Summary: God is calling everyone from everywhere through the Gospel of Jesus Christ to what??? The obedience of faith... What is that all about? Let’s see what Romans says.

Our Wednesday night New Year’s lock-in was a wonderful experience. This was the best way to bring in the New Year I have ever experienced! The last few years I have tried to be in bed by 10:00 p.m. and dream in the new year. The very last thing I care to do is watch a two ton ball of lights be lowered into a mob of partiers. Maybe I’m just shallow, but I’ve never quite grasped the significance of that one. But, what happened here this past New Year had eternal significance. And I wish such things could happen every night! There were about 60 of us, counting adults. God moved all of our hearts through a devotional the David Proctor lead us in. He and Debbie wrote 50 brief statements about Jesus on address labels and handed one out to every one of the youth that were here and a couple of us adults. He also gave us all a Dixie cup and a glow stick that glows when you bend it and break the little capsule inside. All the lights were turned out and after a few songs David talked about a world in darkness and how Jesus is the light of the world. Then we all bent our glow sticks and the whole assembly filled with light. David told us that when we follow Jesus, others can see the light in our lives. Everyone read the statement of faith from the labels we all had and talked about their meaning. At his conclusion he invited anyone who was ready to respond to Christ to let it be known. Right afterward Elon, who has been thinking about this for some time, and discussing it with her parents made her decision to follow Jesus Christ and be baptized for remission of sins. All of us gathered to witness and celebrate her baptism into Christ.

After that Seth and Anna Noreman, Stacy Laman’s nephew and niece wanted to be baptized as well. They called and their mom and dad and sister came with Coy, Jan, and Stacy and they were here to see Seth and Anna baptized into Christ as well. The lights that came down here at midnight brought about a celebration in heaven itself! I was never so thankful to be awake that late, (or early) on New Years!

What a great thing for parents and children to do together! This was a time of blessing for all of us.

Today is the first Sunday of 2009. We begin this year in the New Testament book of Romans. It is very significant that Romans begins and ends this letter talking about the “obedience of faith.” Look at Romans 1: niv5 Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith.

nkjv5 Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,

nasb5 through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles, for His name’s sake,

nlt5 Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name.

Now look at chapter 16:

nasb26 but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith;

kjv26 But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith:

nkjv26 but now has been made manifest, and by the prophetic Scriptures has been made known to all nations, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith;

niv26 but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him—

The problem here is how to understand the relationship between faith and obedience. This problem has plagued Christian thinkers for a long time now. Romans leans heavily on the faith side of the equation. But properly understood, obedience that comes from faith also proves the genuineness of that faith and is inseparable from it. To divorce faith and obedience is to deny the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is rooted in the obedient faith of Jesus himself. The gospel which is God’s power to save us, reveals a righteousness that is by faith.

The words translated obey or obedience occur 11 times in Romans, the words translated believe or faith occur 60 times. Interesting to me is that the words for faith stop abruptly at Romans 5:2 and do not pick up again until Romans 9:30. In the very heart of Romans, in chapter 6 the words for obedience occur five times. Let me just read the chapter… (read it).

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