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"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21). Is Jesus saying that I must be obedient in order for Him to love me? How does this verse fit with verses like Ephesians 2:8-9 that say we are saved by grace through faith alone? If we really celebrate God's love, we will walk in the will of God because we trust Him. A love that doesn't labor is lunacy and lifeless.
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The Spirit's Coming as the Son Heads Home: Where He is Going and Who He is Sending.
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Love: Our Sign and its Source
It's All About Abiding
Living Proof He is the King of Peace
The Lifeless Lunacy of Love Without Labor
The Holy Spirit is With Those Who Believe
The Greater Works of Those Who Believe
Take Heart: The Difference Between Jesus' Trouble and Ours
Pray with me, won't you?
Father, would you teach us today from your Word? Would you help us see your truth clearly? Would you draw those who do not know of your goodness and love to a place where they would want to be more and more like you? We thank you, Father, that we don't have to do anything but acknowledge our sin and separation to be brought near to the love of God.
We thank you that you show us your love while we are yet sinners, but we thank you that, when we respond to that love, you show us even more love. Would you teach us that this morning and help us to be more like spirit-filled Lloyd, spirit-filled Jesus, spirit-filled believers all over the world? Teach us now, amen.
We are in John 14. I'm going to re-read some of what we've studied in John 14 and all the way down through what I want to cover today, and I think you will be blessed. Are you ready? Open your Bibles to John 14. Let's read some Scripture together. Here we go! I want to start with you in verse 12.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.
In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him. Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, 'Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us and not to the world?'
Jesus answered and said to 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 abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while abiding with you. 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 said to you.'"
There is so much truth here, and I want to be honest. A lot of it is difficult. It is easy to misunderstand. Don't let that bother you. It's exactly what Peter himself, who ran with Jesus, in one of his very last words said, which was, "Listen, many things in the Scriptures, specifically what Paul wrote about what Jesus said, are difficult to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort to their own destruction."
This section of Scripture is absolutely, though, essential if we are going to understand the work that God has us here to do and the means by which we are to do that work and the motivation for that work. What's going on in John 14 is that Jesus is trying to strengthen the hearts of his men who are going to be the foundation for his work until he returns to establish his kingdom, and he's getting ready to leave, and his men cannot handle the truth.
The truth is that they cannot save themselves. There's nothing they could ever do to make God love them. God loves them. That's why he is here. He's leaving them to go do what they cannot do, which is to satisfy a holy God and to ransom them from sin and death, but even in death, he tells them, it will not be the end.
"I'm going to go and die, but I will return. I will conquer death. I will appear to you, but I'm leaving you then. I'm going to go to be with the Father, and when I'm with the Father, I will ask him to send you the Holy Spirit, the Helper, who will teach you all things. He will convict you. He will guide you. He will sanctify you. He will seal you. You will be baptized into relationship with him, become identified with him and one with him because you know me and love me."
That's what John 14 is saying. Now when you want to emphasize something as a teacher, one of the ways you do it, is you repeat it, and I'm going to show you that Jesus repeats something four times in this little section. In verses 15, 21, 23, and 24 he says the same thing, sometimes by stating it negatively and sometimes by stating it positively, but let me just show you. Here it is. Let's just read them together.
See if you can catch the theme. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." Verse 21: "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me…" Anybody picking up on a theme? Verse 23: "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him…" Verse 24: "He who does not love Me does not keep My words…"
Okay, why is this in here, and what is the purpose of the Holy Spirit being tied into this entire idea? What Jesus is introducing right here is an incredibly radical truth. It is a fulfillment. It's not a new idea. It is a long-expected event that there would be a day that the Holy Spirit would not selectively and temporarily fall on men and women.
That's been happening from the very beginning of time, but when men left God, there was a separation from God, and as a rule, men were not yoked back into relationship with God, but God in his grace poured out his Spirit on certain men in order that he might bless his people. Whenever God wants to deliver somebody, he raises up a deliverer.
He always does it by his name, in his power, and he loved individuals who did not believe they had what it took, starting with Moses, who saw himself as a stutterer and a failure and a murderer and on with Gideon who said, "What are you going to do with me? I am least of all the men in all the tribes?" and God said, "You go. I'll use you." Gideon got a bunch of men, and God said, "That's too many. Narrow that number down."
Onward with David, just a little shepherd boy, he puts him up against the giant, and God delivers him. Again and again, you're finding God showing that he is the one who will do the work and he will use people who trust and abide with him, but there was going to be a day that we would no longer need to teach one another because the Spirit of God would indwell in us.
Now let me just say this. What the Scripture is making a claim of here, what Jesus is making a claim of here is that you can know God intimately and personally. That is a phrase we often use within these kinds of communities, and some of you come out from a different religious background where you go, "I'd never heard about the concept of a personal relationship with God." This is where the idea of a personal relationship with God comes from, right here in John 14.
Now whenever there's a great a truth, whenever there's great value, that's what people counterfeit. You don't lie about stuff that doesn't matter. You lie about things that matter a lot. You don't counterfeit worthless things. You counterfeit valuable things. That's why the $100 bill is the most counterfeited form of currency, and you don't waste time trading in counterfeit pennies. Counterfeit $100 bills matter.
Now let me explain something to you. When people are trying to know how to experience the presence of God, know God personally, deepen in intimacy with God, have the power of God evidenced in their lives, John 14 explains how you do it, but like I said, "Whenever there's a great truth or something of great value…" Is there anything more valuable than being intimately acquainted with God? Say, "No." Believe the answer is, "No."
There is nothing more valuable than intimate acquaintance with the God who is great and glorious who gives grace and glory to others, who is kind and loving and redemptive and transforming. If I told you that entity exists, you would go, "I want to be more and more like him. I want to be nearer and nearer to him. I want to walk for him and with him. I want to be here for him, and I want him to be here with me." Amen? Do you see why we just sang what we just sang? "I want to awaken, oh heart, to that truth."
There have been a series of errors that people are always trafficking in influencing you, currying favor with you, popularizing themselves with you, and telling you how you can have this thing without doing the hard work. In other words, this is what the Enemy always does. "You can have all the kingdoms of the earth. Ignore the cross. Ignore the death to self. Ignore the sacrifice. Ignore trust and obey. Just follow me, do this thing, and I will give you the world."
Does anybody recognize that? Here's that same idea that has made its way into the church because some of these things are difficult to understand, and the untaught and unstable distort them to their own destruction, and because they are teachers, that destruction multiplies out, so over the course of time, you have heard people say things like this. "Do you want to be intimate with God? Do you want to experience the power of God? Do you want to experience the presence of God? Then don't just believe in Jesus. Ask that you would be baptized into his Spirit."
They'll say, "Separate and apart from Jesus, what you want is the Holy Spirit, and when you get the Holy Spirit, the second blessing where you move from JV faith to varsity faith, it'll be evidenced by the fact that you can speak in some ecstatic language that you don't understand and nobody else can really understand, but it's going to make you closer to God, and the Spirit will then use you as a medium to communicate to the Father."
Think about the craziness of that idea; like the Spirit of God, which is one with God, eternally dwelt with God, needs me to talk to the Father. They take this idea of speaking in tongues in the Scripture, and they make it a private prayer language, and they tell you that's how you can be holy. That is error.
They will tell you that all you have to do is come and meet the power of God, be slain in the Spirit. In other words, you take a nap, and when you wake up, you are now holy. Wouldn't that be wonderful. Come up here. Let me go oof. I let you fall down and stand up, and I go, "Now you have it!" How about if I told you that you were going to go, like up in Toronto a few years ago, and all you have to do is fall down in holy laughter and giggle yourself to Jesus? It's out there.
How about if I told you that you did not have to study, trust, and obey, that all you have to do is involve yourself in contemplative prayer, where you just sit still and move your mind to just deep moments of silence, which in and of itself is not bad, but if you believe that you're going to get some special revelation that's going to CLEP you into holiness, you are not paying attention to John 14. I could go on.
You have friends in churches not far from here all over this city who are seeking those things today, but not you, blessed ones. You are here, and I'm going to teach you truth. What I want to share with you is there is no fast track to holiness and intimacy with God. It has always been trust and obey. There is no other way to be happy in Jesus, to have blessed relationship with Jesus, to be intimately acquainted with Jesus but to trust and obey, to abide with him. That's what the Scriptures teach.
Now let me remind you of something I said last week in John 14:15, and the reason I'm going back to that is because it's the first time and maybe the most succinct way that he establishes what he repeats in the verses we're studying today, 21, 23, and 24. What does John 14:15 not say? Some of you all, I asked you to write it down in the margins of your Bibles last week. Do you remember? One of the ways you know what something does mean is when you find out what it doesn't mean.
John 14:15: "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." What does it not say? Look at your Bibles. Look for your handwriting. It does not say, "I will not love you unless you keep my commandments." We know that because Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." We know that because the same guy who quotes Jesus in John 14:15 wrote this about truth in 1 John 4:19. "We love, because He first loved us."
Let me tell you something I didn't tell you last week, and this is very important. I said this. Only he who believes obeys, and only the one who obeys believes. I said, "Only if you love him will you obey him and only if you obey him is it evidence that you love him." I want to clarify that. It's true, but you need to know this. Loving him does not equal obeying his commandments. Loving him is what makes obeying his commandments possible.
Now I'm going to explain this to you. I'm going to illustrate it for you. I'm going to say it to you again. According to Scripture, loving does not equal obeying his commandments. Loving him is both the model that he gives us, if you will, and the means through which we obey his commandments. It's what we do, and it's how we do it.
Here we go. I'll teach it to you this way. It's the same thing as saying this. If I told you guys this statement, "If you eat these vegetables, you will be healthy," is eating vegetables the same as being healthy? Say, "No." It is the means through which you will be healthy. If you will, it is the root that produces the fruit of healthiness. One guy said it this way. "If you take this medicine, then you will get better." Is taking the medicine the same thing as getting better? No. It is separate from and, in this case subsequent to, the means through which health can come.
Jesus is saying, "Do you want to know how you can obey me? You have to love me." It is based on relationship. This is very important. I'm going to have you write down two statements. First, write this down: Laboring without loving is legalism. It is dead religion. If you are trying to earn God's favor through your labor, you have not been paying attention to where the origin of God's favor comes from.
Laboring without loving is legalism. It is dead religion, and that's why so many people are discouraged and burdened and freaked out that God may not be okay with them because they're not sure how much they have to labor before they are there. It appeals, however, to everything in our nature, and there are entire cults built on this idea. Every cult is built on this idea.
"I'm going to appeal to your sense of self-worth and self-responsibility and that you can earn what you get, and I'm going to tell you, you have to be a faithful witness for Jehovah. You have to go through these processes and do these things. You have to surrender and, if you will, submit in holy war, in holy living in order to please the Lord." That appeals to man. It is legalism, and it offends God. Laboring without loving is legalism.
There is an opposite truth that completes what Scripture teaches, and it teaches this: loving but not laboring is lunacy. It's lifeless. In other words, you're deluded if you say you love somebody but you do not labor for them, you do not work for them, you do not seek to please and honor them. If you told me you love medicine because it makes you well and you don't take medicine, I would tell you that you are a loon. Right?
If I told you that the only way to being healthy (it's not, thank the Lord) is to eat vegetables all the time, that you would have to eat vegetables to be healthy, and you go, "I believe that. I love vegetables," and you never eat vegetables, you probably wouldn't be healthy, and I would tell you that you are a loon. Okay? Loving without laboring is, as I said, lifeless. What's another word for lifeless? Dead.
Let me explain this to you. There is a place in Scripture that bothers a lot of people. It's in James, chapter 2, and it says this. "…faith without works is dead." Do you know where that idea comes come? It comes from right here. What Jesus is not saying is, "I'm not going to love you unless you obey my commandments."
He's saying, "I already love you. I've saved you from your lack of loving me, but now that I've loved you, if you know that I've loved you, live in obedience to me, and the means through which you'll be obedient to me is that you know I love you and that I'm good and I withhold no good things from those who do love me, so walk with me and follow with me, and you will be blessed, and I will show you more of who I am."
Let me just show you a few things. Let's go to James 2 really quickly, because the key word in John is a word called believe. It is pisteuō, if you will, in the Greek. It means to commit, to entrust, and guess what another word that is spelled almost exactly the same with the same root that means to commit and to entrust is in the Scripture? It is faith. They are interchangeable, to believe, to have faith in.
If you say you have faith in vegetables making you healthy and you don't eat vegetables, you are a loon, or your faith in vegetables is dead. It's worthless. It's not saving vegetable faith. If I tell you, "Take this pill, and you'll feel better tomorrow," and you go, "I'm all down with that, doc," and you don't take that pill, I would tell you your faith in that pill is dead. It's lunacy that you believe that that pill is what you need, but the pill is not the same as being healed. It is the means through which healing will come.
I'm going to show you this in great clarity, and I'm going to explain to you a verse that Jesus is about to go back and teach it in another way just a few short verses from here, but look at James 2. See if this makes more sense to you in James, chapter 2.
"What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith [pistis] but he has no works?" Do you know what the word is for work? It's interesting. You'll know it. It's _ergo. _If something is ergonomically correct it is useful, helpful. "Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, 'Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,' and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that?
Even so [pistis] , if it has no [ergon] , is dead, being by itself, but someone may well say,'But someone may well say, 'You have[pistis]and I have works; show me your[pistis]without the[ergo], and I will show you my[pistis]by my[ergo].' You[pisteuō]that that God is one. You do well; the demons also[pisteuō]believe[have faith that God is there]…"
Guess what? They don't even have to have much faith. They have faith in seeing. Does the Devil believe in God? Yes! In fact, it's not hard for him to believe in God any more than it's hard for you to believe that I'm standing here this morning, but his belief is not leading to him having a relationship with and loving.
In fact, he chose not to love God and, instead, to love himself and to exalt himself above God, and instead of that working out for him, he got cast out and cast down to the outer chaos and darkness, and he can't seem to fix it because God alone is good, and when you separate yourself from God, it's never going to get good. See now, also man, whom God created to walk with him and know him, and then there was that Enemy saying, "You don't need God. You just need to serve yourself."
We decided to serve ourselves, and guess what happened? Chaos, death, darkness, bombings, adultery, cancer, unfaithfulness, despair… What'd God do then? He loved us still. He ran at us to rescue us. He became flesh that we would see the glory of the Father. We watched him ergo, work out the beauty of the Father in our presence, so Jesus said, "If you don't believe my words, believe my ergo. Is it the way that I lead…? Doesn't it work out well for you? Isn't it bringing comfort to you? Isn't it functional?"
Wouldn't this be a better place if everybody was like Jesus? To this day, people who hate God and the idea that they need Jesus love the idea of Jesus, and Jesus says, "That means you love God. Why are you rejecting God and the means through which you can be reconciled to him?" Jesus is saying in John 14 now this. "Look, loving me is not the same as obeying me. Loving me is what's going to allow you to obey me. If you love me, you will obey me."
See now if John 15:5 makes sense. What did I say is the root? It's love. What did I say obeying is? It rhymed. It's the fruit. (Thank you! The good students always sit in the front of the class. Right there they are.) John 15:5: "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing."
"If you abide in me, if you dwell in my love, then you're going to bear fruit. It's the means through which you will do what I want you to do. It's rooted in love." Let me say it to you again. Laboring without love is legalism. It doesn't work. Loving but not laboring is lunacy. It is lunacy. We'll go to John 14:22.
"Judas (not Iscariot)…" Wouldn't that be great? Think about this. One guy lived life so horribly that, every time from here on out that God mentions his name, it's to say, "Not that bad guy." That's a bad, bad way to go through life. Judas only shows up one time in your Bible. He only has one verse associated with him. It's right here in verse 22, not Iscariot now, the other Judas."
It says, "Lord, I'm confused. Why are you telling us that we're going to see you, that you're going to be disclosed to us but not to the world?" Do you remember how I said last week that the Spirit of God is only for those who believe, that it's not for everybody because, only in believing God is good do you get reconciled to God through his provision?
In being reconciled to God, you receive insight into who God is and are indwelt with the Spirit of truth and not the Spirit of error because, to a Jewish mindset (this is why Judas is asking this), this is confusing. "We think you're the Messiah. The Messiah is supposed to reign on earth and establish the glory of our father, David, and all the nations of the earth are going to be blessed through your revealing yourself as the Messiah. What do you mean that the word's not going to see you for you who are?"
Jesus is explaining why we're not going to institute the kingdom in all its fullness. He said, "There's going to be a day when I go and return and establish my kingdom." He answers that question. "I'm not going to establish it right now physically because, when I come to establish it physically, I have to physically destroy all sin because there will be no sin in my kingdom, and I want my kingdom to be packed.
I have to reconcile people to me, which means I have to make provision for their sin. I'm going to go make provision for their sin, and then I'm not going to come right back and establish the kingdom because there are only a few of you who really do believe in me, and you are going to declare who I am, the means through which others can be reconciled to me and be intimate with me.
I am going to show that I am who I said because you're going to love as I love, do as I do, and the work which I have done, I am going to continue to do through you, and if you ask me, I will continue to do the work through you so more people will be brought to me. In fact, more than I've brought to me, you will bring to me, so the Father might be glorified, so when I come to establish the kingdom and the whole world sees me as King, there will be more who recognize me as King who can enjoy the blessing of my kingdom."
Does that make sense? "While you are here at war in a dark world by the power of the Spirit, you are declaring the King is coming. The King has died and has risen from the dead as evidence that he is who God said he was. Trust in him. Love this God who is good. Live for him, and when the King comes back, he will bless you, and you will dwell with him forever.
Don't do it so he'll love you. That's legalism. You'll be discouraged. Other people will be confused. You'll never have security and peace. I'm giving you peace, peace with God. Here's the peace of God. I'm sovereign. I'm in control. I'm not having my life taken from me. I'm laying my life down."
Judas goes, "How are they not going to recognize you?" He said, "Because I'm not going to do what you want me to do. I'm not going to go sit on the throne here. I'm going to sit on a much higher throne, and I'm going to give you the greatest gift, and there will be a day that I will come sit on an earthly throne, and all who are reconciled to me will enjoy that. You go get them."
Now let's go back to verse 21. There's some great stuff in verse 21. Jesus says, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father…" Didn't I tell you a second ago that God loves us before we love him, but it says in verse 21 that he will love us more if we…what? Keep his commandments.
I'm going to explain that to you. This is very important. It is true that he loves us first, and it is true that he will love us only if we love him. Let me say that again. It is true that he loves us first. That love is the means through which we can obey him, and when we obey him, he will love us more.
What does that mean? First of all, let me say this. There is no greater love than a man who gives his life for his friends. Jesus has died for the world. "For God so loved the [entire] world…" You can in good conscience look at people and say, "God loves you. He died for you. He gave you a means through which you could come to him."
Christ died for all men, as the Scripture says, but it does say in John 14 and other places, that not all men will experience the love of the Father because not all men will know the Spirit of truth. In not knowing the Spirit of truth, they won't dwell with God in intimacy, and in not experiencing God, they won't have a personal relationship with God, and they're not going to have more love of God revealed to them.
This is going to become very clear to you in just a moment. This is beautiful. Let me show you. Sometimes words really help in our language. "…I will love him and will [emphanizo] Myself to him." We get two words from that. We get the word emphasize, and we get another word, epiphany. What is an epiphany? It is a revealing. It is an unlocking. It is an opening. It makes something visible, when you go, "Oh, I have an epiphany. I just saw with great clarity."
If you think there is love revealed in the cross (and there is love revealed in the cross), do you want to know when you really begin to see how great and good God is? It's when you start to go, "All right, man, I'm all in. I'm going to start to follow you and obey you. I'm not going to give myself away to lust. I'm not going to give myself away to anger. I'm not going to give myself away to trying to establish my name on this earth. I'm not going to give away myself to anything that is consistent with the world if it's inconsistent with you."
When you begin to order your life according to God's commandments and you lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge him, you're going to be like, "You won't believe what I just stumbled onto. Ever since I started trusting God and living according to his will and way, my life and my marriage have gotten incredible.
My wife, who couldn't stand being near me, delights in me. My children who didn't respect me and were separated from me, as I began to order my life the way God wants and treat them and shepherd them the way God wants and live according to his commandments… It delighted me as his follower as I began to not live for my own comfort but as a servant of others.
Everybody in my community doesn't like what I say, but they love what I do. I look in my mirror, and I don't go, 'Why are you alive? Why are you here?' I know why I'm alive. I know why I am here. God is good. His way is true, and I delight in him. I've seen more and more of his glory. He's shown more of himself to me, and I can't wait to love him more."
This is why that the most horrible moment in Jesus' life was when he was going to go to the cross and he was going to become sin, and for that moment, he was going to be separated from God as God's wrath was poured out on him. As he became sin on our behalf, Jesus was like, "I don't want to be away from intimacy with the Father for a second, for a nanosecond, because in him are all the riches of goodness in life, and I don't want anything but goodness in life." Why?
It's because he knows how wonderful he is, and he doesn't want to miss a second. This is what it means when it says that the beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord. It means that when I am not scared of God but when I respect God and his way and his goodness I know that just a second of not being in God's will and in his way is going to be to step out of blessing, out of light into darkness, out of blessing into curse, out of life into death, and I respect his goodness, and I don't want to leave it for a moment.
God is better than gravity. It would be like, if I were on the top of the Empire State Building, and I went, "I love gravity. I don't want to leave gravity's laws for a second because, if I leave gravity's laws for a second, that is a long fall. Maybe with a momentary rush of adrenaline, even pleasure, maybe a view a little bit better than the view I have, if I step out… But I love gravity. It brings health and blessing and utility to me." Do you get that? God is better than gravity.
How many of you guys are jacking with gravity? Gravity is an illustration of God's goodness, so you don't go launching into the atmosphere and burn out like a rocket or so you don't fall to death. Walk in the wisdom and knowledge of gravity. It will be well with you. Walk in the wisdom and knowledge of the Father, and it will be well with you, and you can personally know him and experience him.
People ask me this all the time. "Todd, is it easier for you not to sin than it used to be?" I go, "Yes and no. I say, 'no' because my flesh is still very alive, but 'yes' because, the longer I do this, the more I myself have seen the blessing of walking with God." He's batting a thousand. I have never obeyed God's Word one time where, after doing it, I went, "Dagnumit! I just shouldn't have done that."
Now I lost out on some momentary adrenaline rushes, maybe some pretty views that were appealing to my eyes, but at the end of the day, I was free from the damage it brought my soul and my body, and I'm talking to people all the time who defy the laws of gravity, of righteousness and truth, and I go, "Yeah, I see it again." I'm reminded again that jacking with God is not a good thing, so in that sense, it's easy, but I still am an adrenaline junky. I still love beauty, so I'm always scared that I'm going to go, "I think I might step off today."
What this section of Scripture is telling us is that the means and the model for us to be obedient is to fall in love with God who loves us, and so we focus on his love for us. Let us go a little further. This is an important little section right here, where it says that "I will dwell with him." This is a key word right here in verse 23.
"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] abode with him." As we hang out with him, we're going to go, "You're better than I thought! All your ways are good and pleasant," and he's going to go, "I want to love you more." Guess what happens when we're disobedient?
I always love my kids, and there are times with my kids when their disobedient I can't give them all the blessing I want to give them. I tell my kids all the time, "You have no idea how much I want to bless you but I can't because I'm going to teach you to be a rebel and a fool if I keep allowing you freedom when you're a fool."
I bought my daughter, when she was a certain age, a cell phone. I kept it for six months. She kept going, "Daddy, I want a cell phone. Daddy, I want a cell phone." I'd go, "You don't know how much I want to give you a cell phone. I'm paying right now every month. I have a cell phone. I want it to be put to use, but I can't because I love you, but I will show you my love in a different way and in a greater way, if you'll just obey me."
God reminds me of this all the time. "Todd, you don't know how much I want to use you. You don't know how much I want to bless you. You don't know how much I want to bring prosperity and success into your life, not in the fleeting foolish ways the world sells but in real deep and abiding ways. Just trust me." Do you get that? "I will make my abode with him." This is where Paul picks up this idea and says, "Do you not know that your body's a temple of God, and the Spirit of God abodes with you? Listen to him. He's right here."
Let me just close with this very simply, and then we're going to just delight and remind ourselves about the way we are going to now go out here and worship him this week. There are just a couple of statements. First, there is celebrating the worth of God. What would be another word that you would use for celebrating the worth of God? It would be worship, when you sing of him.
Being without walking in the will of God is evidence that you are deluded about your love for God. Let me just change that up so it fits John 14. Celebrating the worth of Jesus, saying "I worship Jesus," without walking in the will of Jesus is evidence that you are deluded about your love for Jesus.
What, by the way, is the very first thing Jesus tells you to do as a believer, not as an infant of people who go through religious ceremony? As a believer, the very first thing he says is, "Go tell the world you love me and you're identified by faith with my death, burial, and resurrection and that you want to live for me so the community of saints around you can watch you and encourage you and spur you on." If you tell me you love Jesus and you've never done that, I'm just going, "Really?"
He says, "This is step one, if you love me." "Tell the world I love him? He died for me, and because his sacrifice was perfect, he lives again, and now I live for him until he takes me home, and I'm going to tell you about how good God is, and the work that he wants to do to redeem you, he's going to do it through me because I'm going to ask him to, and he said he'll do it." Are y'all with me? If you have never been baptized as a believer, you have not done step one, if you love him. I don't how to say it any clearer than that.
Here is some simple truth. God loves us first, and he will love us in return for us loving his love for us. God loves us first, and he's going to love us more (not in a salvific way, but we're going to see more of the goodness of God) if we love him in return for his love for us because we're going to get to walk in that blessing.
I just wrote down a little syllogism. Follow me here, logic students. We are loved. Therefore, we love him. Why do we love God today? "Well, because if we don't, man, he'll probably get really ticked off and smack us." No, that's legalism. We love God because he first loved us. We are loved. Therefore, we love him.
People go, "Man, why do you go to church?" "Why do I go to church? Do you know how good my God is? All I want to do is sing about him. I could be a skycap in the Atlanta airport, and all I'd want to do is walk around and go, 'I want to be more, more like Jesus.'" Right? That's all I want to do.
People go, "I don't know how to share my faith." Really! Have you ever been engaged? "Well, I don't know how to tell people I love this girl." Was that hard? No, it wasn't, was it? You couldn't wait. You wore a symbol to tell people that you loved somebody. What's your symbol? Well, there's one that's outward. It's baptism. There's another one. It's love, service, humility, surrender. We are loved. Therefore, we love him.
We love him. Therefore, we keep his commandments. "Wagner, is it a whupping to be chaste?" "No, dude, because it pleases my God. My flesh keeps wanting to defy gravity, but I love gravity, and the more I walk in gravity, the healthier I am, so I do it because gravity is good. God is better. Yeah, man, I still want to fly. What kid doesn't want to fly?" I missed a number of weeks of baseball getting on top of my swing set and jumping off because I wanted to fly. Yes, I did. I will tell you that we all want to still get a better view, get an adrenaline rush, but I want to be near God even more.
We are loved. Therefore, we love him. We love him. Therefore, we keep his commandments. We keep his commandments, and because we keep his commandments, he is home with us, he loves us, and he discloses himself to us. That's all John 14 is saying. Do you want to have an experience with God? Walk with him. Obey him. Respond to his love. You will go, "This is really good!"
Guess what? He says, "Now by the way, you might still get cancer. You might still get persecuted. You might still be standing there when a terrorist puts a bomb down, and you're going to get blown up. Guess what? You're even good there, bro, because I have you covered on the other side. Guess what? I'm not going to leave you on that side. We're coming back to this side so everybody can know that your love for me was right. Take heart."
Are y'all with me? Guess how you're going to show your love for Jesus this week, your worship. It's by keeping his commandments with joy and gladness, not with grumbling and disputing, so we're going to close by just preaching to one another about his love for us. Let me pray.
Father I pray that we would sing this song as if everyone around us needed to hear it and, in hearing it, they would believe that you are good and that you are kind and that you have come and that you have rescued us from the life of sin and death. Father, I thank you that you love us, that you have come for us.
I pray that this life which we now live in the flesh we live by faith in the Son of God who loved us, gave himself up for us. I pray that, as we walk with you, you would do what you said you would do, which is dwell with us and show us the goodness of who you are so we could sing all the more. Oh, how you love us! Amen.
Let's stand and preach together.
Hey, don't you want to run out of here and worship him? Don't you want to go tell others, "I am married to the God who has redeemed me"? Don't you want to declare to other people, "I'm identified with his death, burial, and resurrection, and the more I know him, the more I taste and see he is good, which is another expression of his love for me, that I'm completely satisfied in him, so I'm not hungry for the things of this world"? Do you see all those metaphors collapsing in John 14?
Some of you are here, and you just go, "I don't get it." That's okay. We're going to keep singing, and eventually, you're going to go, "I catch the tune. I catch the melody. I catch the truth." That's who we are, so we are going to have the fruit of our love for him if we dwell in our love for him. We're going to obey his commandments, and in obeying his commandments, we're going to see how loving his commandments are, and he's going to love us more in that way.
Then we're going to just continue this thing, and when we walk out of here, the evidence that we're not deluded on Sunday is the way we live all throughout the week. That's why I always say, "Have a great week of worship." Man, if you're here and you don't know God loves you… By the way, who did he give this message to?
It was guys who were going to go and mess up this week. "I love you, Peter! Three times tonight, you're going to blow it, but I love you, and I'm going to send you the Spirit, and the Spirit is going to help you." We have the Spirit. Listen to him. Abide with him, and you will bear much fruit. Don't trust your flesh. Your flesh wants a better view. Don't trust your flesh. Your flesh loves moments of adrenaline that lead to death. Trust in God. He is good. He is filled with grace and glory.
If you've never experienced that grace, if your life isn't moving toward that glory, would you come? Would you check that little box and say, "I want to know more about the God of grace and glory through Jesus Christ." If you know it, will you sing? Will you sing? Have a great week of worship. We'll see you. God bless you.