|LIFE IN JESUS-MINISTRIES
|JOINING GOD REQUIRES OBEDIENCE
Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King
I AM REVEALED
Apr 28 2013
Jesus replied, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make
Our home with him.” (John 14:23)
Every one of you who does not say good-bye to all of his possessions cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:33)
OBEDIENT AT ALL COSTS
As a pastor, I watched people develop a love relationship with God and come to the place where they would do whatever
He instructed. One college student sensed God leading her to be baptized, but her father was an atheist and was
adamantly opposed to her baptism. He threatened dire consequences if she followed through. However, she declared
that she must do what God was telling her to do, and at the service in which I baptized her, she trembled with fear.
When friends took her home, she found her suitcase packed and sitting on the front step. She was no longer welcome
in her own home.
Others in my congregation sold their homes and left to serve in missions. Some donated cars to people in need. Many
made large financial sacrifices. It was heartwarming to watch people, out of their devotion to Christ, do anything He
asked of them. This was not because they were afraid or felt guilty but because they had come to experience God’s
love in a life-transforming way, and now there was nothing they would not do for Him.
In chapter 7, we studied the relationship between love and obedience. Jesus said, “If you love Me, keep My
commandments. The one who doesn’t love Me will not keep My words” (John 14:15, 24). To review, here are some
important ideas from that chapter:
Jesus said, “For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother”
(Matthew 12:50). Jesus made it clear that obedience is the outflow of our love relationship with God (see John 14:15-21).
James, in his letter to believers, emphasized that faith without active obedience is dead – useless. When the disciples
obeyed Jesus, they saw and experienced God’s mighty power working in and around them. When they did not act in
faith, they did not experience His mighty work.
WHAT IS OBEDIENCE?
Servants of God do what He directs. They obey. The servant doesn’t have the option of deciding whether or not to
obey. Choosing not to do what God commands is rebellion, and such disobedience has consequences.
People are naturally self-centered; we want to please ourselves. We don’t like others to tell us what to do! Jesus told a
parable about obedience: “But what do you think? A man had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘My son, go, work
in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I don’t want to!’ Yet later he changed his mind and went. Then the man went to
the other and said the same thing. ‘I will, sir,’ he answered. But he didn’t go” (Matthew 21:28-30).
Which son did the will of his father? Was it the one who said “no” but later repented, or the one who said “yes” but
never went? The first son, of course, is the one who obeyed the father. Obedience means doing what is commanded.
How much better to be a child who immediately says “yes” then promptly goes and obeys!
OBEY WHAT YOU ALREADY KNOW TO BE GOD’S WILL
When my two oldest grandsons were teenagers, the older one, Mike, got a part-time job serving fast food. It was hectic,
tiring work for minimum pay. Before long, his younger brother Daniel was offered a similar job at a burger place. Having
observed Mike’s experience, Daniel responded, “No thanks. I think I’ll just skip the menial stuff and go straight into upper
We Christians can be like that. We long for an important assignment from God, yet we are unwilling to prove ourselves
faithful in the smaller, seemingly less important tasks. Have you ever wondered why a major assignment from God has
not come your way? Consider your obedience in what God has already shown you. God gave the Ten
Commandments. Are you obeying? Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. Are you doing that? Are you doing all
you know to spread the gospel to all nations as Christ directed (see Matthew 28:18-20)? The Scriptures command us to
live in unity with our Christian brothers and sisters. Do love and harmony characterize your relationships?
God’s commands are not given so we can pick and choose the ones we want to obey. He expects us to do everything
He tells us. When we are faithful and obedient in a little, He trusts us with more.
OBEDIENCE AND GOD’S ASSIGNMENTS
As I’ve said already, God has always been at work in our world, and He is now active where you are. When God is ready
to involve you in an assignment, He will take the initiative to reveal what He is doing or what He is about to do. When He
does, this will be His invitation for you to join Him.
Joining God may require major adjustments of your life to Him so He will accomplish His will through you. When you
understand what God has said, when you know what He is about to do, and when you have made the necessary
adjustments in your life, there is one remaining response to God. To experience Him at work in and through you, you
must obey Him.
This chapter focuses on the last of the seven realities: You come to know God by experience as you obey Him, and He
accomplishes His work through you. The entire process outlined above may happen quickly, or it may be extended over
a long period of time.
MOMENT OF TRUTH
In the process of experiencing God, obedience is your moment of truth. Your obedience (or lack of it) will:
You obey because you trust God. You trust Him because you love Him. As you grow in your faith and obey God at
every step, you’ll move from a head knowledge of God to a personal, experiential, dynamic relationship with the Person
of Jesus Christ.
The Lord initiates the relationship by revealing His character and activity to you. The Holy Spirit is your teacher and
guide, helping you trust God and obey Him. But you are the one who must respond in obedience. No one else can do
this for you. When you trust God and take action to obey Him, you grow in Him. As I John 2:3-6 says: “This is how we
are sure that we have come to know Him: by keeping His commands. The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him,’
without keeping His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly in him the love of
God is perfected. This is how we know we are in Him: the one who says he remains in Him should walk just as He
Likewise, Jesus said:
My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name?’ Then I will
announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!” (Matthew 7:21-23)
THE IMPORTANCE OF OBEDIENCE
Because you know God loves you, you should never question a directive from Him. It will always be right and best.
When He expresses His will, you are not just to observe, discuss, or debate it. You are not called to “wrestle with it” as
many do. You are to obey it. This is what the Scriptures say about obedience:
LORD your God will put you far above all the nations of the earth…The LORD will grant you a blessing on your
storehouses and on everything you do. (Deuteronomy 28:1, 8)
today…the LORD will send against you curses, confusion, and rebuke in everything you do until you are
destroyed and quickly perish, because of the wickedness of your action in abandoning Me. (Deuteronomy 28:15,
that it may go well with you. (Jeremiah 7:23)
Me, hears My words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation
on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well
built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation.
The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great! (Luke 6:
His will, he will understand whether the teaching is from God or if I am speaking on My own.” (John 7:16-17)
God blesses those who are obedient to Him (see Deuteronomy 28:1-14). The benefits of obedience are beyond our
imagination, but they include being God’s people (see Jeremiah 7:23), having a solid foundation when the storms of life
rage against you (see Luke 6:46-49), and knowing spiritual truth (see John 7:16-17).
Rebellion against God – disobedience – is a serious rejection of God’s will. Deuteronomy 28:15-68 speaks of the costs
of disobedience. (For further study on the results of obedience and disobedience, see Deuteronomy 30 and 32).
THE COST OF OBEDIENCE
Obedience, likewise, has its costs. You cannot know and do the will of God without paying the price of adjustment.
Counting the cost to follow God’s will is one of the major adjustments you’ll have to make. It is the point of counting the
cost that many cease following Jesus. In fact, at this point “many of His disciples turned back and no longer
accompanied Him” (John 6:66). Churches, too, must understand that obedience often requires sacrifice. A
congregation will not know and experience the fulfilling of God’s purposes if its members are unwilling to pay the price of
obedience. Church leaders do a disservice to their congregation if they do not help their people understand
In the first century, Saul, a Pharisee, was firmly established in the religious power structure of Jerusalem. He ruthlessly
searched out Christians for imprisonment or execution. Then, on his way to Damascus, Saul encountered the living
Christ. The resurrected Savior told Saul he had been chosen to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, and Saul had to
make an about-face in his life. His name was even changed to Paul. He went from persecuting Christians to proclaiming
that Jesus is the Christ.
For Paul, the decision to obey Christ was costly. The persecutor became the persecuted. He was beaten and
imprisoned many times, and his life was constantly at risk with the religious establishment he had once helped to lead.
Following God frequently leads to criticism and misunderstanding. Jesus told His followers to expect persecution if they
followed Him (John 15:18-21). Paul concluded one letter by saying, “I carry the marks of Jesus on my body” (Galatians 6:
17). Paul didn’t have these experiences before he began doing the will of his Lord. Even so, Paul maintained that the
one consuming passion of his life was “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His
sufferings, being conformed to His death, assuming that I will somehow reach the resurrection from among the dead.
Not that I have already reached the goal, or am already fully mature, but I make every effort to take hold of it because I
also have been taken hold of by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:10-12).
The apostle described his adjustments this way: “I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save
some” (I Corinthians 9:22). The Scriptures are replete with examples of costly adjustments and obedience.
Moses and the Israelites
When Moses did as the Lord instructed and told Pharaoh to set Israel free, what did it cost the Israelites? Their
workload was increased and the Israelite foremen were beaten. Ultimately they were delivered, but the Israelites paid a
high price for their leader to do God’s will (see Exodus 5:1-21).
Jesus and Mary
When Jesus went to the cross, what was the cost to His mother as she watched Him suffer and die? Is there a more
agonizing experience than to watch your son be cruelly killed? (see John 19:17-37). Jesus’ obedience put His mother
through a heartbreaking experience, and His obedience brought fear and pain to the lives of His disciples. For Jesus to
do the will of God, others endured a high cost.
Paul and Jason
When Paul obediently preached to the Gentiles at Thessalonica, many people responded to the gospel message.
However, others who opposed God’s work reacted violently, and they took out their anger on some of the local
Christians. Jason, a supporter of Paul, along with some other Christians were arrested by a rioting mob and accused of
treason because of their association with the itinerant preacher. Frequently, Paul’s obedience endangered the lives of
those who were with Him (see Acts 17:1-9).
You must not overlook this real element in knowing and doing God’s will. God will reveal His plans and purposes to you,
but your obedience will cost you and those around you.
COST TO MY FAMILY
I have five children, and when they were still young, God directed our family to leave a strong, secure pastorate in
California to go to a tiny, struggling congregation in Saskatoon, Canada, that could not adequately support our family.
Over the years, God often called me away from home to speak in other churches and in conferences. As a result of my
travel and responsibilities with the church and Bible college, Marilynn often had to care for our five children on her own.
At times, she paid a high price for me to do what we sensed God asking me to do.
I have heard many people say, “I really think God is calling me, but my children need me. I can’t put my family through
that.” Or “I sense God wants me to serve on the mission field, but my children deserve the opportunity to live near their
grandparents.” It’s true, your children do need your care, and it is great when they can live near relatives. But don’t you
think that if you were to respond obediently to the activity of God, He would care for your children?
What do you suppose the cost would be to your family if you chose not to obey Him? We believed God would honor our
obedience to Him and that the God who called us would help us raise our children. We came to believe that the
heavenly Father could take better care of our children than we could. We believed God would show us how to relate to
our children in a way that would make up for the lost time with them. Now, I could not let that become an excuse for
neglecting my family, but when I was obeying the Father, I could trust Him to care for my family.
We baptized only three persons the first year we were in Saskatoon, and after more than two years of hard work, we
averaged forty in our worship services. One day Marilynn said to me, “Henry, Richard came to me today and said he
really feels sorry for you. He said, ‘Dad preaches such good sermons. He gives an invitation week after week, and
nobody comes forward.’”
I went to Richard and said, “Richard, don’t ever feel sorry for your father. Even if God lets me labor for ten years and I
see very little results, I will gladly wait for the day when He brings the harvest.” I had to help Richard understand what
was taking place. I explained God’s promise: “Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely
come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves” (Psalm 126:6). God worked through that situation to teach my son a
deeply meaningful spiritual truth.
GOD TOOK CARE OF MARILYNN
I remember when Marilynn hit a low point of discouragement. Although our church was growing and God was obviously
at work, she began to wonder if her sacrifices and effort were making any difference. The next Sunday after I preached,
Richard came down the aisle to share a decision with the church. He said, “God is calling me into Christian ministry.”
Right behind him came another young fellow Marilynn had spent many hours ministering to. He said, “I also feel God
has called me to the ministry.” Then he turned and said, “And a lot of the credit goes to Mom Blackaby.”
Then another young adult stood up and said, “I want you to know that God is calling me to the ministry also, and I’d like
to thank Mrs. Blackaby for encouraging me.” At the crisis time in this boy’s life, our family had ministered to him and
encouraged him to seek God’s will. That day, God showed Marilynn some of the fruit of her obedience to Him. Yes, it
had come at a cost, but the rewards were worth it.
All five of our children are now in vocational ministry or mission work. During those years when I was often away from
home, God promised to help Marilynn in the practical aspects of rearing our children. He never promised it would be
easy, and often it wasn’t, but only God could have done such a powerful work with our four sons and our daughter. As
of today, our two oldest grandsons who are in their early twenties both feel called into full-time Christian ministry, and all
fourteen of our grandchildren love the Lord.
I want you to know you can trust God with your family! I would rather entrust my family to God’s care than to anyone else
in the world.
ADJUSTMENT IN PRAYER AND THE COST
When our church encountered a directive from God, I often experienced a turning point in my own prayer life. Often
God waits to act until we ask in prayer. The crisis was this: Was I willing to pray until God brought an answer? Mark 11:
24 holds a prayer promise that has challenged me regarding the relationship of faith and prayer. “All the things you
pray and ask for – believe that you have received them, and you will have them.”
This verse is sometimes used to promote a name-it-and-claim-it theology. You decide what you want. You name that in
your prayer, claim it, and it’s yours. But that’s a misguided and self-centered notion. Remember that only God takes the
initiative. He gives you the desire to do His will (see Philippians 2:13) and His Holy Spirit guides you to pray according to
God’s will (see Romans 8:26-28). In the God-centered approach, God leads you to pray according to His will and to
believe that He will bring to pass what He has led you to pray. Then, continue praying in faith and watching for Him to
keep His word.
Because an encounter with God entails a crisis of belief that may require major adjustments in your life, you need to
learn how to pray. Even the prayer may be costly. You may need to let God wake you up in the middle of the night to
pray. You may need to spend much time in prayer. Times may come when you pray late into the night or even all night.
Becoming a person of prayer requires a major adjustment of your life to God. Prayer will always be a part of your
obedience because it is in a prayer relationship that God gives you direction.
Another cost will come as you try to guide the people around you to pray. Most of our churches have not learned how to
pray together. The greatest untapped resource I know of is the united prayer of God’s people. Jesus, quoting from
Isaiah 56:7, said, “My house will be called a house of prayer” (Luke 19:46). To help your church become a praying
church will be a rewarding experience.
People frequently ask me, “When a person disobeys God’s will, does God give him or her a second chance?” The
answer is yes – sometimes. He does not always give second chances, and He is not obligated to.
When God planned to call Nineveh to repentance, He asked Jonah to join Him. Jonah refused because he was
prejudiced against these “pagan enemies.” Jonah would rather have seen God destroy the city. Disobedience to God is
extremely serious. Jonah went through the trauma of being thrown into a raging sea and spending three days inside a
big fish. Jonah confessed and repented of his disobedience, and God gave him a second chance.
The second time Jonah did obey, though reluctantly. On the first day, Jonah preached a one-sentence message, and
God used it to bring one hundred twenty thousand people to repentance! Jonah said, “I know that You are a merciful
and compassionate God, slow to become angry, rich in faithful love, and One who relents from sending disaster” (Jonah
4:2). God’s response to Jonah and to the inhabitants of Nineveh speaks volumes about how deeply God cares for all
people and wants them to come to repentance.
Some of God’s most faithful servants were once broken by sin and disobedience, yet God did not give up on them. If
God allowed people only one mistake, Moses would never have become the person he became. He erred several times
(see Exodus 2:11-15). Abraham started out with a great walk of faith, but He went into Egypt and blew it – more than
once (see Genesis 12:10-20). David failed miserably (see II Samuel 11), and so did Peter (see Matthew 26:69-75).
Paul even began his “service for God” by persecuting Christians (see Acts 9:1-2).
DISOBEDIENCE IS COSTLY
Although it is comforting to know God gives second chances, we must understand that disobedience is serious. Jacob’s
sin against Esau forced him to flee his country and to be estranged from his brother. Jonah’s disobedience almost cost
him his life. Moses’ murder of the Egyptian cost him forty years in the wilderness. David and Bathsheba’s sin cost them
the life of their son. The rich young ruler declined to obey Jesus and missed out on become His follower.
God wants to develop your character. He will let your proceed in your disobedience but not without discipline to bring
you back. In your relationship with God, you may make a wrong decision, but the Spirit of God will help you recognize
that you are going against God’s will. He will guide you back to the right path and clarify what the Father wants. He may
even take your disobedience and work it for good (see Romans 8:28) as He corrects and teaches you His ways.
Even though God forgives and often gives second chances, the second chances are not guaranteed. When Aaron’s
two sons Nadab and Abihu were disobedient in offering unholy incense to the Lord, God struck them dead (see Leviticus
In front of all Israel, Moses struck the rock saying, “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring water out of this rock for you?”
(Numbers 20:10). Notice the word “we.” God was the One who would bring water from the rock. Moses took God’s
glory, and God did not remove the consequences of that disobedience. He refused to allow Moses to enter the
Promised Land. In that instance God gave no second chance.
OBEDIENCE BRINGS FUTURE BLESSING
Although obedience is costly, it is always worth the price. Whenever you think the cost may be too great, consider what
it will cost you not to do the will of God.
While we were still a very small church with an attendance of less than fifty, we staffed and supported three mission
churches, and we were asked to sponsor another mission in Winnipeg, Manitoba, more than five hundred miles from
Saskatoon. Someone would have to drive this thousand-mile round trip in order to minister to them. At first, it sounded
impossible for our little group.
I shared with our congregation that a faithful group of people in Winnipeg had been meeting for more than two years and
they wanted to start a church. Since they had called on us to help, we had to determine whether this was God’s work
and whether or not He was revealing His activity to us. Was this our invitation to join Him in what He was doing? The
church believed it was God’s doing, and we knew we had to obey. We agreed to sponsor the new mission, then asked
God to give us the strength and resources to do it.
I, along with others from our church, drove a number of times to Winnipeg to preach and minister to the people, and in a
short time God provided a pastor – and a salary! The story did not end there, however. That church became the
mother church to nine other mission churches and started an entire association of churches.
When our Richard finished seminary, this same church called him to be their pastor. Then our second son, Tom, was
called to be on staff as the associate pastor. Little did I know that one act of obedience – that at first appeared
impossible – held such potential for future blessing for the kingdom and for my family as well. How grateful I am that we
chose to obey God and start that church so far away from us!
EXPERIENCING GOD, by Henry & Richard Blackaby and Claude King, Copyright 2008, B&H Publishing Group.