So that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Messiah the Son of God
- Micah 6:6-8
- John 15:9-17
When God created the world in the beginning, He created everything, and yet, He also created mankind to be under-creators: God appointed them to be fruitful and fill the earth and subdue it. Adam and Eve had to work the ground, plant seeds and care for the animals. God did not create all animals at once – however, all sorts of animals He made. He did not create all plants, but all the kinds of plants He created. He did not create all humans at once; He commissioned Adam and Eve to be fruitful and have children and train them up to do the same. Adam and Eve, and in them all their seed, were the crown of God’s creation. To them God gave breath so that they were different from the animals and other created things.
It was not their world – it belonged to God, but in a certain sense they were under-creators – always accountable to God. Their task was to be fruitful to the glory of God.
The sin they committed was to take what belonged to God and use it for their own pleasure. The result was that their fruitfulness and fruit-bearing task would become painful and difficult. The very fact that their first son killed the second proofed this.
Redemption in Jesus Christ through his cross, resurrection, ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to, in some way, sanctify the original commission to Adam and Eve. The first miracle of Jesus happened at a wedding in Cana. Marriages are sanctified in the blood of Christ, and children are a blessing of God.
In another sense God in Christ restored the commission to be fruitful to his church. In principle Christ restored everything and all authority is under Him, but He calls his church to give effect to the fruit of his death, resurrection and ascension. As He gave Adam and Eve his breath, He gave us his Holy Spirit so that by his enabling we can indeed become witnesses of Christ to the ends of the earth.
Last week we heard the Word from the first part of John 15. The message of our Lord was that our Father in heaven, through the Word, is doing what we need to bear fruit. He lifts us up and prunes us. This He does for as long as we remain in Christ.
If we do not remain in Christ, we die, all our effort will fail because without Him we can do nothing. The judgement of God rests upon those who are not in Christ – they will be thrown in the fire.
The fruit-bearing success of the church is to remain in Christ – for as long as they do so, they can ask what they need in their task to be fruitful, and they will receive it. This is to the glory of the Father.
As the Father loved Me
Now we hear about the reason why God will be glorified: Christ provides the foundation on which He bases our possibility to bear fruit.
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. (John 15:9, NIV)
Just for one moment let the weight of this truth impact on your mind.
This statement of the Lord uses the Greek tense which describes factual events which took place. It is something like, “Captain Cook arrived in Australia”, or, “We are your parents.” One does not dispute statements like this; there is no way to undo these events. “As the Father loved Me, so I loved you.”
From all eternity the Father and the Son, together with the Holy Spirit have been/were there. There has never been any disagreement between them. God is eternally the same – yesterday, today and into all eternity. So the Father loved the Son, the Son loved the Father and the Holy Spirit loved the Father and Son. “The Word was with God and the Word was God.” Without any shadow of turning, without any possibility of failing, or hint of wavering. Perfect for before all times, perfect now, and perfect into eternity. The love between the persons of the Godhead is far beyond what we can fathom, and not equal to anything we might know.
Now Jesus says, “As the Father loved Me, so I loved you.” Not the same love, but the same degree of love – eternal, steadfast, without any shadow of turning.
Turn with me to Ephesians 1.
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves. In Him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that He lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which He purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. (Ephesians 1:3–10, NIV)
God loved sinners and wanted them to be saved. To that Jesus was appointed the only One through whom we can be adopted as his children. To gain the redemption from God Jesus gave his blood for our sins to be forgiven. We now know the grace of God, and at the end of time we will stand before the throne of God in the righteousness of Christ.
“As my Father loved Me, so I loved you.” He love us because the Father loved us. The Father loved Him because He laid down his life out of his own accord, willingly and freely.
My prayer is that we will never forget the statement of our Lord in this verse. For if we indeed remember it well, what follows will come naturally, “Now remain in my love.”
Remain in my love
How do we remain in his love? “If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love.” Jesus says He remained faithful to his Father and kept on doing what brought glory to the Father by pleasing Him. Because He and the Father are one in purpose, He could not do anything other that what the Father commanded Him.
There is something in this to describe our relationship with Christ. Get this picture. I read from Psalm 123:2
As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till He shows us his mercy. (Psalm 123:2 NIV)
Slaves were humbly dependent on their masters – they lived by the grace of their masters. So, obediently they follow the gestures of the hand of the master who would not even need to say a word before they do the bidding of the mistress, so we wait for grace and mercy and then do what our Lord, who bought us free from slavery. This verse might even go further to indicate the gesture from the hand of the master to declare free the salve in his presence.
Jesus says, “I loved you as the Father loved Me – remain in my love.” This means being drawn into the family circle of God through the love of Christ to experience the love of the Father, will necessarily lead to the desire to remain in that love. And here at the throne of the Father at the feet of Christ, his wish becomes my command. I want to do obey, because I take my lead from my Saviour who remained in the love of his Father by doing what the Father commanded.
Love brings fruit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22–23, NIV)
The divine character of God, now sanctified through Christ, is reflected in the original nature of Adam and Eve. God gave them something of His nature in that they were created in his image. Sin destroyed it, but in Christ that has been made new. We are now restored in righteousness and holiness that we might rightly know God our Creator, heartily love Him and live with Him in eternal happiness to glorify and praise Him. We constantly struggle with sin, but our perfect righteousness is Christ – we need to remain in Him in order to remain in his love and the love of the Father.
There is a verse in the Bible that links all of these things together: obedience, fruit and joy. It speaks of Christ:
…fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:2–3, NIV)
Because of the love of the Father for Christ, and the love of Christ for the Father – and their love for sinners, Jesus endured the cross, scorning and shame: his reward was the joy of doing the will of the Father and save the lost.
This brings us to joy.
Fruit brings joy
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:11, NIV)
The views, outlook, and aspirations of the Master will be those of the disciples as well. This is the reason for the twofold repetition of the word “joy”—“my joy” and “your joy.” The joy of Jesus is to be the joy of the disciple.
The Bible has much to say about joy. Indeed, to rejoice and be joyful is a command. True worship of God is and should be joyful and with rejoicing.
Israel’s worship was often described as terms of a festival of rejoicing.
But you are to seek the place the Lord your God will choose from among all your tribes to put his Name there for his dwelling. There, in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your families shall eat and shall rejoice in everything you have put your hand to, because the Lord your God has blessed you. (Deuteronomy 12:5–7, NIV)
Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. (Psalm 95:1, NIV)
What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
It is only when we really understand the extent of the love of God in Jesus Christ, and we understand the satisfaction of doing his bidding that we bear fruit, that we tell of Him, that we care for the poor, the sick and the lame, that we become partners with those out there on the mission field, and when we bear the fruit of the Spirit – that we begin to understand the joy of serving the Lord.
Sermon preached by Rev D. Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 21 July 2013