - adhering to them helps us to draw closer to our God, to possess assurance of His good pleasure, and ultimately to walk in deeper fellowship with Him.


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