by Mike Ratliff
First indeed I give good grace to my God through Jesus Christ concerning all of you that your faith is broadly declared throughout the whole world. (a personal translation of Romans 1:8 from the Greek text)
In these broadly apostate days of the visible church the good biblical words such as ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ are thrown around and used in such a loose way that it is important for us dig into what God’s Word says about πιστεύω or pisteuō, “to have faith in, trust; particularly, to be firmly, persuaded as to something” and πιστός or pistos, an adjective meaning “faithful, trustworthy, reliable, dependable” instead of relying on what our modern translations give us for these words, for if we do not “dig” we remain in a shallow understanding of these things. On the other hand, God will use our hard work in these things to teach us, train us, and grow us into more mature Christians who do glorify God in our walks and perhaps other disciples will marvel and report to others and then our faith will be “broadly declared throughout the whole world.” You see, for Paul to make that statement about the Romans’ faith meant that there must have been something remarkable about it. What was it?
Paul said something very similar to the Thessalonian church in 1 Thessalonians 1:8, “For from you has been sounded out the Word of the Lord not only in Macedonia, but also in Achaia; but everywhere your faith in God as gone out, so that there is no need for us to say anything.” (a personal translation from the Greek text) Here is our clue to why the faith of Romans was commendable as was that of the Thessalonians. What was the commonality? These churches were obeying the commands of the Lord in making disciples, in spreading the Gospel. Genuine believing means obeying. Here are the first 7 verses from Romans 1 from the ESV, “Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, including you who are called to belong to Jesus Christ,To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The bold section is v5.
Here is v5 from the Greek, “δι᾿ οὗ ἐλάβομεν χάριν καὶ ἀποστολὴν εἰς ὑπακοὴν πίστεως ἐν πᾶσι τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος αὐτοῦ” Here is my personal translation of v5, “through whom we receive grace and apostleship into obedience of faith in all the nations on behalf of His name.” The words translated as “obedience of faith” are ὑπακοὴν πίστεως. Yes, the word ὑπακοὴν does mean “obedience.” It is the accusative, singular form of ὑπακοή or hupakoē. This is talking about lordship because it has the underlying foundation of obedience, commitment, and submission.
Some have called this “lordship salvation” a heresy and I have defended it here before, but with more and more pressure coming to bear here lately to focus more attention away from God and His sovereignty and all His other attributes including His wrath, I decided to focus on what genuine salvation will look like beginning with saving faith. As we have seen above, it means that saving faith is an obedient faith. The adjective that should describe the walk of those that have this faith should be πιστός or pistos, which describes believers who are faithful, trustworthy, consistent, constant, reliable, and, of course, obedient. God not only demands faith; He also demands fidelity.
Genuine Christians are called to be faithful to to the Word of God and their service to God. The true believer will remain faithful whereas, the false believer will eventually fall away. True faith is evidenced by practice. No where does the Word of God tell us that works are part of salvation and I am not saying they are either or that works keep us saved. Instead, works and how a believer lives is what God uses to prove the genuineness of his or her salvation. Faithfulness is a fundamental part of Christian living. The faith that is remarkable enough that the Apostle Paul would say that it is spoken of all over the world is obedient, faithful, trustworthy, consistent, constant, reliable and that belongs only to those under the Lordship of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria!