You’ve heard the message about the kingdom of God and you’ve been taught the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You decide you want to repent of your current lifestyle and be baptized into Jesus and become a part of the family of God. There’s one question that remains. What are you supposed to do in the meantime? What should you do until his return or your death. The answer is one word: obey. A person can believe all the other aspects of the gospel but if they don’t live lives of obedience to Jesus, then the rest doesn’t matter.
“…be doers of the word and not hearers only…” – James 1.22
James 1.22 is a popular verse and many people assume that ‘the word’ being spoken here is about the Bible. Thus it reads:
“…be doers of [what the bible teaches] and not hearers only…”
However, when James is writing this, the Bible we have today did not exist. The New Testament canon didn’t become finalized until hundreds of years later, so it begs the question. If James isn’t talking about the Bible, what is he talking about? In the New Testament the gospel has a plethora of synonyms, many that we don’t pick up on when we read. Some of the synonyms are:
The gospel of God – Mark 1.14
The gospel of Christ – Rom. 15.19
The good news – Acts 8.12
The word of reconciliation – II Cor. 5.19
The word of the Lord – Acts 16.32
The gospel of the grace of God – Acts 20.24
The Message of truth – Eph. 1.13
The gospel of peace – Eph. 6.15
The word of life – Phil. 2.16
The word of truth – Col. 1.5
The promise of life – II Tim. 1.1
The faithful word – Titus 1.9
The word of God – Heb. 4.12
The word – James 1.22
Instead of James saying that we need to be doers of the Bible, what he’s really saying is that we need to be doers of the gospel, not just a hearer. However, what does it mean to be a doer of the gospel? I thought the gospel was just something I experience once at my conversion and that is it? Well remember, the gospel is not just about Jesus’ death and resurrection but it is also about the kingdom of God. And the kingdom has two aspects, the future hope and the present reality. God’s reign and rule bursts into the present when we obey Jesus. When we obey Jesus, we obey him and the gospel he preached. When we obey Jesus, we become “doers of the word”.
Jesus wants all of you. Not part of you, not some of you, and not only on Sundays and Wednesdays. Not only when it’s convenient for you and not when you feel like it. Jesus wants all of your heart and mind and soul and body and he will not accept anything less. He demands that every aspect of your life be in subjection to him and his father.
“For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and for the sake of the gospel’s will save it” – Mark 8.35
Obedience can be tough and difficult and not the easiest choice to make. But obedience is rewarding. When you obey Jesus and God you spread the kingdom influence and power to those all around you whether you know it or not. God blesses your loyalty and trust in him, when you obey. And lastly, when you truly repent and embrace the new life God has given to you through Jesus, your heart changes and you desire to obey. It doesn’t become a hassle or a chore. It’s a choice you want to make.
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience from the things which he suffered. And having been made perfect, he became to all those who obey him the source of eternal salvation” – Heb. 5.9