If ye love me, keep my commandments.
~ John 14:15
I have found this subject to be so deep, so comprehensive, and so serious that I have been questioning myself whether or not I should write about it.
So much more has come to mind since clicking and saving the first draft. When a scripture moves me as much as this one does, there is no other choice than to explore it.
It is quite possible that this brief but concise statement given by Jesus encapsulates the entire Bible message of God to His children.
Please forgive me if I fall short in my attempt to describe this powerful and important message. Here is the introduction and my understanding why this brief and often overlooked phrase needs much deeper consideration.
Below is one of the many passages that shows why John 14:15 is one of the most critical verses in the Bible. Jesus is telling the Jewish authorities and those willing to listen indirectly why.
The authorities of Jesus’ day were priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, etc. Like our churches today, they did not agree on application of biblical content.
There are 613 commandments in the Old Testament divided into civil, ceremonial, and moral law. Some overlap but we are speaking generally here. The commandments were also divided into greater and lesser laws.
The authorities were generally in agreement with the divisions of the greater and lesser laws but were divided about what was most important.
One Pharisee, conversant in the law maliciously attempted to ensnare Jesus in order to discredit Him. He asked:
which is the great commandment in the law?
Jesus said unto him,
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like unto it,
Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
On these two commandments
hang all the law and the prophets.
~ Matthew 22:36-40
Jesus did not answer the question by telling the crowd which one of the 613 laws was the most important. He answered by giving them two new commandments that encapsulate whole law and all the writings of the prophets.
This addition of two commandments as a clarification of the old laws are given to all who hear. This should speak volumes to us. Jesus was beginning to tell us how to live today. He was beginning to give us His new law the Law of Christ.
He basically told them, ‘the whole Bible is about what I am telling you right now’. The Jews only had the Old Testament. Today, we have the whole the Bible. This truth of His law should be more clear than ever.
I am afraid that even with the benefits of technology and our ability to decipher scripture and how it all relates: Old Testament to New, in precise detail, we still are falling short.
We are without excuse if we choose to or remain ignorant of what Jesus meant by keeping His commandments. The apostles explained how the church is to function corporately, individually, what the law of Christ is.
Before anyone thinks that, “We are not under the law.” I realize this. I am trying to understand how Jesus, the prophets, and Apostles relate this. Please bare with me as I seek to understand His law and its whole application to our life.
The O.T. supports and provides invaluable details and historical structure to N.T. doctrine. This is why understanding John 14:15 is so important.
It not only speaks of the entire schema* of love as revealed in scripture but specifies what of Jesus’ commandments must be followed in order to demonstrate that love.
The Church Today
We have the same thing happening today that occurred back then. Bishops, pastors, and teachers feed us what they believe is relevant based upon theological frameworks and discredit those who disagree.
Because of this, some Biblical truths or commands may be glossed over or completely disregarded by many sincere followers of Jesus (examples: Ephesians 4:8).
The Bible says that, All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: ~ 2 Timothy 3:16
So we cannot neglect one word. Our biblical goal is unity in love of Jesus and His truth, the entire truth.
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
for brethren to dwell together in unity!
~ Psalm 133:1
We are not instructed to live in unity with the world but we are instructed to live in unity with the church. This is not an ecumenical bring all denominations together type of unity but a biblical loving our neighbor in Christ type of unity. (more on this later)
I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord,
beseech you that ye walk worthy
of the vocation wherewith ye are called,
with all lowliness and meekness,
forbearing one another in love;
endeavouring to keep
the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body, and one Spirit,
even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;
~ Ephesians 4:1-4
The church is called to walk worthy of its calling through the biblical definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13. There is only only church or body of Christ. It consists of those who love Jesus and keep His commandments.
Unfortunately, I hear it or see daily the disregard of scriptural purity and truth from professing Christians. This was the same thing Jesus dealt with from the heart of a people not perfected in love.
I was guilty of for the longest time (28 years) and am just coming out of it. I passed over this and other passages not deemed valuable or important while looking after the things I was taught or argued with others about.
Jesus taught us that everything in the law and prophets was filtered through His words. Later this included all the Holy Spirit’s teaching through the Apostles.
Nothing is to by left unturned.
Nothing is to be ignored.
Nothing is to be disobeyed.
There are serious warnings when we do this and even greater dangers when we teach others to do the same (more on this later).
For I testify unto every man
that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book,
If any man shall add unto these things,
God shall add unto him the plagues
that are written in this book:
and if any man shall take away
from the words of the book of this prophecy,
God shall take away his part out of the book of life,
and out of the holy city,
and from the things which are written in this book.
~ Revelation 18-19
This is why it is so important to understand exactly what Jesus meant in John 14:15. Every time a pastor enters the pulpit, stage, etc. whether he knows it or not, this is the subject he is preaching about.
This little phrase should be in the forefront of his mind when he speaks. It should be on his thoughts as he sleeps. He should arise, seeking its fulfillment.
A pastor should also ensure that every member or participant in his church clearly knows what the message means and that they are exhorted to follow his lead.
And he gave some, apostles;
and some, prophets; and some, evangelists;
and some, pastors and teachers;
for the perfecting of the saints,
for the work of the ministry,
for the edifying of the body of Christ:
till we all come in the unity of the faith,
and of the knowledge of the Son of God,
unto a perfect man, unto the measure
of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
~ Ephesians 4:11-13
We are to be built up unto a perfect man in the measure and stature of Christ. Once again unity in the church is stressed, not unity of a denomination, only unity of faith and knowledge of Christ
The goal of leadership in church is to bring the flock to faithful perfection in the knowledge of Christ. Our shepherds and sheep need to submit completely to the Spirit’s divine power in order to obey the calling of glory and virtue.
When we seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, God makes sure that everything else is taken care. We must be single-minded obedience lest the lusts of the world steal us away.
according as his divine power
hath given unto us all things
that pertain unto life and godliness,
through the knowledge of him
that hath called us to glory and virtue:
whereby are given unto us
exceeding great and precious promises:
that by these ye might be partakers
of the divine nature,
having escaped the corruption
that is in the world through lust.
And beside this, giving all diligence,
add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
and to knowledge temperance;
and to temperance patience;
and to patience godliness;
and to godliness brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and abound,
they make you that ye shall neither be barren
nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:3-7
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
We already learned that everything in the Bible substantiates Jesus’ words. One of those events happened in the wilderness over 3,600 years ago; soon after God delivered his people from the sinful oppression of Egypt (the significance of Egypt will be elaborated later).
Before they entered the promised land of Canaan, God gave them a most beautiful commandment that applies to us in the same measure today.
And these words,
which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart:
thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up.
And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand,
and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
And thou shalt write them upon
the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
~ Deuteronomy 6:6-9
This was the second writing of God’s commands to the Israelites and was written after 40 years of wandering aimlessly in the Sinai wilderness.
When the Israelites lost faith and rebelled after following the false reports of the 12 spies who entered Canaan, they were punished and perished in the wilderness.
Only the children under 20 plus faithful Joshua and Caleb (at the time of Kadesh rebellion) were allowed to enter the promised land. They were just east of the River Jordan when God gave them Deuteronomy 6:6-9.
Read the story in Numbers 13:30-14:39 if you like.
The Whole Story is for you and me
In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God.
All things were made by him;
and without him was not any thing made
that was made. In him was life;
and the life was the light of men.
~ John 1:1-4
God is still giving us this message today. If we are to enter into the promised land, we too must have the Word of God, written in our hearts.
We should teach Him to our children and as we walk in the way. This is the message that must be preached and taught. The message that should be bored deep into our hearts.
Keeping the commandments of the Lord is a preservative against false teachings as we will see in the next post. His word should be a light to our feet and guide each step along His strait and narrow path.
Through thy precepts I get understanding:
therefore I hate every false way.
Thy word is a lamp unto my feet,
and a light unto my path.
I have sworn, and I will perform it,
that I will keep thy righteous judgments.
~ Psalm 119:104-106
During most of my years professing Christianity, I did not learn what it meant to love Jesus and keep His commandments. This was my fault. Mostly because I did not see the need to attend faithfully and chose churches that tolerated my sins.
I heard about Jesus’ love for us but the message was incomplete. I was not taught that we were to be holy as He was holy and that all our behaviors and thoughts were to be so. Now that Jesus has poured His love in my heart, this truth is becoming a reality.
There is so much material in the Bible covering this subject that a post of this nature can miss important details. I have caught myself missing the point in some of my posts.
Nevertheless, we are commanded by God not to teach others to break the least of Jesus’ commandments. So we must stay on track and correct any errors we may find.
Whosoever therefore shall break
one of these least commandments,
and shall teach men so,
he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven:
but whosoever shall do and teach them,
the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
~ Matthew 5:19
I don’t think a post considering the gradations from least to greatest commandments is necessary since we are called unto complete submission to the word of God. This can also lead to the false belief of being under the old law.
But because of the nature of this subject, it will be broken into parts. The first part here being the introduction.
I don’t claim to have a corner on the truth; only to seek Him with all my heart, mind, strength, and soul. Unfortunately, I have heard very little of what John 14:15 means.
Now its time to begin the learning process. So far, it has shown to be very complex and detailed. Breaking this subject into digestible pieces and putting has already shown to help focus my thoughts.
Hebrew and Greek, and Bible (college) study is not feasible right now. Since this subject is so strongly on my heart, this will be a personal study.
May its realization in my heart be true to God’s scriptural counsel. Please feel to correct or clarify any of deficits you may find.
Lay up in your hearts God’s love and preserve it by careful keeping and watching after His holy commandments.
Thereby hoping in eternal, glorious fellowship with the Holy One of Israel.
Next, underlying Greek/Hebrew structure . . .
*Schema: The underlying organizational pattern and conceptual framework which God expresses through the Bible and in our experiences and interactions with Him and the world.