Believe and Obey

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You Got A Friend In Jesus

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The New Commandment

The text this week is John 15:9-17.  This text overlaps with the passage from last week, that saw Jesus explaining how He abides in us and us in him.  The focus this week is on the new commandment that Jesus has given us.  This was first given to the disciples at the Last Supper (John 13:31-34).  The commandment is to love one another the way that Jesus (God) loves us.  In this way the disciples (and us) are no longer to be considered servants of Jesus but instead, friends.

Verse 13 also makes clear the sacrificial nature of this friendship, and the challenge to us to do the same; “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.  We know Jesus did just that, and we now know that this is the standard we are to aim for in response to His gifts of grace upon grace.

It is the notion that we have a friend in Jesus that provides so much comfort to us.  I am reminded of the great song by Norman Greenbaum, Spirit In The Sky, with its line that “I got a friend in Jesus So you know that when I die He’s gonna set me up  with the spirit in the sky”.  That sums it up.  Our faith in Jesus as Lord, frees us to consider Him our friend and that faith has put us right with God, for Jesus dwells within us, as the very righteousness of God.  That sets us up with “the spirit in the sky”.  We embrace the new commandment Jesus gives us in response to this gift of His friendship, and oh yeah-salvation.

Who’s Who in the Story

Besides reiterating the new commandment and explaining its ramifications, Jesus makes one other statement that we should pay close attention to.  Verse 16 states clearly “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”  Everything we have and all that we are, including the faith that we possess, comes from God through Jesus.  It is not at all about us, and it never was nor ever will be.

This is in stark contrast to those in the Christian community who claim that “you need to decide for Christ”.  This passage makes clear that Christ has decided for us, the matter is finished.  In any event, what is it that these folks think they need to decide?  That Jesus is telling us the truth?  That God can be trusted?  None of this makes any sense.  Verse 16 is crystal clear-It is all about God.  This is important because if it is about us, then our “decision” is an external work performed to secure our salvation.  We know this is false if for no other reason than Romans 3:28: “For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from works of the law”.

We must never forget that God is God, and we are not.  That is the fundamental and immutable reality of God’s creation.  When we remember this, we recommit to placing our trust in the Jesus who has given us everything, including our faith.  Then we truly have a friend in Jesus who indeed has recommended us to the Spirit in the Sky.  So, believe this, then obey accordingly.

Praise Be to God

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