March 10, 2019

Relationship between Faith and Obedience


Everybody has a family—a precious relationship which God has allowed them to build. God has given everyone a “family”—a community of love—as a microcosm of heaven full of happiness.

From a spiritual point of view, we are all members of the spiritual family. We have a spiritual Father, a spiritual Mother, and spiritual brothers and sisters. The Bible teaches that the command to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” is the first and greatest commandment, and that the command to “honor your father and mother” is the first commandment with a promise (Mt 22:37–38; Eph 6:2). According to this teaching of the Bible, we should honor and serve our spiritual Parents as well our physical parents.

What do parents want from their children the most? They are most pleased when their children obey their will. Likewise, our Heavenly Father and Mother want us to obey Them. Let us reflect on our faith and examine the relationship between faith and obedience through the Bible.

Faith becomes perfect through obedience

Faith is an essential part of our religious life. Without faith it is impossible to please God and any spiritual change cannot occur. So, faith is a very important factor in our life of faith.

The Bible defines perfect faith as “faith accompanied by action,” not just the verbal expression of one’s belief (Jas 2:14–26). Here, action means obedience to God’s word. Faith can be measured through obedience. Obedience is the visible expression of invisible faith. The fundamental factor that broke the relationship between God and mankind was disobedience. God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they disobeyed God and touched the forbidden tree. As a result, their relationship with God was broken and they were expelled from the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2–3).

The sin of Adam and Eve, which is recorded in Genesis, is a shadow that shows well how we committed sin in heaven and were cast down to this earth. What, then, should we do to restore our relationship with God? Our disobedience has alienated us from God. So we can be close to God only though our obedience to Him.

Jesus also set the example of obedience when He came to this earth to save mankind.

Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. Heb 5:8–10

Jesus is God Himself—Everlasting Father—by nature, but He came to this earth by making Himself the Son of God and lived a life of faith in perfect obedience to God (Isa 9:6; Php 2:5). He taught us that obedience is the most important factor in the relationship between Heavenly Parents and Their children.

The Bible says that Jesus learned obedience from what He suffered and was made perfect. Without obedience, our faith cannot be made perfect. The book of Romans also emphasizes that obedience leads mankind to salvation.

Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Ro 5:18–19

The one man in the former part of verse 19 refers to Adam, and the one man in the latter part refers to Jesus. Through the disobedience of the one man—Adam, all people were made sinners, and through the obedience of the one man—Jesus, they are made righteous, being set free from sin. What kind of life did Jesus live to make human beings, who were made sinners through their disobedience, righteous? Let us retrace His life.

Jesus’ example of obedience

The night before Jesus was crucified, He went to the Mount of Olives and prayed there eagerly after celebrating the Passover. Here, we can see the scene where Jesus engraved obedience deeply in our hearts.

“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground . . . Lk 22:42–46

Jesus knew He would suffer on the cross, which caused Him tremendous anguish. The Bible says that His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. How earnestly and mournfully He must have prayed! Even in such great agony, He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done,” and obediently accepted pain, humiliation, and even death to save mankind.

Jesus has set us all these examples that we should do as He has done for us (Jn 13:15). By setting us the example of foot-washing, the example of celebrating the Passover, the example of keeping the Sabbath, and the example of obeying all the will of God the Father, Christ personally showed us the path of faith we should walk.

“By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” Jn 5:30

“. . . For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life. So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.” Jn 12:47–50

Jesus said that He came to this earth to fully carry out the holy will of God—the One who sent Him, and that whatever He said was just what the Father had told Him to say.

The four Gospels show that everything Jesus did was a series of obedience. From the moment of His birth until the day of His death, He did God’s will in everything. He did not speak on His own, but taught people only what God had told Him to say. According to God’s will, He willingly endured the pain of the cross. Then He ended His gospel ministry by saying, “It is finished.”

. . . When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. Jn 19:28–30

Of course, Jesus fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies about Himself, but His words—“It is finished!”—imply that He fulfilled everything the Father had told Him to do. Jesus lived in such perfect obedience to the Father; He said and did everything according to the Father’s will.

Those who obey can enter heaven

With tons of information pouring in every day, many people today tend to see and judge things from a common sense point of view. So, they are reluctant to do something disagreeable to them, although it is what God said. Even among people who claim to believe in God, there are many who insist on their own way and put it over God’s word.

It is impossible for us to obey God if we ourselves live in us. However, if Christ only lives in us, obedience is easy. As we have an eternal hope, we can joyfully obey God’s word.

“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” Jn 14:21

Obedient faith is necessary to keep God’s commandments fully. Without obedience it is impossible to keep them. Jesus has also said that only those who do the will of God will enter heaven.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Mt 7:21

Doing God’s will is obedience. Only those who obey God’s will can enter the kingdom of heaven. No matter how long Sunday and Christmas have been observed, if they are distorted doctrines which are not found in the Bible, we must reject them and keep the Sabbath and the Passover instead. This is the duty of those who obey God’s word, right?

The redeemed are those who follow the Lamb wherever He leads them (Rev 14:1–5). God has said He is ready to punish every act of disobedience when our obedience is complete (2 Co 10:6). Considering the parable where Jesus said He would separate people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, we can see the obedience of faith is something that the sheep have. As God said, “My sheep listen to my voice,” the most important criterion for distinguishing between the righteous and the wicked on the day of God’s final judgment is whether or not they obey God’s word (Mt 25:31–46; Jn 10:27). That’s why Christ came to this earth and lived a life of complete obedience to the Father even to the point of death.

Our ancestors demonstrated their faith through obedience

Faith and obedience are inseparable, and faith can be proven through obedience. If a man is confident in his faith but disobeys God’s word, he cannot be said to have faith.

Those who have faith always obey God’s word. One day God called Abraham to test his faith by commanding him to offer his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice. It was hard for him to sacrifice his precious son, who was born to him when he was 100 years old, as a burnt offering. However, Abraham obeyed God’s command immediately. He did not ask, “How can You take away my son, whom I begat at the age of 100?” “Would You please allow me to offer another sacrifice?” Instead, he took Isaac and headed towards Mount Moriah right away. Walking up the mountain, Isaac asked, “Father, the fire and wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” Can you imagine how Abraham must have felt at that time? He answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” When they arrived at Mount Moriah, Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac just as God had told him. Just at that moment, he heard God’s voice say, “Abraham! Do not lay a hand on the boy. Now I know how great your faith is, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” Abraham passed the most difficult test of his life through his obedience to God, and he was greatly blessed by God (Ge 22:1–18).

Noah also had such great faith. When God commanded him to do something beyond human comprehension in those days, he built the ark just as God had told him to do. In obedience to God’s command, he kept his faith, and he and his whole family were saved (Genesis 6–7; Heb 11:7).

During the time of Joshua, the Israelites marched around the city of Jericho seven times and shouted on the seventh day, just as God had told them to do. What happened then? Some might think, ‘Will the walls of the city really collapse if we just march around the city and shout aloud?’ However, when they obeyed God’s command, something amazing happened. We are living in a three-dimensional world, so we cannot fully understand how God operates in the world. That’s why we must obey whatever God says. We may not know the will of God right away, but later we will realize it (Joshua 6; Jn 13:7).

When Gideon’s 300 warriors defeated the huge Midianite army of 135,000 men, God used an unimaginable method as well. At first, there were 32,000 men in the army of Israel. Then 22,000 returned home just as God said, “Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back,” and there remained 10,000. Gideon’s army was so inferior in number to the army of the Midianites, but God said to Gideon, “There are still too many men.” Then He tested the soldiers by a water stream, and chose only 300 men. In obedience to God’s word, Gideon and his 300 men infiltrated the enemy camp during the night. They blew the trumpets, broke the jars, and held the torches high in the air while the Midianites were all sleeping. The Midianite soldiers were so surprised that they began to attack one another, mistaking their comrades for the enemy. The Midianite army was almost completely destroyed, and the Israelite army won a great victory. Their obedience brought them victory (Judges 6–7).

At the time of the Exodus, the Israelites were in a great dilemma; the Red Sea was in front of them and the Egyptian army was pursuing them from behind. Then God said to Moses, “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water.” As Moses stretched out his staff, the sea was divided, so the Israelites could pass safely through the sea (Exodus 14).

All our ancestors proved their faith through their obedience to God. When they obeyed God’s word, amazing things happened—Joshua’s conquest of Canaan, Gideon’s victory, Moses’ miracle, etc. There is no faith where there is no obedience, and God’s work cannot occur where there is no faith. This is the will of God that He shows us through the Bible.

Obedience brings all blessings

How did Abraham and Noah, who had strong faith, demonstrate their faith? How did the Apostle Paul, who had great faith, show his faith? They all proved their faith through their obedience. Christ also obeyed God, even to the point of death, and He was made perfect and exalted above all creation, having the name that is above every name—a title of dignity above angels and all other spiritual beings in heaven.

If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country. The fruit of your womb will be blessed, and the crops of your land and the young of your livestock—the calves of your herds and the lambs of your flocks. Your basket and your kneading trough will be blessed. You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out . . . However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you . . . Dt 28:1–19

The results of obedience are all blessings, and the results of disobedience are all curses. The consequences of obedience and disobedience are definitely different, just as the Bible says: “A man reaps what he sows.”

The Israelites encountered many difficult situations during their journey through the desert. Do you think God led them through the desert where there was no food and no water because He had no power? Certainly not! The Bible says, “God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands” (Dt 8:1–2). We, too, may encounter various difficult situations on our journey of faith through the spiritual desert. Whenever that happens, make sure to remember the Israelites’ journey through the wilderness. Just as God tested Abraham’s faith, He tests our faith in order to know whether we obey Him or not.

Heavenly Father and Mother have come to this earth to save Their children—the people of Zion. Let us obey and follow Them wherever They lead us, believing firmly that Their teachings lead us to eternal life and the kingdom of heaven. It is faith and obedience that we must have as the eternal kingdom of God is drawing near.

God measured Abraham’s faith, Noah’s faith, Gideon’s faith, and Joshua’s faith through their obedience, didn’t He? We should continue to raise our faith quotient through our obedience to God. Thinking of what happened in the past, let us obey God’s good teachings fully and receive all blessings from God. Brothers and sisters in Zion! I earnestly ask you all to have much greater faith than Abraham and Noah, as the firstfruits that please Heavenly Father and Mother and become worthy of Their boasting before the angels and all other spiritual beings in heaven, being united with one another, so that you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of heaven—the kingdom of love—which Heavenly Mother is leading us to.