A Voice in the
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April 11, 2009

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  • Believe or Obey?

Believe or Obey?

READER QUESTION:
The King James Bible says He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him. John 3:36

And your Bible says (I don't mean like you wrote it) The one believing into the Son has eternal life; but the one disobeying the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him. John 3:36.

It seems to me that obedience is not taught much these days.Do you think its because of errors like this.

VW ANSWER:
Indeed. This is addressed in the series in Hebrews, lesson 07 from ch3.

It is interesting to notice -which- translations say what. The ones (in my OLB collection) that say "believe" are ALT, KJV, MKJV, NKJV. The ones that say "obey" are GENEVA, LITV, NASB, VW. And then Darby says "subject" and NIV says "rejects" (The ALT surprises me; its compiler is better at the Greek than that!) And then the older Wycliffe and Tyndale (which I have in html) also are on the "unbelieve" side of this question. Wycliffe's older English says "vnbileueful" (unbelieveful).

    The one "believing" is "pisteuo": think to be true, persuaded of, have confidence, entrust

    The one "disobeying" is "apeitheo": refuse belief and obedience, not to comply with. And is related to "apeithes": impersuasible, not compliant, disobedient

Notice that the second word includes aspects of faith, but the predominance seems to be the non-compliance aspect. Disobedience.

God "commands all men everywhere to repent" (Ac17:30) The word "command" naturally expects obedience to or compliance with the command. But the sinner refuses the command. Right now man has been given 'choice': Moses closed off his review of the Law with, "Therefore CHOOSE life...." (De30:19) God does not come up to each person with a gang of thugs, knocking everybody in the back of their knees, forcing them into subservience. He is "longsuffering", not having a desire for any to perish. (2Pt3:9) But eventually the pronouncement will be made: "the time is at hand" (Re22:10) and then, all those who had refused will be rounded up, handcuffed and dragged before God's throne by two hulks of wardens and knocked down to their knees (**) to "confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Php2:11). But they won't be going to Heaven! They will make their confession; some will also be forced to bow to the True Believers they had taunted (Rev3:9); and then be tossed into the Lake of Fire.

    ** No...I know the Bible doesn't say that. Is a little imagery permissible, after talking about 'thugs'? Jesus used many illustrations: of virgins knocking on the door (Mt25:11), of fishermen sorting the good from the bad out of the dragnet (Mt11:47-48), of the wealthy farmer building barns (Lk12:19), farmer seed and birds (Mt13), banquets (Mt22), bread and stones (Mt7:9), etc.
Remember: THERE ARE NO UNBELIEVERS IN HELL! "Sola Fide" is of no benefit there! Whoever is in Hell knows that God exists; there are no atheists there, either. They know that Jesus died to save sinners, They know that "Jesus is Lord". Thus, rebellious lips repeating those words like a mantra is meaningless. WHAT IS IN THE HEART?
    "For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, sexual perversions, thefts, false witness, blasphemies." (Mt15:19)
Keep in mind that "every tongue" will confess Jesus to be Lord, but not everybody is going to Heaven. (Like the old Negro spiritual: Everybody talkin' 'bout Heaven ain't goin' there!) "Many" are on the "broad way" leading to destruction, and it is only the "few" who find the way to Life. (Mt7:13-14) And it is immediately after that statement that Jesus warns against the "false prophets"

Yes, they "believe". The demons also "believe and shudder" (Ja2:19) But they refuse to obey! They refuse to comply with God's standards of holiness.

    "...as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also become holy in all conduct, because it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, behave yourselves throughout the time of your sojourning in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your vain way of life received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." (1Pt1:14-19)
Also: is the Greek word, that from which our word "apathy" comes? The person might hear the Gospel, and feel good about it. Oh, isn't it wonderful... this thing called "Salvation". They might even believe that it is true, that God exists, and that Jesus died to save the sinner, and that repentance and faith are necessary. Oh yes, I believe all that; I believe it deeply and with great emotion. But in their apathy, they 'ho-hum' along through life and don't actually -respond- to God's -call- upon them. It is not enough to believe -about- faith and repentance. One must actually -obey-, and meet Jesus at the foot of the cross. They must "receive" Jesus Christ (Jn1:12) through the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Eph1:13) and the birth "from above" (Jn3:3) They must actually take on the new nature. (2Co5:17)

Many people will be in the Lake of Fire who, in this life, had "good thoughts" regarding Christianity; and possibly even went to church regularly. But they will experience "weeping and gnashing of teeth" They will be like the "sons of the kingdom" in the "outer darkness" (Mt8:12)

If a person were producing a literal "amplified" Bible, to include the full degree of meaning, perhaps that verse would include:

    "The one believing into the Son has eternal life; but the one disobeying [in non-compliant apathy towards] the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." (Jn3:36)
Dear Reader:
Do you "feel good" with "warm fuzzy thoughts" about the Lord; and you can hypnotize yourself in 'worship' mantras, with the rest of them at church? Is He your (purported) "friend"?

Or have you obeyed? Can you truly say:

"The Lord is -MY- Shepherd" (Ps23:1)

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