Friends
Tim Temple

Introduction

Jesus is preparing His disciples for His departure. He began specifically doing that back in chapter 14. In these chapters, He approaches His coming death in very much the same sense that Luke records in chapter 9, when He is talking about the transfiguration of Jesus in front of Peter, James and John. Luke records that when Moses and Elijah came down from Heaven to speak with Jesus, they spoke of “His decease which He should accomplish at Jerusalem.”

I like the wording of that because you know the greatest accomplishment in the history of the world was Christ's death on the Cross. Everywhere the Bible speaks of it in that sense. John, though he doesn't use those words, talks of it in that way. Jesus, as He is getting ready to leave, tells His disciples all the things that would be accomplished by His death, all the ways that they would be better off, not only because of the forgiveness of their sins, but many other advantages also.

In chapter 14, He told them they would be better off because they would all be able to talk to Him any time they wanted to, not having to wait in line and speak to Him one at a time like they did when He was on earth. Also, because they would receive the indwelling Holy Spirit Who would teach them like He had and Who would remind them of everything that He had said. So again, He said they would be able to do greater things than they had done while He was here on earth, greater things than He had done while He was on earth because of prayer and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

He continues that attitude in chapter 15, and He talks about the relationship that He is providing for them, both while He was on earth, and after He was gone because of the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would replace Him. He gives three illustrations of this relationship in chapter 15. First, in verses 1-8, He said that it would be a relationship of fruitfulness. They were branches on the vine. He was the vine and they and we who are His disciples following them are the branches. In our last study, we learned that our relationship with Him is one of fruitfulness.

In verses 9-17, the second relationship, the one we will be discussing in this lesson, is the relationship of friendship. The amazing thing is that we are friends of God. We also hope to talk about verses 18-25, where He says that it is a relationship of fulfilled prophecy. The relationship that we have with God through Jesus Christ is one relationship, but it has three illustrations.

Friendship By Means of Comparison

The last two verses of the chapter go better with chapter 16, and so our study only goes through verse 25 of chapter 15. We want to look at this relationship of friendship that He talks about in verses 9-17. First, in verses 9-10, He teaches them about this friendship by means of a comparison. The person in the comparison is fascinating to notice as we see in the first part of verse 9:

John 15

9As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you…

He is talking about the friendship relationship that He and those disciples and we as disciples today have. It is a relationship of love, and He compares it with the love that the Father has for Him and that He has for the Father: “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you.”

He is talking about the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. That love between the Father and the Son is described for us in Proverbs, chapter 8, which is about wisdom, but as you read through that chapter, you quickly see that it is also talking about the relationship between the Father and the Son. Verses 22-31 are really a description of the love that the Father and the Son had with each other, and it is a characterization of Jesus Christ as Wisdom itself. That is a good description of Him. He is the embodiment of wisdom.

As you look at chapter 8, you see the subject is wisdom, but when you read this, you will realize that it applies to the Lord Jesus Christ. Notice, beginning in verse 22:

Proverbs 8

22The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
23I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
24When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
25Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought forth:
26While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the highest part of the dust of the world.
27When he prepared the heavens, I was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth:
28When he established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep:
29When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the earth:
30Then I was by him, as one brought up with him [as a master craftsman] : and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
31Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

Here is a description of the Lord Jesus Christ and God the Father before the world ever began. The essence of the passage is what we read in verses 30-31: “Then I was by Him, as a master craftsman…” The New Testament tells us that Jesus was the One by whom creation took place. Of course, Jesus is God. He is part of the Trinity. He is one of the aspects of God, and so we would know that anyway, but here He describes that Himself: “I was beside Him as a master craftsman.” Jesus Christ is the craftsman who put the creation of the world together.

He goes on to say:

Proverbs 8

30…I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;
31Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men.

“Rejoicing always before Him.” Haven't you had that experience with your own children or with other family members, maybe not focusing on what you're actually doing at the time, but just rejoicing in their presence, just an unspoken, a felt love between a husband and wife or a father and son, or a mother and son, those relationships in the family? Once in a while, unfortunately not as often as we would like, we just feel the very essence of love that we have for each other. That is what He is talking about here in verses 30-31.

Coming back to John, chapter 15, what Jesus is saying is: “In the same way that the Father and the Son love each other, in that very same way, I have loved you.” It is impossible to put that into words, if you think about how much the Father and the Son love each other. They love each other with a perfect love, with a holy love. Anything that you might think of as the attributes of God and apply that to the way God would love His own Son, the other members of the Trinity, and Jesus says, “That is the way that I have loved you.”

Of course, that fits right in with the grace of God and with the fact that He loved us while we were His enemies. He loved us when we were unlovely, when we didn't deserve it. That is all tied in with God's grace.

That is the Person in the comparison, but then in the last part of verse 9 and going on into verse 10, He talks about the process that is involved in this comparison. He says, “I have loved you as the Father loved Me; abide in My love.” What does it mean to abide in His love? He goes on in to verse 10 to say:

John 15

10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

We talked more in detail in our study of the first seven verses of what it means to abide in Christ. We talked about the fact that the Greek word that is translated with our English word abide , is a word that means “to be at home, to relax and enjoy the atmosphere like we do in our own homes, to feel completely comfortable and at ease.” All of those things we associate with being at home. Jesus said, “I want you to have the confidence in Me and to have the love for Me that you can just be at home in Me.”

When we are at home, we have our own way of doing things and our own amenities in the house, and as much as is humanly possible, we relax and assume that everything is going to go along all right. Because we are human beings and because our houses are the creations of human beings, we know that sometimes everything is not all right. The electricity goes off or the roof gets a hole in it or something, but to the greatest extent humanly possible, we can feel that things are just going to go along exactly the way that they are supposed to. That is what Jesus said: “I want you to relax and know that everything is going to come out exactly like it is supposed to. Trust Me. Let Me direct things.”

Keep His Commandments

Here in verse 10, He elaborates on it more fully. He said:

John 15

10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love…

Then He elaborates on it:

John 15

10…even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

This process of keeping God's commandments is something that at first glance sounds impossible. How would we possibly keep all of God's commandments? Some people have set out to do that, and they have discovered the first day, or at least by the second day, that they can not keep all of God's commandments. So they say, “That must be figurative language. He must not really mean that,” and they give up on that, and they don't even make a try at it any more. They don't know the peace and joy and happiness that comes from abiding in the love of Jesus.

I have been in that situation, and probably some of you are in that situation now. You don't really think it literally means to keep His commandments. It sounds impossible, doesn't it? But Jesus is speaking just as literally here as He was about anything else. What we have to remember is the context in which He said this. Do you remember what He said in chapter 14? He touches on it in verses 1-8, but in chapter 14, He gave all this information about the Comforter Who was going to come to take His place—the Holy Spirit, the One who comes alongside to help.

It is certainly true that we cannot keep His commandments in our own strength. We simply can't do that, but we don't have to. We have a Helper. The King James Version uses the word Comforter and that is what I grew up learning and memorizing, so I use that word without thinking, but some of the newer translations use the word Helper , which is really a better translation. Comforter meant “Helper” back in 1611 when the King James was translated, but we have the Helper, the Holy Spirit.

Let's think about it this way: Remember, Jesus said in chapter 14 that the Holy Spirit would be another Helper. We talked about the fact that that meant another of the exact same kind. When Jesus was present on the earth, God was with human beings, and He was a helper to them. Now we have another Helper of the same kind. Do you suppose when Jesus was on earth if He saw one of His disciples about to break one of His commandments, or if He saw one of His disciples struggling to keep one of His commandments, He would help that disciple do that? If He saw someone about to break one of His commandments, would He remind them of what was about to happen? He would remind them of what they were about to do. He would do it lovingly, because it was the Lord Jesus that was helping them. They wouldn't take it as a rebuke. They would relax and do what Jesus told them to do or stop doing what He was warning them about.

If you look back through the Gospel record, you see that Jesus said some pretty harsh things to His disciples, but you never read of anybody getting angry at Jesus. They got angry with each other; they got angry with themselves; but when Jesus told them something, they responded in faith and belief and obedience.

When we are moving through life and are about to break some commandment that the Lord has in His Word—this is not limited to just things that Jesus said, for all Scripture is given by inspiration of God—we have a Helper Who will remind us that we are about to violate one of His commandments. It is with His help that we live the Christian life.

Holy Spirit Gives Understanding

Galatians, chapter 5, contains some significant statements about that, and we have talked about it many times before, but let's look at it again in review and as a reminder. Galatians, chapter 5, verses 16-17, tell us one of the ways the Holy Spirit helps us. In John, chapter 14, verse 26, He said that the Holy Spirit would teach us all things and bring all things to our remembrance, and in Galatians, chapter 5, verses 16-17, He says:

Galatians 5

16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

The phrase, lust of the flesh, conjures up images of sensual sin and gross immorality, but really the word lust , as you probably know, has changed its meaning since the time that this was translated into English. These days we think of the word lust specifically in terms of sexual desire or sinful sexual desire or fulfillment of the senses in the broadest sense of the word, but really the Greek word that is translated lust here just means “strong desire of any kind.” It means strong desire in the area of sensual things, but also any other kind of sin. In fact, James talks about the Holy Spirit's lusting to control us. So it can be used in a perfectly legitimate positive kind of context.

Lust of the flesh is the desire to live on the basis of our human standards. The flesh is our unsaved nature, and it carries over with us as believers, so we can still live like the unsaved do. How do we keep from doing that? We walk in the Spirit. Let's put this together. John said in John, chapter 14, verse 26, “The Spirit will teach you all things.” He was talking to our forefathers, His disciples. We were added to that list of disciples when we accepted Christ as Savior. He is as much to us as He was to them, and He said, “I will guide you into all truth.” That is the first step in abiding in Christ's love. Jesus said, “How do we abide in His love? We keep His commandments.” Before we can keep His commandments, we have to know what His commandments are, don't we? We have to know what the principles and the standards and the instructions of God are. All of that is wrapped up in that one word commandments .

Sometimes people—even Christians—read the Bible and say, “I can't understand this, and even if I could, I will never remember it all.” If we have that attitude, we are neglecting this precious gift of the Holy Spirit. Any time you sit down to read the Bible, you should take just a moment and pray, “Lord, be my helper in understanding this. You promised the Holy Spirit would give me understanding.” Just take a moment to consciously pray that He will show you His truth, and as you read the Word of God, the Holy Spirit will bring things to your mind. You may not realize that it is the Holy Spirit. With me, at least, it just takes the form of ideas. We see something in the text, and if we hadn't asked the Holy Spirit to do it, we might think, “Boy, I'm pretty bright. Look what I see here.” That is not your brilliance; that is the Holy Spirit showing you those things. That is the first thing. If you are going to abide in Christ's love, you have to know what His commandments are, what His instructions are. He specifically says here in John, chapter 15, verse 10:

John 15

10If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide [be at home] in my love…

The Holy Spirit teaches us. The Old Testament and the New Testament is all wrapped up in this term commandments that Jesus uses. The Holy Spirit inspired all of it.

Walk In the Spirit

Then in John, chapter 14, verse 26, He says that He would remind us of it as we had need of it, and that is where Galatians, chapter 5, verse 16, comes into play:

Galatians 5

16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

Notice carefully that Galatians, chapter 5, verse 16, does not say “live in the Spirit,” although there is a sense in which we do live in the Spirit. He doesn't say, “move in the Spirit”; He doesn't say “glide in the Spirit” or “run in the Spirit.” We might visualize that all of those terms would be applicable, but He says specifically, “Walk at the direction of the Holy Spirit.”

That is very significant. What do we do when we walk? You might say, “We move across the room,” or “we move to another place.” That is true, but how do we do that? One step at a time. Walking is a series of individual actions. To analyze it in great detail, what we do when we walk is, we pick one foot up, swing it forward and throw ourselves off balance, and we catch our selves with that foot. Then we pick up the other foot, put it out in front of us, throw ourselves off balance and catch ourselves with that foot. Then we do the same thing over again. We take one step at a time. We don't stop to analyze it that deliberately because if we do it long enough, it just becomes second nature to us, but that is walking. Walking at the direction of the Holy Spirit is exactly the same process. We ask for God's guidance. We don't have to ask for it because He promised to do it whether we ask or not.

God does not hold you responsible for spending hours and hours and hours in the Word of God unless you have hours and hours and hours to study the Word of God. If you have only five minutes a day then He only holds you responsible for five minutes a day. If you have an hour a day, God holds you responsible for an hour a day. God knows how much time you have. God knows how busy you are, and God knows how much time you waste; but as you take in the Word of God in whatever amount of time you can find in your schedule, the more you are going to be able to walk at the direction of the Holy Spirit.

God does not expect you to know things that He hasn't given you the time to learn, but He does expect you to know that much. As you come to a situation in life that God's Word speaks to and you are about to violate one of God's instructions, the Holy Spirit speaks to you and says, “No, no. You remember what the Bible says about this.” Then, like David, the ball is in your court. It is decision time. You have to decide, “Am I going to obey the Word of God that the Holy Spirit is reminding me of, or am I going to go ahead and do this thing? Am I going to do it my way, or am I going to do it God's way?”

When you choose to obey the Holy Spirit and you choose to obey the Word of God (it may not be a specific verse of Scripture; it may be just a general concept), you know that it is God reminding you that what you are about to do is not in line with His Word, and you say, “Yes, Holy Spirit, I will do it God's way,” we have taken one step at the direction of the Holy Spirit. You move along a little farther in the day, maybe five minutes, maybe five hours, but you come to another place where you are tempted to do something that God said not to do or find yourself holding back from doing something God said to do. The Holy Spirit says, “No. Don't you remember that God said you are to do this?”, or whatever the situation may be, and again you decide to obey what God said, you have taken another step at the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Step by step by step, we walk at the direction of the Holy Spirit. If you do that long enough and consistently enough, you may get to the place, just like physical walking, where you don't even stop to think about it. You just move in the Holy Spirit, but even if you are not thinking about it, it is still a series of individual steps. That ought to be the goal of every Christian. That is abiding in Christ. It is keeping His commandments and abiding in His love.

Jesus is going to touch on the motivation for doing this, and we will look at it more in detail in a few moments, but that is what walking in the Spirit is. That is what Jesus is talking about here in John, chapter 15, when He says, “If you keep My commandments, you abide in My love.” That is how we keep His commandments; just one step at a time. You see, that keeps it from just becoming a list of rules and regulations that we have to keep in our head and be sure that we do and become very negative and legalistic. It is not a matter of a checklist that we have to go through and make sure that we haven't violated. It is just a matter of moving through life confident that God will show us what He wants us to know and confident that He will remind us of it when we are about to violate it.

Listen, God is much more interested in what He can do in us than what He can do through us, because really God can not do anything through us unless He is at work within us. It is that personal relationship, that relationship of fruitfulness, abiding in the vine as branches abide. It is that relationship of friendliness, doing what our Friend wants us to do. That is what the Christian life is all about.

Love One Another

In verses 12-14, He talks about the commandments specifically. The essence of the commandment is in verse 12:

John 15

12This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.

You know, the first part of that verse really sounds good: “Love one another…” This is the summary of all the commandments of God. In the verse before this, we have just been talking about keeping His commandments and abiding in His love. Now, He boils it down to one commandment: “This is My commandment, that you love one another.”

I say, that sounds good. What a great, lofty goal to have—to love each other as Christians. But, notice the last phrase. There is a little problem if you really stop to think about it. He says, “…as I have loved you.” It is one thing to think about attending potluck dinners together and singing together in church, and agreeing to pray for someone who has a need and all of those kinds of Christian things, but how did Jesus love us? How does He continue to love us? He loves us even when we are not obedient to Him. He loves us even when we are not doing things His way. We are not comfortable, we are not abiding in His love, but He goes on loving us even when we are not abiding in His love.

Do you see what Jesus is saying here? He is saying that if we are going to keep His commandment, we are going to have to love other Christians even when they are not being very lovely. We are going to have to love other Christians even when they have a different perspective on things than we do. When we really love somebody and we have a different perspective on things—I have just referred to 99 percent of the marriages in the world—we don't spend all of our time trying to convince the other person that we are right and they are wrong, do we? We may discuss that and we may talk about the disagreement, but we are not disagreeable about it. We are sharing our viewpoints, and really in the optimum, using a husband and wife as an example, husbands and wives who love each other as Ephesians, chapter 5, tells us we are to do, we will learn to take from the strengths of the other person even though that strength may be a weakness in our lives.

How did Jesus love the disciples? That doesn't mean that He never corrected them. It doesn't mean that He never disagreed with them, but it does mean that He never abandoned them. It does mean that He never decided they were no longer worthy of His friendship. He never turned His back on any of His disciples. They frustrated Him in His human nature, I'm sure. Sometimes He referred to them as “oh ye of little faith,” but they were still His disciples.

Within a church family, within the Body of Christ at large, this is what is called for if we are going to love each other as Christ loved the Church. Love each other even if we disagree on things. Try to learn what we can from the disagreement, but keep on loving each other. Try to correct a brother when he is wrong. Sometimes the most loving thing we can do is to point out something that he is doing wrong. Jesus did not ever hesitate to do that with the disciples, but He never stopped loving them.

It broke Jesus' heart when Judas betrayed Him, and so this is what it means to love one another as He has loved us—to keep on loving even when we are disappointed, to keep on loving even when they are in the wrong, to love them enough to try to correct them.

Jesus Elaborates On This Commandment

Then in verse 13, He makes an elaboration on the commandment that confirms all of that:

John 15

13Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

In general, He is talking about Himself and His being willing to lay down His life for them and for us, but remember the context that this verse comes in. We look at John, chapter 15, verse 13, and we say, “Oh, wasn't that wonderful that Christ laid down His life for us?”, but remember what He said just before this is, “You are to love each other as I have loved you.” What He says in verse 14 is, “You may have to lay down your life for a friend.”

There are probably very few times in life, although there may be some occasions when this would be necessary to physically lay down our life for a friend. That is how far it ought to go, and there are beautiful illustrations of it all down through history of one Christian being willing to die for another Christian, one Christian being willing to die for his friendship with Jesus Christ, but really more often what that boils down to is being willing to go and help a Christian brother or sister when they are overtaken in a fault, and to keep on loving them even when they are doing something that they know and you know is wrong. This means being willing to give up our rights if we have to to help a Christian brother or sister. Lay down our lives for our friends. Do what it takes to help them, not to help them with their sin, but to help them get out of their sin.

There are many other areas such as helping them when they are sick or through a time of financial difficulty or through a time of grief and sorrow. How many times do we say, “Oh, I am so sorry for so-and-so. I would like to go and say something to them, but I just don't have time.” Well, sacrifice some time. Sometimes we say, “I don't know what I could do except just maybe be there for them or sit with them for a while, but I don't have time to do that. That would just be so boring, and I just don't want to do that.” We may have to do some things that we don't want to do—lay down our lives, lay down our preferences for our friends—if we are going to love each other as Christ loved us.

Jesus Explains the Commandment

In verse 14, He gives an explanation of the commandment:

John 15

14Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.

“You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” I think that if Jesus were alive on earth today, most, if not all, of us would be willing to do anything that He commanded us to do. I love the little illustration tucked away in the first part of the Gospels when they ran out of wine at the feast and Jesus' earthly mother said to Him, “Here is the situation,” and He consented to do something about it. She turned to the servants and said, “Do whatever He tells you to do.” I don't know whether those servants were believers or not, but they probably became believers that afternoon, and they are good examples of what Jesus is talking about here. He said, “Take those water pots and fill them with water,” and they did that. Nobody said, “But Jesus, it is wine we are out of, not water.” He said, “Fill up the water pots,” and they did. He said, “Dip out of the water pots and take it to the master of the feast.” They didn't say, “Jesus, we are talking about wine; we are not talking about water.” They just did what He said.

The beautiful thing is that they didn't know who Jesus was. This was His first miracle, but they did what He said, and most of us, I hope, would do whatever Jesus asked us to do. Would we do likewise for our Christian brother or sister? We should extend that attitude to any of the instructions of Jesus. Again, I don't mean to participate in their sin. I don't mean if they ask us or tell us to do something wrong, but when they express a need or when they share with us the need of their heart, if Jesus talked that way to us, of course we would do something about it. A true friend is one who does whatever his friend needs.

As I said, sometimes what a friend needs most is to be straightened out, to be corrected and to be brought to a place of confession. Jesus said, “You should have the same attitude to each other as Christians that you have to Me. If I asked you to do something, you would do it. If your friend expresses a need, you should do it because you are brothers and sisters in Christ.”

From a human standpoint, teenagers understand this a lot better than we do. James Dobson and other Christian psychologists says that the biggest pressure that teenagers face is peer group pressure. The greatest influence on teenagers is what their friends are doing and what their friends want them to do. I am personally acquainted with a family and was personally involved in a situation in which a teenage boy, addicted to drugs, had been through several treatment programs, came home from a treatment program, had been gone from home a long time, got back to town and within ten days of coming back to Wichita Falls, got hooked up with his old friends again.

These friends, before they ran into him, had broken into a doctor's car, stolen his medical bag out of the car. It had several vials of medicine in it. They said, “Come on with us; we are going to go shoot up with this stuff. It had syringes and medicine in there, and they didn't even know what those medications were. They were going to go to this abandoned house. They all shot themselves full of those drugs, and Kevin died instantly. The other kids weren't even affected. That boy could not stay away from his friends.

On a human level, that boy had the kind of commitment to his friends that Jesus wants to see us have to each other. That illustration is from a completely negative standpoint, and I don't mean to imply in any way that if a Christian friend asks us to shoot up that we should do it, but I am talking about the legitimate needs that we have. Our Christian friends ought to be so important to us that we can't stay away from them, that when we come back to town, they are the ones that we hook up with again, to use that illustration.

Communication Key Element In Friendship

With that in mind, verses 15-17 bring a wonderful communication from Jesus. The object of the communication is in verse 15. There are two phrases in verse 15 separated by a few words. Notice what He says:

John 15

15Henceforth I call you not servants… but I have called you friends…

Then He gives the explanation of the subject. That is the essence of it. That is the general statement of it, but now He gives the details. What is a friend anyway? He says,, “A servant does not know what his master is doing, but all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.”

Here is what Jesus is saying. The key element in friendship is communication. A master tells his servant to do something, and he doesn't feel any obligation to explain why the servant should do it. The servant doesn't feel any animosity toward the master for not explaining why he should do it, because the master said to do it, and he is a servant. But Jesus said, “I have communicated to you. I have told you all things that the Father has made known to Me.” So a key element of friendship, according to Jesus, is communication.

Let me ask you something. Who do you feel more comfortable talking to—Christians or non-Christians? That might be a pretty sobering question for some people. Who are you more at ease with—Christians or non-Christians? Jesus says that we are to love each other as He loves us, and the illustration that He uses is communication.

Notice what He also says: “All things that I have heard from My Father, I have made known to you.” How do we know that Jesus is our friend? How do we know that God is our friend? Because He has communicated with us.

As John is wrapping up this book, he says in chapter 20, verses 30-31:

John 20

30And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book:
31But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.

He communicated to us, as a friend does, everything we need to know about how to be saved: “That Jesus is the Christ the Son of God, and believing that you may have life through His name.”

Then in II Peter, chapter 1, verse 3, He says:

II Peter 1

3According 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:

God hasn't told us everything there is to know. The critics often say, “If the Bible is such an essential book, why does it not speak about this major point in history, this major development, this person? The Bible doesn't say anything about these people, and yet you say it is the underlying book of the whole world.”

God clearly says, “I haven't told you everything, but I have told you everything that you need to know. I have told you everything you need to know to have everlasting life (John 20:31). I have told you everything you need to know to have a godly life” (II Peter 1:3). That is how we know that God is our friend. He has communicated with us. Jesus says, “That is the essence of friendship,” and our experience bears that out, doesn't it? What do friends do? Female friends, and some males, talk to their friends, don't they? They sometimes spend hours with their friends. The point is, we talk to people whom we love. We fellowship with them on that human level, and the same thing is true spiritually. God is our friend because He has communicated with us.

The best part of that friendship is the origination of the subject in verses 16-17. Here is a beautiful thought:

John 15

16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
17These things I command you, that ye love one another.

There is the command repeated again: “Love one another,” but look what He says just above this:

John 15

16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you…

It is one thing to have a friendship that you have set out to develop. It is one thing to have a friendship because you have pursued that friendship, and that is perfectly legitimate. It fits in with what we have been talking about. We should pursue friendships with other people, but the friendships that we really treasure and appreciate, on the human level, are the ones where the other person sought us out, aren't they?

One of the bad memories that some of us have of grade school where other people were choosing the team or choosing people to do things, and some of us have bad memories of being the last one chosen or thinking we were going to be the last one chosen. Being chosen is very important to us. Look what Jesus says: “…I chose you…” What kind of friendship do we have with Jesus Christ? It is a friendship that He initiated, and let me tell you something: None of us would be the friends of Christ if that were not true. We would not choose to be God's friend. We might not think we were worthy, or there might be a number of reasons from a human standpoint that we would not choose God's friendship, but God wanted a relationship with us so much that He chose us.

That has all kinds of ramifications that we don't have time to go into, but here is the relationship of friendship, and it is the person who has developed that kind of relationship with us who says in verse 17: “You love one another. You reach out out of the context of the love that I have chosen to give you, and you share that love with other believers.”

A Relationship of Fulfilled Prophecy

In verses 18-25, He talks about this relationship as a relationship of fulfilled prophecy. We do not have time to go through those verses, but just let me summarize them by telling you that He is talking about the fact that if we are indeed the friends of Christ, we will not be the friends of the unsaved. Sooner or later, if we walk with the Lord as His friends, those who are committed to living in the world are going to reject us. You might as well get ready for that. That is what Jesus is saying, and His proof of it is, “They rejected Me before they rejected you.”

Who would ever reject a person who is lovely and gentle and powerful as Jesus Christ? Well, don't kid yourself. There are plenty of people who rejected Him and there always have been. If we are going to choose to live for Jesus Christ, we had better get ready to be rejected by others. That doesn't mean that everybody is going to hate us. That doesn't mean that we can't ever be a part of some organization that has non-Christians in it; but it does mean that here and there, there are going to be people who reject us and plot against us just as they did with Jesus. Jesus wants to warn us of that in advance.

The context is again important. What it boils down to is that there are going to be those times when we have to choose between Jesus' friendship and the world's friendship. He tells us in advance that He is our Friend. He is the One Who set that friendship in motion. Because of that, we may lose some human, earthly friendships. If you are going to abide in the vine, if you are going to abide in Christ's love, you need to settle it in your heart in advance that there are going to those places in life where there is going to be a choice of our friendship with Jesus and our friendship with someone else. That someone else may be someone very important to us in society, very important to us in our career, very important to us in our school. Jesus says that we need to settle it to begin with that friendship with Him is enmity with the world. It may cost you something, and you need to know that going in.

Conclusion

What an awesome privilege to be the friend of God! Godliness is not what I do, what you do. I'm a pastor, but that doesn't make me godly. You may have thought it did. You can ask my wife, and she'll tell you that being a pastor does not make me godly. Godliness is not where we are. Missionaries leave the comfort of our culture and most of them live in relative poverty compared to how they could be living here. That doesn't make them godly. Godliness is not what we have. We may have a graduate degree in theology. We may own five Bibles and still not be godly. It is not what we possess.

Godliness is what we are becoming. Godliness is how we are walking day-by-day, step-by-step with our Friend, the Lord Jesus Christ, becoming people who love God, and out of that love for Him, we obey Him. We become people who trust God, and because of our trust and confidence in Him, we obey Him, no matter what He says. Then out of that background, we become people who love the people around us. That is what godliness is.


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