Faith and Obedience: Day by Day

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James [2:26]

A memory I have of doing baptisms in Northern Nigeria is one of doing some of the secret or hidden baptisms which we had to do from time to time to avoid people being attacked during a baptismal service. We would find a secluded stream and then post lookouts on one or two nearby hilltops who could observe the surrounding area while we conducted the baptism. We would climb down through the grasses and bushes into the stream and find a place deep enough to do the baptism. Then after sharing from scripture and having a prayer, the ones to be baptized would enter the water and wade out to me. We would then allow them to publicly profess their faith and baptize them. Usually the witnesses would be only 10 to 15 in number to avoid drawing too much attention. On one occasion a service similar to this was conducted by some of our Nigerian friends in a nearby state and it somehow was found out about. An attack occurred and one of the newly baptized men was killed there by the river in which he had just been baptized.

Baptism doesn’t save us. Scripture is clear on this. We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8). However, following Jesus’ example of being baptized is very important. If it wasn’t important, He would not have commanded His disciples to baptize new believers (Matthew[28:19]). So why baptize? Why would these Africans risk death to follow through with baptism? It is a public physical statement of the change which a person has gone through as he has died to his old self and is resurrected as a new person in Christ. An outward example of an inward change, as one old pastor used to say. It is also one of our very first acts of obedience to Christ.

Following Christ is all about faith and obedience. We begin with baptism. Then we grow in our faith and we learn to follow Christ’s teachings in all areas of our lives. If we are living in disobedience, yet we claim to be a follower of Christ, where is the truth in that situation? As James said, faith without works (obedience) is dead (James [2:26]).

The point of this little devotion today is this: Are we walking the walk of faith or are we only talking the talk of faith? Let us always strive daily to be sure we are walking the walk of faith and obedience in all areas of our lives for His glory.

Clint Bowman