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The Upper Room Ministry (6)

C Jones, Cardiff

John Chapter 15 (cont.)

Love one another

Love is part of the "fruit of the Spirit" (Gal 5.22). It is difficult to arrive at a comprehensive and satisfactory definition of "love" but it is not difficult to see the results of love. If we love someone we want all that is good for that person. As human beings we cannot guarantee that we know what is "good", and even if we do know we will not always be able to provide what is good for the one we love. God is omnipotent and omniscient and He is love (1 Jn 4.8). He loves us and knows, and can provide, what is best for us (Rom 8.28). Consider the love and power revealed in the verse which says, "He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?" (Rom 8.32), and speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul wrote of: "the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me" (Gal 2.20).

The Father loves the Son, and the Son loved the disciples, and they were told to continue, that is, abide, in His love (Jn 15.9). The Lord always loves us, but to abide, that is, to stay in the conscious enjoyment of His love, we must keep His commandments. He Himself kept His Father’s commandments and remained in His Father’s love (v.10). When the Lord was asked, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?", He answered, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself" (Mt 22.36-39).

Part of the fruit of the Spirit is "joy" (Gal 5.22), and the Lord told His disciples that the things He was telling them were meant to cause His joy to remain in them. If the disciples would obey His commandments and, in consequence, bear spiritual fruit, then their lives would be full of joy (Jn 15.11). The joy the disciples would experience would not be like the short-lived joys of unbelievers, but would be the lasting joy of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the "true vine". His joy would be part of the fruit borne by the disciples. It would not depend on circumstances.

The Lord had said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you" (13.34). "We love him, because he first loved us" (1 Jn 4.19), and "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us" (Rom 5.5). Love should be one of the outstanding characteristics of a company of believers. Believers are to love one another, and the measure of that love is as the Lord loves (Jn 15.12,17; 1 Jn 4.11). We should "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour" (Eph 5.2). Love is the greatest motivating force (1 Cor 13.13), and it is eternal, for God is eternal and "God is love" (1 Jn 4.8).

Love is not self-centred (1 Cor 13.5), and there is no greater love than that shown by a man who lays down his life for his friends (Jn 15.13; 1 Jn 3.16). The love of God was shown in that He sent His only begotten Son into the world to suffer, bleed and die for us when we were sinners and enemies of God (Rom 5.8,10; Eph 2.4-5).

Those who would keep the Lord’s commandments would not only be His servants (Rom 1.1; 2 Pet 1.1), but also His friends (Jn 15.14). They would not simply be commanded to do things, as servants might be commanded, but they would be told the will, mind, purposes, and intentions of the Father (v.15). God told Abraham, the servant of God (Gen 26.24), who was called the "Friend of God" (James 2.23), the things He intended to do (Gen 18.17). It is a blessed privilege to be called a friend of God, but let us remember that he who will be "a friend of the world is the enemy of God" (James 4.4). The more obedient we are to the will of God, and the more we love Him, the more He will reveal to us from His written word of His mind, intents, and purposes.

The things the Lord spoke about to His disciples so near to His crucifixion, resurrection, and departure to be with His Father, were spoken to "his own", whom He loved (13.1). They were for their comfort, consolation and instruction. In 15.17 it is recorded that He said, "These things I command you, that ye love one another". The Lord’s deeds and words were all motivated by love for His Father (14.31), love for "his own", the disciples, and love for all who would be saved in the future (13.1; 17.9, 20). The Lord’s desire for the disciples was that they should love one another in a world that would hate them.

The world hateth you

Having stressed the need for His beloved disciples to abide in Him and in His love when He would no longer be with them (vv.1-11), and for them to love one another (vv.12-17), He now warns them that the unbelieving world will hate them. The attitude and hatred of the world to the Lord would soon be revealed in His crucifixion, and, because they were His followers, and would bear a likeness to Him, the world would hate them too (v.18). Believers are not to be surprised if they are hated and rejected by the world (1 Jn 3.13). The world "would love his own", but the disciples and all believers are the Lord’s and "are not of the world", they have been chosen and called "out of the world" (Jn 15.19; 17.14-16). Both the religious world and the world in general hate believers because believers stress that "all have sinned" (Rom 3.23), and that there is a need to be saved. They assert that the only way of salvation is by grace through God-given faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten and eternal Son of God (Jn 14.6; Acts 4.12; Eph 2.8). People who have not been saved cannot understand believers who have been chosen and called by the Lord, and live lives which are separated from the world and to God (Ps 1.1-2; 2 Cor 6.14-17). They speak evil of those who "run not with them to the same excess of riot" (1 Pet 4.4). Believers should love the lost and pray and work for their salvation, but they should not love the antagonistic world system and all it consists of (1 Jn 2.15-17). Believers are not to be surprised by opposition and persecution, in whatever form it takes, because "The servant is not greater than his lord" (Jn 15.20), and "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (2 Tim 3.12). The Lord was persecuted and, inevitably, His followers will be also (Phil 1.28-29; 1 Pet 4.12-19).

To be continued.


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