The Obedience of Faith

Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh 4 and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, 5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, 6 including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, 7 To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (ESV)

This morning I read Romans 1 as part of my devotional reading. One phrase from the above paragraph kept coming back to mind throughout the day – “the obedience of faith”.  The NIV renders it as “the obedience that comes from faith”.

My first thought was personal. My faith, the beliefs in the truths of Scripture, my trust in Christ my King…all of this ought to lead to obedience. There is a malfunction in my faith if it isn’t leading to obedience.

My second thought was church related. This was Paul’s goal; it ought to be ours too. Not just acceptance of doctrines, not just faith by itself, but faith accompanied by works, trust and obedience. Not cheap grace and flimsy faith, but vital faith that produces the fruit of obedience.

Paul holds together two great doctrines we have driven a wedge between – justification and sanctification. They are different, but go together. Justification is by faith. So is sanctification. Justification precedes sanctification, but is never found all by itself.

These two doctrines go hand in hand because both are found in, and only in, union with Christ. It is by being united to Christ that we receive his righteousness and are declared ‘saints’ before God’s bar. But, being united to Christ means his life flows through us and pushes itself out in good works, in love and in holiness. We can’t be united to Christ for one, justification, and not the other.

Paul’s ambition should be ours – obedience from faith for the sake of his name!