John 3:36 “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”
John puts these words in the mouth of John the Baptist. Whether he was who spoke them is not important, because they are certainly true. God’s plan of salvation is shockingly simple: faith, period. The Japanese is a little clearer here in defining that faith, because where the NIV gives “rejects” as the antonym to faith, the Japanese says “does not listen obediently to.” If we really believe in Him we will love Him, and as Jesus Himself said, if we love Him we will obey Him. (John 14:15) This points up the distinction between faith and intellectual ascent. If we believe a chair will hold us up we will sit in it. However, the chair might or might not be worthy of such faith. The thing about Jesus is that He is absolutely worthy of our total faith. He is more than worthy of the statement Paul made not long before He was martyred: “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12) Saving faith produces loving obedience.
I find myself wondering at times how obedient I am. However, as God reminded me just this past week, He’s the Judge of that. I look at myself and see flaws without limit, and that drives me to greater dependence on His grace. I desire to hear Him accurately and consistently and obey Him with zero hesitation, but that remains as an aspiration rather than an accomplishment. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, I’m not fully there yet! (Philippians 3:12-14) However, God has certainly placed the desire in me, and He is working in me to bring that to fruition. (Philippians 2:13) My declaration of the Gospel must be salvation by grace through faith, but at the same time I am not to leave off the loving obedience that saving faith generates. Our Verse for the Year is Ephesians 2:10, speaking of doing the things God has prepared for us to do. I am not to leave that out of my message, and I am to seek always to improve my own level of obedience.
Father, thank You for this reminder, particularly at the beginning of a new year. May 2023 indeed mark steadily improving obedience, even as You’ve had me saying in my Faith Declarations for many years now, so that Your will may be done through me indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!