John 15 Part 3

Resumed from part 2

So, not only does it feed people, it also creates a reproduction of life. That is the perfect image, then, of the process of evangelism, which is the reproduction, and edification, which is the nurturing and feeding. Those are the basic elements found in the whole idea of nurturing.
It transmits the life, but what I am saying is that it never creates the life. It is a conduit. What I am saying here is that a lot of people live as if they are creating the life. I am saying it is not your life, it is Christ in you. You can not create this life, it is Christ in you. There is a difference there, and you must receive it, not try and create it. Furthermore, when you bear this fruit it leads to something that lasts. It is something that lives and is something that will go on into eternity and that is what we long for. Don’t you long to accomplish something that will endure forever? We long for the significance and satisfaction of accomplishing something that will have ripple effects forever and ever. It will be tragic if all our works in this world were totally destroyed.
The fruit of God will live on forever. Going on to verse six, now, this is a tough verse. A lot of people have used it, I think, incorrectly. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” There is always fruit where there is life, and where there is no fruit there is a need for divine discipline. This passage, however, does not deal with the eternal destiny of believers. It is interesting to note that it says, “they gather them.” The interesting thing about ‘them’ is that it is a neuter word.
So, the ‘them’ apparently, are the dead works that are thrown into the fire. In verse seven, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” So, we have this profound promise.
But, you must always remember that this relates to other texts that relate to answered prayer or otherwise you might suppose you have some law of linearity, where if you do your part, God is obligated to do His part. There are a variety of other things involved and whenever you do a study of prayer, you would do well to compare Scripture with Scripture. You would do well to let the clear text interpret the unclear text. It is important for us to see that there are some conditions for answered prayer, but the primary one here is abiding in Him because that will actually be the source of power that will animate the other conditions; of praying in His name, of not praying selfishly, and so forth.
So, this mutual abiding, then, leads to the product of answered prayer. In verse eight, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” I love that verse because it tells that real Spiritual fruit can actually honor and please and glorify God. You and I can bless the Lord. Remember Psalm 103? “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.” This tells us that we can be a blessing to Him. This is a remarkable thought because He takes deep pleasure in communion with us and it is a blessing to Him.
So, we go on, in verse nine, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” I see it as a remarkable thought then, in this context; of what is happening to Christ, what He knows is going to take place in a matter of hours. He knows He is in His last hours.
But, He speaks of three intriguing things here. Back in chapter 14, verse 27, what did He talk about? “Peace I leave with you.” What does He talk about in this text? He mentions three things, love, peace, and joy. Do you recognize those three words, peace, love, and joy? Or, how about love, joy, and peace, put in that order? They are the first three of the nine-fold fruit of the Holy Spirit.
Here they are:
Love: “Agape” love is unmerited favor. Love is something to share with everyone. Regardless of relationship, like and dislike, or situation.
Joy: Joy is delight in the hope and promises of Jesus Christ. No matter what the circumstances, a person can have joy in the hope of eternal life and being in right standing with God.
Peace: Peace is having eternal security by being in eternal relationship with God because of Jesus’ act on the cross, and not of works lest anyone should boast, for who of you can boast that you’ve done more that Jesus Christ of Nazareth for your own Salvation.
Long-Suffering: Long-suffering is having patient endurance to withstand all of life’s trials. Long-suffering is possible because of hope and assurance in God’s promises.
Gentleness: Gentleness is being kind to others and being unmoved by circumstances. By a person yielding to and being comforted by the Holy Spirit, he or she can be gentle in all situations. Also, see Kindness.
Goodness: Goodness is acting like Jesus as He did when He walked on the Earth and doing the things of God. This is a Godly goodness that is defined by God through His Word, the Bible.
Faith: Faith is having the hope and assurance in the promises of God. This is a confident and a trust that is not moved by temporary circumstances.
Meekness: Meekness is a humility that seeks no revenge. Meekness comes from a person yielding to the Holy Spirit in all circumstances. It is a state of mind where God comes first, and self comes last.
Temperance: Temperance is self-control. With the Holy Spirit in a person, they have a higher purpose to serve God. Fleshly desires are secondary to serving God in all things.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23 (KJV)
Now, it is a remarkable thought that He would be focusing on the theme of peace, love, and joy when He knows He is about to go through the horror of crucifixion. It is more than just the physical; it is the spiritual separation from the Father so that He would become our sin-bearer. How He was capable of doing this, even to the end He served His own, is truly remarkable.
But, this is what He wishes for us. It is also a condition of obedience, which I will return to in just a moment. In verse 12, He goes on to say, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” In verse 13, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” How can He command us to love one another? The answer is that Christian love is not a feeling, it is an act of the will. He sure doesn’t command us to like one another. ‘This is My command, that you like one another’. That is not a choice. There are some people you like and, frankly, there are some people you just don’t like. Some people you have no chemistry with at all. That’s okay because you still can love them even though you don’t like them. Why? Because love is a choice to seek their highest good. That is an issue He can command us to do because it is a love of choice, a love of the will. The proof of our love, then, is not in our feelings but in our actions, even to the extent of laying down our lives for Christ and for one another.
So, we are called to treat others the way God treats us. Again, He is the exemplar and we imitate what He has already done previously. In verses 14 and 15, “You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” A lot of people have many acquaintances, but few, and certainly men, have few deep friends. What many of us call friends might rightly be called acquaintances. There is a need, then, for this intimacy, and some of our friends may prove unfriendly or unfaithful at the end. I was recently talking to a person in the ministry, where a person who appeared to be devoted to him and involved in his ministry, treacherously talked about him behind his back and ultimately even tried to steal his mailing list and take money from him through that after he formed his own so-called ministry. This is an act of betrayal, especially in consideration of how my friend poured his life into this guy. Apparently, he decided that if he could not have an equal role in that ministry, then he would do this. You see it on Facebook all the time, one person says, ‘well, I’ll just start my OWN group.’ It’s also one of the reasons for so many denominations. It is a sad picture, we’re only supposed to be ONE body.
So, even followers of Christ can be treacherous in this regard, But, our friendship with Christ involves something more than that. It involves a desire to be people who have commitment, integrity, and hope. I want to say, then, that there is a knowledge that comes here, and, frankly, the knowledge of Christ animates our choices.
So, we have to have knowledge as well as love and obedience. These things are critical; we know him, we love him, and we obey Him. You see the sequence? It is important. In that great prayer by St. Richard of Chichester, he said, “May we know you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly.” You see the sequence? The better you know Him, the more you will love Him and the more you love Him, the more you are willing to obey Him.
So, the prayer here is to love what He commands and desire what He promises. Think about that; may we love you command and desire what you promise. Isn’t that a wonderful image? So, we seek this sequence in our lives. And, as friends of the Kingdom, we know His plans but we are also subject to Him and obey His commands. Abraham was a friend of God, but he was also the servant of God and so there is a mutuality there. He was God’s friend because he obeyed God and in return righteousness was imputed to Abraham.
So, if we are friends to the world, we are going be at enmity with God. Some of you may have seen, the sequence is pretty well known, and if you go back to verse eight, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit.” So, we can very well say that our deep call, or number one job is to glorify the Father. So, if we glorify the Father, it gives Him pleasure and we actually have the capacity to do that. What is the key to glorifying God? After all, we are called to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. So, what is the key to glorification? He says, in verse eight, that we glorify Him by bearing much fruit.
Now, the question you have to ask next is, how do you bear fruit? Well, He has already told us in this text. What is the answer? Let me give you an example. Look at verse five, and what does He say? You bear fruit when you abide in Him. So, abiding is the key to fruit-bearing.
Now, what is the key to abiding? Look at verse ten, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.” Obedience, then, is the key to abiding. As you obey Him, then you abide in Him.

 

 

 

Continued in part 4

2 Replies to “John 15 Part 3”

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