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Gospel of John - Chapter 15 - Lesson 2

Posted on June 23, 2016 at 7:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Abide in His Love


John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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.

 

The Father loves Jesus completely and unconditionally. They are one, they are in perfect unity. Jesus wants us to be one with Him and the Father. Reside, live, dwell in Jesus’ love. The place where you live, your home, is where you feel safest and most comfortable. We should feel safe and comfortable in Jesus’ love. Home is also the place where you can most be yourself. There is no need for pretense with Jesus. When we abide in Him, we can be completely at ease. But how, exactly, do we achieve this state of abiding? We arrive at this state of being completely secure in our Savior’s love through obedience. The obedience that we are talking about is willing obedience because of our love for the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because we love them we desire to keep God’s commandments. We do not earn our salvation through following the commandments, but our obedience is one evidence that God has saved us. The Apostle John would later write:

 

1 John 4:19 (NIV) We love because he first loved us.

 

Jesus set the example of obedience for us by obeying the Father even to the point of dying on the cross!

 

Philippians 2:8 (NIV) And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

 

That is obedience to the nth degree! There is no greater obedience than being willing to lay down your life to fulfill another’s will, even someone you love. The other three Gospels tell us that Jesus prayed asking the Father if this cup (His taking the sin of the world to the cross) could pass from Him. Then He prayed for the Father’s will to be done rather than His own in the Garden of Gethsemane. (Matthew chapter 26 and Mark chapter 14)

 

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

What things? The truth about abiding and obeying. When our lives are completely intertwined with Jesus, we are most at peace and have the greatest joy. When we are receiving life from the Vine, His joy and vitality flow through us and is a light and witness to others. Our joy is not dependent upon our circumstances but rather our connectedness with Jesus.

 

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

 

The action of love is the lifestyle to be lived out by the disciples. The admonition set forth by Jesus, namely the order of daily living for Christian disciples, is that they demonstrate an active love toward one another in imitation of the love Jesus had lavished upon them. As children imitated their parents, we are to imitate the Lord. How did Jesus love and to what extent? Jesus loved sacrificially, unconditionally, and purely. He loved with everything, His heart, mind, and soul. He went so far as to die for those He loved. And now, He continues to make intercession for us at the throne of God.

 

Romans 8:34b Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

 

Jesus continues demonstrating His love for us forever!!!

 

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

 

The word for friends used here could be interpreted “beloved ones.” This indicates an intimate friendship, a family relationship. As stated in Proverbs 18:24 (NIV) “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” An important reflection on the theological implications of this verse is that Jesus addresses His friends, the community of faith. Further, the price of this love is illustrated in the crucifixion, although it was not restricted merely to His sacrificial act of death, but was mirrored in the activity of His life and ministry. Even before Jesus willingly laid down His life on the cross, He had set aside the splendor of Heaven to be born to a humble couple and live life as a man that we might understand the Father’s love. He also came to provide an example for us to emulate.

 

John 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

 

The disciples’ designation and elevation to friendship, that is, mutual familial love, is found in their willingness to actively practice the commandments which Jesus has given. If one is the friend of Jesus, he or she will take on as their style of living obedience to the charges of Jesus. John views obedience as the measure of true Christian discipleship. The reason Jesus gives for calling the disciples friends, or beloved, is because everything He has heard from the Father He has shared with them. A servant does not know what his master intends to do, but the disciples, on the other hand, were given knowledge of their Master’s intent. Jesus brings them into intimacy with Himself when He shares what the Father has shared with Him.

 

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

 

The knowledge of the disciples’ friendship to Jesus could cause them to become arrogant. Jesus quickly dispels the possibility in the mind of the disciples that they might have somehow earned this great privilege. It was at the initiative of Jesus that these were chosen as beloved. This is true of us today as well. We are unable to reach God until He has reached down to us and quickened us, made us alive, to His calling. The going out of the disciples and the production of fruit are proven through the results of what remains. The will of the Father has been revealed to the disciples, and through these actions His will is continually fulfilled. Therefore, their motivation is in conformity to the Father. For this reason, He is enabled to answer their prayers. This applies to us, also. We cannot frivolously ask anything in the name of Jesus and expect a positive answer from God. Asking “in Jesus’ name” implies that we are asking in accordance with His will and for His glory. Those prayers will be answered. These prayers which Jesus promises the Father will answer perpetuate God’s mission in the earth to proclaim the gospel and to raise up disciples which are living epistles through the development of Christian character.

 

John 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

 

God’s grace and care to bring about the reality of family is a refreshment in the present day situation of so many broken and dysfunctional families. May the church continue to rise up and grow into one unified expression of God’s family through His love. This will result in peace and joy for all who trust in Jesus!

 

Q – God chose to love us and then enabled us to love Him and one another. We are empowered to obey and to love when we abide, are living in, the Vine, Jesus. Do you have your home in Jesus? Are you resting securely in His love? Are you bearing fruit as evidence of your relationship with Him?

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 15 - Lesson 1

Posted on June 21, 2016 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)

Abide in The True Vine

 

John 15:1 (ESV) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.

 

Jesus now gives his disciples and us a portrait of Himself as the source of life and of those who are in relationship with him as recipients of this life. Jesus gives this in agricultural terms they would understand. Jesus was authentic, the real deal, God’s only Son. Jesus’ stating that He is the TRUE vine indicates that there were false teachers trying to pull people away from following Jesus, teachers who indicated they were the way or knew a better way. We encounter that today with the myriad of religions and cults claiming to have a clear path to their version of paradise. But as we learned in John chapter 14, Jesus is the ONLY way. This is the last of the seven I AM statements of Jesus found in the book of John, a clear claim of deity. Jesus is the true vine, and the Father is the one who cares for the vine along with all its branches. He supplies all we need in order to thrive.

 

John 15:2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

 

There are branches on vines that do not bear fruit. On tomato vines these are called “suckers,” and they must be removed to allow more nutrients to go to the fruit bearing branches. We liked this explanation of the branches to be removed:

 

The MacArthur Bible Commentary:

The picture is of the vinedresser (i.e., the Father) getting rid of dead wood so that the living, fruit-bearing branches may be sharply distinguished. This is the picture of apostate Christians who never genuinely believed and will be taken away in judgment, the transforming life of Christ has never pulsated within them.

 

God will never cut off and burn a true believer, one chosen by the Father whose life is surrendered to Jesus. However, He will prune believers. He will remove things from our lives that would keep us from fulfilling His purpose for us. That may be a sin, a habit, a possession, or even a person. His goal is that we will bear more fruit just like I pruned the suckers in order to have more and better tomatoes. What is the fruit Christians are supposed to bear? We are to produce the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) within our own lives; and we are to cultivate new believers, make disciples of them. As we allow the Holy Spirit to mold us into people bearing His fruit, we will draw others to us and be able to teach them to grow in Christ – and the fruit will remain and be multiplied.

 

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

The disciples, the eleven faithful, had listened to Jesus with the intent to obey. In John chapter 13, Jesus had told them they were all clean except the one who would betray Him. This would indicate that Judas Iscariot never truly believed in Jesus as the Son of God. Therefore, the listeners who truly believed what they heard were cleansed by the words of Jesus.

 

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

 

If a branch breaks off the tomato plant, it dies and, of course, does not make any tomatoes. Anyone in this world who is not connected to Jesus is a dead man or woman walking around. They are not connected to the vine, to Jesus, to life. Once a person experiences salvation, they are permanently grafted into the vine. It is impossible to bear fruit if the branch is not connected to the vine to receive the nutrients carried from the roots through the stem. If one is not truly IN CHRIST, surrendered to Him, it would be impossible to consistently exhibit the fruits of the Spirit or to cultivate new believers. Without Jesus, we are powerless, limp, and lifeless. The lamp just won’t turn on unless it is plugged into the power outlet (switching analogies). However, if you abide in Jesus, you can do everything God has called you to do.

 

John 15:6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

 

Where you abide is where you make your home, where you dwell, where you reside. We can only abide in Christ if we truly trust Him for salvation, for life, for everything. The non-believer is not in Christ. They cannot abide. The people who reject Christ become the rejected branches thrown into the fire. Hell is not a popular subject, but it is real.  Hell is not propaganda to scare people or make-believe; it is a real place. People choose to end up in Hell when they choose not to trust Jesus.

 

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

 

Take a look at this verse in the Amplified Bible, Classic Edition:

 

John 15:7 (AMPC) If you live in Me [abide vitally united to Me] and My words remain in you and continue to live in your hearts, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.

 

This does not mean the believer can ask for frivolous or self-indulgent things. The person who is truly in this kind of intimate relationship with Jesus will not be praying for “me, me, me” but will be asking with the intent of pleasing the Father and bringing a smile to His face. Children are born to be a blessing to their parents and naturally seek to please them. As children adopted into the family of God our desire is to please Him. Many people, even believers, fail to realize that following God’s commands is for their benefit as well. If we solely go God’s direction, we will be happier than we have ever been because it is what we were created for. When we are truly abiding in Jesus, having an intimate relationship with Him, we will ask only for the things that will bring glory to God. Therefore, God will answer those prayers with the best action for us.

 

John 15:8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

 

We prove to be Jesus’ disciples when we are acting in line with His will. When we are obeying His word, bearing the fruit of changed lives, and helping others to do the same, we bring glory to our Father in Heaven. As His children, that should bring us great joy!

 

Q – Are you abiding in the Vine? Do you have the life of Jesus flowing through you? If not, or if you are not sure, please contact us via the Contact/Prayer Requests tab on this website. We would love to pray for you and answer any questions you might have. This tab generates an email that is private and seen only by us, Susan and Susie. If you are already a believer, submit to the Lord’s pruning in order to bear much fruit!

 

Gospel of John - Chapter 14 - Lesson 3

Posted on June 19, 2016 at 8:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Holy Spirit and Perfect Peace

John 14:21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

 

A person can have head knowledge, “know” God’s commandments and not obey them. If we are not demonstrating the heart knowledge as defined by obedience, we are not doing what Jesus commanded. As we said before, our obedience is the evidence that we love Jesus. When we love and trust Jesus, He places the Holy Spirit within us to enable us to obey. We do not obey in order to be clean enough to come to Jesus. When we know Jesus, He cleanses us and creates a desire to obey Him in our hearts. Our obedience is a heart action, not words on our lips alone. Since He has changed our hearts from stone to flesh, we are attuned to His will.

 

Ezekiel 36:26 (VOICE) I will plant a new heart and new spirit inside of you. I will take out your stubborn, stony heart and give you a willing, tender heart of flesh.

 

Because Jesus loves us, we can return His love; and, therefore, we have the capacity to love one another. Jesus said that is how people would know that we follow Him – non-believers recognize that we belong to Jesus when they see us demonstrating His love. Since Jesus loves us, the Father certainly loves us because they are one and the same. Disobedience in a believer’s life cannot undo that fact that he is saved, chosen by God. However, it can put a road block in our communication with Him. Conversely, the more completely we obey the Lord’s commands, the more clearly He will make Himself and His will known to us. The more we willingly choose to obey, the more the Lord, through our intimate relationship with Him, will reveal more of who He is and how He wants to move in our lives. His purpose for our lives will then be more easily discerned.

 

John 14:22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?”

 

Judas wanted to know how Jesus would come exclusively to the disciples and not to everyone else. I think the disciples still could not conceive the idea of the Holy Spirit moving invisibly in their hearts and minds. Therefore, they could not figure out how Jesus could be in communication with them and not everyone else around them. Remember, they did not have phones or the internet! They could not wrap their heads around Jesus dying either. So they could not understand that an invisible Holy Spirit could be sent after He died, rose again, and returned to the Father. We are looking back in history, but they were living it; so we must cut them some slack when they had a hard time grasping the things Jesus was telling them.

 

John 14:23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.

 

To love Jesus is also to believe He is the Son of God which is the way to salvation. Jesus said He and the Father would take up residence, make their dwelling place, the place they reside within the believer. They will abide in the believer, and the believer will abide in them. We will discuss that even more in the next chapter. I am not sure the disciples were understanding this concept of the Lord dwelling with them even after He was no longer on earth in bodily form. However, this truth would become a mainstay of their faith after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus as seen in the book of Acts. The Lord being present in our lives is what carries Susan and I through each day.

 

John 14:24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father's who sent me.

 

When you reject Jesus, you are rejecting God the Father. God sent Jesus as His representative to enlighten humanity about the Father’s attributes by seeing Him in living, tangible color. Therefore, they could relate to and understand Him as a man. Jesus said many times that He spoke only that which the Father told Him. So to discard Jesus’ words is to discard God’s words. To disobey Jesus is to disobey Father God. If one does not love and trust Jesus, he is incapable of obeying His word.

 

 

John 14:25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

 

The Holy Spirit serves the clarifier when we read scripture. It is the Holy Spirit that helps us understand the word of God. The Holy Spirit is the part of the Trinity that gives us insight into the thought processes of Jesus, to explain it in a way that we can comprehend. The Holy Spirit is also who enabled the apostles to remember everything Jesus had taught them in the course of over three years in order to teach it to new believers. It was the Holy Spirit who inspired Matthew and John to write their Gospels.

 

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

 

Jesus left them with peace that passes any comprehension, supernatural peace that is not dependent on circumstances, peace that cannot be up or down like a yo-yo.

 

Philippians 4:6-7 (HCSB) Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

In Christ, we can be at peace even during troubling times. We do not need to fear or fret when we remember that God is in control, and He loves us!

 

 

John 14:28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.

 

Until Jesus ascended back to His glory with the Father, the disciples could not get on with the work He had ordained for them. When Jesus came to earth, allowing Himself to be wrapped in human flesh, He willingly laid aside completely exercising His power in order to function as a man. His power was still available to Him since He was fully God, but He chose not to access it. When He returned to the Father, the glory He had purposely laid aside was completely His again. The Holy Spirit did not begin His work in and through the disciples until Jesus was back at the throne of God.

 

John 14:29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe.

 

By dying and appearing to them after the resurrection, Jesus would greatly increase their belief. It would surely increase my faith to see Jesus walk through a closed door! It would also beef up their faith when Jesus came upon them in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 2). But in order to come to them in this manner, He had to go away. Jesus told them about the Holy Spirit before He actually came upon them, so they would recognize Him as coming from the Lord.

 

John 14:30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

 

Jesus let them know Satan was about to show his ugly face through the betrayal, mock trial, and execution. He also made it clear that Satan really had no control over Him, that He was allowing these things to happen in order to fulfill the Father’s will. The disciples must have been thinking that everything made sense to Jesus, but it was not making sense to them yet. They needed help for their finite brains set in human frailty. Which is exactly why Jesus was sending the Holy Spirit! Then He just got up and urged them to leave with Him. The scripture does not tell us where they went at this time – perhaps Jesus continued talking with them on their way to the Mount of Olives.

 

Q – Many people today seem to be controlled by fear. Fear of terrorists, fear of financial crisis, fear of the choices in this election year, fear of the future in general. However, Jesus said He left us with His peace. The gift of His Holy Spirit indwelling us helps us turn from fear to faith, from anxiety to peace. Are you fearful about something today? Pray! The words “fear not,” “do not be afraid,” “be anxious for nothing,” and “do not worry” are found in many scripture passages. Use a concordance or online bible tool such as www.biblegateway.com to look these up. You will be encouraged as you are reminded that God is sovereign. He has not lost His grip on the world. You can be at peace in the midst of the chaos around you.