Michele and I enjoyed a profitable trip to San Salvador, El Salvador to visit a church plant we are privileged to be a part of. I had the privilege of conducting preaching workshops to area pastors and preaching in the church plant and the mother church. My translator, Edwin Garcia, was incredible (unlike Michele, my Spanish is horrible!).
But what I learned about the connection between faith and obedience was interesting.
Once during the preaching workshop and once during a sermon, it became very clear that I had to be crystal clear that faith in Christ creates the desire and capacity for Christians to act in ways the Scriptures demanded.
At one point during a workshop the senior pastor asked to comment. He was fearful that his parishioners were hearing a kind of salvation-by-works message. That’s because I was explaining the need to obey Christ’s teaching. He didn’t know that I hadn’t gotten to the part where I would say:
“Obedience to this teaching doesn’t make you a Christian. You do not become a Christian by doing this, you do this because you are a Christians. Faith in Christ creates the desire and capacity to do this.”
The pastor was relieved when I finally got to this point. I don’t blame him. But as I watched the faces of participants and congregants that week, I realized how important it is to show the connection between faith and obedience.
Take a look at your preaching portion for Sunday. If there are instructions which Christians are supposed to put into practice, ask yourself if you are being clear about the connection between faith and Christ and obedience. Every time I make this clear, whether in our faith-family or elsewhere, I see the light come on.
We’re not moralists, we’re Christians. We’re not saved by works, but by a faith that works. The default setting of our hearts is such that we need this reminder over and over again.
Preach well so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).