Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 10, 1968
NUMBER 23, PAGE 4,5b

Obedient Faith


Do you know what faith is? Real faith? We hear and read so much from denominational pulpits and press about the doctrine of justification by "faith only" that we wonder if any of those professing such doctrine have the remotest idea of "saving faith" as taught in the Word of God. The reason we wonder is because invariably those who advocate "faith only" disavow the need for any acts of obedience that follow the "moment of faith."

A case in point is the widely quoted and circulated sermon of Sam Morris, one time pastor of the First Baptist Church, Stamford, Texas, portions of which follow:

"We take the position that a Christian's sins do not damn his soul. The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul. That is settled in Christ and Christ alone..."Being justified by faith we have peace with God.'...'Believe on the Lord Jesus and thou shalt be saved.'

These and many other scriptures teach that man's salvation and the justification of his soul depend entirely upon his faith in Christ. The sin question is a Son question; salvation is a trust question; damnation is a disbelief question. All the prayers a man may pray, all the Bibles he may read, all the sermons he may practice, all the debts he may pay, all the ordinances he may observe, all the laws he may keep, all the benevolent acts he may perform will not make his soul one whit safer; and all the acts he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger." (Emphasis mine — JDT)

Mr. Morris goes on to state in his sermon that sins will bring certain unhappy results, but they will not cause one to be lost! This is a classic presentation of the popular Calvinistic doctrine of "once saved, always saved." A logical consequence of the doctrine is seen in the deeds of James L. Pettit, a Baptist preacher from Benton, Illinois, who was convicted of "statutory rape in a case involving a 14-year-old girl who is eight months pregnant." The account says "Pauline Fowler testified she and Pettit were intimate several times, starting last summer (1950 — JDT) when he was pastor of her church." Pettit told the girl "their relations were a matter of the flesh only and do not bother the soul." Countless similar instances could be cited. We must point out that many sincere people who accept the doctrine of "salvation by faith only" and "once saved, always saved" do not condone such actions, but it is nevertheless true that denominational preachers in public debate are on record as admitting that such actions as that of the Illinois preacher will not cause one to be lost. This is a proper interpretation of the doctrine, and is in keeping with the sermon presented by Mr. Morris: "The way a Christian lives, what he says, his character, his conduct, or his attitude toward other people have nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul." That, dear reader, is salvation by faith only. All this in spite of plain New Testament teaching such as James 2:24: "Ye see that by works a man is justified, and not only by faith." Such passages could fill the page. It is true that the Bible teaches man is justified or saved by faith, but never by faith alone.

But back to our opening question: do you know what faith is? Real faith? A genuine understanding of Bible faith will remove any false conceptions entertained by those who seek to remove obedience as a necessary expression of faith. The Bible is filled with examples of what real, saving faith is.

Did you ever pick up a snake by the tail? I never did, and hope I never have occasion so to do. But Moses did. In fact, the Lord commanded him to! (Exodus 4:1-5) Moses had cast his rod on the ground only to watch it become a snake. The Lord then told Moses to reach forth his hand and take it by the tail, even though Moses had fled from before it. Now, anyone with good sense knows that you do not pick up a snake by the tail. That's a sure way to get bitten! Now, Moses believed in God, but he also obeyed God. That is real faith — obedience even when it seems completely unreasonable. Unfortunately, Moses forgot this in later years. In Numbers 20, we have the record of the people's complaint about a lack of water. The Lord told Moses to take his rod and speak unto a rock, that it might bring forth water:

"And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; shall we bring you forth water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice: and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle. And Jehovah said unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed not in me, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore, ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them." ( Numbers 20:10-12)

Notice what happened. Moses still believed in God — he had faith — but not an obedient faith. Later God took Moses upon the mountain of Abarim to "behold the land which I have given unto the children of Israel. And when thou hast seen it, thou also shalt be gathered unto thy people, as Aaron thy brother was gathered; because ye rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin, in the strife of the congregation, to sanctify me at the waters before their eyes." (Num. 27:12-14) Moses was not allowed to enter in to the promised land, which was a type of heaven, because' he did not obey.

Turning to the New Testament, let us consider some pertinent questions. (1) Can one be saved who does not love God? "If ye love me, ye will keep my commandments." (John 14:15) "For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous." (I John 5:3) "If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be anathema (devoted to destruction)." (I Cor. 16:22) (2) Can one be saved who has a dead faith? "What doth it profit, my brethren, if man say he hath faith, but have not works? can that faith save him?...Even so faith, if it have not works, is dead in itself...Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well: the demons also believe, and shudder. But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith apart from works is barren...For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, even so faith apart from works is dead." (James 2:14-26) (3) Can one be saved who does not obey God? "...(Christ) became unto all them that obey him the author of eternal salvation. (Heb. 5:9) The Lord is going to come "rendering vengeance to them that know not God. and to them that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus: who shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might. (II Thess. 1:9)

The answers are evident. Therefore. which shall it be for you? "Faith only." as taught by denominations of men? Or "obedient faith," as taught by the New Testament? Consider it well, for eternity is in the balance. — JDT