"The sum, substance, and totality of our religion is commandment keeping."
Jimmy Allen, BA, M.R.E., Hh.D., L.L.D.
The first time I heard Jimmy Allen make that statement I was sitting in a class at Harding University. Jimmy was teaching from the book of Romans which was his specialty... actually the joke around campus was Jimmy actually wrote the book of Romans.
Nevertheless, I remember his making the statement and it initially troubled me. I thought to myself, "That sounds like legalism." He continued to develop the statement and by the end of the class, my mind was settled... Jimmy Allen was right.
Jesus made the following statements:
"If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15.
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me." John 14:21.
"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.” John 14:23-24.
Other Bible Passages lend themselves to the idea of commandment keeping:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. 1 John 5:3.
Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city. Revelation 22:14
All of these passages make it clear – The sum, substance, and totality of our religion IS commandment keeping… IF - IF - IF our motive is the love of God!
That passage above from Revelation 22:14 says that those who keep His commandments will go to heaven... we know that no legalist will go to heaven, therefore commandment keeping when motivated by love is not legalism.
If we are keeping His commandments in an effort to earn or merit our salvation or put God into our debt, NO… that IS legalism. But to obey the Lord – to keep His commandments because we love Him, that is cause and effect… we love God and therefore, we obey Him. Love is the highest of motives and if our love compels us to obey God, it is not works or legalism - it is love manifesting itself. It's not just what we do, it's WHY we do what we do. I Corinthians 13:1-3.
The proverb goes, “the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” The point of the proverb is that a pudding may look good, or smell good, or even feel and sound good, but all that is irrelevant and sometimes misleading; the only true test of its success as a pudding is the satisfaction it provides when it is eaten.
I believe the proof of our Christianity is in our obedience.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Matthew 28:19-20
God bless you.