“Father, I fall so short of loving You and LIVING in faith-obedience!”
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This could be the cry of the heart of any one of us when we have forgotten the Source, the Nature, and the Quality of our faith, love, and obedience as Christians. But God is faithful to remind us of what happened at Calvary to each of our earthly lives and naturally good intentions: a great exchange took place – His Life for mine. In his booklet “Spreading Your Global Wings”, Pastor Schaller wrote these encouraging words:
“It is easy for a believer to go to a mission field on the basis of dead works and serve for perhaps years with hard sacrifice simply because of moral duty. God is not primarily interested in our sacrifice. He was not primarily impressed with Jesus Christ’s actions. God was pleased … by His mental obedience, … and walk of faith. … The value of any worker is not primarily his sacrifice, but rather his obedience. Even Jesus Christ’s death on Calvary wasn’t the zenith of His life’s work, but, more accurately, it was a deeper principle: His obedience to His Father by the Word of God. The believer must grow and develop more precisely at this point more than any other. … Your life is not primarily where you are [serving God], but rather the joys, revelations, power, and life of the Word of God. The Word of God engrafted in the heart of the believer builds his capacity for obedience. Obedience is more valuable to God because it is self-less. Sacrifice is not always so. Obedience is the highest form of sacrifice – surrendering your life to God’s service.” (pp.61,62)
The fruit of faith-obedience comes only through resurrection power.
What is the fruit of obedience, in God’s eyes? Pastor Stevens wrote in his booklet “The Dynamics of Obedience”: “The fruit of obedience will bring glory to God, it will edify the Body of Christ, and it will seek and save the lost. This is the Heart of God and the whole purpose of our lives.” (p.20) But how to “get there”, Lord? We are so naturally prone and programmed to try, to strive, to sacrifice, in self-effort. Yet we hear Your still, small Voice saying to our hearts: “Obedience is better than sacrifice.” (I Sam.15:22) Yes, “God did not intend for us to build or work on the basis of our sacrifice … We are to build on the basis of HIS sacrifice … ” (“Spreading Your Global Wings”, p.63). In Psalm 62:12,13 we read that “power belongs to God” but also that He “renders to every man according to his work.” John 6:28,29 helps us to understand this passage: ” … What are we to do that we may be working the works of God?” – i.e., What are we to do to carry out, to obey, what God requires? Jesus replied to His disciples: “This is the work God asks of you: that you believe in the One Whom He has sent [that you … rely on, trust, have faith in His Messenger].” (Amplified Bible) Although the word “requires” is used here, the Lord Jesus is so compassionate and understanding when we feel that we are “of little faith”. Think of the desperate father in Mark 9:23,24, sensing in himself unbelief when he so wanted and needed to believe: “Oh, Lord, I believe! but help my unbelief!” The Lord Jesus saw his heart, accepted what faith he had, and responded with His power and delivered the man’s son of the dumb spirit.
” … that you might know … the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe … “
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It is not surprising then that the Apostle Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus, that they would “know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His Right Hand in the heavenly places, …” (Eph.1:19,20) Again in Ephesians 3:16-20 the apostle encourages the church in Ephesus (and us!) with the truth of God’s power available to work on our behalf: “May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the Spirit …May you be rooted deep in Love and founded securely on Love, that you may have the power and be strong to … grasp with all the saints …what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of God’s Love]; Now to Him Who, by … [the action of His] power that is at work within us, is able to … do superabundantly, far over and above all that we [dare] ask or think … ” Also, let’s not forget the promise in Ephesians 2:10 as well, which says that ” we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined … for us … , that we should walk in them [living the good life which He … made ready for us to live].”
The “exchanged life”: the power of the endless Life within us!
It is His Love we are motivated by, His faith we live by, His obedience we walk in. Click To Tweet
Do we see it?! It is HIS power in us that propels us into action, into “good works” that were preordained that we should walk in them, by faith! We simply BELIEVE, mixing faith (His, in Gal.2:20) with His Word, letting His Love for us press on us on all sides to obey Him (II Cor.5:14, Wuest). And maybe our emotions are dragging behind, kicking and screaming against what our minds, hearts, and wills have decided to do, but not to worry: they’ll catch up sooner or later! And all of this begins at the Cross, where by faith we exchange our lives with all their inadequacies for His Perfect Resurrected Life; then the power of this endless Life (Heb.7:16) takes over, and it truly is, “Not I but Christ” Who is living in and through us to perform what He has called us to do (I Thess.5:24). It is His Love we are motivated by, because He is Love and dwells in us – and is our very life! It is His faith we live by (Gal.2:20; Hab.2:4). It is His obedience we walk in as, by Grace through faith, “we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ” (II Cor.10:5). In short, “as He is, so are we”!
Thank You, Lord, that because of Your Finished Work giving us an exchanged life we can rejoice in the hope of pleasing and glorifying the Father with the fruit of Your obedience at work in and through us: He will be glorified, the Body edified, and many souls will be saved. Thank You for all that was needed for us to be as You are, even while still on this earth.