They were obedient to the faith

“Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith” (Acts 6:7).

What is the difference between believing and being obedient to the faith?

An example will make this clear: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God” (John 12:42, 43).

Contrary to the traditional doctrine of many Protestant denominations, one cannot be saved by faith only. Otherwise these cowardly rulers, who were afraid to confess their faith in Jesus, would also be saved.

Even the demons would be saved if salvation were by faith alone. James writes: “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe --- and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? Do you see that faith was working together with his works, and by works faith was made perfect? And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:19-24).

How is it possible that so many people think they can be saved by faith only when the Holy Spirit distinctly states that a man is not justified by faith only!

The priests in Acts six were obedient to the faith!

What is meant by 'the faith' and how does one obey this faith?

What is the faith?

“The faith” is the doctrine of Christ that Christians believe and obey.

They “continue in the faith” (Acts 14:22; Colossians 1:23), “keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), “stand fast in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13), they are “established in the faith” (Colossians 2:7), “sound in the faith” (Titus 1:13) and “steadfast in the faith” (1 Peter 5:9).

Paul preached “the faith which he once tried to destroy” (Galatians 1:23).

He tells Christians: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). “Some will depart from the faith” (1 Timothy 4:1), some have “denied the faith” (1 Timothy 5:8), “some have strayed from the faith” (1 Timothy 6:10, 21).

Notice that one obeys 'the' faith. There is “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5). This one faith, that must be obeyed, is the original faith revealed by Christ and made known through His apostles in the first century: “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

This one faith is the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At God's command the gospel has been made known to the whole world by means of sacred Scriptures: “Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began but now made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith” (Romans 16:25, 26). Why was the gospel made known to all nations? “For obedience to the faith.”

Faith and obedience go together: “Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name” (Romans 1:5).

The gospel must be obeyed.

Although faith alone is not sufficient, faith is the starting point. Someone who does not believe the message, will not obey the gospel: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, 'LORD, who has believed our report?'” (Romans 10:16).

What will happen to those who, like the Jewish rulers, do believe but refuse to obey? When Jesus returns he will take “vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7, 8).

On the day of judgment there will be indignation and wrath for those who “do not obey the truth” (Romans 2:8).

What is the gospel?

The word 'gospel' means 'good news'.

The good news is that we can be reconciled to God by the blood of Christ.

“All have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and sin separates us from God. “Your iniquities have separated you from your God” (Isaiah 59:2).

Only the blood of Christ can cleanse us from sin.

Many people do not understand how blood can take away sins.

Because sin is rebellion against God, God determines how sins are forgiven. God has given blood as the means of atonement. In Leviticus 17:11 He explains: “The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

Atonement is satisfaction for an offense, resulting in the mending of a broken relationship.

“According to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). Under the Old Covenant there was atonement through the blood of animals. This prefigured the blood of Christ, the true Lamb of God.

“For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4).

“Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through

the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Hebrews 9:12-14).

“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Christ was qualified to pay the penalty for our sin because He Himself was without sin. Since He was not under the same condemnation, He could voluntarily take our place. “Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

What must we do to obey this good news?

We must believe in Christ.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

If you believe in Christ, that is wonderful.

But if you have accepted the false doctrine that one can be saved by faith only, you are still lost. James wrote: “You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). No one in the New Testament was ever told that he could be saved by faith only.

Repentance is also necessary.

Repenting is being sorry for one's sins and deciding to obey God.

Jesus told His hearers: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:5). In addition to believing, one must repent.

One must also confess his faith.

Peter confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16). Paul wrote: “With the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:10). Timothy had “confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1 Timothy 6:12).

If you believe in Jesus, have repented of your sins, and have confessed your faith, that is wonderful.

Yet, if you accepted the false doctrine that baptism is not necessary for salvation, you are still lost, even if you have been immersed.

One must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

It is not enough just to believe “ in” Jesus. One must also believe Jesus, believe what He teaches. And Jesus said: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:16).

Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, commanded: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38).

If you were not “baptized for the remission of sins” but only “as an outward sign” according to the practice of many human denominations, you have not obeyed the gospel and are still lost. According to the commandment of the Holy Spirit, everyone must be baptized for the forgiveness of sins.

Paul was told: “Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord” (Acts 22:16). If Paul had to be baptized to wash away his sins, is anything less required of you?

By one Spirit we are “all baptized into one body” (1 Corinthians 12:13) which is the church of Christ (Ephesians 1:22, 23). The Lord adds those who are saved to His church (Acts 2:47).

Have you been obedient to the faith? Have you obeyed the gospel?

If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, if you are sorry for your sins and want to dedicate your life to God, if you are willing to confess your faith in Christ, but have not yet been baptized for the forgiveness of sins, we urge you to do so as soon as possible so your sins can be blotted out, washed away by the blood of the Lamb, so you can be saved and added to the church of Christ. Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.

Published in The Old Paths Archive