Paths to Faith-Obedience
When people come to faith in Christ, it sometimes takes a while. They take a journey from not being a believer to full faith and commitment in Jesus. We have discussed the paths of reason and revelation. Although our faith is entirely reasonable, it is God Himself who reveals to us that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Now, for a few days, we will discuss how that obedience leads to the truth.
Our text will be 7:14-17 where John wrote: “But when it was now the midst of the feast [of Tabernacles] Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. 15 The Jews, therefore, were marveling, saying, ‘How has this man become learned, having never been educated?’ 16 Jesus, therefore, answered them, and said, ‘My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. 17If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself” (Jn. 7:14-17).
The Feast of the Tabernacles commemorated Israel’s passage through the desert. It was a festival of thanksgiving for the season’s harvest of grain fruit and wine. The men were required to attend it at Jerusalem.
In the middle of the feast, Jesus went up to the Temple and began to teach. When He taught, the Jews were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” (verse 15). The knowledge and teaching skills that Jesus displayed caused them to be astonished. Their question implied that Jesus was just teaching His own opinion. Jesus answered, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me” (verse 16).
We know that knowledge of the truth leads to obedience. However, it is also true that obedience leads to truth. In my next “thoughts” we will focus on verse 17 and how obedience will help us know the truth.
More Thoughts about Paths to Faith—Obedience
Today, our discussion is about obedience leading to the truth and faith. Jesus declared, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent me. If any man is willing to do His will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from Myself” (John 7:16-17).
In this version, the English translation of the Greek words says, “Is willing to do His will.” The NIV translation is “chooses to do God’s will.” The Greek verb indicates an ongoing act and continuous act. Thus, the meaning is “if anyone continues to be willing or to choose to do God’s will.” The individual who makes this choice continuously accepts what God wants and carries it out.
Next, Jesus says, “he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself.” Here, Jesus is referring to the experiential knowledge of the truth. The facts themselves were already known, but the information has to become a part of the very essence of life itself for the disciples. As believers, we inwardly know that what Jesus says is from God-it is the truth.
Obedience and knowledge of the truth can each lead to the other. As this text teaches, obedience can lead to knowing the truth experientially. The basic facts themselves are already known. We know, also, that knowledge can lead to obedience.
The fact that obedience leads to an experiential knowledge of the truth does not mean that we are saved by works. We are saved by the grace of God who gave His Son for our redemption. Moreover, God’s revelation of the truth is essential. However, the truth remains that obedience to the truth enriches our knowledge of the truth.
More Thoughts about Paths to Faith—Obedience
In my last “thoughts” we discussed the fact that obedience to Christ leads to an experiential knowledge of the truth (John 7:14-17). Today, we will talk about the reasons why obedience leads to truth.
First, a general principle of education is that we learn by doing. One does not fully know what philanthropy is until he or she has given something away. Or, putting this more in church terms, we learn more about being a pastor by actually being a pastor in a local church. This is true of any vocation.
Second, when we strive to reach certain ideals in life, we realize that we cannot do this without faith. This is especially true of the ideals of righteousness. Without faith in Jesus, who is our righteousness, we cannot achieve a righteous status. Our obedience draws us to believe Jesus. When we believe in Him, we then gain experiential knowledge of the truth.
Third, when we try to help others, we often will find ourselves helpless. Indeed, when we try to help accept Jesus and live righteously, we will fail without faith in Christ and the help of the Holy Spirit.
Many secular pragmatists believe in the position that whatever “works for me” is my truth. This is not what Jesus was teaching. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me” (John 14:6). Jesus is the truth, and He taught the truth. When we obey Him, we learn experientially what the truth is. We adhere to Him as our Savior and to what He taught.
George M. Flattery, Ed.D., is the founder of Global University and Network211.