Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sermon 1/8/2012 "The Power of the Word" (Part 3)

Listen to the sermon here.

Read part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.


At about the 18:20 mark, this statement is made, "...our obedience is actually evidence that we really do love God."


Of course, he then goes on to focus on our obedience and how we need to concentrate on it. He quotes four verses from the 14th chapter of John, and in every one of them he focuses on the obedience. But there is another element in each of those verses that is neglected. That element is love.

Let's take a look at the word "evidence" for a moment. Webster's defines evidence as "an outward sign, something that furnishes proof." Our obedience is what proves that we love God, not what causes or creates it!

Let me share a personal illustration. In 2002, my mother was killed by an off-duty Lake County sheriff's deputy. He was in his patrol car on his way to work, and was travelling approximately 70 m.p.h. in a 20 m.p.h. school zone, as school was getting ready to dismiss. The normal posted speed limit is 35 m.p.h., but he was running late, no sirens and no lights. Mom made a left hand turn into her neighborhood just as he came over a crest in the road. He panicked and lost control of his vehicle, smashing into the passenger side of her vehicle even though she had already made it through the intersection and should have been out of harms way. He nearly tore her vehicle in half. Later, state police at the scene determined that mom was 100% at fault, and the offending officer was not even issued a speeding ticket. But I am not going to talk about the evidence against him, the smashed car or the 50+ foot long skid marks he left. I want to talk about the evidence against me. Because according to the evidence against me, I should have a deep and abiding love for police officers. Why? Because I know and obey the law. Every time I stop at a stop sign or a red light, or go the speed limit, or don't shoplift or murder, I fall a little bit more in love with the police. Sounds silly, doesn't it? That is because we know that the effect (following the law) does not drive the cause. In fact, every time I see a police cruiser I immediately have two reactions: 1. Am I doing anything wrong, and 2. How unfair it is that they can get away with things that I am held accountable for. That is not love.

Evidence is the result or effect of an action, not the cause of it! If I want to have a better body (evidence), then I must exercise and eat right (cause). If you go to the doctor, he doesn't show you pictures of people in perfect health and say, "Look at this, focus on this, dress better, take more pride in your appearance and you will live longer." No, he focuses on the cause. He tells you to eat better and exercise. So he gives you things you should do, but you do them because you love yourself and want a longer, healthier life. So why is it we focus so much on the effect rather than the cause or cure? Why are we focused on obedience, but not connecting it to the cause of our obedience, love for Jesus. Let's look at the verses quoted:
  • John 14:15  "If you love me (cause), you will keep my commandments (effect)."
  • John 14:21 "Whoever had my commandments and keeps them (effect), he it is who loves me (cause)."
  • John 14:23 Jesus answered him, "If anyone loves me (cause), he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him (effect)."
  • John 14:24 "Whoever does not love me (cause) does not keep my words (effect)."
So later, when the pastor tells us that we must make the "necessary life changes, whatever they may be," (19:25) he is only focusing on the effect, and ignoring the cause. The effect never drives the cause, the cause always drives the effect. Jesus is not saying "obey me" in these verses, He is saying "love me!" We don't unleash God's power through mere obedience, nor do we limit it through disobedience. He does not work his power in us "when we decide to obey." Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."

That is the Gospel. The work is done, Christ has accomplished it all for us, we no longer have to strive for a certain level of behavior. There is peace, there is freedom. And it is when I truly grasp the Gospel (cause), then I am transformed (effect), then my life can be changed (effect). Then I will keep his commands because I love Him, not because I am striving to impress Him.

Get it right, PLEASE!

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