“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.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 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.” (John 14:21-23)
Following Christ and loving Christ go together like peanut butter and jelly, bacon and eggs, and milk and cookies. Please forgive my silly analogies but with all of these examples, the principle I’m endeavoring to illustrate is that in many instances you really cannot have one thing without the other.
Just as certain foods complement each other, so it is with loving Christ and following Christ. We may tend to think that we are moving forward in our sanctification, but we make little progress if our love for Christ is not fundamentally grounded in our obedience to the Scriptures.
Throughout this series of articles from the Gospel of John, you have heard me saying that the grammatical principle of cause and effect is apparent the John’s account of the life of Christ. So it is in today’s text.
To begin with, Jesus Himself said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.” Jesus made a similar statement in John 14:15. We may sing loving worship songs to Christ, we may write well received books for Christ, and we may even teach, preach or listen to wonderful messages about Christ, but if our obedience to Christ is shallow and inconsistent, we are missing the point of what it means to be a Christian.
Romans 1:5 says, “through whom (Christ) we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations.” Dr. John MacArthur writes that, “Once again, Jesus emphasized the need for the habitual practice of obedience to his commands as evidence of the believer’s love for him and the Father (see note on v. 15). This is consistent with the teaching of James 2:14–26 that true saving faith is manifest by works produced by God in the transforming, regenerating power of the Spirit. Those works are expressions of the love that the Spirit pours into the believer’s heart (Rom. 5:5; Gal. 5:22).”
Another cause and effect statement Jesus makes is that whoever loves Christ, and evidences this love by obedience, that individual the Father in turn will love. This love by the Father for the believer will result in Christ loving the believer even more than He already does. Jesus will also manifest Himself to the believer. This means that Jesus will make Himself fully known.
As Dr. Warren Wiersbe explains, “As the believer yields to the Father, loves the Word, prays, and obeys, there is a deeper relationship with the Father, Son, and Spirit. Salvation means we are going to heaven, but submission means that heaven comes to us!”
This love for Christ is in harmony with not only God the Father’s love for Christ but also His love for us. Jesus promised that if any disciple of His loved Him and proved it by keeping, or obeying, the Word of God, these disciples were to know that God the Father will love them, come to them and make His and Christ’s home with them. What a wonderful harmony of fellowship and community.
As a colleague of mine in the ministry explains, “To have the commandments of Jesus is not merely to possess the Scriptures but to seek to make these commandments part of ourselves. Lovers of Christ reflect deeply on His commands and endeavor to obey Him in the power of the Spirit.”
Okay one more analogy. Following Christ and loving Christ go hand in hand like Bing Crosby singing Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. There may be many imitators, but there is nothing like the original.
Obedience to Christ is the biblical evidence that we love Christ. May people see your love for Christ today.
Soli deo Gloria!