“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”
Several years ago Pastor Gilbert and I, and our dear wives, were invited to a pastor’s retreat put on by our national convention. Part of our retreat involved listening to a series of lectures by a convention representative. His topic that year was something he called “obedience-based discipleship.” In short, he was promoting a system that stressed the importance of obedience to the Lord in the life of a Christian. Of course we agreed wholeheartedly with encouraging the saints to submit to the Lordship of Christ. As the ultimate authority in heaven and earth (Matthew 28:18), He certainly has the supreme right to be believed and obeyed. What Pastor Gilbert and I questioned was the foundational position this philosophy granted to obedience; we questioned whether raw obedience to the Lord’s commands was really the foundation of the Christian’s life and conduct. On our reading of the Scriptures, the Christian’s relationship to God is far greater, and far deeper, than that of a king and his subject. The New Covenant saint loves the Lord because the Lord first loved him (1 John 4:19). Our acts of obedience are not purely expressions of servitude, but of love and appreciation for the Savior. It is love that compels obedience; love is foundational to our dutiful walk with the Lord. In addition to today’s verse passage, John the fourteenth chapter contains several more references to this important point. Our Lord said bluntly, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). He expanded on this in the twenty-third verse and following: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.” Our Lord’s instructions regarding love and the obedience that flows from it He applied even to Himself. At the end of that remarkable fourteenth chapter, He declared: “But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do” (John 14:31). Our obedience is important of course; one of the purposes of regeneration is so that we will perform good works (Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 5:16). Failing to do good works will not merit accursedness, however, but failing to love the Lord will. “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ,” wrote Paul, “let him be Anathema” (1 Corinthians 16:22). It is no burden to love the Lord Jesus, Who made Himself maximally lovely to us. May we love Him sincerely, and obey Him faithfully, for His glory and the good of others. Amen.
God bless you,