The Nature of Saving Faith
“To bring about the obedience of faith” (Rom. 1:5)
It is interesting that when Paul starts this incredibly important missionary letter, the letter to the Romans, he states up front the theological reason for writing it. We know that the practical reason for Paul writing this letter was to secure the support of the church in Rome as he attempted to make his way to Spain to spread the gospel (1:11-13; 15:22-24). But why Romans? Why did Paul write this vast and extensive letter to the church in Rome wherein he explains and fleshes out in great detail the gospel message? He tells us in 1:5— “To bring about the obedience of faith”—and then repeats this same reason at the end of the letter in 16:26, “to bring about the obedience of faith.” What does Paul mean by this phrase and why does he repeat it twice? —“To bring about the obedience of faith.” Paul understands that if we truly believe the gospel, if we truly have faith in Christ, if we truly believe we are sinners in need of a savior and are justified by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, then true and saving faith should manifest itself in a life of obedience to God’s word. This is why the letter to the Romans is laid out the way it is. In chapters 1-3 he argues that all are condemned by the Law. In chapter 4-5 he argues that therefore we are justified by faith alone in Christ alone. In chapters 6-8 he argues that because of what Christ has done for us, we have been freed from the bondage of the Law, though not entirely freed from the obligations of the Law. In chapters 9-11 he argues that salvation is a sovereign and merciful act of God. Then in chapter 12-16 he argues that “in light of the mercies of God” (12:1), in light of all that Christ has done for us, this is how we ought to live. Paul understands that true saving faith in Christ must manifest itself in a life of obedience or it is no faith at all. Theology that does not lead to a life of doxology is nothing more than heterodoxy.
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