May 17, 2015
Message, Robby Gallaty, Senior Pastor
The title of the message today is “Walking After the Son.” Walking After the Son.
Over the last six weeks, we have journeyed through the I AM statements through the gospel of John, Jesus, declaring His divinity, saying that He is One with the Father. He is using this term that was used by God in Exodus Chapter 3 when He spoke to Moses and said, “I AM who I AM.” Jesus picks up that phrase and He uses that to describe who He is.
We started in John Chapter 6 Verse 35. He said, “I AM the Bread of Life.” Then He went to John Chapter 8 Verse 12. Jesus said, “I AM the Light of the World.”
John Chapter 10 Verse 7, “I AM the Door of the Sheep.”
John Chapter 10 Verse 11, a few verses down, “I AM the Good Shepherd.”
Then we move over to John Chapter 11 Verse 25, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life.”
John Chapter 14 Verse 6, “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life.”
And now we get to the final one, John Chapter 15 where Jesus says, “I AM the True Vine.”
From John Chapter 14 (write this down) to John Chapter 16 Verse 33...here is a homework assignment for you…there are 25 promises that Jesus gives His disciples and us. Twenty-five promises that He gives His disciples and us.
Without the chapters of John Chapter 14, John Chapter 15 and John Chapter 16, we would virtually know nothing about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Aren’t you glad for these three chapters which gives us the basis, they give us the basis for the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Now, this final I AM statement, Jesus says, “I AM the true Vine.” If you are attached to the vine, you produce fruit. That idea of fruitfulness is the picture of multiplication. It is this idea of multiplying the ministry that Jesus started.
Now Jesus gave them a hint to this in John Chapter 14 Verse 12, if you will turn back there, when Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in Me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father.”
Now, some people have misinterpreted this verse to mean that Jesus said we could do better things than Him. We are going to be able to do greater things than Him. Friends, listen to me. Jesus is not talking about greater in significance, He is talking about greater in scope. I mean, who could do greater things than God? Nobody can! He is saying, I was one man who invested in twelve men and then seventy men and when I leave, you are going to do greater things than Me. Why? Because I have multiplied Myself in you.
You see, fruit is always a picture of multiplication because of the harvest. You plant one seed and you get much fruit.
What I want to show you in our time together is this. I want you to see how the ministry of Jesus is multiplied when we emulate His actions so that, when we do that, we will have a joy filled life. You see, we will have joy in our life when we follow the pattern of Jesus.
And what we are about to see in this text is the humanity of Christ. Jesus spends six I AM statements proving His divinity and now He is going to show us His humanity when He says, hey, I want you guys to follow Me in this pattern of life.
If you have your Bibles, and I hope you do, turn with me to John Chapter 15. John Chapter 15 and Verse 1 and when you get there, say “Word.” The Word of the Lord.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I AM the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
What Jesus is about to show us is a pattern for Christian living and He starts with this first challenge. Write it down if you are taking notes. He says “Abide in Me.” Or if you are taking notes, abide in Christ.
That word “abide” is an interesting word. It is a word that is used throughout this entire chapter of John Chapter 15. And before we get into what the word “abide” means, let me give you the back story of what Jesus is saying. He says, “I am the true vine.” He picks up this terminology of a vineyard that has always been used in the Old Testament. In fact, if you are familiar with the passage in Psalm Chapter 80 Verse 8, God talks about Israel, the nation of Israel being like a vine that He transplanted from Egypt and brought into the Promised Land.
In Isaiah Chapter 5 or Isaiah Chapter 5, he talks about how Israel is a vineyard who has been disobedient because they haven’t produced fruit.
Now the vine motif is interesting because Jews would have known it well. On the outside of the Temple was this elaborate vine that Herod had added to the construction of the Temple. You have to understand, right before Jesus came to the earth, Herod added on to the Temple and it became known as one of the Wonders of the World. And outside the Temple at the entrance was this enormous vine.
James Rosscup, who is a commentator on prayer and history says, “The vine was found even on Jewish coins in the Maccabean period, and in the days which our Lord walked upon the earth, there was huge lattice of a vine adorning the entrance of the Temple of Herod, evaluated by some (who were likely exaggerating) at a value of more than $12,000,000.”
Now, I don’t know if it costs that much, but you get the point. This was an amazing vine attached to the Temple and Jesus picks up this terminology and He says, “I AM the true Vine.” Notice what He doesn’t say. He doesn’t say, I am A vine. He doesn’t say even, I am The Vine. What does He say? I AM the true vine. There are going to be a lot of facades out there. There are going to be a lot of fakes out there that want you to connect your branches to their vines. Don’t do it. I am the True Vine. I am the One who is going to be your source. I am the One who is going to be your satisfaction in life.
Now this motif continues on. You have to remember where the disciples were sitting just a moment before. Jesus has the Passover spread before them and there are three elements on the table that they would have known. The first one was the lamb. The second one would have been the Matsu bread, the unleavened bread. And the third element at the table would have been the cup of (what?) of the vine. They would have understood exactly what Jesus was saying. He just made a covenant with them by drinking the cup of the vine.
Now what Jesus is talking about here is that He is the Vine and there is a gardener who takes care of the plants. That gardener, He tells us…look at the text…is God the Father. The Father is the vinedresser. He tills the soil. He waters the seeds. He picks the harvest. He pulls the weeds. That is the job of the Father, the Gardener.
Now the gardener has two things He is passionate about and that is, pruning and pulling weeds or discipling…discipling…disciplining the vineyard if you will.
The pruning process worked in two ways. The first way was, you looked at the plants and you always removed the dead wood from the plants. And if you know anything about gardening, if you allow dead wood to continue growing on a live vine, it will kill it. Why? From disease or bugs. And God does that in our lives. He will prune away dead, useless branches from our life that will hinder us from producing more fruit.
But the second thing the gardener does is, he cuts away living branches that restrict us from producing more fruit. Now the living branches actually are hurtful. Why? Because they are actually producing fruit, but this living branch is restricting the quantity and the quality of fruit that can be produced.
Do you know there is a difference in the Christian life between pruning and disciplining? Do you know the difference? There is a big difference. Pruning and disciplining for born again believers. Pruning is the process whereby God looks at your life and He sees that maybe you are producing fruit, but you are not producing enough fruit to your potential. So God says, well, you are producing ten-fold, but you have the potential for 20 or 60 or 100-fold. And so what He does is, He applies the divine instrument of pain and suffering and He cuts away. Is it painful? Absolutely, but it is for a purpose.
But then He applies the divine instrument of disciplining. Disciplining is to the believer who is in sin. It feels the same as pruning, but it is for a different purpose. You see, what God does is, He applies again the divine instrument of pain and suffering, trial and tribulation to your life, if you are in sin as a believer in order to protect you from harming yourself and dragging His name through the mud. It is the same feeling but for a very different purpose. And God will do whatever He has to do to protect His name and to grow you.
One of the ways He prunes us is He eliminates things in our life that are distractions. So maybe what God is doing in your life is that He is looking at your busy schedule and He realizes that you are always in a hurry to do nothing and go nowhere. And so He may prune you.
God may look at the issues in your life, maybe sexual immorality, maybe there is pornography in your life, maybe there are unhealthy relationships in your life, maybe there is compulsive shopping in your life, maybe there are issues in your life that distract you from doing better things for God and so He disciplines you. Maybe it is your job. Maybe you are just consumed with your job. You are overworking or maybe you are just lazy and slothful. Regardless, God always prunes us. Why? Because He wants the best for us.
Aren’t you glad that God is adamant in our lives about making us into who He desires us to be, to be conformed to the image of His Son and to produce not just little fruit but much fruit. He does that through pruning.
Verse 4. How do we respond if we are pruned? Well, He tells us. Look at Verse 4. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
That word “abide” is an interesting word. It is used 120 times in the New Testament. It is translated in many different ways. It can be “abide.” It can be “remain.” You may see it as “dwell.” It can also be translated as “endure.” On rare occasions, it is translated as “tarry.” To hang around.
What is interesting is, the word is used in Chapter 15 of John 11 times in 11 verses. Let me say that again. I don’t want you to miss that. That word is used 11 times in 11 verses. Do you think Jesus is trying to tell us something? Hey, by the way, I want you guys to abide. And if you forget to do something, abide. And oh, by the way, abide. And when you forget to abide, abide. Do you see it? Eleven times He is getting this point across.
So what does it mean to abide? Abiding in Christ is acknowledging the Lordship of Jesus Christ over your life and yielding to the Holy Spirit daily. You see, if you want God to work IN you to work THROUGH you, we need to abide. We need to linger longer. We need to make time in our schedules for God to work.
One commentator said, “It is the idea of allowing the Holy Spirit of God to take residence in our heart as a home.” I like that. That the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our heart as a home.
Now the home is the base of all operations for us, right? Our home is a place of refreshment and renewal. Our home is a place where our heart is, the people say. Home is a place where we leave and we want to return to, right? Home is a place where we feel comfortable. Home is a place where we feel safe. That is the idea here in the text. God takes up residence in our heart. The Holy Spirit has a home.
But not only did Jesus say we want to abide in Him, we need to abide in Him, but we need to follow through with something else. He gives us an action. We need to ask in prayer. We not only need to abide in Christ, we need to ask in prayer.
Look at Verse 7. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” When Jesus says, remain in Me or abide in Me and My words will abide in you, those are synonymous. And what He is saying here in the text is, when the Word of God is implanted in our mind, we are obedient to the commands of God and are conformed to the image of Christ.
Watch this. The more you abide, the more you pray. And the more you pray, the more you abide. You see, it is a reciprocal process in our life. Jesus’ entire ministry was characterized by prayer, right? Forty-five different events or…I am sorry, forty-five occurrences, thirty different events in the life of Jesus, it says He withdrew to pray. Write that down. Forty-five difference occurrences, over thirty different events, it says Jesus departed from the crows to pray.
Have you ever noticed how when you study the New Testament, the busier Jesus’ life God, the more He prayed. You see, the problem with us is, the busier we get, the less we pray, right? But Jesus, the busier the ministry got, the more He departed to be alone with the Father. And friends, if the immortal, eternal God, Jesus Himself, had to spend time with the Father in prayer, how much more do we as mortal men and women need to spend time in prayer.
D. L. Moody said it this way, “He who is too busy to pray will be too busy to live a holy life.”
Do you know, in this text Jesus uses this word “ask” six different times. Ask, ask, ask. James says, “You don’t have because you don’t ask with the right motives,” right?
Now Jesus’ life was a life that characterized…was characterized by prayer. Let me show you that. Go to Mark Chapter 1. I will show you an instance in the life of Jesus, a day in the life of Jesus. Mark Chapter 1 Verse 21. When you are there, say “word.”
Jesus is in the synagogue on Shabbat or Sabbath. He is attacked by the religious leaders. Jesus cast out this demon in this man, this unclean spirit. He came out. His fame began to spread throughout the town. Peter sees the opportunity and jumps on it. He says, hey, while you are casting out demons and healing the sick, my mother-in-law has got a fever. Why don’t you come back by the house for a little Sunday get together or Saturday get together after church. You can heal her. Jesus does this and after He heals the mother-in-law, look at the text, the entire town came to Jesus that evening, (32) “They brought all who were sick or demand oppressed ad the whole city was gathered together at the door. And He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And He would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.”
So Jesus has a busy day of ministry. He gets no Shepherd’s Rest, if you will, and He is the Good Shepherd, so He deserves it. He gets no Shepherd’s Rest. And you would think Jesus, on His day off, is going to sleep in.
Look at Verse 35, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He departed and went out to a desolate place, and there He prayed. And Simon and those who were with Him search for Him, and they found Him and said to Him, ‘Everyone is looking for You.’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preached there also, for that is why I came.”
Now I want you to understand what just happened. Jesus’ fame is spreading. The earthly ministry is off to a great start. He just had a crusade. He had a healing service and now people are standing in line to follow Him. They are ready to bow the knee and charge Rome and take back their country. That is all Jesus has to do, is walk out to the platform, give a short discourse and they are following Him.
And so Peter finds Him. Hey, Jesus, the crowd is ready. The worship band has already finished. The choir has sung. The stage is set. The news reporters are there. The television crews are set up. We just need you to address the crowd. And Jesus says to him something countercultural. It is different than any American pastor probably would ever say. If an American pastor oversees, you are on the mission field and they say, everyone is waiting for you to deliver this address. People are going to get saved. Come on, let’s go. American pastors would walk on that stage, that platform, give the address and God would be glorified.
Jesus does something radical. He says, No, Peter, we are going to go to the next town so I can remain in anonymity and obscurity. Now here is the million dollar question. How in the world did Jesus come up with that plan? Where did He get that? He had been the entire morning in prayer. He had spent the entire morning in prayer. How different would your life be if you got serious about listening to the Father in prayer?
You see, the challenge for many of us is that we are so busy that we don’t have time to pray. Martin Luther said, “I have so much going on in my life, I have to get up two hours earlier and spend it in prayer.” You see, Jesus said, I don’t do anything unless I hear it from the Father. John Chapter 5 Verse 19.
John Chapter 5 Verse 30, “He says, I can do nothing on My own.” Jesus was so in tune with the Father through prayer that He didn’t do anything or say anything apart from the will of God.
You see, the problem with many Christians is that we want what the Psalmist suggested, but we wont do what the Psalmist asked us. “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Right? We claim the second part because we want God to bless the desires of our heart, but don’t miss this. Desire always comes after delight. You see, you have to delight yourself in the Lord and then He gives you the desires of your heart.
Here is how Jesus can make this claim that whatever you ask in His name will be done for you. This is a promise from God. Here is how. The more time you abide and spend time in prayer, your requests become His requests. Do you see it? See, prayer is not so much that God answers the prayer requests offered, it is that God changes the heart of the pray-er.
What we see here in this text is that Jesus is saying, whatever you ask according to My will, it will be done for you. Do you want to start praying the will of God? Start abiding with the Father.
D. L. Moody once again said it this way, …I am sorry, E. M. Bounds said it this way, “We are in danger of substituting churchly work in a ceaseless round of showy activities for prayer and holy living. A holy life does not live in the prayer closet, but it cannot live without the prayer closet.”
So Jesus says, if you abide in Me, if you remain in Me, you will begin to bear fruit. And then as you are bearing fruit, abiding in Me, when you are walking in the will of God, learning the Word of God, applying the Word of God, you begin to ask according to My will and things will begin to happen in your life based on Me plan, My process.
But then Jesus gives this amazing truth in the end and He talks about glorifying God. What He says is, when you do this, God is glorified. Or another way to say it is, you begin to adore the Father. Abide in Christ, ask in prayer, adore the Father.
Verse 8. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you and that your joy may be full.”
Now I am no botanist, but I can tell the difference between different trees by the fruit they produce, just like you, right? If you are walking through a field and you see an orange-like fruit growing on the end of a limb, it is not hard to determine that is an orange tree, right? If you are walking through a field and you see a vine with an oblong purple shaped thing hanging from it and a bunch of little things hanging from it, you can deduce that is a grape vine, right?
Why do we have so much trouble then trying to determine people? You have no problem determining trees by the fruit they bear. Why do we have so much trouble trying to determine people by the fruit they bear or the lack thereof. You see, we as Christians should be able to determine, ah, that is a believer. I see the fruit in their life. Wait a minute. I don’t see any fruit in their life. They may be an unbeliever.
You see, what Jesus says in this text is that we should be able to determine someone by the fruit they bear. Let me say it another way. The fruit of one’s life is determined by the root of one’s heart. If the root is bad, there is going to be no fruit, right?
Now fruit is two-fold. It is inward character and it is outward conduct. And they work hand in hand with one another. So fruit is inward character and outward conduct.
How do we bear fruit in one life, in our life? Here is how we bear fruit. There are a number of ways. As God works in us, we begin to share the gospel with lost people around us. That is a way we see fruit born. As God works in us, we begin to exemplify the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. As God works in us, we begin to praise the Lord more, not only with our lips but with our life. As God works in us, we begin to serve more, we begin to give financially more, we begin to go overseas with the gospel more, we have a passion for the things of God.
J. C. Rile said this, “Fruitfulness in Christian practice will not only bring glory to God but will supply the best evidence to our hearts that we are real disciples of Christ.”
Now you have to understand, Jesus is not asking us to do anything that we can’t do. When He says to the disciples, you follow My example and obey the commandments as I have obeyed the Father. He is not asking us to do anything we can’t do. And what we see here in this text is what is called by theologians, the hypostatic union, okay? It is a technical term that simply means this - the hypostatic union. It is the concept, it is the truth that Jesus Christ is 100% God and 100% man simultaneously, okay?
Now I am just going to warn you before we get into this discourse, we are not going to wrestle with this and figure it out in the next ten minutes, right? Theologians way smarter than us have debated it for over 2000 years. But lets just attempt it for a moment, right? Appease me as we try it.
So, 100% God, 100% man simultaneously. The proof text for this is Philippians 2 Verse 5. Look at the screen. “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not think equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And the verse goes on, “Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every tongue will bow…every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” So that is the connection there. Although He was all God, He humbled Himself and became man.
Let me give you two definitions from two scholars. Charles Ryrie said, “Never less than God, Jesus chose to live His life never more than man.” Think about that one. Never less than God, He chose to live His life never more than man.
Wayne Gruden gives us another one. “Jesus refused to rely upon His divine nature to make obedience easier for Him.” Jesus refused to rely on His divine nature to make obedience easier for Him.
What are you saying here, Robby? Jesus Christ, the man, was unlike any man who has ever walked the face of the earth. But at the same time, He was like every man. You see, when Jesus came to the earth, He came with the Master Card, right? I don’t have a Master Card with me, but I want you to imagine the Master Card. And He was the true Master, right, because He had the Master Card. Why does He have the Master Card? Because He created it all anyway, right? Because He created it, He has the right to do what He wants, when He wants, whenever He wants and how much He wants to do it. Why? Because He is God the Creator, so He is the Master. He has the Master Card.
But Jesus…are you ready for this?…veiled His divinity when He came so that His humanity could be fully expressed. Think about that. He took the Master Card. He veiled His divinity so that His humanity could be fully expressed while He was here.
Now unfortunately what happens for many of us is, we have looked at Jesus through the centuries as a super-hero, right? He is like Clark Kent who goes into the phone booth and puts on a cape and then comes out as Superman, right? To save the day and heal the sick and prophesy. And the problem with that is, if you make Jesus out to be a super-hero, what happens is, He is impossible to emulate. Impossible.
You see, when Jesus said, come follow Me, what He is saying is, I want you guys to do what I just did.
Dan Spader, one of the leading authorities on the life of Jesus said this: “For new believers, they need to study and understand Jesus’ deity. Growing disciples need to understand Jesus’ humanity.” That is pretty good.
You see, new believers need to understand that He is God. Growing believers need to understand more and more the humanity of Christ. Why? So that we can emulate Him. We need to emulate the way He talked. We need to emulate the way He walked. We need to emulate the words He said and how He lived and how He loved.
A guy in my discipleship group told the story of how when he was a child, his favorite toy his parents bought him was that little lawnmower that had the big dome on top with the poppers in it. You remember that annoying thing. Right? You just push that thing through the floor and it just popped and popped an dropped. And thank God, those things were not around when Rig came around. But anyway, that was an annoying device. And he said his favorite thing to do was just to push this thing around the house. But the most enjoyable thing he got to do with that little lawnmower is when Dad went to the garage and pulled out the real lawnmower. And Dad fired that lawnmower up and he said, Dad would get out in the front yard and start pushing that mower and he said, I would take that little plastic lawnmower and I would follow Dad and act like I was mowing the grass.
Friends, that is what we need to do with the Lord Jesus Christ. Wouldn’t you agree? Friends, it is no accident that Jesus through the entire New Testament, said to His disciples over and over, follow Me. You see, the evidence of one’s life of being a disciple wasn’t emotion or intellect, it was action. You didn’t prove you were a disciple by knowing a bunch of systematic theology. You didn’t prove you were a disciple because you could split hairs on doctrine. You proved you were a disciple by the things you did and how you lived.
Now that is a very different concept for Westerners. I have been trying to teach you over the past couple of years the difference between Eastern thought and Western thought. Let me give you another example. As a Westerner, when we are trying to figure out more about God, here is the question we ask. We ask, what is God like? And what we want is a laundry list of attributes and characteristics of who God is. We want bullet point lists. We want outlines of what God is like. But when an Easterner asks or inquires about God, First Century Jew. Guess what they ask? What does God do? Do you see the difference? It is very different than the way we think. You see, what Jesus did repeatedly through the New Testament is, Jesus took the abstract and made it doable and repeatable.
The problem with many Western Christians, many Western ministers, is we take something simple and make it difficult. Jesus never did that. You see, Jews wanted to know something they could do. They wanted to know something they could emulate, which is why Peter in Acts Chapter 2 when he preaches that powerful message, at the end of the time, what do the people say to Peter? Peter, what must we believe to be saved? Is that what they say? No. What do they say? What must we DO to be saved? Now they are not saying, what are the works by which we can earn salvation. What they are saying is, this is the way we think. We want you to give us a principle. We want you to give us a process. You see, we don’t work for salvation, but once we are saved, we will work for the Lord, right?
That is what James was trying to get at in his epistle. James says, you have faith and I have works. Show me your faith apart from your works and I will show you my faith BY my works.
You see, what Jewish believers did is, they took the Old Testament and they said, what does God do? And they got to Genesis Chapter 1 and they said, Oh, God is a Creator. God creates. And so they emulated that. And you know what they have said, when we are creative as human beings, we are modeling the Father.
They went a little further in Genesis Chapter 1 and they said, well, God created, but then He rested. He is a God who works, but He is a God who rests. So we need to rest, for renewal and revitalization.
Then they said, when they got to the life of Abraham, God is a God who visit’s the sick, so we need to visit the sick. God is a God who redeems. We need to redeem. God is a God who rescues. We need to rescue. You see the point. And so they wanted to know what they could do.
The next time you read the New Testament, don’t just look at what Jesus said, watch what Jesus did. And it is no accident that Jesus told His disciples in the Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you.” He didn’t just say, teach them all I have commanded you, He said, teach them to obey. Do you know what He is saying there? Teach them to do. Teach them to do something.
How many commandments did Jesus give us? Does anyone know. Pop quiz. How many commandments Jesus gave us in the gospels? 405 close. 405 commands. Out of the 405 commands, 204 of those commands have to do with disciple making. Jesus said 40 times eight different ways, do as I do, live as I live, speak as I speak. That is what He said. Forty times 8 different ways, do as I do, live as I live, speak as I speak.
Now what the problem is, that we just reduced the Great Commission, teach them to obey all that I have commanded you, just to the words of Jesus. So we say, if it is a red letter word, then that is what we need to do. But the problem with that is, the entire Bible is red letter. That is why I don’t have a red letter Bible because mine would all be red…that is a joke, but anyway, you get the point.
The entire thing is Jesus’ words, right? Jesus’ words, don’t miss this, are not greater than Peter’s words or Paul’s words or James’ words or John’s words. I know that is going to both some people, but don’t miss this. Why are they not greater? Because it is all His word, whether Jesus spoke it or Jesus inspired it through the Holy Spirit, it is all His words. It is the totality of scripture. And so what He says for us is, we need to learn the Word of God so that we can emulate the Word of God and then when we emulate and obey the Word of God…get this…we adore the Father and we glorify God. Do you want to glorify God, get into the Word until the Word gets into you. And that is no a cool cliché we just say at Brainerd. That is a mantra for us, right? We get into the Word until the Word gets into us.
Let me give you one walking point as we close. One way to apply this text. Simply one point. Make time for God. Make time for God. God not only desires for us to dwell with Him. God is a God who desires to dwell with His people. Did you know that? The reason He took the Israelites out of the bondage of Egypt is so that He could have them all to Himself. That is what He wanted. He wanted to dwell with them. He wanted to reside with them. He wanted to be with them. In fact, in the Old Testament, in the book of Genesis, He spends two chapters on the creation of the world. He spends 13 chapters on the construction of the Tabernacle. Let me say that again. He spends two chapters on creation of the world and the universe and He spends 13 chapters on the Tabernacle. What does that tell us? God is adamant about spending time with His people. He wants to spend time with us. He did it with Adam, remember? It says that God came down and walked with Adam in the garden. He is a coming down God. The High and Holy God is a humble God. He did it on Mt. Sinai. The Bible says that God Himself came down on the mountain to give the commands to Moses. He did it in the incarnation of Jesus, the God who is high and lifted up, wrapped Himself in human flesh and through the incarnation, came to His own. Feel the weight of this…the One who created the world became the created! I don’t think we ever will understand that.
And then at the end of time, Revelation 21, John says, this is how it is going to end. Verse 1, “Then I heard a voice from heaven…or then I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth. For the first heaven and the first earth have passed away and the sea was no more. And I saw the Holy City, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven.” Where is it coming? It is coming down. Do you see? God is a God of coming down. He is a God who wants to be with us. Coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, Behold, the dwelling of God is with man. He will dwell with them.”
That word “dwell” is a different word than the one we just saw. When Jesus says dwell or abide or remain in Me, it talks about making it a home or taking up a residence. What this word means, it is a little different, it means to make it a permanent settlement. It means once and for all. This is not a transition period. God is going to come to be with His people once and for all. Aren’t you glad of that? He will be their God. They will be His people. And God Himself with be with them as their God.
So if God is a God who is always interested in coming down, why are so many churches talking about going up? See, we are interested in getting out of this world and God is trying to break in this world. He is trying to come in. We are trying to go out.
Do you know that we can actually bring the kingdom of heaven to earth by how we live? Did you know that? That you can actually experience, as a New Testament believer, the power and the person and the presence of God by how you live. When you live upright and you live righteous and you live holy, it is as if the kingdom of heaven has come to earth.
You see…don’t miss this. When Jesus said in the Lord’s Prayer to pray this way, Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.” We pray that prayer thinking that Jesus wants us to pray for Him to come back. And although we should pray for Jesus to come back, but it is a misunderstanding of the two phrases there. When Jesus says, Your kingdom come, Your will be done…watch this…those phrases are synonymous. You see, if you want the kingdom to come, you do God’s will and when God’s will is done, the kingdom comes. You want to bring the kingdom of heaven to your neighborhood, start obeying God. You want to bring the kingdom of heaven to your work place, start obeying God. When you start doing the will of God, the way of God then the presence and the power of God will be active in your life. And this is not a passive acceptance here, folks. This is an active affirmation. What you are saying is, Jesus, take charge of my life. Jesus break into my marriage. Jesus, break into my family. Jesus, break into my work place. Jesus, break into this church. Jesus, break into my heart. Jesus, break into my mind. You are saying, Go, Jesus, go. That is what you are saying. Is anybody going to get excited about this but me? You see what He is saying here. If you want the kingdom of God to come, you need to do the will of God. And in order to do the will of God, we need to humble ourselves enough to realize that God’s will is better than our way.
So how in the world, Robby, do we see the will of God in our lives? I think when we abide in Christ, it requires humility. The sages of Israel always said that if you take a glass of water and you spill it, water…watch this…will always find the lowest point to reside or dwell. It will find its way to the lowest point. And the sages of Israel said that is how the Holy Spirit is. The Spirit is like water. The Spirit of God will find a resting place in the lowest point.
You see, God is not interested in those who are high and haughty and prideful. The Spirit of God dwells or abides or remains in that person who is lowly and humble. That is how God works. The High and Holy God of Israel finds a resting place in the hearts of the humble.
So let me ask you today, would you humble yourself before the Lord? Would you make time for God? You know, maybe the reason you are not seeing the power and the presence of God in your life is because you are just too busy. Friends, either you manage the schedule or the schedule manages you, right? And I am speaking to the choir here. I am speaking to myself.
So maybe you need to look at your life and say, maybe there are some things I need to add to the life or maybe there are some things I need to take from my life in order to make time for God. Maybe you are looking at your life and you are saying, maybe I need to go to bed early in order to wake up earlier to spend time with God. Would you put some time in your schedule for God so that you could abide in Him? I think it would make all the difference in the world.