By 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…
Obedience — what a blessing it would be if we were all trained to it by the Holy Spirit! How fully should we be restored if we were perfect in it! Oh, for obedience! It has been supposed by many ill-instructed people that the doctrine of justification by faith is opposed to the teaching of good works, or obedience. There is no truth in the supposition. We preach the obedience of faith. Faith is the fountain, the foundation, and the fosterer of obedience. Obedience, such as God can accept, never cometh out of a heart which thinks God a liar, but is wrought in us by the Spirit of the Lord, through our believing in the truth and love and grace of our God in Christ Jesus. There is a free-grace road to obedience, and that is receiving by faith the Lord Jesus, who is the gift of God, and is made of God unto us sanctification. We accept the Lord Jesus by faith, and He "Leaches us obedience, and creates it in us. The more of faith in Him you have, the more of obedience to Him will you manifest.
I. THE KIND OF FAITH WHICH PRODUCES OBEDIENCE.
1. It is, manifestly, faith in God as having the right to command our obedience. He has a greater claim upon our ardent service than He has upon the services of angels; for while they were created as we have been, yet they have never been redeemed by precious blood.
2. Next, we must have faith in the rightness of all that God says or does. We hear people talk about "minor points," and so on; but we must not consider any word of our God as a minor thing if by that expression is implied that it is of small importance. We must accept every single word of precept or prohibition or instruction as being what it ought to be, and neither to be diminished nor increased. We should not reason about the command of God as though it might be set aside or amended. He bids: we obey.
3. Furthermore, we must have faith in the Lord's call upon us to obey. We, who are His chosen, redeemed from among men, called out from the rest of mankind, ought to feel that if no other ears hear the Divine call, our ears must hear it; and if no other heart obeys, our soul rejoices to do so.
4. Obedience arises out of a faith which is to us the paramount principle of action. The kind of faith which produces obedience is lord of the understanding, a royal faith. The true believer believes in God beyond all his belief in anything else and everything else.
II. THE KIND OF OBEDIENCE WHICH FAITH PRODUCES.
1. Genuine faith in God creates a prompt obedience. "By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed." There was an immediate response to the command. Delayed obedience is disobedience.
2. Next, obedience should be exact. "Abraham, when he was called to go out... went out." That which the Lord commands we should do — just that, and not another thing of our own devising. Mind your jots and tittles with the Lord's precepts. Attention to little things is a fine feature in obedience: it lies much more as to its essence in the little things than in the great ones.
3. And next, mark well that Abraham rendered practical obedience. The religion of mere brain and jaw does not amount to much. We want the religion of hands and feet. I remember a place in Yorkshire, years ago, where a good man said to me, "We have a real good minister." I said, "I am glad to hear it." "Yes," he said; "he is a fellow that preaches with his feet." Well, now, that is a capital thing if a preacher preaches with his feet by walking with God, and with his hands by working for God. He does well who glorifies God by where he goes and by what he does; he will excel fifty others who only preach religion with their tongues.
4. Next, faith produces a far-seeing obedience. Note this. "Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance." How great a company would obey God if they were paid for it on the spot! Those who practise the obedience of faith look for the reward hereafter, and set the greatest store by it. To their faith alone the profit is exceeding great. To take up the cross will be to carry a burden, but it will also be to find rest.
5. Yet, remember that the obedience which comes of true faith is often bound to be altogether unreckoning and implicit; for it is written, "He went out, not knowing whither he went." Even bad men will obey God when they think fit; but good men will obey when they know not what to think of it. It is not ours to judge the Lord's command, but to follow it.
6. The obedience which faith produces must be continuous. Having commenced the separated life, Abraham continued to dwell in tents and sojourn in the land which was far from the place of his birth. His whole life may be thus summed up: "By faith Abraham obeyed." He believed, and therefore walked before the Lord in a perfect way. Do not cultivate doubt, or you will soon cultivate disobedience. Set this up as your standard, and henceforth be this the epitome of your life — "By faith he obeyed."
III. THE SORT OF LIFE WHICH WILL COME OF THIS FAITH AND OBEDIENCE.
1. It will be, in the first place, life without that great risk which else holds us in peril. A man runs a great risk when he steers himself. Rocks or no rocks, the peril lies in the helmsman. The believer is no longer the helmsman of his own vessel; he has taken a pilot on board. To believe in God, and to do His bidding, is a great escape from the hazards of personal weakness and folly. Providence is God's business, obedience is ours. What harvest will come of our sowing we must leave with the Lord of the harvest; but we ourselves must look to the basket and the seed, and scatter our handfuls in the furrows without fail.
2. In the next place, we shall enjoy a life free from its heaviest cares. If we were in the midst of the wood, with Stanley, in the centre of Africa, our pressing care would be to find our way out; but when we have nothing to do but to obey, our road is mapped out for us. Jesus says, "Follow Me"; and this makes our way plain, and lifts from our shoulders a load of cares.
3. The way of obedience is a life of the highest honour. By faith we yield our intelligence to the highest intelligence: we are led, guided, directed; and we follow where our Lord has gone. Among His children, they are best who best know their Father's mind, and yield to it the gladdest obedience. Should we have any other ambition, within the walls of our:Father's house, than to be perfectly obedient children before Him and implicitly trustful towards Him?
4. But this is a kind of life which will bring communion with God. Obedient faith is the way to eternal life; nay, it is eternal life revealing itself.
5. The obedience of faith creates a form of life-which may be safely copied. As parents, we wish so to live that our children may copy us to their lasting profit. Children usually exaggerate their models; but there will be no fear of their going too far in faith or in obedience to the Lord.
6. Lastly, faith working obedience is a kind of life which needs great grace. Every careless professor will not live in this fashion. It will need watchfulness and prayer, and nearness to God, to maintain the faith which obeys in everything. "He giveth more grace." The Lord will enable us to add to our faith all the virtues.
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: By 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.