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John 15:12-17 - The Relationship of Believers to Believers

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  • how believers relate to other believers is of significant importance.  Division can destroy a body of people quicker that any other single thing.  Many times Christians are known more for their grumbling, griping, complaining, murmuring, and divisiveness than for anything else.  Nothing cuts the heart of Jesus more than such self-centered and divisive behavior.

A.                 The Command of Believers (v.12).

1.                  “This is My commandment…”  (v.12a).

a)                  The command of Jesus.

(1)                 Jesus says that loving one another is His command.
(2)                 In (John 13:34-35) Jesus says loving one another is a new command that He gives.
(3)                 In (Matt.22:34-40) Jesus was asked which is the greatest commandment.
(a)                 Loving your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:28-37).
(b)                David did this in the Old Testament (1Sam.30:9ff).

2.                  “Love one another…”  (v.12b).

a)                  Everybody is somebody in the body of Christ (Romans 12:10a).

In the church that Jesus Christ is building, people are involved in one anther’s lives.  And in this church at Calvary Chapel La Mirada people are involved in one another’s lives.  The church is not a theater where people go to watch what happens.  We are not supposed to come in, sit down, walk out, and have no other involvement with the fellowship.  

Instead, we’re commanded, as the writer of Hebrews says to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24, 25NASB).

Listen to the way the NIV renders it: "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.  Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching."  (Hebrews 10:24-25, NIV)

Listen to the NLT: "Think of ways to encourage one another to outbursts of love and good deeds.  And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back again is drawing near."  (Hebrews 10:24-25, NLT)

(1)                 With Brotherly love in Romans 12:10 reflects the nature of Christians. 
(a)                 The apostle John powerfully affirms that truth.

In his first epistle, chapter 2 verses 9-11 he states that “The one who says he is in the light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now.  The one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him.  But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:9–2:11).

In the next chapter the apostle uses even stronger words: “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother (1 John 3:10).

b)                  Passing from death to life (1 John 3:11-18 esp.v.14).

(1)                 This love is not optional for believers.

It not only is required but is inescapable, because “whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him” (1 John 5:1).

In John 15 Jesus said "This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you." (John 15:12, NKJV). 

(2)                 How has Jesus loved us?  With an unconditional love (Romans 5:8).
(3)                 If this love is not evident in our lives, our salvation can be questioned
(4)                 The Bible describes lost persons in (Titus 3:3) by saying that they are “hateful & hating one another”.  The place of hatred, of jealousy, of bitterness you find yourself in is a place of death.  You need to pass from death to life!

c)                  Putting this love into practice (1 John 3:16-18).

(1)                 This love does not demand, expect repayment or love in order to receive (v.16).             

Jesus said: "When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid.  But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind.  And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just."  (Luke 14:12-14, NKJV)

(2)                 It loves even when it is rejected:

Paul said "I will gladly spend myself and all I have for your spiritual good, even though it seems that the more I love you, the less you love me.”  (2 Corinthians 12:15, NLT)

d)                  Loving your enemies (Luke 6:27-36).

(1)                 Note three facts about loving our enemies:
(a)                 Loving our enemies is against human nature

(i)                   Our reaction is to strike back, hate, and wish hurt.

(ii)                 The root of human reaction against enemies is self and bitterness.

(b)                Loving our enemies means to have mercy or compassion

(i)                   If a believer does not have compassion for those who hate him, he has gained nothing of the spirit of Christ (Luke 6:36).

(c)                 It is God-like to love your enemies

(i)                   We were enemies to God, but God demonstrated His love by dying for us  (Romans 5:10, 8)

(2)                 “Do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27b).
(a)                 “Doing good” goes beyond words.

(i)                   It does things for the person who hates.

(ii)                 It reaches out to him through his family or friends, employment or business.

(iii)                It searches for ways to do good to him, realizing that he needs to be reached for God.

(b)                The greatest proof of love is “doing good to those who hate you.”

Writing to the Romans Paul said "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." (Romans 12:20)

To the Thessalonians “See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all” (1 Thessalonians 5:15)

Even in the O.T. we read "If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden, and you would refrain from helping it, you shall surely help him with it” (Exodus 23:5)

(3)                 “Bless those who curse you” (Luke 6:28a).
(a)                 One way to bless is to speak softly to the curser (Proverbs 15:1).  Use kind, friendly words.

The writer of Proverbs says "A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger. " (Proverbs 15:1).

We need to speak the right words in the right circumstances "Like apples of gold in settings of silver Is a word spoken in right circumstances."  (Proverbs 25:11, NASB95)

Listen to what happens when we are pleasing to the Lord "When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. " (Proverbs 16:7, NASB95)

We could either set fires or put them out… Proverbs says "Scorners set a city aflame, But wise men turn away anger. " (Proverbs 29:8, NASB95)

(i)                   When face to face, be courteous; when behind his back, commend his strengths.

(ii)                 If we react with sharp, harsh words, it will only stir up more anger and hate in the curser.

(b)                Abigail turned away the wrath of David by her kindness (1Sam25:21-33).
(4)                 “Pray for those who spitefully use you” (Luke 6:28b).
(a)                 The love of God in my heart can take a criminal who has robbed me & threatened my life & by God’s grace this love can take this person who has treated me the worst & make them the object of my prayers.

On the cross, Jesus prayed "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:34, NASB95)

Stephen demonstrated this same love "Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep." (Acts 7:60)

Listen to this, Paul said "To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; " (1 Corinthians 4:11-12)

Even when all deserted Paul he said "At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; may it not be counted against them. " (2 Timothy 4:16, NASB95)

Peter said "To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. " (1 Peter 3:8-9)

B.                The Standard of Believers (v.12b-13).

1.                  “Love one another, as I have loved you…”  (v.12c).

a)                  The love of Jesus (v.12b-13).

(1)                 When Jesus says to love one another as I have loved you, He is saying we are to imitate the love He has loved us with and demonstrate that love in our lives toward others. 
(2)                 How did Jesus love us?  Manifested in His…
(a)                 Coming to seek and to save the lost (Luke 19:1-10)
(b)                This love is also based on forgiveness (Matt.18:21ff)
(c)                 He loved us even when we were His enemies (Romans 5:8)

Isaiah writes that "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him."  (Isaiah 53:6, NASB95)

2.                  “Greater love…. to lay down one’s life for his friends…”  (v.13).

a)                  Laying down your life (1John 3:16).

C.                The Bond of “friends” (v.14-15).

1.                  “You are My friends if you do whatever I command…”  (v.14).

a)                  Is conditional: “If” (v.14)

(1)                 John 14:15, 23-24; 15:10
(2)                 Matthew 12:50; 7:24ff

2.                  “All things I heard from My Father I made know to you…”  (v.15b).

a)                  Is based upon revelation: The words of the Father made known by Christ (v.15).

(1)                 Christ revealed and made known exactly what God told Him.  It is the Word of God that gives birth and structure to the bond of “friends.”  The friends of Christ are built upon and centered around the Word of God.
(a)                 John 8:26; 17:6-8

3.                  “No longer do I call you servants… but I have called you friends…”  (v.15a).

a)                  Being a friend of God.

(1)                 Abraham was a friend of God (James 2:23). 
(2)                 The Lord did not hide from Moses what He was going to do to Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen.18:17-19).
(3)                 Exodus 33:13; Psalm 25:14

D.                The Purpose of Believers (v.16).

1.                  “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you…”  (v.16a).

a)                  Chosen and ordained by God.

(1)                 It is God who approaches and draws us (Ps.65:4;  John 6:37, 44-46 ).
(2)                 It is God who appoints us to live for Him and to serve Him.
(3)                 Acts 9:15; 20:28; John 1:6; 1Cor.1:27-29; 1Tim.1:12

2.                  “That you should go and bear fruit…”  (v.16b).

a)                  To go forth (v.16b).

(1)                 Believers are to go forth in this world as ambassadors of Christ.  We are to deliver the message of Jesus Christ.  
(2)                 2 Corinthians 5:19-20; Matthew 28:19-20; John 20:21; Acts 1:8

3.                  “That you should go and bear fruit that remains…”  (v16c).

a)                  To bear fruit (v.16c)

(1)                 John 15:8; Matt.3:8; Romans 6:20-22
(2)                 Galatians 5:22-23; Phil.1:9-11; Col.1:10

4.                  “Whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you…”  (v.16d).

a)                  To receive of God (v.16d).

(1)                 The only prayers heard and answered are those asked “in Jesus’ name.”  What does it mean to pray “in Jesus’ name”?  It means two things.
(a)                 The believer prays knowing that...God hears the believer only because Jesus is acceptable to Him.  
(b)                Jesus is the only mediator between God and man (1Tim.2:5).
(c)                 Asking in Jesus’ name is believing that what I am praying for, God would have me to ask.
(2)                 The resurrection of Jesus Christ gives open access into God’s presence (John 16:23-24).
(a)                 The promise: an open door into God’s presence.  Jesus said “in that day,” after His resurrection, there will be no need to ask Him anything.

(i)                   Jesus is the door of the sheep (John 10:7, 9)

(ii)                 Jesus has brought us near to God by His blood (Eph.2:13)

(iii)                Jesus gives us boldness and confident access (Eph.3:12; Heb.4:14-16;

(b)                The approach of our prayer: in Jesus’ name.  The promise of asking in His name is...

(i)                   We will receive what we ask (John 15:7).

(ii)                 We would have fullness of joy (John 15:11; Rom.14:7; 1Pet.1:8).

E.                 Conclusion (v.17).

1.                  “These things I command you, that you love one another…”  (v.17).

a)                  The Command Repeated.

(1)                 1 John 3:23; Romans 12:8-10
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