The Obedience by Faith

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“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should afterward receive for an inheritance obeyed; and he went out not knowing whither he went” (Heb. 11:88By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. (Hebrews 11:8)). Obedience of faith is involved in the submission of heart of all who truly listen to the gospel of His Son Jesus our Lord. For in no other way are received the great facts of His incarnation (made of the seed of David according to the flesh), His death on the cross as a sacrifice for sin, and the triumphant vindication of the glory and holiness of His blessed person by resurrection from among the dead.
The gospel is therefore preached unto all the nations for obedience of faith in the act of submission to it as God's righteousness (Rom. 1:3-53Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; 4And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: 5By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: (Romans 1:3‑5)). This is an essential principle; and nothing less suits God's righteousness; and as it is a revelation of grace working in Christ bringing life, pardon and peace to such as were under wrath, it should be by grace simple and immediate. Grace by itself is undoubtedly attractive in its presentation; at least it would be so, were men left to themselves. But beneath the indifference or contempt of the natural man towards the things of God, there is the positive enmity of which Gen. 3:1515And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Genesis 3:15) gives us the origin. Satan will not willingly part with his captives. Hence the commandment of God to repent and believe the gospel meets with the most determined opposition from the sinner who is to be saved, no less at first than from all who wholly reject it. The evangelist must remember that he is not only a witness of grace, but of the glory of a risen Christ, and of righteousness which, having placed Him there, requires submission of heart and faith-obedience, as indispensable for all who would profit by the salvation which He has wrought.
The condition of the world too had to be considered. You cannot go on with Christ and Satan, nor yet with the Father and the world. The cross has made it an impossibility. The world to-day is that which crucified the beloved and only-begotten Son of the Father; it hates the light, and refuses God's testimony to a risen and glorified Christ; it loves everything which can appeal to the mind of the flesh; it “lieth in the wicked one.” A powerful government of a prosperous nation has no difficulty in getting its laws obeyed, and itself respected, because it offers protection of life and property, so that the law-abiding citizen finds it to his profit to obey. It is not so with obedience of faith, nor with the practical obedience to which faith leads. Satan has given his own character to the elements which constitute the world.
Abram was called out from the demonolatry of the world in his day, that he might enter into the mind of God concerning it, viz: its judgment, prefigured by the destruction of the cities of the plain (Gen. 19), and its compulsory subjection to Christ in the day of His power (“Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies”), and finally the full blessing of the world as such after judgment. This is quite a different thing from the call of grace now, and the Spirit of God in the heart and conscience of the individual. For God now separates from the world to walk with Himself; but Gen. 22:1717That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; (Genesis 22:17)1 points on to a time of earthly blessedness under the reign of Christ in millennial days. If Adam had not disobeyed God in Eden, his obedience would have been his natural duty and natural blessing, but not “obedience of faith” for life eternal and glory in the heavens; for the power and goodness of God were in evidence in such a way as rendered faith in the Savior unnecessary. The obedience and homage of the nations to the King in the day of which Psa. 72 speaks will be the result of displayed glory and power in judgment. So too Psa. 110, “Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power;” whereas the Jews were unwilling in the day of His weakness. But then too the Gentiles must bow. “The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish.”
It is for faith now to discern the glory of a risen Christ, and to obey One whose power is not now displayed. There are two things necessary to produce the perfect result. God deigns to call, and the soul must be impressed with a sense of the authority of Him who calls. We read that many are called but few chosen; for we might say that the gospel invitation is a call from God to every sinner that hears it to come into the “fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Cor. 1:99God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:9)). “But they (Israel) have not all obeyed the gospel.” They were already in revolt from the One who called; and while many excuses were pleaded, the real reason was that they were not in sympathy with the divine purpose but in antagonism thereto. They refused to submit to Him whom the Father would make both Lord and Christ (Matt. 22:1-141And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said, 2The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son, 3And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come. 4Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise: 6And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them. 7But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. 8Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy. 9Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. 11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: 12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. 13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 14For many are called, but few are chosen. (Matthew 22:1‑14)).
As for Abram, the God of glory appeared unto him with a distinct call to leave his country, and separate himself from his kindred, and await further instructions. Its principle involved the moral judgment of the world and the rupture of every natural link with it. We learn from Acts 7 that obedience was not immediate, while Heb. 11 presents only the result when reached. God has long patience; but at last the pruning knife is used. Terah (the principal hindrance, as we may judge) is removed, and Abram fully obeyed. Yet even then nature manifested itself in such a way that he takes with him one who did not receive the personal call, and could only prove an encumbrance and a thorn in his side. However this was not so serious a mistake as allowing himself to be taken by his father, which was not obedience. And if Lot had shown himself worthy of such a portion, he might, for all we know, have shared with his uncle the blessing and dignity of walking by faith before God. Yet all proves the absolute necessity of an individual call, and a personal revelation of glory. The heart indeed must be strengthened and elevated in a very special way by God Himself to refuse the entreaties of nature, to overcome the world, and to walk with God in the face of the great enemy. One must be like Levi who “said unto his father and his mother, I have not seen him, neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children” (Deut. 33:8-118And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah; 9Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant. 10They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar. 11Bless, Lord, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again. (Deuteronomy 33:8‑11)).
“Into the land of Canaan they came;” and as the Canaanite was then in the land, Abram recognized the necessity of making good his position and maintaining his relations with God Himself by means of the altar and afterward the tent; so that he was first a worshipper, then a sojourner.
At a later day, the little remnant of returned captives (his descendants) were led of God's Spirit to place the altar of God between their enemies and themselves (Ezra 3:11And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem. (Ezra 3:1)). If we, as saints of God and partakers of a heavenly calling, would walk before God in obedience by faith, we too shall find that the “Canaanite” is in the land ("spiritual wickednesses in heavenly places"). And we must make good our position on the same principle: inside the veil because Christ is there; and outside the camp, because Jesus suffered without the gate. For “here we have no continuing city, but we seek the coming one.” G.S.B.