Recently, I have been exploring the importance of the teacher and the significance of his role within the church body. For the next month or so, that study will be briefly placed aside to look at how the conduct of a Christian plays into all of this.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John bore witness of Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me is preferred before me, for He was before me.’ ” And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.

John 1:1-18

Often, we as Christians view obedience simply as, “I have accepted Christ as my savior, therefore I have obeyed.” The question raised becomes, how true is that statement? Is obedience an ongoing process, or is it a onetime event?

James Montgomery Boice notes that pragmatism is the most characteristic description of contemporary American thought and life; it takes truth and measures it according to its utilitarian value.  Boice illustrates this philosophy best through the industrial revolution, stating “The goal of industrial pragmatism is efficiency leading to low cost, rather than quality, craftsmanship, or aesthetics.  The goal is the find the fastest, least expensive way of producing products and getting things done… But this has been achieved at significant cost! …Quantity has marginalized quality, volume has smothered craftsmanship, and affordability has sabotaged beauty.”[1] You see the whole message of today’s culture is justified in the pragmatic thought, “it works for me.”  On the aspect of religion, the pragmatist would ask: “does this particular religion work for me?”  If it does, then the pragmatist would convert to that religion; if it does not, then the pragmatist will continue exploring other options until he or she finds what works best for them.  There is no room for absolute truth in this philosophy, only truth which is related to the individual seeking it.  In this philosophy, experience always trumps reasoning.  It is this way of thinking which goes against the Bible.

Allow me to draw your attention back to the beginning of John’s gospel: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The pragmatic philosophy does not fit at all with an absolute truth such as John 1:1.  The mere fact that God exists and created us means that pragmatism is false.  In addition, John clarifies his thoughts at the end of his prologue: “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17).  Followers of Christ receive all from the fullness on Him who created all.  There is no further secret still to be revealed, for literally grace instead of grace—complete grace beyond all measure—has been gifted to us.  As the Law was given through Moses, true grace—or literally grace and truth—has come through Jesus Christ.  The notion of whatever works for me cannot function under an absolute truth such as this; everlasting life is through Christ alone.  Christians, for the most part, realize this.  They proclaim that Christ is the only way to heaven.  Yet in practice, many churches and people are pragmatic in their approach to ministry.  It is a paralyzing agent which has wound its way into our churches and our way of doing things.  If it works to bring people into church… and that begins the focus of this study.

Once again read what John wrote.  What role does obedience play in the life of a Christian?  The answer is: Everything!  “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12-13).  Those who believe in His name, that is obey what they have heard; are of God.  They are not born of blood, by the will of the flesh, or by the will of a husband.  This new birth is the exact opposite of natural birth.  This birth only comes through belief in Christ.

If it works, but is not done in accordance with scripture, then it is disobedience.  Obedience in a Christian’s life matters simply because we are God’s.

-Next, obedience and the signs of Messiah; John 1:19-12:50

[1] Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace? (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), p 49-50.

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