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QUESTION: What does "obedience to the faith" actually mean?


ANSWER:  The term “obedience to the faith” is found in the first chapter of Romans verse five.  Another, similar statement can be found in the second-to-last verse of the same book of Romans, “obedience of faith.”  Both of them link the Christian’s personal obedience to this faith to the benefit of “all nations.” 


And so, sandwiched between commands to ‘obey faith,’ is the greatest doctrinal dissertation on Christian theology ever written.  Our understanding and keeping of the faith once delivered unto the saints is the only hope the nations of the world have of salvation.  Doctrinal purity benefits the world.  False doctrine dooms it.  Satan, from the very beginning, has always questioned God’s Word.


Much time and effort is spent in Scripture teaching man that they are personally responsible for their own sin.  The Christians in Berea were identified as “more noble” than other Christians because they received the Word of God with all readiness of mind and searched the Scriptures daily “whether those things were so” (Acts 17:11).  In other words, you and I are responsible to search the Scriptures on our own and learn the truth.  God doesn’t condemn us corporately, but personally.  To follow someone who is not following the Bible is exactly what Jesus was talking about when he mentioned the blind leading the blind.  Don’t be blind.  Don’t follow someone who is blind.


You and I are to judge for ourselves what the sixty-six books of the Bible teach, because God is going to judge us personally out of those – and only those books. 


One thing that “obedience to the faith” does not mean is absolute “obedience to the church” or “obedience to the pastor.”  Both the church and pastor are to be followed, but only so far as they are following the Word of God.


A cult is any organization that attempts to redirect your obedience away from Scripture to “their church” or “their leader.”  If you ever hear someone say “learn to do as you are told…if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it.  None of your business whether it is right or wrong” – you run from that apostasy as fast as you can.  Any man who claims to have authority to change Scripture is an antichrist.  Pride does not like to lose control and any religion that demands strict and unquestioning obedience to anything other than Bible doctrine is false.


Wolves in sheep’s clothing are slick.  They will sound smooth.  They will tell you that you can’t know what was translated correctly – so trust them.  But how do they know unless they portend to be God – which is blasphemy?  Remember, God is going to hold you personally responsible.  You can read for yourself.  It won’t work to say “but they.”  No, if we are going to believe and trust God to preserve our souls for all eternity, it is a small thing for Him to preserve His Word for only a couple of thousand years on earth.


A pastor only has such authority as is delegated to him by God. Christians are never told to submit blindly to a church leader, but to submit to truly God-called men who are leading according to the Word of God. As the Apostle Paul said, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). Paul could demand that others follow him because he was following Christ and was faithfully preaching the message given to him by Christ. Apart from that, even Paul had no authority. He warned the churches of Galatia that if even he were to preach any other gospel, they were to reject him (Gal 1:8). Even in matters pertaining to his own associates, Paul’s authority was not absolute and unquestionable. When Paul “greatly desired” for Apollos to minister at Corinth, Apollos refused (1 Cor 16:12).

False teachers and churches will use Bible commands like “obey those that have the rule over you” out of context and in order to create a spirit of fear.  Dear friend, fear God rather than man.  You won’t get to heaven by believing me.  Salvation comes by believing God and the promises He has personally made to you.  Anyone who claims to have new revelation or more clear understanding than you can read for yourself in Scripture must first get you to question the authenticity of the original… Well, if you’re going to do that, why don’t you question the authenticity of their new revelation?  P.S. I bet that’s been changed more times in its young life than God’s Word ever has been…!

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