John 15 Part 4

Resumed from part 3

So, what is the key to obedience? The key to obedience is in verse ten, and it is love. “Just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” So, love prompts obedience. There is still one more key to discuss. The final key and this is critical, is found in verse 15. You know what the Father has revealed.
So, to know Him is, in fact, the key to loving Him. And loving Him is critical in obeying Him. And obeying Him is the thing that brings about that abiding dimension in our lives, which leads to fruit-bearing, which leads to glorification and honoring God.
So, these things all connect together. Going on to verse 16, “You did choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit.” That is to say, before the foundation of the world, He chose us. Turn with me to Ephesians chapter two, verse ten, and you will see that exact analogy. It says, “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” It is similar to this, then, when Jesus says, “You didn’t choose Me, but I chose you.” What does that mean? It means that the fruit we bear remains and lasts forever.
So, we have this extraordinary idea that we have this privileged position, not of our merit, but because of His grace. He chose them, and He chose us and calls us His elect. He is always previous to our response.
But, we are called now to manifest a discipleship by bearing true fruit, because if it is true fruit it will last forever. Human results eventually disappear, but whatever is born of the Spirit of God will have the mark of eternity and will endure. Verse 17, “This I command you, that you love one another.” This is the most important of the commands, that we love God and then love one another.
The friends of the King, then, will not only love the King but will also love one another. You are loving the people that God loves. We can only do that, in a really powerful way, as we abide in Him, because, frankly, Jesus asks us to do something that we don’t have the power to do by ourselves. We do not have the power to live the Christian life. Do you understand this? It’s not according to how much you repent or however else you want to climb the stairs to heaven on your own. There is only one person who can live the Christian life, and that is Jesus. How does He live it, then? He lives it in you and through you as you abide in Him and allow His Spirit to become manifest. This is hard meat to chew on I know, I’ll be honest with you, I’m still chewing on it too!
That is why it is not a presence of instructions, but the presence of a person. He makes it possible for us to do what would otherwise be impossible to achieve. That is to say, He not only calls us to a task but also empowers us to do it. Let us now look at the next portion of the text. “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it has hated you.” You see the profound contrast there? Up until now, He has been talking about love, hasn’t He? All of a sudden He is looking from a completely different orientation, and now looks at hatred. He openly taught His disciples that one-day persecution would come. He told them that in Matthew five, and He told them that in Mark 13. He told them that the response to His own ministry would be resentment, and hatred, and opposition.
So, now He is saying the “world.” The world can mean different things, according to the context. It can mean the created world, and if He is in the world and He created it, then it is a neutral thing. That is referring to the creation. That is the first way. What is the second way we could look at the word ‘world’? It is the world of humanity. “For God so the” what? The world, speaking about the world of His people.
But, the third way of using ‘cosmos’, the world, is society, apart from God and opposed to God, and that is what He means here. “If the world hates you, then know it has hated Me before it hated you.” We are told not to love the world or be conformed to the world. 1st John 2 tells us, “don’t love the world.” Romans 12 tells us, “don’t be conformed to the world.” And, James 4 tells us, “the one who loves the world is not a friend of God.” You see those ideas? Why is there opposition to us, if we are following Jesus? First of all, I think it because we are identified with Christ.
Opposition takes place because of our new identification. The world can not understand that. And so, in verse 18, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it has hated you.” In verse 20, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master’. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also.” And the second reason the world will hate you is that we do not belong to this world. We belong to a new world. Consequently, in this new world in which we find ourselves citizens, where are we in this world? We are strangers, sojourners, exiles, pilgrims, and aliens in exile. So, we see that we are looking for a city whose builder and architect is God and we are not home yet.
So, we are in this world but we are not of the world. The world does not understand that. We have become, as Hebrews 3:1 says, “Partakers of a heavenly calling.” So, we look now at the things of earth from heaven’s point of view. That gives us a radically different orientation and, in fact, what does this present world invite us to do? To be conformed to the world. See the idea? Persons who are not conformed to this world, but to Christ, are going to really be swimming against the current. We are not conformed to the world then and are in fact new creations, we no longer pursue the old life. 1st Peter 4:1-4 says they insult you because they don’t understand that the person you have become is now not what they are. They almost regard that as an insult to them. The fascinating thing is that they have a double standard. If you claim to be a Christian, they expect you to have a higher life, or ‘perfect’.
But, when you lead a better life, they think you are being self-righteous. Thirdly, the world is spiritually ignorant and blind, so the world is really incapable; not just ignorant, but blind. It is not capable of seeing the Gospel of Christ and the meaning of these truths. The religious establishment claimed to know God, didn’t they? But, they never knew God. Chapter one, verse ten will well illustrate that, at the very beginning of this Gospel. “He was in the world, and the world was made for Him, and the world did not know Him” Look at verse 3 of chapter 16, “These things they will do because they do not know the Father or Me.” There is a huge difference between knowing about God and knowing God.
Now, the fourth reason there will be opposition is going to be found in verses 22 through 24. The world will not be honest about its own sins, and the problem is that the sin of the world is exposed and the world hates it when that takes place. That is why I believe there is such opposition to The Passion of the Christ. The Passion of the Christ forces people to wrestle with something they do not want to think about. Why was He there? Why did He suffer? That is something the world does not want to wrestle with and they come up with this trumped-up charge of anti-Semitism.
But, if anyone sees the film, they know better, but they keep beating that dead horse into the ground because that is all they have got. Look, now, at verses 22 through 24, “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.” That reminds me of what Paul said in Acts chapter 17, in his speech in Athens. In verse 30, “Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”
And so, the resurrected Christ, then, reveals the sin of the world. Consequently, the world cannot be honest about its own sin. In chapter three, verses 19 through 21 of John also make that very, very clear. “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hated the Light and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.” It is the cockroach syndrome. You turn on the light and they flee. You see the idea? I used to stay in a friend’s apartment. They tried everything and had ‘roach motels’ everywhere.
In the middle of the night, you’d get up for a glass of water and turn on the light and they would scatter by the hundreds. That is a metaphor for people, in a very real way. They hate the light and do not want to be exposed by that light. People heard His word and saw His works, but they would not respond to the truth. In verse 23, “He who hates Me, hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well.” They were not sinning in ignorance. They heard His word and saw His works.
So, they couldn’t plead ignorance, or say it’s subjective. “But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause’. I am going to really kind of end here because it would have been better for the chapter division to occur right here because He is going to be speaking a good deal more about the Holy Spirit.
But, just a word about that, though, “When the Helper comes,” and here he means the comforter, the ‘paraklet’, the Holy Spirit, “whom I will send to you from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also because you have been with Me from the beginning.” The point here is that the power of the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will now be able to make a credible and powerful witness and reveal the truth to those who can not hear. Remember the description of people in the world without Christ. “People are blind,” in 2nd Corinthians 4, second, in Ephesians 2, “they are dead,” and third, 2nd Timothy 2, “they are held captive to do the enemy’s will.”
So, they are in bondage, they are blind, and they are dead. The only thing that can break through that darkness, of course, is the power of the Spirit of God, and He has empowered us. Suffering depends upon your response. You will either become bitter or better. There are no other choices in between. If you are embittered, then the suffering will actually cause resentment and hostility.
But, if you see the suffering through the lens that God is there, you do not have the grief of despair, you will have the grief of hope. There is a big difference. The grief of despair assumes there is no answer and that God is the one that brought it about. The grief of hope, the pain of hope, assumes there is an answer, but we don’t understand it, but God really does have my best interests at heart, even though it might not appear as such.

 

 

Now on to part 5

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