We’re going through the New Testament now trying to come to a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Right now, we’re in the gospel of John. Tonight, we’re going to be going through John 15:9-17. Let’s go to the text:
9“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.
Again, I’m not interested in getting into issues like eternal security. I’m only interested in seeing how this relates to the doctrine of God and the doctrine of Christ. I start at the beginning by saying that as the Father loves the Son, so the Son loves his disciples and find it astounding. I could not dare say to anyone that I love them the way God loves me. Now I wish I could, but I know I cannot. I do not think I could say I love myself that way or even sadly love God that way. Yet Christ says he has that kind of love. We can first ask ourselves “Who has a God kind of love but God”, and second, “How should we respond if we know God loves us that way as followers of Christ?”
To say that we remain in his love if we obey his commands is not to teach a works salvation. The idea is that those who bear fruit are those who are truly connected to the vine as we saw yesterday. If you are not connected to the vine, then you will not bear fruit. The works do not give us salvation but rather they reveal our salvation. This is also the reason for the distinction between Paul and James on faith and works. Paul talks about justification in the eyes of God and James talks about the knowledge of justification before men.
The reason for this is our joy. The Father delights in our joy and all that he asks is that we love. True love is not wishy-washy however. It does not mean accept everything. True love can tell some hard truths and Jesus often did that. True love also does not mean to have certain feelings towards a person. You cannot will that. It means to act properly towards a person.
The apostles are in a unique position to Jesus and are called friends and I believe we can have the same such position. I don’t mean in the buddy-buddy sense that we usually have today, but that we maintain a position of unique favor in relation to the Son.
What’s the requirement? Love. Christ says no greater love than that a man lay down his life for his friends. What about love for enemies? Jesus is talking to friends however and showing the best way a friend shows love to a friend. Romans 5 tells us that in fact, Jesus did lay down his life for his enemies.
How shall we respond to such love? There is only one answer. By passing it on to our fellow man.