The most underemphasized blessing of salvation is the personal, daily fellowship with Jesus Christ, by living in harmony with his word! With every mention of commitment from the pulpit, in the Sunday School classroom and in books on the deeper life, much more could be said about the greatest reason and motivation for following the high moral demands of the Bible. It is the wonderful companionship of the Lord Jesus himself, as he becomes the conscious though unseen companion of the loving and obedient believer. With all that is involved in the cost of discipleship, he makes it all worthwhile.
The Bible makes it plain that this personal relationship of the individual believer with the risen Lord is the privilege of all believers everywhere. It is intended to be experienced at all times and in all conditions. This personal awareness of his reality, presence and companionship came from the Lord Jesus himself in his last teaching session with the eleven disciples before his betrayal, trial and crucifixion. He said, “Whoever has my command and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”(John 14:21). This promise cannot be restricted to the eleven disciples along. The experience of this promise has been the testimony of those believers throughout the ages who have expressed their love to their Lord in obedience. They have consistently attested to a wonderful companionship and intimacy with the Lord as they follow his will out of love to him. The Lord still fulfills this promise, and shows his reality and gives his love to those who love him and live in harmony with his expressed will.
Because of who he is and what he has done, the Lord Jesus can stand by this promise. His atoning death opened the way for sinful human beings, real ordinary men and women, to live in intimacy with the sinless Son of God. Because the Son of God has already paid the price in his death on the cross, no guilt or penalty of sin need bar anyone from approaching him now. Moreover, the reality of his resurrection makes it certain that the fellowship is with a real, living Person, and not an imaginary reminiscence of a departed person. Even more, the reality of his Deity makes it possible for every believer everywhere to have fellowship with the Son of God even after the ascension of his glorified body into heaven. His glorified human nature is now at the right hand of God the Father, but in his divine nature as the Son of God we are able to be in fellowship with him anywhere and everywhere. And the infinite love for each of us, demonstrated once for all in the awful reality of the cross, shows us that this is a fellowship that he already has paid the ultimate price to give us.
Through this daily companionship with the Lord Jesus all the benefits of salvation for this life flow to us. Such blessings as the awareness of the love of God, the experience of the joy of salvation, the satisfaction of pleasing God, the peace that passes understanding, and the guidance, fullness and power of the Holy Spirit all become the regular experience of the believer as he lives in fellowship with Christ and shows his love for him by walking in obedience. The experience of a full salvation is thus dependent on the fully obedient disciple remaining in constant companionship with the Savior.
This personal companionship of the risen Lord with his people is the privilege of loving obedience. The Lord Jesus himself stated that loving him means obeying him. It is not the question of earning one’s salvation by any good deeds, but rather staying in daily fellowship with the Savior by following his will as Lord. This then reduces the question of obedience to the question of love. It may well be said that most backsliding probably begins here, with the loss of awareness of what makes it all worthwhile: the love relationship of the risen Lord and his disciple. In addition, this love for the Lord will mean a desire to learn his will, and thus forms the ultimate motivation to learn what the Bible says. The underlying question that is thus put to us in all these matters where the question might be to us whether we will obey him or not actually is whether we love him or not.
All scripture references taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, copyright 1973, 1978 by the International Bible Society and used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers