This is the first in a series of posts containing a few thoughts on obedience–first as it is exemplified in the Bible, second as we should practice it, and third as we should teach it to our children.
As I make my way through the Old Testament chronologically (thank you, Bible app!), one recurring thought is that there is a constant correlation between faith and obedience. Let me illustrate by sharing a few excerpts from Hebrews 11:
By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. vs 7
By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. vs 8
By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac… vs 17
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents… vs 23
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter… By faith he left Egypt [leading Israel out of captivity]… vs 24 & 27
By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days. vs 30
By faith Rahab the prostitute did not perish with those who were disobedient… vs 31
All of these cases (and many more throughout Scripture) are marked by distinct characteristics:
- God gave a clear command
- Faith led to a physical act of obedience to God’s command
- Obedience entailed a great deal of personal risk
Stop and chew on that a bit. Faith leads to an act of obedience to God’s command, even though it entails a great deal of risk. (Though, I must admit, my perspective of risk has changed since reading John Piper’s book Don’t Waste Your Life–but that’s getting a bit off-topic).
As I daily read account after account of men and women who took risky steps of obedience in faith, I am reminded of James’ assertion that faith without works is dead. What are good works other than simple obedience to the commands of God? Paul even associates the two so closely that in his opening and closing to Romans he uses the phrase “the obedience of faith.”
True faith clearly involves action, but it is action in direct response to God’s commands.