This past Sunday, I spoke at a meeting in The Hague on “faith-obedience”. This is a phrase we encounter twice in Paul’s epistle to the Romans. The letter begins with it and closes with it.
… through Whom we obtained grace and apostleship for faith-obedience among all the nations…
… being made known to all nations for faith-obedience…
Paul’s work among the nations focused on “faith-obedience.” Because both concepts (faith and obedience) are usually interpreted in accord with religion, many are blind to what Paul really had in mind. Paul certainly did not think about religious obligations, neither about what God was asking people to do. No matter how pious, this ignores the essence of the evangel. The Good News Message from God speaks of how God will fulfill His promises through His Son, Jesus Christ. Some people respond to that message, by saying ‘amen’ (= believe), while others do not.
But not all OBEY the evangel, for Isaiah is saying, “Lord, who BELIEVES our TIDINGS?” Consequently, FAITH is out of TIDINGS, yet the tidings through a declaration of Christ.
See there, “obedience of faith” in a nutshell. It starts not only with faith, it stays with it. It is “the fight of faith” not to depart from it, but to be grounded and rooted therein (Col.1:23). The point is to understand the Scriptures from the perspective of faith and not from the perspective of works (Rom.9:32). As Scripture says: “thou shalt love the Lord thy God” and “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” then we can perceive that religiously as commands. So it is also widely preached, accompanied with the guaranteed additional frustrations, since man, by definition, will fall short. In contrast, when we hear with the ear of faith, both statements are no less than amazing promises! “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God” and “thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”, would sound in our ears not different than when Abraham heard, “Thou shalt be a father of many nations.” Abraham, the man of faith understood it and …
"he was invigorated by faith, giving glory to God, being fully assured also, that, what He has promised, He is able to do also."
And in the footsteps of faith (Rom.4:12), we may walk as well!
Translation: Peter Feddema