As with all Bible topics, we must turn to the pages of the Bible to know and understand what our God wants us to know and understand. The subject of “obedience” is one such subject—and a vitally important one! While “obedience” may not be popular in our selfish and unrestrained society today, every Christian must seek to know (and follow) what God’s Word teaches us about this matter. In some cases, the obedience prescribed is obvious (but still demanding). In other cases (as we will see in next week’s article), the obedience expected is challenging (but still essential).
It is obvious that we must obey God. In Acts 5, when the Jewish council was demanding that the apostles immediately discontinue preaching about Jesus Christ, the apostles responded, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (5:29). The Greek word for “obey” in this passage denotes obeying one who is in the authority—one who is a ruler or a superior. This is He who is our “Master in heaven” (Col. 4:1). Truly, the only one who “shall enter the kingdom of heaven” is “he who does the will of [the] Father in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Obviously, we must obey God, but it is quite demanding. Yet that does not change our obligation.
It is obvious that we must obey Jesus Christ. Christ is “the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him” (Heb. 5:9). The Greek word for “obey” in this text literally means “to listen under,” which demands that one submit and obey. Just as “the winds and the sea” (Matt. 8:27) and “the unclean spirits” (Mark 1:27) recognized His authority and obeyed Him, so must we be “wise” to hear His teachings and do them (Matt. 7:24-25), submitting ourselves “to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). Obviously, we must obey Christ, but it is quite demanding. Yet that does not change our obligation.
It is obvious that we must obey God’s Word. The Word of God is referred to in a number of different ways in the New Testament, and obedience is enjoined repeatedly. In order to be prepared for judgment, we must obey “the gospel” (Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 4:17), “the truth” (1 Pet. 1:22; Rom. 2:8; Gal. 3:1; 5:7), “the faith” (Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; 16:26), and the “doctrine” (Rom. 6:17). James calls for Christians to “be doers of the word, and not hearers only” (Jas. 1:22). Obviously, we must obey God’s Word, but is quite demanding. Yet that does not change our obligation.
The subject of obedience may be negative to some, yet it does not surprise us that our salvation and entrance into heaven is dependent upon us obeying God, His Son and His Word. Next week we will consider some areas of obedience that may be rather challenging but are just as essential!