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October 1, 2021 7:00 pm
Dr. Greg Stiekes finishes a Seminary Chapel series entitled “Abiding in Christ,” which is a series studying John 15. His message is titled “From Slaves to Friends Through Abiding in Christ,” from John 15:14-15.
The post 1090. From Slaves to Friends Through Abiding in Christ appeared first on THE DAILY PLATFORM.
Welcome to The Daily Platform from Bob Jones University in Greenville South Carolina today on The Daily Platform work, including a study series from seminary chapel called abiding in Christ. A study from John 15 today speaker is seminary professor, Dr. Greg strikes the title of his message is from slaves to friends by abiding in Christ. The text that I've been asked to preach as John 1514 to 15, but I'd like to get a little bit of a running start and look at verses 12 through 15. As we began here in chapter 15 verses 12 to 15 Jesus says to his disciples. This is my commandments that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you.
Henceforth I call you not servants for the servant no is not what his Lord do with but I've called you friends for all things that I have heard of my father I have made known unto you as we reflected on this passage in John 15 throughout our chapel series this semester, we see that Jesus is having a very close conversation with 11 men who have eaten with him and lived with him and followed with him and ministered with him. In chapter 14, Jesus tells them he's going away and their confused and frightened, but in this chapter, Jesus explains how they can remain a part of him even though he is not with them in the same way, using the analogy of the fine and the branch Jesus explains how they can abide in him and he in them so that the life of fellowship and and the life of love from Jesus will flow through them and remain with them and in these verses that were coming to this morning Jesus comforts these men by telling them something profound. He tells them that he is going to fundamentally change the quality of the relationship that he shares with them. Henceforth he says I call you no longer servants but I have called you friends now. I don't know what passes through your minds when you hear the word friend when I hear the word friend. It does not strike in me this heavy sense of depth and meaning any if Jesus were to say I I'm calling you brothers and sisters like he does in Matthew 12 and Mark three that would sound significant or if Jesus were to speak in terms of his people as his bride like he does in the parable of the 10 virgins that indicate something a little more intimate, but the word friend in my American ears seems sort of commonplace in fact it's a word that we can often trivialize and we have trivialized it, especially recently, through social media.
I want to be the bearer of bad news but those 500 friends on your Facebook account. Most of them are not really your close friends.
They're not friends in in the deep sense of the word that Jesus is talking about here.
In fact the technology that we use to build these kinds of relationships sometimes keeps us from forming meaningful relation, Sherry Terkel teaches social psychology at MIT. She's written a few books on the subject of how devices are changing the way we view relationships. This one is called alone together why we expect more from our technology and less from each other. Terkel says were getting very good at being alone to gather we come together as friends or for formal or informal conversation and we remain tied to our devices as preachers and teachers. Many of you will be you need to keep in mind that in these days when you're speaking to an audience there usually fact checking you as your your speaking if they're tuned in. She says we want to be together but at the same time you want to be somewhere else.
So we go in and out we mean autonomy over where we want to be and who we want to be with. She says we hide from one another and we get what she means. Every technology makes communication convenient, but also puts distance between us that separates us used to be that if you wanted to have a difficult conversation with someone, you are tempted not to have a face-to-face conversation, you would just write them a letter or note or you would pick up the phone and call anything to put psychological distance between yourself and the other person some sort of holding the conversation at arms length because your motor found the vulnerable in person, you can make mistakes in the conversation and have to go back you can emote your bad your body language and give yourself away with the invention of email and then texting and Instagram whatever my kids are using now it is up abstract the distance between ourselves has become normalized all of our correspondence can be written and you never have to see anyone work stairs as faculty in the offices sending emails to each other but were only a few walls away. In fact, full disclosure, I've actually texted my children while I'm sitting in the house and there in the house. Also, because I don't want to raise my voice or get off the couch, you know, so I use my iPhone like a walkie-talkie. You know like a take a summit come down here for me couple coffee you know so so if there's convenience. There, but it's changing the way we relate to one another because were keeping one another at a distance and when it comes to texting. Terkel says were connecting in little sips rather than drinking in an actual conversation and this may work for little bits of information, but it doesn't really work for knowing one another. Sherry Terkel says we sacrifice meaningful conversation from your connection and this allows us to create an image of ourselves that we want the other person to know so they never have to really know the real costs, but that does nothing to build lasting and meaningful relationships to build quality friendships. You need vulnerability and the knowledge of one another comes from face-to-face interaction from actually spending time together. Terkel says this phenomenon has changed the way we relate to one another. She says we can't get enough of each other as long as we have each other at a distance that you and in amounts that we can control. She says we have created the illusion of companionship without the demands of friendship now. Why do I bring all this up because I am on a personal vendetta against social media and so I'm stealing the chapel platform you know to get on my soapbox. No, no, my mother-in-law is again social media. We all got together for Easter dinner. A couple Sundays ago right and course. My brother-in-law and all the aunts and uncles are there and my children and their cousins and she put the basket on the table and she orders everybody's iPhone in the basket when they come through the door and nobody is allowed to have it you you're always a kid when you go back your parents house. By the way, okay, you never stop being that and Doug and I had to hide my hypo I met my iPhone my pocket written I left in the car. It was really annoying as I had written go to the bathroom in order to check my email but saw it really the reason I raise the issue of social media is this if Jesus is going to define our new relationship with him in terms of friendship. How are we going to understand him. We no longer really connect with one another in the way he's talking about when Jesus says you are my friends, he means more than a promise to like us on Facebook and if we can understand the implications of the relationship that Jesus is talking about. Then it opens for us the idea of a wonderful relationship with the Lord of glory, that really we can scarcely believe possible. We really understand in this text we see two wonderful aspects of friendship with Jesus Christ, we see the quality of his friendship and that's I think the focus of verse 14 and we see the privilege of his friendship. In verse 15 Jesus says in verse 14, you are my friends. What does being friends with Jesus look like will helps us remember the word friends here is from the Greek verb for Leo which means to love a friend is someone you loved how much do you love a friend. Well look at verse 13 and noticed the level of love that Jesus has in mind. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends hold on a minute, Jesus saying that laying down your life, your life or your friends is the most extreme expression of love.
The most extreme instruction of love would be laying down your life your enemies in fact, that's exactly what Paul says in Romans chapter 5 that God demonstrates his love for us supremely in the fact that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us in Romans 510, he died to reconcile us to himself while we were his enemy would Jesus is saying here is that there is no greater expression of love for a friend.
The kind of asked friendship. He's talking about the delay one's life down for that friend. And that's exactly what Jesus is about to do and after Jesus makes this observation about loving a friend so much you're willing to die for that friend.
He looks at them.
He says you are my friend in the Roman world. The term friend was an expression of loyalty and intimacy and sharing that set your friends apart from everyone else before you were friends with this person.
There was only surface conversation.
There was only partial knowledge of who you really are what you think what you've done what you dream about what you've seen what your hopes are.
But when you became friends.
The kind of friend that Jesus is talking about. You divulged everything about yourself you shared your deepest feelings. Your deepest longings with your friend because you trusted that friend with your life you enjoyed being in their company. You felt at home with them. You felt at peace because there was no judgments, no rancor, no competition, nothing but pure love. Today, it is often said, I've heard that in a counsel that husbands and wives should at least share this kind of relationship. And that's great advice, but in the Roman world, even marriage was not necessarily thought of in those terms. There may still have been some level of distance maintain between a husband and a wife but a true friend knew everything about and would die for you.
Do you realize this morning that this is the relationship that Jesus desires to share with everyone about him you realize that this is where abiding in Christ that we been talking about the ruckus Mr. this is where it takes us. We have to notice however that Jesus qualifies this friendship. Further, and he does it in the way that we do not normally expect of friends I've only read a truncated version of verse 14. The whole verse reads, you are my friends if you do whatsoever I command you now doesn't that sound a little odd you ever say to somebody, I'll be your best friend be happy to every thing I tell you to do what does Jesus mean by this well to understand what Jesus is saying when he says that his friends do what he commands.
I think we have to take a peek at verse 15 in verse 15 Jesus makes the contrast between being his friend and being his slave. Look at verse 15. Henceforth I call you not servants that slaves do Lloyd and before I go any further, we need to make sure we understand the word slave is not a dirty word necessarily and that time. Almost half the population of the first century were slaves.
They were duly the word slave merely meant that your time and skills were owned by someone else.
Whether you did grunt labor or farm labor, or if you had a or about what we call a professional skill today like a doctor or scribe.
Slavery was their economy, and Paul addresses the Greco-Roman household and in Ephesians, Colossians, he addresses three pairs of relationship husbands the wife children to parents and slaves to slaveowners any of the safe slaveowners free all your slaves, he says, be kind to them because that's the economy that their functioning in effect for many people. Slavery was their best option for survival and slaves were known to love their families and swear allegiance to them for life, but a slave was not a friend and Jesus is clearly elevating the status of his relationship with the disciples by saying no longer do I call you slaves. I have called you friends. Some commentators say that Jesus never really causes Doug will slaves to begin with. Well, he may not have called his disciples slaves directly, but he certainly implies it many times. For example, Jesus uses many parables in which those who follow him are slaves like the parable. The ends Matthew chapter 24 were the king who put his slaves in charge of his household is in there, waiting for his coming. And Jesus implies that his followers are slaves in many of his sayings. A disciple is not above his teacher, nor slave above his master. One of the clearest examples of Jesus's insinuation that his followers are slaves takes place in the context of this very same conversation were reading about in John 15 earlier in the evening so we go back to John 13 Jesus washes the feet of his disciples he styles himself like a slave. He takes off his outer garment. He put the towel around and he bends down, he begins to wash the disciples feet and remember what happens. Jesus finishes and he puts his outer garment back on. He says now you know what I've done and you you call me teacher and Lord master and your rights because I can and if I am your Lord and I can wash your feet. Surely you can wash one another's feet.
Why, because he continues the slave is not greater than his master.
The slave is not greater than his master. Is he really insinuating that they are slaves. I think he is. Look at John 15, the chapter you're already in and looked all the way down to verse 20. Look at what Jesus says. Remember the word that I said unto you, a servant is not greater than his master keys talking about what he said back in chapter 13 if they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you see me saying here. He's drawing the same parallel. He still saying it and notice if Jesus is insinuating that they are slaves, he is still calling them slaves even after he says he's not in a column. Slaves anymore and what is more, all the followers of Christ to read the New Testament epistles you know this reef they they all refer to themselves as slaves of Christ. Paul James Jude Peter and John. John, the only writing where he clearly identifies himself as the author calls himself a slave of Christ, and John Peter themselves there in on this conversation in John 15 they hear Jesus say and I can call you slaves anymore and they still call themselves slaves of Christ. What is going on here. I think the answer lies in this Jesus isn't saying they are no longer his slaves are his servants and he is still the Lord. We are still his creation. What Jesus means is that we are no longer merely slaves. We are slaves who are also close friends and this explains why Jesus says we are his friends.
If we do what he commands us.
He's not saying I'll be your friend. As long as you don't disobey me. Rather, he saying the way you identify yourself as my friend is through your obedience. We do not take Jesus as our friends and then decide to respect and honor and obey him. We come to him as a slave before a great king, and Jesus raises us up and makes us his friend as well. In fact, in a different context. Paul even says that he raises us up together and makes us sit together with him in heavenly places C. Jesus teaches, especially in John's Gospel that there is a strong connection between love and commandments.
He says in John 1415 if you love me, keep my commandments. John 1510 if you keep my commandments you shall abide in my love. John 1514 you are my friends, the one I love.
If you do whatever I command you. If we truly love Jesus, we know that he wants us to do things and say things and things in a certain way, a way that pleases the father and if were really his friends why do we not yearned to obey him. This connection of obeying him and loving him go hand in hand you cannot abide in the buying as a friend.
Unless you are obeying the vine as a Lord Andrew Murray in the little book that we were given so graciously to begin the semester is a wonderful little book have hope you've had time to read some of it. He says the that one proof of proof of our faith in his love. The one way to abide in it. The one Mark of the two branches is to do the things that he commands us being a friend of Jesus is unique and precious relationship of love and obedience service, and compassionate. He is our Lord, but he is also our closest friends and what does being Jesus closest friends implies, implies a special privilege and so the privilege of friendship with Christ. Henceforth verse 15 I call you not servants for the servant know. If not, what is Lord do it, but I have called you friends for all things that I have heard of my father I have made known unto you. I want you to notice that the privilege of friendship with Jesus that he speaks of twice in this verse in two different ways.
He's framing this privilege in terms of knowledge we could take time to dissect this were not this morning. I went just notice. Overall, the he's framing this privilege in terms of knowledge the slave doesn't know what his master is doing. I mean, a slave can serve faithfully and be hard-working and be a vital part of the household of the kingdom or the business we get that way sometimes a church ministry.
We we have others we fellowship in our churches that that that are that way you look at them and they seem like a perfect Christian there always.
They are there always modeling service there there serving really faithfully they work really hard but a friend and cultivating that relationship with Christ as a friend is something more.
A slave is not taken into confidence in the planning meetings he doesn't have to understand the overall direction. He has a job to do. He has a part in the ultimate plan of the master but he doesn't have to see the big picture. A friend on the other hand has intimate knowledge of the plan. All that I have heard from my father I have made known to you, Jesus, on the one hand I think is anticipating something you can tell them chapter 16 they will send his Holy Spirit will guide them at all. Truth I think is a special application there for the disciples and maybe a general application. There for us as well. But there is an application of this friendship here for all of Jesus disciples including you and me and is this.
We are not merely cogs in the machine. The cog is right I hear cog in the wheel as if it's a bad thing always. I think we got up we got an illusion mixed up somewhere in our in our English language but a cog is supposed to be a good fit.
A cog is a Geertz like Lewis in a wheels that has a point sticking out and it transfers energy from this card to that cog in some machines and a lot of cog a lot of little parts.
Nobody really pays attention to them as one breaks down an old machine stop because of one cog, but most of the time. Cogs never get notice their given little thought just one of little many little parts in a big machine. The importance is given to the machine into its function into its usefulness, but the Lord brings us into the plan.
He tells us what he is doing it. It's like in the Old Testament were says that Abraham was the friend of God. In Genesis 18 God says I will not hide from Abraham what I'm about to do.
Paul says in Ephesians 1 that Jesus is guiding the universe in such a way as to bring the whole plan to completion to bring all of the broken and shattered parts of the universe into a unified whole and then Paul says in Ephesians 2 that you and I is his servants are part of this plan. He saves us in Ephesians 210 says that we are his workmanship. We are created for good works, he knows us he chose us.
He called us we belong to him and the fact that you and I know this means that we have been brought into the plan.
I know what the future is the Lord is not hiding anything for me because he's revealing everything but the father has given to him to reveal we can know his plan for the world and we can know his plan for our life.
Some 2514 in the ESV says the friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, got love and command there again and he makes known to them. His covenants one translation says that the Lord, the, the, the Lord. Those are with the Lord. He confides in them. He says in Psalm 2514. Now compare that to others in the world who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. You know, many of them. Hopefully think about their worldview when they think about the world they live in.
Where do they think we came from, where do they think we are going what they think is happening in the afterlife of the if they believe in an afterlife.
Don't we often say wow I am so glad I know the Lord as I'm going to this trial. I don't know how anybody who doesn't know Christ can go through a trial like this in a survivors.
Do we realize that being assured of the love of God and the presence of God and the knowledge of God. I know how it is for you, but it's very comforting to know comforting to me to know God, no, he knows what's going on in and he cares. He cares deeply. Do you realize that this is a privileged relationship. Do you know why you have this knowledge because Jesus is our friend. He has given us his word. We are living by his promises. Others can read this Bible and see these words but only those who know the Savior as friends really embrace and live by these promises because we have the witness we alone have the witness of the Spirit who is been poured out upon Jesus friends so this morning we must realize the special relationship that Jesus has raised us to and realizing this relationship, it should strike us that we must spend time abiding in him with this friend.
If working to know the fellowship of this friend if he's going to communicate his word to us that the father wants us to know that his wife I think every time there's been a chapel sermon on John 15, the semester I guess we should have anticipated that there's been an urgency of have to up the height. None of this happens by itself. We have to abide in the vine, and we must be loyal to our friend with obedience because he is also arcane our technology is squeezing out of us the capacity for real intimacy with people. But if our spiritual walk with Christ is going to survive this culture, we have to dilute in some senses rebel against the culture we have to discipline ourselves to unplug to put down to literally isolate ourselves with God with our Lord with our friend every day.
You cannot build a quality friendship with a person through little blips of information in an iPhone nor can you build a quality relationship with Christ with little snatches and bits of the communication either. That's not what abiding looks like. So I think this passage is a wonderful passage because it encourages us to understand the quality of our relationship with Christ. He's our friend and it encourages us to understand the privilege of that relationship and encourages us to commit ourselves to truly walking with the Lord, our friend focusing upon him in developing a deeper relationship with him as our Lord and as our closest friend father were so thankful for the words of Jesus Christ. In this passage father. It's one thing to take a parts into exegetes and even proclaim to reflect to understand the father. Obedience is a whole different issue and I pray for us as faculty and for us as students father I pray that in this area. What James says in his first chapter would be so two of us that we would not be merely hearers of the word, but that would be doers of the word whatever that means for us. Whatever has to change in our lives to make that happen I prayed it would be so father you said to your disciples earlier this text you are clean through the word which I've spoken and you father I pray that these words would be spoken to us in a fresh way.
As we continue to reflect upon them, endeavoring to abide in our Lord as our friend even as you taught us in by the thank you so much for the love of Jesus Christ.
Maybe learn to reciprocate that love in a way that is worthy of him will you be the praise word in Christ you been listening to a message preached in seminary travel by Dr. Greg strikes in this concludes the short series from John 15. Join us again next week for more chapel messages from the Bob Jones University travel platform