The Obedience of Faith for the Sake of His Name
We begin today with what some consider the greatest writing in the New Testament (with the exception perhaps of the Gospel of John): Paul’s Letter to the Church at Rome, or simply, Romans. Some have called it “The Fifth Gospel,” and for good reason, for in this letter, the Apostle Paul lays out in comprehensive fashion as any place else in Scripture man’s lost condition, the Father’s remedy for this condition through the person and work of His dear Son, and the resulting life in the Spirit as the believer then walks in newness of life before God in the obedience of faith. Romans has sparked revivals throughout Church history and inspired the minds and pens of her greatest teachers. And there is yet more light to come to us through it for the sake of God’s great name.
Just the greeting in this letter inspires pages in commentaries, but we shall contain ourselves. Paul tells us that as an apostle (a “sent one” of God) he has been set apart to proclaim the gospel of God, which he then tells us was promised beforehand in the Scriptures, by which he means the Old Testament. This is to say that the gospel was not an afterthought of God but His plan from the beginning. And this gospel concerns God’s Son, which is to say that God’s Son is the centerpiece of the gospel. There is no good news without the Son, for the Son is the good news. Paul reminds us that the Son was descended from David “according to the flesh” or his humanity, but declared Son of God by his resurrection from the dead. By this, Paul does not mean that Jesus became the Son because of his resurrection but that his resurrection is proof of that divine Sonship, which Sonship was lived out in and by the Spirit of holiness, which Spirit raised Christ from the dead, and which Spirit raises to life those who believe (8:11).
But there is one thing Paul says here which I would like to highlight, and that is that through the grace and apostleship which he and the other apostles received through Christ Jesus, their task was now “to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” “The obedience of faith,” Paul called it. We often think of faith as a thing we have; Paul would have us know that faith is a matter of obedience, first to believe, then to do that which is our Lord’s will. And this obedience which is the debt and natural outworking of one’s faith is for the sake of his name, the honor of his name, of the One who saved us, that the nations may know him also, and give him glory. And only by the obedience of faith in that name do we then receive the blessing of grace and peace from God.