Obedience: Belief with Legs on It
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." ~John 3:16
One of the main conversations I have been thinking about occurred between the head missionary's wife and I. We were relaxing one evening, chatting away, when I randomly gestured towards some cookies and said slowly and very prounounced, "Cookie... Yes?", asking her if she would like one. I didn't think anything of it at first, but her dumbfounded expression provoked me to think about what I had just said and how I had said it. It didn't take long to realize the reason for the funny expression. We both busted out laughing simultaneously. With English as both our native tongues, we, of course, usually speak at a normal pace, use bigger words, and tend to use complete sentences, or at least complete phrases, when talking to each other. However, this day I spoke to her as one would to friends with a very limited knowledge of their language or in the same manner that most people tend to speak to young children. I responded this way to her simply out of habit. Living in a foreign country, and not yet knowing the local language fluently,one becomes quite accustomed to speaking to people this way, and them speaking to you this way.
Sometimes when sharing the gospel with people who know little or nothing about God, seasoned Christians may unintentionally try to feed an individual meat who has not yet even been born into the Kingdom of God. When a female is pregnant and cares about the health of her child, she takes extra special care as to what she puts into her body, because it all affects the baby. In like manner, this same approach should be applied to a Christian's speech when witnessing to people about The Gospel. It is deep and has many layers, but it is not complicated. Start at the first layer. Speak simply!
Some fellow AIMers in Latvia encouraged me, as well as others, to do something they also had been encouraged to do before: go through the Bible and, in your mind, every time the word "believe" is mentioned, replace it with the word "obey". (This doesn't work for all, but for a lot of them.) Why do this? Because if you truly believe, you WILL obey.
To believe is to obey. True belief begets complete obedience.
John 3:16 says that whosoever believeth on Christ "SHOULD not" perish, not "would not" perish. Why? It's a matter of complete obedience. If one completely believes, they will obey all that the scriptures say. They will search them and find that God in flesh said that "except a man is born of water and of the Spirit" he cannot enter, nor even see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3,5) They will obey God by repenting, being baptized in Jesus name, and being filled with the Holy Ghost (Matthew 28:19, John 7:39, Acts 2:38, 3:19, 10:44-48 ).
It IS true that one must first believe...however, if one truly believes God's Word, he will covet, study, and obey ALL of it.
Jesus himself said, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel." ~Mark 1:15
Repentance is not the full gospel, but rather a launching point. Believe...Obey!
It's that simple.