Christ Exemplified ... Obedience
November 1, 2002 - "He humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!"(1) Philippians 2:8, NIV
by George Sweeting
When Betty Scott Stam was a young woman of 15, she committed her life to Christ and signed a decision card, saying: "Lord, I give up my own plans and purposes, all my own desires and hopes and accept Your will for my life. I give myself, my life, my all utterly to You to be Yours forever. Fill me with the Holy Spirit. Use me as You will, send me where You will, work out Your whole will in my life at any cost, now and forever."
While a student at Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, Illinois, she met and fell in love with John Stam. In 1933 they married in China after having been accepted by China Inland Mission for Chinese service.
Earlier in the 1930s a portion of China had fallen under Communist control. In spite of the dangers, John and Betty felt constrained to serve Christ, whether by life or death.
On a day in December, 1934, the Communist forces attacked the city of Tsingteh. The next day John and Betty were led up a little hill outside the city and ordered to kneel. Another quick command, a flash of a sword and John was martyred. Betty quivered, but only for a moment—another flash of the sword and they were forever united together with Jesus.(2)
To obey, in the biblical sense, is to submit to Jesus, the living Word; and to the Bible, the written Word of God. The Bible knows nothing of salvation apart from obedience, which is key to our usefulness to Christ.
The Apostle Paul testified that God sent him to call people to the "obedience that comes from faith."(3) Also, Paul reminded the Roman Christians that they had been set free when they "wholeheartedly obeyed the gospel."(4) Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command."(5)
Jesus exemplified obedience. To the followers of Jesus in Philippi, Paul wrote, "Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!"(1) Jesus did what we could not do. We are not saved by our works but by the work of Jesus on the cross for us. Jesus obeyed God's will even when it included suffering and death. Jesus exclaimed, "Not my will, but yours be done."(6) By the obedience of Jesus, we are saved.
As Jesus obeyed the Father for our sake, we are to obey the Father for Jesus' sake. If we choose to obey the will of God, He is willing and ready to use us.
How are we to obey?
- Pray for a life transformation—to devote ourselves to seeking God: to prayer, to reading His Word, to doing good.(7)
- Put away deceit, dishonesty and careless talk. If there are things in our lives contrary to the teaching of the Bible, we should confess them and thoroughly repent.(8)
- Make things right. If we owe a debt, we should do all we can to pay it.(9)
- Get right with anyone we have wronged.(10)
- Be part of a local church that honors Christ and the Bible.(11)
The way to obedience is to start where we are, obeying what we already know. As we practice whatever obedience we're capable of, God's plan for our lives will unfold.