When I first came across the scriptures of “obeying” the gospel I didn’t quickly have understanding to their meaning. Why would one have to obey something that is freely given and requires no effort or action on our part? But as I delved deeper into the scriptures, and harmonized the Word of God, clarity came!
The Apostle let’s the child of God know that he should rest assured and be patient because the vengeance of God towards the disobedient, is on the horizon:
“And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 KJV).
It is clear that those who “know not God” are heathen, those who have refused to believe in God. The worthiness of their punishment is obvious. They place their trust in themselves or false deities, they are doomed.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” (Exodus 20:3-5).
But what about those who “obey not the gospel” how are they worthy of judgment if they are not considered heathen and seem to have a type of knowledge towards God? Well, it requires us to harmonize the scriptures. There are plenty of examples of those in the scriptures who had a type of head knowledge of the things of God but then refused to continue in the doctrines of Jesus Christ.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;” (John 8:31).
The Jews were clearly those who had a head knowledge of Jehovah God. They knew the scriptures as far as the Old Covenant was concerned. They considered themselves followers of God. They may have even reverenced God and kept the commandments, however, this wasn’t a total “belief” in the gospel. The word gospel is ‘euaggelion’ in Greek and is defined as good news. The good news is that Christ was the Messiah, that he would die and arise from the dead. He was the long awaited redeemer who would save his people from their sins. The Jews that Jesus was speaking to had believed in Jehovah, but also believed on the Son of God, to an extent. This was a good sign that they were headed in the right direction. There were not as other Jews who forthright considered Jesus a blasphemer for calling himself the Son of God.
“But Jesus held his peace, And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.” (Matthew 26:63-65).
These certain Jews were not that far gone in unbelief, however, they hadn’t arrived in total belief in the gospel and we can see that in Christ’s reply, “if you continue in my word, then ye are my disciples indeed.” Continuance in the belief in the Messiah, Jesus Christ, will culminate into being a true disciple and eventually, salvation. Jesus warned of pretence worship and lackluster faith. It isn’t enough to just profess to be a Christian or say we believe the gospel, we must obey it. I have spoken to many people who say they believe the gospel but they contend with me and justify their sin. They have a ‘different’ gospel in mind, a type of gospel that justifies their sinful behavior and makes them feel they can live how they want to live without a true spiritual conversion and still be accepted by God. I have also seen people passing out little pamphlets telling people to repeat the words on the pamphlet. If they say the words verbatim, then they are immediately saved. This is not true according to the Word of God.
“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” (Matthew 15:8).
By merely repeating words on paper doesn’t change the heart. A person must have a born again experience. The old nature begins to change and the new nature of Jesus Christ begins to manifest in a person’s life. This comes by belief in the gospel and repentance. By responding in faith we show that we not only believe the gospel but we are endeavoring to follow and do what the Word of God tells us to do. When we receive good news we should respond to the good news. If you were on a stranded island and someone yelled that there was an approaching ship to rescue you, you would consider that good news. Now, if you stay there idle and refuse to walk towards the ship and refuse to prepare yourself and leave the habitation you set up, then how are you responding to the good news? The good news requires a response to receive the benefits. Jesus said for the Jews who believed on him to continue in his Word. The words of Jesus Christ issued forth commands. The commands were not a yoke that would put the people in chains but the commands were issued forth to release the prisoners from bondage and give them liberty.
In John 6:66 we see that even a disciple, who believes on Jesus Christ can draw back and be once again be a prisoner of doubt and unbelief:
“From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.”
So I state again, continuance is a necessity in the process of salvation. Belief must not end or reach a plateau, belief must be sustained throughout this life unto the Great Day. The Great Day is when on passes from this life to the next. The Great Day is when the trumpet sounds and the dead in Christ arise to meet the Lord in the air. We which are alive and remain are also caught up together with those resurrected saints to meet the Lord in the air.
“But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matthew 24:13).
In true belief there are within, as stated previously, commands to be met. Obedience to the commands of Jesus Christ are signs that one truly believes the gospel. It’s good news to know that you can be saved by believing the Gospel. How does one respond to that good news? Do they just claim to be a believer yet stay stagnant in their lifestyle refusing to repent and change their ways or refusing to obey the commands? Listen to what Jesus stated:
“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16).
That very scripture in Mark 16:16 is very powerful but often overlooked or taken lightly. There are many who think that baptism is meaningless and is nothing more than an outward show. They don’t hold it to any high value at all. I have even heard so called pastors say that it’s “optional.” How can it be optional when we see it’s a strict command from Jesus Christ himself? Clearly, there are those who refuse to respond in faith and “obey” the gospel. Notice what the Apostle Peter declared:
“Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38).
This sounds like good news to me. One can have their sins washed away, remitted. This is wonderful news. However, there is a stipulation, baptism must be done for that to take place. Now I am not adding to the scripture but reading it verbatim. Baptism in the Name of Jesus Christ is done for the remission of sins. This is good news! There are those who don’t consider this good news however. They label those who believe and obey this scripture Jesus Name only individuals. As if someway this is a bad thing. Why wouldn’t we want to be Jesus Name only? There isn’t power in any other name, other than Jesus Christ!
“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12).
They have twisted a blessed truth of being Jesus Name only and made it out to be something sinister. Woe to those who do such a thing for they are the very ones whom the scripture testifies that are not “obeyers of the gospel.” In obeying the Gospel, the good news, we don’t bicker and complain and try and twist the words of Jesus to fit our denomination or set of false beliefs and doctrines. Rather we conform to the Word of God and continue therein.
We hear good news that we are no longer bound by the old covenant dictates and penalties but now Jesus Christ is our righteousness by faith, he died and arose from the grave, we believe the gospel.
We hear the good news that we can have our sins washed away through baptism in Jesus name, we go to the waters of baptism in Jesus name and have our sins washed away.
We hear the good news that we can receive the Holy Spirit if we ask the Father, we ask the Father for his Spirit and we are then baptized with the Holy Ghost. We are then sealed with the Spirit.
We hear the good news that God commands order in the church and that women are to remain silent and not be speakers in the church, we keep our women quiet and make sure they are not in defiance towards the Word of God. We obey the commands of the Lord concerning order in the church (1 Corinthians 14:37).
These are just a few pieces of good news or the fruit that flourishes from a true belief in the gospel. To disobey the gospel is to be a rebel. To be a rebel against God’s word and commands is to be a disobedient child. The disobedient ones who do not obey will be dealt with accordingly:
“For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:” (Colossians 3:6).
The opening verse speaks on the vengeance of God towards those who do not “know him” and “obey not” his gospel. This punishment for disbelief in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ will be flaming fire and everlasting destruction. There will also be punishment for those who choose to remain idle or refuse to continue in the Word of God. These ‘head knowledge only’ Christians never have a true spiritual conversion, a conversion that causes them to obey all of Jesus’ commands. They rather believe a set of man-made doctrines over Jesus Christ. These are what the bible calls “disobedient children” and upon them the wrath of God will fall. To be one who chooses to please man over God and refuses to comply to the mandates of the Messiah, he has forfeited his faith and taken the mark of rebellion, John 666.