Understanding Biblical concepts can sometimes be a challenge when man has chosen to interject himself and complicate simple heavenly truths. However, if we will make the conscious effort to lay aside man’s opinions and disassociate ourselves from manmade dogmas, we will find that the Bible makes things very clear for us and is not self-contradicting. Let us consider the Biblical connection between faith and obedience.
There are many in the religious world who try to separate one’s belief in God from one’s obedience to God. They have various motivations for this, but it is often tied to their teaching that one is saved by faith (and by faith alone) before any works of obedience. They take certain passages that teach that man’s salvation is by faith (ex: Eph. 2:8-9; Rom. 5:1), and they assert that “faith” (or “believe”) in such passages involves man’s acceptance of and willful acknowledgement of Jesus Christ as God’s Son and as their Savior. But, they claim works of obedience are subsequent to their faith and their salvation. Is that Biblical? Are faith and obedience two separate things?
Let’s begin by looking at the great “Faith Chapter” of Hebrews 11. The word “faith” is found 24 times in this chapter, so this must be a good place to learn how God defines faith. He begins by giving us a description of faith in the first verse: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Is the “assurance” and “conviction” of faith the extent of it? If there is nothing beyond conviction involved in faith, then why do we have the rest of this chapter?
God illustrates for us in this “Faith Chapter” what Biblical faith is. With a survey of great men and women, He marches His readers into the field of faith to show that true, Biblical faith is one that “moves with godly fear” (11:7) and “obeys” (11:8) the Lord’s will. “By faith” is combined with active verbs for each of these characters to show that faith was the motivating factor and underlying foundation of their active obedience. Faith and obedience go hand-in-hand.
This Biblical description of “faith” is how linguistic scholars have defined the word. W.E. Vine notes, “The main elements in ‘faith’…are (1) a firm conviction…, (2) a personal surrender to Him…, (3) a conduct inspired by such surrender.” Thayer notes that this faith is “a conviction, full of joyful trust…conjoined with obedience to Christ.” Note carefully the three common components of faith in these definitions, which correspond precisely with the Biblical description of faith: (1) conviction, (2) trustful surrender, (3) obedience.
By definition, Biblical faith involves one’s obedience. (More next week)