Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 7:40 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Love Never Fails.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 14:15-31 (ESV).
We Will Obey Him
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
In context, Jesus had just foretold his death, he had just finished teaching his disciples how to serve (minister to) others as he served and ministered to them, and he had just foretold Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial of him. Then he told his disciples not to be afraid of what was coming, but to put their trust in God. He encouraged them with the news that, although he was leaving them to go back to the Father, he was going to prepare a place for them, and that he would come again to take them to be with him so they could be where he was.
Also, in context, Jesus was speaking to them during the time while he was still here on the face of this earth. What that means is that he had not yet been crucified, buried and divinely resurrected from the dead, nor had he yet ascended to the Father and sent his Holy Spirit to indwell and empower his followers. So, when he told his disciples that the Holy Spirit was with them, but would later be in them, if they loved him and obeyed what he commanded them, he was speaking of a future time, which for them was the Day of Pentecost.
As is recorded in the book of Acts, all of Christ’s followers eventually learned of and received the Holy Spirit to indwell their hearts and lives. Since that time, all of us who have followed the Lord Jesus in obedience have been indwelt by the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus has given to us to transform us in new birth, as well as to comfort, correct, encourage, teach, guide and empower us in our walks of faith with Jesus Christ.
We Will Keep His Word
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “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.”
Much of today’s modern church here in America no longer teaches obedience. They equate obedience to Christ and to his word with works-based salvation and/or with legalism. They also do not teach the need to repent of our sins. They teach that God/Jesus requires nothing of us at all other than to “believe,” though they don’t teach what that really means. So, many people who have made decisions to “receive” Jesus into their hearts believe they do not have to turn from their sins, and that they do not have to walk in surrender and in obedience to their Lord. And, they believe they are saved and bound for heaven.
I read something the other day: “Salvation costs us nothing. Discipleship costs us everything.” Although it is true that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and that there is nothing we can do to earn or to deserve our salvation, and that God’s grace to us is a free gift, still there is cost involved in the receiving of the gift. Jesus said we have to die with him to our old lives of living for sin and self, and we have to follow him in obedience to have eternal life, and if we want to be one of his disciples. Yet, we don’t do this in our own flesh. We do this in the power and working of the Spirit within us as we yield control of our lives over to our Lord. As well, it sounds as though they are separating salvation from discipleship, as though you could have one without the other, probably because they don’t see faith as progressive (continuous). The implication of that quote, I believe, is that we can be saved without becoming a disciple of Christ, and that is a lie of Satan.
Jesus said that if we love him we will obey him. We will do what he commands – his teachings and instructions to us, which include the teachings of the apostles, and that of the writers of the New Testament books, and also those of the writers of the Old Testament books, as is applicable under the New Covenant – for this is his Word to us. If we don’t obey him and his Word, that means we do not love him. Now, I don’t believe this is teaching absolute perfection, but is speaking more of lifestyle and consistency in walking in the Spirit and in obedience to his commands. It means we no longer submit ourselves willfully to living according to our sinful flesh, but daily we die to sin and to self, as daily the Spirit of God is conforming us into the likeness of Christ. It also means that we no longer pattern our lives after the ways of this sinful world, but after the ways of our Lord and his Word.
The result of this love-obedience to God is that the Father will love us, and Jesus will love us, and he will show (reveal) himself to us, and that they will make their home with us. John repeated this when he said: “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us” (1 Jn. 3:24 NIV84). He also said: “We know that we have come to know him if we obey his commands” (1 Jn. 2:3 ESV). And, “Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected” (1 Jn. 2:4-5a ESV).
We Will Rest in Him
“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.”
We hear so much talk these days about “peace.” Sometimes what they mean by peace is forced compliance or being pressured into compromise in order to make “peace” and/or to avoid war. Peace is often thought of in relation to absence of conflict or forced unity underneath some type of tyrannical leadership in government, or even in the church. Or it can be of a person’s own self-will to go with the flow so as to not make waves, so to speak.
Jesus does not give peace in the same way the world does, though. He doesn’t promise us absence of conflict nor does he encourage us to “not make waves.” In fact, he says we will be hated as he was hated when we speak out for Jesus and for his gospel of salvation, and when we confront sin, speak against compromise with the world, and when we call people to repentance and obedience. He said he didn’t come to bring peace but a sword, and to turn family members against one another. What that means is that when we commit our lives to Jesus Christ, to walking in his ways, and in his truth, we will be hated and rejected even by those within our own families, and sometimes within the worldly church, too. The kind of peace he gives is peace with God through salvation from sin. He also gives us calm assurance of his absolute sovereignty and control over all things so that we never have to be afraid, for he will bring us through every difficulty he allows in our lives.
When we love Jesus we trust him with our lives and we believe his words to us. We trust that he knows best and that all things he will work together for our good. Not one of us will do this perfectly, but we should be continually growing, trusting, believing and resting in him for and in all things, continually submitting to his will and his purposes for our lives. And, we should not be grumbling and complaining about our life’s circumstances, either, but we should rejoice in our Lord and in all his many blessings to us, and we should thank him in advance for all that he is going to accomplish in and through our lives for his glory. And, we should obey him and live to please him in all ways because we love him.
No Less / An Original Work / March 19, 2012
I can do no less than praise You,
Lord, for all You’ve done for me.
You died for my sins to save me,
So I would be set free.
I adore You! Lord, I praise You!
Jesus, Savior, King of kings!
You provided my redemption.
Your grace has pardoned me.
I can do no less than serve You.
Lord, Your witness I would be,
Telling others of Your love,
And why You died on that tree.
Tell of how You gave of Your life,
So from sin we’d be set free,
So we could worship You forever,
And live eternally.
I can do no less than love You,
Lord, for You have first loved me.
You gave of Your life so willing,
Because You cared for me.
Turn from my sin! Obey freely!
Live for You each passing day.
Read Your word, and follow Your lead,
Lord, as I humbly pray.