Known by Obedience
According to the commandment of the everlasting God, for obedience to the faith.
Did you know it’s not faith plus obedience that equals salvation, but obedient faith that equals salvation? True faith is verified in your obedience to God.
Because Jesus is Lord, He demands obedience. There is no faith without obedience. Paul said to the Roman Christians, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world” (Rom. 1:8). And why was their faith spoken of throughout the world? Romans 16:19 explains: “Your obedience has become known to all.” In the beginning, it is your faith that is spread abroad, but in the end it is your obedience.
Faith that excludes obedience won’t save anyone. The delusion that it will causes many people to take the broad road that leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13–14). That’s like building a religious super–structure on sand (Matt. 7:21–29).
Build your life in obedience to Christ. Then you’ll know that you belong to Him.
|January 19||Christ’s Gentle Example|
“Walk … with all … gentleness.”
Jesus is the greatest example of gentleness: He became angry when God the Father was dishonored, but not when He, the Son, was.
Jesus Christ is our supreme example of gentleness. Paul refers specifically to this in 2 Corinthians 10:1. Jesus Himself said, “I am gentle and humble in heart” (Matt. 11:29).
Jesus showed righteous indignation when it was proper. When He found the Temple filled with people selling exorbitantly priced sacrificial animals, He drove them out, pouring out their money and overturning tables (Matt. 21:12). He told them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers’ den” (v. 13). Jesus later said to the scribes and Pharisees, “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how shall you escape the sentence of hell?” (23:33). He did not stand idly by while the Temple was defiled. He spoke out in judgment against hypocrites who dishonored God.
Even though Jesus became angry when God was maligned, He neither retaliated against nor condemned those who attacked Him. “Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Peter 2:21–23). When God’s Temple was defiled, Jesus cleaned it out. But when the temple of His body was defiled, enduring the agony of the cross, with mockers all around, all He said was, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). That’s supreme gentleness—total selflessness.
It’s so easy to strike back when someone criticizes or attacks us, but that’s not the way of the gentle Christian trying to walk worthy. The only time we should let the lion in us roar is when God’s honor is at stake. Jesus forgave those who crucified Him. How can we do any less to those who hurt us?
Suggestions for Prayer: We all fall short of Christ’s example of gentleness. Pray that God would help you each day to reflect more and more the gentleness of Christ.
For Further Study: Read the account of Christ’s arrest and crucifixion in Matthew 26:47–27:50. Did He have the power to strike back (26:53)? ✧ Find all the instances you can in which Christ demonstrated His gentleness.
WE BEGIN WITH GOD
By him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible…and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Now, I know that some have said about me: “That man is always talking about God!” I can only say in reply that if that is the only charge that anyone can properly bring against me, I will be quite a happy man. I know that I talk a lot about God—about the triune God, because I still believe in God. I believe in Him as God Almighty, the Father, and Jesus Christ, His Son and our Lord, and the Holy Spirit, the Comforter.
We do begin with God here, where all truth begins, for God is the one true and absolute reality. Back of all, and underneath and supporting all things, He girds the universe and holds it up and guides it.
God does that. That is the only explanation for the universe and the only explanation of human life, for as Creator He gives to human life its meaning and significance.
He is the sacred meaning that gives validity to all meaning. Exclude God from your thinking and you will find yourself with no sense of moral values—you will have no standard of right or wrong. EFE040
Lord, may I also talk “too much” about You. May I keep You first in everything I do, think or say today. Enable me by Your Spirit, I pray, in Jesus’ name. Amen. 
Why Jesus Rejected Sensationalism
“On the other hand, it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”—Matt. 4:7
The Lord Jesus had two good reasons for not participating in a worldly spectacle such as jumping from the temple roof. First, such sensationalism is captive to the laws of diminishing returns. To generate and hold people’s allegiance to Him merely by stunning signs, Jesus would have needed to produce greater and greater signs. People would never have been satisfied and would always have demanded just one more miracle, one additional showy event. Real faith would not have been certain; they would have been lovers of sensation more than God, which similarly could happen to any of us who don’t trust God’s already revealed will.
Second, and more important, for Jesus to participate in sensational signs would have demonstrated a profound mistrust in His heavenly Father and a presumptuous, faithless testing of God. But that’s what the devil wanted so that Jesus’ sin would shatter His claim to divinity and ruin humanity’s hope of salvation. Such an action would have questioned the Father’s providence and love—and the wisdom of His redemptive plan.
If our sinless Savior and Lord shunned sensationalism, we as imperfect men and women ought never to live recklessly or carelessly, expecting God to rescue us when we get into earthly trouble or spiritual peril.
|Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a risk-taker. But looking honestly at your own life, do you spot some behaviors that are spiritually risky, actions that presume on the grace of God? In humble repentance today, surrender these things to the Lord. Receive, but don’t force, His great mercy.|
But without faith it is impossible to please him.
Too many Christian leaders, acting like enthusiastic promoters, are teaching that the essence of faith is this: “Come to Jesus—it will cost you nothing!”
The price has all been paid—“it will cost you nothing!”
Brethren, that is a dangerous half-truth. There is always a price connected with salvation and with discipleship.
God’s grace is free, no doubt about that. No one in the wide world can make any human payment toward the plan of salvation or the forgiveness of sins.
I take issue on Bible grounds with the statement that “everyone in the world has faith—all you have to do is turn your faith loose.”
That is truly a misconception of what the Bible teaches about men and God and faith. Actually, faith is a rare and wonderful plant that lives and grows only in the penitent soul.
The teaching that everyone has faith is simply a form of humanism in the guise of Christianity. I warn you that any faith that belongs to everybody is not the faith that saves. It is not that faith which is a gift of God to the broken and contrite heart!
Lord, I praise You for extending Your grace so freely to me. I repent of any sins I have committed, both knowingly and unknowingly. Help my faith in You to grow today.
|January 19||Embracing the Truth|
“In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed . . .” (Eph. 1:13).
The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him.
After stating salvation from God’s perspective in verse 12, Paul here states it from man’s perspective. Faith in Christ is your response to God’s elective purpose in your life. Those two truths—God’s initiative and man’s response—coexist throughout Scripture.
Paul rightly called the gospel “the message of truth” because truth is its predominant characteristic. Salvation was conceived by the God of truth (Ps. 31:5) and purchased by the Son, who is the truth (John 14:6) and is applied by the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). To know it is to know the truth that sets men free (John 8:32). Believers are people of the truth (John 18:37), and they worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:24) and obey the Word of truth (John 17:17).
Yet, as profound and powerful as God’s truth is, people have rejected, neglected, redefined, and opposed it for centuries. Some, like Pilate, cynically deny that truth even exists or that it can be known by men (John 18:38). Others foolishly think that denying truth will somehow make it go away.
Perhaps you’ve heard someone say, “Jesus may be true for you, but that doesn’t mean He has to be true for me.” That view assumes that belief somehow determines truth. But just the opposite is the case. Truth determines the validity of one’s belief. Believing a lie doesn’t make it true. Conversely, failing to believe the truth doesn’t make it a lie.
The gospel is true because Jesus is true, not simply because Christians believe in Him. His resurrection proved the truth of His claims and constitutes the objective basis of our faith (Rom. 1:4; 1 Peter 1:3).
You will face today armed with the message of truth and empowered by the Spirit of truth. Truth is your protection and strength (Eph. 6:14). Lost souls desperately need to hear that truth. Represent it well, and proclaim it with boldness.
Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that by His Spirit He has enabled you to understand His truth (1 Cor. 2:14–16). ✧ Ask for wisdom and boldness to speak His truth in love (Eph. 4:15).
For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 15:1–11 and Acts 17:30–31. ✧ What key elements of the gospel does Paul list? ✧ What is the relationship between Christ’s resurrection and God’s judgment on sinners?
OBEDIENCE: THE FINAL TEST OF LOVE FOR CHRIST
He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…and I wilt love him, and will manifest myself to him.
The final test of love is obedience, not sweet emotions, not willingness to sacrifice, not zeal, but obedience to the commandments of Christ!
Our Lord drew a line plain and tight for everyone to see. On one side He placed those who keep His commandments and said, “These love Me.” On the other side He put those who keep not His sayings, and said, “These love Me not.”
The commandments of Christ occupy in the New Testament a place of importance that they do not have in current evangelical thought. The idea that our relation to Christ is revealed by our attitude to His commandments is now considered legalistic by many influential Bible teachers, and the plain words of our Lord are rejected outright or interpreted in a manner to make them conform to religious theories ostensibly based upon the epistles of Paul.
The Christian cannot be certain of the reality and depth of his love until he comes face-to-face with the commandments of Christ and is forced to decide what to do about them. Then he will know!
I think we should turn for a while from finespun theological speculations about grace and faith and humbly read the New Testament with a mind to obey what we see there. Love for Christ is a love of willing, as well as a love of feeling, and it is psychologically impossible to love Him adequately unless we will to obey His words!
 MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 30). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.
 MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 27). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 31). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.
 Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.