Here’s a beautiful and fascinating article on the simplicity of the Commandments of Jesus. It gently confronts the anti-Grace movement’s idea that ‘Grace is a licence to sin’ and explains why the precise opposite is actually true.
The article is beautiful because it is written so well, from such a point of grace, and with such a lovely flow about it. It’s easy to read and to understand. It’s fascinating because it draws on the tension between the earlier, ‘Synoptic’ Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) and the later Gospel of John – and John’s letters (1 John, 2 John and 3 John). In particular, the later point of view of Grace as opposed to Law. I had never seen this tension before and it is most illuminating. Certainly in the early Church, the concept of free Grace took a while to become accepted; the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 illustrates this very well. It took a couple of decades for the Jewish believers to realise that they were set free from the old demands of the Law of Moses and liberated into a new way of relating to God; the way of Grace. For believers from outside the Jewish faith, it might have been a little easier as they were not generally bound by the Jewish Law system, although they may well have had their own religious ways to be weaned from. That’s what the book of Galatians is all about 🙂
But that’s all just waffle. Best read the article proper:
The Commandments of Jesus
The Apostle John was the only writer in the NT that articulates “The Commandments of Jesus.” He was also the only author among the first 4 that did not record “The Sermon on the Mount”. I believe one reason may be because John’s writings were written last. John seems to have written immediately before 70 AD, possibly after Paul’s death and definitely a decade or more after Matthew and Mark. Matthew wrote his account after only about 2 decades of meeting Jesus. John wrote his almost 40 years after he began to walk with the Lord!
How much does a person grow in the Lord after an additional 20 years of relationship? *(Some scholars argue that John’s letters were written 60 years or more after Jesus!)
Maybe John more clearly articulated the New Covenant because the time of the Old being completely removed had arrived (Hebrews 8:13-9:10 & 2 Cor.3:7-11) and the New Covenant ideals needed to me decisively declared. Maybe John understood sonship better. John clearly had a profound revelation of what it meant to be loved by the Lord because he frequently referred to himself as “The Disciple whom Jesus loved.”
Does that mean Jesus loved John more than the others or that John received Jesus’ love more than the others? I believe it’s the latter. Consider Jesus words spoken to the faithful 11 in John 15:9 (KJV) as evidence ~ “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you (plural); abide ye (singular) in my love.”
I used the KJV in this instance because it’s the only version that distinguishes the plural “you” from the singular “ye”. Jesus stated that he loved them all as the Father had loved him. Jesus didn’t love John more than Peter, James or the rest. Jesus loved all of his disciples with the exact same love that the Father had for him.
John received Jesus’ love more.
John laid his head on the Lord’s chest.
John knew how to abide.
Is it possible that John had greater faith?
HOW MANY COMMANDMENTS?
Matthew, Mark and Luke all emphasized faith to an extant. However, none of them even came close to articulating the faith like Paul had.
Did you know that none of the first 3 (Matt,Mk and Lk) recorded Jesus ever saying anything like “Believe in me to be saved”? Isn’t that the foundation of the entire message? Yet, in all of their accounts of the life and words of Jesus; none of them thought it was important to declare the most basic aspect of the Gospel? Very interesting….
Yet, the “gospel” of John records Jesus’ 1st Commandment “Believe” almost 100 times! Compare that to less than 30 times between the first 3. Basically, John emphasizes belief 10 times more than the others. John also emphasized love over 100 times more!
John’s First Epistle detailed the New Covenant Commandments as ~ 1. Believe. 2. Love.
“And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, even as he gave us commandment.” ~ 1 John 3:23
Because even the entire Law could be summed up in “Love”. (Gal.5:14 , Matt.22:40, Rom.13:10) However, the reality is that you cannot truly love without first believing because love believes. (1 Cor.13:7) The cart cannot go before the horse.
Faith always precedes love. We cannot love others with God’s perfect love until we believe in God’s perfect love. ~ The Holy Spirit
It’s really that simple to obey the New Covenant commandments because God doesn’t want slaves who merely obeyed for the sake of obedience; like in the Old Covenant. Paul wrote in Romans about a new obedience that he called ~ “The Obedience of the Faith”.
HOW NOW SHALL WE LIVE?
This is not an excuse to disobey. It’s a true definition of Christ-like obedience.
This is not a reason to neglect the writings of Matthew and the others. It’s also not an excuse to ignore the words of Jesus in the likes of “The Sermon on the Mount”. It’s merely an explanation of how.
This is how we live a “Sermon on the Mount” (SOM) lifestyle.
We can obey the letter of the SOM without believing in God’s love. But, we cannot disobey the heart of the SOM when we believe in God’s love.
One way reduces children of God to a life of slavery. The Way inspires the children of God to a life of sons!
If God’s primary objective was obedience to a set of regulations; he would have invented robots. But God yearned for relational children, so he created us!
God doesn’t merely desire us to follow a set of rules. God desires relationship.
God wants us to stay in relationship with him through in everything!
“And we know and have believed the love which God hath in us. God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.” ~ 1 John 4:16
Interestingly, the emphasis in this verse does not seem to be on the Presence of God. The emphasis is on love because ~ “love is the Presence of God.”
It’s that simple and yet that challenging. Because Ephesians 3:16-20 announced that God’s love in infinitely beyond our understanding. It’s probably a good idea to pray along the lines of Paul ~
“that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, that ye may be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inward man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; to the end that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be strong to apprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge, that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God.”
Profound. It seems that Paul was saying something like ~Believing and growing in the love of God increases the amount of God that we experience in life. God is infinite and so is love. Keep growing in faith and in love. The deeper you go into love, the more Christ fills your heart.