If You Love Me…

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

When the officer heard about Jesus, he sent some respected Jewish elders to ask him to come and heal his slave.  So they earnestly begged Jesus to help the man. “If anyone deserves your help, he does,” they said,  “for he loves the Jewish people and even built a synagogue for us.”  Luke 7:2-5 NLT

 

This story illustrates the difference between the gospel and legalism. Legalism tells us the officer has given so much that he deserves special treatment from Jesus. Meanwhile the gospel teaches us that Jesus helps those who need His help, regardless of who they are.

 

 So Jesus went with them. But just before they arrived at the house, the officer sent some friends to say, “Lord, don’t trouble yourself by coming to my home, for I am not worthy of such an honor. Luke 7:6 NLT

 

While the Jewish elders thought the officer had earned special favors, the officer himself understood the gospel. The officer had no sense of entitlement because of his works. You may read on how Jesus heals his servant, but my point is that the officer was not giving for the sake of a reward or special treatment, but out of love.

Jesus says, 

 

 If you love me, obey my commandments.John 14:15

 

Notice Jesus does not say, “If you don’t want to go to hell, keep my commandments!” or “If you want to go to heaven, keep my commandments.” He says, “If you love me, keep my commandments.”

 

Keeping God’s commandments to get a reward does not make you a good person. Many people disobey God’s commands to get rewards. They cheat on their income tax reports to get a larger refund. They lie about achievements they have never attained to get praise from man. People who obey God for the sake of a reward will also just as easily disobey God if they could achieve a greater reward. Being motivated by the hope of a reward does not make you a good person fitted for the unselfish society of heaven.

 

Keeping God’s commandments out of fear of punishment does not make you a good person either. Remember in Daniel 3 the three Hebrew children were threatened with punishment if they did obey God! While they told the king that God would protect them, they also made it clear that was not the point.

 

He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty. But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.”Daniel 3:17-18 NLT

 

The Hebrew children were obeying God out of love, no matter what. They were not motivated by hope of reward or fear of punishment. In the same way,

 

We love Him because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 NKJV

 

Love to God is the very foundation of religion. To engage in His service merely from hope of reward or fear of punishment would avail nothing. -Ellen White, Patriarch and Prophets, Page 523.

 

It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him. -Ellen White, The Desire of Ages, Page 480.

 

Once, I was in a literature evangelist meeting with our conference president. We were discussing which book to promote. The Great Controversy or the Desire of Ages? Some people said the Great Controversy because it warns us about last-day events. I suggested the Desire of Ages because it helps us fall in love with Jesus, so that when last-day events occur, we will make the right choices for the right reasons – because we love Jesus. Unless we are in love with Jesus, knowledge about last-day events will avail nothing.

 

Here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12 NKJV

 

All those who have faith in Jesus’ love keep His commandments.

1 John; Relationships

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

You know how we always say, “You can’t share what you don’t have?” Well John actually had a real relationship with Jesus, and in 1 John he shares it. He has some powerful stuff to help us in our relationship with Jesus.  “That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.” 1 John 1:3

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us [our] sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:9

One of the first things John shares is the forgiveness of Jesus. Not only had John been forgiven a lot, but he also saw Jesus forgive a lot. He saw him forgive Peter, He was at the foot of the cross with Jesus’ mother, when Jesus cried out “Father forgive them.” He witnessed firsthand the power of forgiveness. Forgiveness is very important to relationships.

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for [the sins of] the whole world.  1 John 2:1-2

“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How he fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, he does not turn from us, and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not like our Saviour. Christ prays for us. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, he knows how to succor those who are tempted. Our crucified Lord is pleading for us in the presence of his Father at the throne of grace. His atoning sacrifice we may plead for our pardon, our justification, and our sanctification. The Lamb slain is our only hope. Our faith looks upon him, grasps him as the one who can save to the uttermost, and the fragrance of the all-sufficient offering is accepted of the Father. Unto Christ is committed all power in heaven and in earth, and all things are possible to him that believeth. Christ’s glory is concerned in our success. He has a common interest with all humanity. He is our sympathizing Saviour.  {Review and Herald, September 1, 1891 par. 2} 

While John also knew the power of forgiveness, he also knew how important faithfulness is to a relationship with Christ. “Love not the world, neither the things [that are] in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that [is] in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

John also knew what was possible for us when we are in a relationship with Jesus.

 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.  1 John 2:6

Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.  1 John 3:1-3

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.  1 John 3:9

Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.  1 John 4:17

Are you grasping the power and what is possible here? As He is so are we, not after we get to heaven, but in this world!

We love him, because he first loved us.  1 John 4:19 Here John tells us what His relationship with Christ is all about. “  It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him.”  {Desire of Ages, p. 480}

Where does this relationship built on love lead to? “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”  1 John 5:13