Growing in Christ
“I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness. As for the person who hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know that his command leads to eternal life.”John 12:46-50
Now, I know there are not more teachings in the commands of Jesus, and this is not the totality of Jesus’s commands. So, what am I highlighting here?
I intend to give new believers safety while they work out their relationship with Jesus, the Son of God, Savior and King, because sometimes we can become overwhelmed by the worry that a sudden, unplanned, test is around the corner and we’re going to be expected to perform the truth, as Jesus did, knowing the truth and having no blemish, whatever that actually means. And if we think that test is approaching, we might get sidetracked by the desire to brush up on our understanding of the Law and set about putting everything into practice, in as best as we can understand the commands.
However, the test that is coming, I can tell you, has one question, “Who brought you to this table?” Don’t overthink your answer. If you have Sunday School training, you’re prepared for your answer, because Sunday School answers are one thing, “Jesus.” You can add an “of Nazareth” for good measure.
My point is this: the relationship with Jesus through the Holy Spirit is the only requirement needed to please God, the Father. All other needs will be given to you as you abide in Jesus’s love for you.
That means, not only is his love the place of starting the relationship with Jesus, the Son of God, but it’s also where we maintain the relationship.
I say this to encourage all believers of the immense safety we have for our souls AND our lives.
This is no small thing that Jesus promises, here, that if anyone loves him but doesn’t do what he says, there’s no condemnation. I think he’s saying that the foundation of righteousness is exclusively on our hearts’ responses to him. And our salvation comes down to the matter of our opinion of Jesus. I think our opinion of Jesus is also our opinion on salvation being options for wicked people. I think if we can concede that we like being saved, undeservedly, we can grow in love so that we can value Jesus’s salvation so much that we are proud to be in company with one who saves the wicked from their consequences.
I think this promise extends farther to cover failures of heart. And I mean, that for a person who loves Jesus and fails to adhere to the command to forgive, there remains no condemnation. I think the way to prevent further sinning is to lean into Jesus and seek his refuge with confession. Because it is written, “There is no condemnation for those who seek refuge in the Lord.” And I think, this is Jesus taking that scripture that was written about him by the Prophet Isaiah and putting into plain words that are more easily relatable.
I think this passage of scripture from the Gospel of John also warns about loving the law and not loving Jesus. So that knowing the law and the commands of Jesus and following them are no help in the eyes of God to become righteous in his measurement. I think this is consistent with the God of Israel as he gave expectations for the nation of Israel to remain his people by worshipping him only, in the way he taught them, which set them apart by the way in which all things were gained; not the ways of the world, but pleasing God by worship and following his commands so that all good things come as gifts from God. He promised to give in abundance, even then.
I think the God of Israel, who always promised he’d eventually be known as the God of the World, has always valued the relationship with his people, which makes them aware of their dependence on him for their needs, over the ability try to accomplish the law as all that is the behavior of a righteous heart and a wise mind from a separated state of being. Instead, he has always commanded that his people remain in him so that he can make his home with them.
But when God restores something, he does so at a greater measure than what was the original state before robbery or brokenness came about to what is being restored. And so, this restoration through the Son of God sacrificed for the failures of many is entering into a greater covenant than what was given before. The nation of Israel had God in their cities, but much of him is said to be available to the people at the temple. And so, people were asked to travel to God. That is no longer the case. The Holy Spirit can make any body, in any place, no matter the language into his dwelling place, at the same measure that he remained in the temple.
Furthermore, when the Bible says your body is a temple, which many have heard it quoted, it’s not commanding people to eat right and exercise, but the author is reminding believers that Almighty Creator God in the Holy Spirit abides within them. And is reminding believers that we have not use for false gods. What evil or storm can a person fight, that God will not fight alongside them? In another place, this idea of our bodies being temples is brought up when warning against having sex with prostitutes for the sake a person becomes “one flesh” with each sexual partner; the choice for this is made before sex but fulfilled through sex and is to remind believers that they are one with Almighty God Creator God.
But there can grow a great fear when believers are being listening to someone say scriptures that are not easy to understand so that the person using the word of God as a weapon might succeed at getting a person to doubt in the total work of Jesus on the cross as salvation and righteousness. I offer this Word from Jesus that he is greater than our failures. And because his purpose in his dying for sinners is to be a mighty savior of wicked people, he has placed the line the wicked need to cross in order to accomplish repentance from evil ways at “love Jesus because Jesus is lovable,” to summarize.
I think there are other words from Jesus of that reenforce the dropping the focus on trying to carry the law apart from Jesus and focusing, exclusively, on him. He reassures those who seek to be righteous that the focus change will become visibly evident in time. But, what satisfies the Savior is our love towards the Savior. And the Father put off all judgment and gave it to the Son, so if the Son says, “This one’s mine,” it is unquestioned by the Father and all Heaven.