VIDEO Traits of a True Believer, Part 2

By John MacArthur Feb 8, 2015

John 13:31-38. Just to set the scene, we know where we are, those of us who have been here, going through the gospel of John.  As we come to chapter 13, you remember we are in the Passion Week, the week our Lord died and rose again.  Come into John 13 and running all the way through John 16, we hear the promises of the Savior given to His disciples and all who would believe after them, including us, the legacy of Christ to His own.  These are the great, glorious promises of all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, delineated and laid out for the disciples and for all of us.  They all come out of His love.

Verse 1 starts by saying, “Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the,” max, to the limit, to the capacity that only God has, so that all of the promises and blessings in chapter 13, 14, 15, and 16 are promises of His love.  They are pledges of His love, His legacy of His love.  All of this instruction, all of this promise came on Thursday night as He gathered in the Upper Room for the Passover, which He transformed into the Lord’s Supper, and then the next day, of course, He was crucified as the Lamb of God.  So this is His last time with His own as He pours out His love to them.

As the event that night began, Judas was there.  Judas was there.  As we come to verse 31, he is gone.  Our Lord had already said to him back in verse 27, when Satan entered him, the Lord knew Satan had entered into him to do the dastardly deed of betraying Jesus.  Therefore, Jesus said to him, “What you do, do quickly,” and that was the initial event that inaugurated the sequence of things that would lead to the execution of Jesus, the next day at exactly the time that the Passover lambs were being slaughtered. 

Verse 30 says, “Judas then went out immediately and it was night.”  Was it ever?  It was night in the physical sense.  It was night in the spiritual sense, and it would be night in eternal sense because he would hang himself and be dashed on the rocks in just a few hours.  Judas is gone now.  Judas is gone.  The false disciple is gone, and Jesus starting in verse 31, turns to the true disciples and embraces all who would follow right down to this age until He comes and makes these incredible promises. 

It all starts in verse 31 and we’ll read that wonderful text to the end of the chapter.  “Therefore, when Judas had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now, is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.  Little children, I’m with you a little while longer.  You will seek Me and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”  A new commandment I give to you that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’”

“Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’  Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.’  Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now?  I will lay down my life for You.’  Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me?  Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.’”

As we look at this text, I want to draw out of this text the marks of a faithful disciple, the marks of a faithful disciple.  Scripture is clear that the world is full of false Christians, false Christians.  We are to expect that.  We know that Satan is going to sow tares among the wheat.  It’s going to be hard to recognize them because they will be well-falsified.  The kingdom of God is going to have all kinds of things contained in it as the parables of Matthew 13 tell us.  “Many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and I will say to them, ‘Depart from Me, I never knew you.’”  People who profess openly Jesus as their Lord and do many wonderful works in His name and so forth, have no relationship with Him.

Counterfeiting Christians, by the way, is Satan’s primary strategy as an angel of light.  He is disguised as an angel of light.  His ministers are disguised as angels of light.  They want to appear as representing heaven, but they are the minions of hell.  Counterfeiting Christianity is a very important enterprise.  It always strikes me as interesting as there are not a lot of false forms of false religions.  False religions don’t need to falsify themselves.  Satan doesn’t work on creating false forms of false religions.  So you don’t have a lot of heretical Muslims or heretical Buddhists or heretical Hindus or any other kind of religion.  It’s already heretical to start with.  It’s already a lie.  It’s already false.  It’s already a deception, so it doesn’t need to be formed into something that is a misrepresentation.

But Christianity, we can’t even keep up with all of the false forms of Christianity.  We can barely recognize all of them, and every time we turn around, there’s a new form because Satan is spending 99.9 percent of his time falsifying Christianity.  You hear this kinds of discussion all the time.  You even heard it from our president, “Well, there were Christians a thousand years ago who slaughtered Muslims.”  Those weren’t Christians, by the way, those were false Christians who belonged to a false Christian system, but that’s the kind of strategy that goes on all of the time surrounding Christianity because the falsification of the truth is essential to the operation of Satan. 

I always like to say if you see a false form of something, there’s probably a true and the true probably has value because people don’t counterfeit brown paper and sticks.  They counterfeit something valuable.  They counterfeit something valuable, and Christianity seems to be the most counterfeited of all things.  So how do we know who the true Christians are?  How do we know that?  Who are the true followers of Christ?  How can they be identified?  How can I be identified not only to you, but to me?  How do you know you’re a true believer? 

Well, it isn’t by our profession.  It isn’t by the fact that we belong to some kind of religious organization that calls itself Christian.  It isn’t because we live a certain Judeo-Christian or even Christian ethic or morality.  It’s not outward.  It’s not about outward symbols or outward behaviors or outward professions.  The way you know someone is a Christian is by the heart, the heart.  This begins to be very clear in the Old Testament in the 36th chapter of Ezekiel.  Very familiar chapter, and I want to just read these familiar words to you to set it in your mind, where the Lord describes what salvation is, and this is it.

“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols.  Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.  I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”

There is the definition of regeneration.  There is the definition of transformation, metamorphosis, new birth, being born again, conversion.  It is to be cleansed from filthiness and false worship.  It is to be given a new heart, a new spirit; and that new heart and new spirit is the home of the Holy Spirit who causes us to walk according to the statues of God and to obey His ordinances.  It’s the heart that is the issue here.  In John chapter 3, you remember Jesus talked to Nicodemus and He said eternal life and entrance into the kingdom comes to those who are, “Born from above.”  It is a spiritual transformation, a spiritual birth that is internal.  It is a work of God.  The Holy Spirit moves and does this to whom He will when He will, John 3.

Paul said it this way, “If any man be in Christ, he is a new – ” what? “ – new creation.  Old things have passed away.  New things have come.”  Paul writing to Titus in chapter 3 calls it, “The washing of regeneration, the washing of regeneration.”  And that’s right out of Ezekiel 36.  It is a washing from sin.  It is a cleansing from filthiness and idols, and it is a new life implanted and Peter understood it and said this in 1 Peter 1:3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again.” And over in verse 23, “You have been born again,” or born from above, “not of seed, which is perishable, but imperishable through the living and enduring Word of God.”  By the truth in the gospel, by the work of the Holy Spirit we are literally transformed on the inside, on the inside. 

The New Testament speaks of this many, many times.  For example, the New Testament refers to this transformation as God, “Cleansing their hearts by faith,” Acts 15:9.  Romans 2:29, it is called the, “Circumcision of the heart,” cleansing, purifying the heart.  Second Corinthians 4:6, it is, “God shining the light of the glory of the gospel in Christ into the darkened heart.”  Second Timothy 2:22, “It is being given a pure heart.”  Hebrews 10:22, “Having your hearts sprinkled clean.”  It’s always about the heart, and what is the heart?  The heart is the inner person. 

This is what identifies Christians; not structure, not symbols, not rituals, not ceremonies, not belonging to institutional forms of Christianity.  It’s about regeneration, conversion, new birth, being born from above, a spiritual supernatural miracle that changes you on the inside, and that becomes demonstrably clear on the outside.  A true and supernatural work of God that produces a complete change, a new creation, a new disposition, new desires, new affections, new longings, new hopes, new priorities.  Now, out of this new life come all the spiritual graces: love, joy, peace, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control.  Out of this new life come all of the spiritual glories that are deposited in us, but at the most basic level, at the most basic level, the evidence of this transformation can be summed up in one word, and it is the four-letter word, love.  Love.  That is the foundation of it all.  It is love that demonstrates a new heart.  It is love that demonstrates a new heart.  Love can do what the law could not do. 

Paul in Romans 13 reiterates again that the law condemns, but love is the fulfilling of the law.  We are described as those who love the Lord.  “All things work together for good to those who love God.”  There’s a God-ward direction of this love, but it’s not limited to that.  There’s a man-ward direction of this love, as we’ve been saying; and there’s even a personal aspect of this love.  Again, false disciples are sometimes difficult to detect because they have maybe a visible morality.  They have some knowledge, and they talk about biblical facts and have biblical information.  They have attachment or involvement in some forms of Christianity, but what we’re looking for in identifying a true believer is love, manifest love, because that is the evidence of a transformed heart. 

Without that love, there’s clearly no transformation.  It’s that simple.  Listen to 1 John 4:13, “By this we know that we abide in Him.”  How do we know that?  “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”  How do we know God abides in us?  If we love, if we love.  Now, that love in our text goes in three directions.  It goes toward our Lord.  It goes toward others, and it has a personal component.  Now, remember, all the promises of John 13 to 16 and even the prayer of John 17 is just loaded with love.  In fact, the word “love” is repeated again and again and again through all these chapters.  All of the promises of the Lord flow from His love to us and produce in us love in return.  He sheds His love abroad in our hearts, Romans 5:5, and we are known by our love. 

The Lord gives us a legacy of love.  He gives us all the glories of His love.  These are only for those whom He loves eternally, and we love in return.  We love because what?  He first loved us.  So the genuine disciple is not only known because he has been delivered from error to truth, because he’s been delivered from darkness to light, from Satan to God, from sin to righteousness.  But the true believer is known because he’s been delivered from hatred to love.  You say, “Wait a minute.  What do you mean hatred?  You mean non-believers hate?”  Yes, yes they do to one degree or another.  They resent deeply.  What do they resent?  They resent God.  They resent Christ.  They resent the gospel.  They resent the Bible. 

Jesus said that, John 15, in this very occasion.  Verse 18, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.  If you were of the world, the world would love its own, but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world; because of this, the world hates you.”  That’s just the way it is.  They hate.  Hate for the things of God.  Over in verse 25 He says, “They hated Me without a cause.”  There’s no reason for this hate.  This hate is bound up in fallenness.  It’s bound up in depravity.  There’s a hatred of God and a hatred of Christ and a hatred of the gospel and a hatred of Scripture. 

One of the things that happens in salvation, and it’s a dominating reality is all of the sudden, what you hated, you now love.  You love God.  You love His Word.  You love His people, and you love to be loyal to Him.  These are the dimensions of love shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit.

Now, let’s look back at these three aspects of love.  Number one, a true believer is identified by love for his Lord’s glory.  We saw that in verses 31-33, love for his Lord’s glory.  We looked at that in detail.  I’m not going to go back over that just except to say the Lord wants this arguing disciples who are debating about the fact that they want to be on the right hand and left hand and who is going to be the greatest in the kingdom.  And they’re just loaded with selfish pride and personal promotional ambition, and it’s pretty sickening, and it’s been going on for a long time.  Our Lord wants to give them a redirection so He says to them, “Now, look,” verse 31, “Now, is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.”

You’ve got to get your eyes off your own goals, your own ambition, your own desires, and you’ve got to begin to think about the glory of your Lord.  Do you understand?  I know you don’t like that I’m going.  I know this troubles you, John 14:1.  Stop letting your heart be troubled.  Verse 27, same chapter, end of the verse.  “Don’t let your heart be troubled.  Don’t be fearful,” and more conversations go on that night about, “We don’t want You to go.  Where are You going?  We don’t know where You’re going.  Why can’t we come?”

You’ve got to change your focus away from your positions in this kingdom to My glory.  It is now time for Me to be glorified.  “Now is the Son of Man glorified,” looks at the cross.  He is glorified on the cross.  That’s where He puts His glory on display.  Yes, He was glorified, of course, in His transfiguration in one way, but it wasn’t there that He said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.”  He was glorified in His baptism, but it wasn’t there that He said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.”  It is here at the cross that the Son of Man is truly glorified because He accomplishes redemption for all who will ever believe through all of human history.  This is his greatest act of glory. 

Not only that, God is glorified in the cross because God puts all of His attributes on display.  Everything from God’s love to God’s justice; everything from God’s mercy and grace to God’s righteousness; everything from His forgiveness to His wrath, it’s all there.  Further, a third thing, God will glorify Him immediately, which means you’ve got to understand not only is the cross going to glorify Me and the cross glorify the Father, but when it’s over on the other side, God will glorify Me immediately by resurrection, ascension, exaltation, glorification, coronation.  You have to let this happen.  You need to focus on My coming glory. 

“Little children,” verse 33, “I’m with you a little while longer.  You will seek Me and as I said to the Jews,” told them that earlier a couple of times.  I’m saying to you again, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”  Not now, not now, not now.  Down in verse 36 He said, “You’ll come later.”  In fact, in 14 He says, “I’m going to prepare a – ” what? “ – place for you.”  It’s temporary.  For the Jews, it’s forever.  You’ll never come where I’m going.  For them – temporary.

Don’t hold on to My humiliation.  Don’t hold on to My humiliation.  Remember when He said, “Don’t hold on to me,” in the garden to the lady who grabbed His feet?  “I must go to My Father.”  You can’t keep Me here.  It’s time for My glory.  Thirty-three years is enough.  It’s time for My glory.  I just make the point out of this, we did that last week.  You can tell a true believer because the object of his love is the glory of His Lord.  Whatever that means, whatever that cost, whatever the price you pay and we went over all that last time.  For a devoted, true follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, love demands that his Lord be glorified.  Be glorified, Lord, be glorified.  We sing it all the time, don’t we?  We say it all the time.  That’s the mark of a humble, selfless transformed, regenerated person.

Secondly, verses 34 and 35.  This love goes in the direction of others.  The new commandment, it was new.  Why was it a new commandment?  Wasn’t there a commandment to love that had been around a long time?  Absolutely.  It was way back in the Pentateuch.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.”  It’s about a strong as a command to love can get.  Sure, but why is it a new command?  I’ll tell you why it’s new.  Number one, the Jews didn’t do it.  It was new to the Jews.  They were full of animosity, bitterness, jealousy, rivalry, factions. 

Number two, the disciples didn’t exhibit it.  They were arguing about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom, wrangling among each other.  Number three, the Lord had just set a new example that demonstrated a kind of love that had never been demonstrated before and would add to that at the cross, “And greater love hath no man than that.” 

Fourthly, they would have a new capacity to love in a new way because the Holy Spirit would come and shed that love abroad in their hearts.  For all those reasons, this is new.  So He says, “I’m giving you what is essentially a new commandment that you love one another as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this, all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”  You want to demonstrate that you are a truly regenerated, born-again, redeemed soul, then your love will make that testimony clear.  Your love will do it, your love.  That’s how the world will know.  We talk about a Savior.  We talk about transformation.  We talk about a new birth.  We talk about being literally given new life.  We talk about how the Lord totally transforms us.  How do we demonstrate that?  It can’t just be talk.  We demonstrate it in our love to one another.

Yes, we love the lost like God does.  Yes we love our enemies, Matthew 5.  Yes, we want to do good to all men, but mostly we demonstrate the power of gospel transformation by a kind of love the world doesn’t know anything about, okay?  We take love to another level.  Now, that’s kind of where we ended last time.  So let me pick up on that.  I said that only the humble love.  Only humble people love.  Only broken people love.  Only beatitude people love.  The world is full of hate.  Unregenerate people are full of selfishness, self-centeredness, and that leads to hate, animosity, anger, vengeance and violence.  But for believers, we are marked by love.  We are marked by love because we have been humbled.

God only give grace, James says, to the humble, right?  Only to the humble.  God gives grace to the humble.  The proud, God rejects.  What are we talking about?  The humble are the meek.  The humble are the hungry and thirsty, the beatitudes; those who know they are spiritually bankrupt, who recognize their sin, who confess their sin, repent of their sin, cry out to God for merciful salvation they don’t deserve.  That’s as humble as you’re going to get.  When you literally will go to whatever extreme to get the salvation you know you can’t attain or achieve, where if need be, you hate your father, your mother, and even your own life.  Where you count the cost, and no cost is too high.  Where you come broken before God and you say, “I’m hell-bound.  I’m sin-bound.  I’m hopeless.  I have no hope.  I have no way out of this.  I have nothing to offer. I can’t achieve anything.  Lord, I cast myself on your mercy.  Forgive me.” 

That’s as humble as any soul will ever be, and that’s what it means to come to the foot of the cross and cry out for grace.  Now, once you enter the family of God, you’ve been humbled.  A true believer has been humbled and Paul says in Philippians 2:1-4, you might turn to it, “If there is any consolation of love,” if there is such a thing as a comforting love, “if there is real fellowship of the Spirit, if there is affection and compassion,” if there is to be a, “maintaining of the same love united in Spirit, intent on one purpose.”  In other words, if there’s going to be love, if love is really going to be present, here’s how it works.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind, regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

In fact, “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a salve, being made in the likeness of men.  Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

You can’t humble yourself more than Christ did.  Only the humble love, and the humbler you are, the more you love.  The prouder you are, the less you love.  Now, we read the classic definition of this love in 1 Corinthians 13.  I want to go back to it, but I want to remind you there’s one line in 1 Corinthians 13.  It’s this: “Love seeks not its own.”  Philippians 2:4 says, “Look not unto your own things, but the things of others.  Do nothing from selfish ambition.”  Well, 1 Corinthians says, “Love does not seek its own.” 

It is humble.  It is selfless.  It is indifferent to personal gain, personal satisfaction, personal fulfillment, personal ambition.  It is devoted to the well-being of the one loved, to the blessing, the good, the joy of the object of its love.  High price attitude, by the way.  Loving is expensive.  It’s expensive.  I’m going to try to help you to see it in practical terms.  I’ll give you three points for sure.

One, we have to love enough to serve.  We have to love enough to serve.  We saw that in John 13 when Jesus washed the disciples’ feet, remember?  That’s how the chapter opened.  They were all arguing about which of them was going to be the greatest in the kingdom.  None of them was going to take the lowliest role of a slave and wash the feet of the others; therefore, putting himself in a lowly position.  That wasn’t the desire of anybody.  So since nobody did that, and their feet were all dirty from the dusty roads, our Lord did it, washed their feet.  We went through that in great detail.  It’s a moving, amazing account of loving enough to serve, loving enough to stoop and serve at the most menial level in life, the most menial level, dirty feet.  We love enough to do the base task, the simple humiliating task because we’re concerned only about the well-being of the other, the benefit of the other, the blessing of the other, and demonstrating our love to the other.  So we love enough to serve, and we’ve been through that.

But secondly, and I want to develop this a little bit, we also love enough to sanctify.  We love enough to serve and we love enough to sanctify.  What does that mean?  Go to Matthew 18.  In Mathew 16 we have the first time in the New Testament where the word “church” is used, Matthew 16.  Chapter 18, we have the first time there’s instruction given to the church, down in verses 15 and following.  The church is mentioned.  “Tell it to the church,” verse 17.  So, the Lord is now talking to His people.  The church doesn’t start until the Day of Pentecost.  This is preliminary instruction for the church.  This in chapter 18 is the first instruction given to the church before the church came into existence.  This is a sub-floor, if you will.  This is footings for life in the church.  Before the foundation is laid at Pentecost, the rest of the apostles’ doctrine is established. 

What is the point of Matthew 18?  The disciples come to Jesus.  They’re arguing again about who is the greatest in the kingdom.  “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”  They all wanted to be the greatest.  “Can we sit on your right and left hand?” John and his brother asked with their mother helping them, to kind of illustrate that.  So Jesus is going to give them a lesson on life in the kingdom, okay?  So He calls a little baby to Himself.  Some think this was actually Peter’s house and one of Peter’s relatives had a little baby, but whatever.  Jesus has a little baby in His arms as an illustration.  He sets the little child before them, and then He begins to speak to them, and what He has to say is so very important.

Remember now, these are the footings for the church.  This is the first instruction given to the church.  “Unless you are converted,” verse 3, “and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom.”  That’s the humility, the lowliness, the abject recognition of having accomplished nothing, achieved nothing, produced nothing.  You come empty-handed, bankrupt into the kingdom.  You come like a child.  Children have accomplished nothing.  They have to be cared for.  They can’t even care for themselves.  They can’t achieve anything.  They don’t have any history of accomplishments.  That’s how you come in.  You come in with nothing.  You come in bankrupt.  You enter the kingdom.  “You humble yourself,” verse 4.  You humble yourself to come in the kingdom.  Then in the kingdom, you’re all the greatest, right? 

John the Baptist was the greatest man who ever lived up until this time, but everyone in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John.  Greatness is just being in the kingdom, and it’s not relative.  It’s absolute.  It’s absolute. 

Okay, now we’re in the kingdom, and we came in like children, and we’re still like children.  Now we’re taught what to do.  “Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.”  Wow.  When you open up your heart, open up your life, open yourself up to fellowship with another believer, you are receiving Christ.  Christ comes to you in that believer.  You got that?  That’s the foundation.  That’s the footings of life in the church.  Every true believer is literally Christ coming into your life.  That has a lot to do with how I think about how I’m going to treat everybody.  That’s a pervasive reality as a pastor. 

When I look out at you, I can honestly say I don’t – I’ve known a lot of people, and I guess it says in there I’ve been here 46 years.  I’ve known a lot of people.  I don’t have some kind of relative scale in my mind.  Everybody is Christ to me.  Everybody is Christ to me.  You are Christs, and when you come to me, Christ comes to me.  When I minister to you, I minister to one in whom Christ lives, for whom He died, whom He called, and with whom He will live forever in glory.  This just changes everything about human relationships for believers. 

It’s not that I’m not willing to wash your feet, I am, or do some temporal thing or help people if they’re sick or call on them and pray with them if they’re in the hospital or provide financial resources if they have physical needs or whatever the issues of life are to kind of ease the difficulties, sure.  But there’s something far beyond that kind of external assistance.  Something much more important, verse 6, and it come negatively, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble.”  Whoa, what does that mean?  Stumble into sin.  If you’re the cause of another believer stumbling into sin, listen to this, “It would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

That’s pretty extreme.  I mean I don’t know how you get more extreme than that.  You’d be better off to be drowned in a horrible drowning, dragged down to the bottom of the sea with a rock around your neck than to cause another believer to stumble into sin.  This is where we come to the point you love enough to sanctify.  We all have to be sanctifying influences, not sources of temptation.  You say, “Well, how would I cause another Christian to stumble?”  Well, you lead them into sin.  Tolerate their gossip, tempt them to do something that isn’t right.  You could do it overtly.  You could also do it covertly by being a bad example, by setting a pattern if they follow, they’ll fall into sin. 

You could do it by failing to instruct them on the righteous path.  You could do it by failing to warn them and admonish them, but I mean the objective here is that you want to live your life in such a way that nothing you do causes other people to stumble into sin.  You would be better off drowned.  Well, verse 7 says, “Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks!”  Woe to the world, damnation to the world.  I’m glad the world is in there.  We’re not going to be damned when we cause each other to stumble.  Husbands can cause wives to stumble.  Wives can cause husbands to stumble, and you can do it pretty often.  You know the button to push.  Maybe it’s, “You’re just like your mother,” or whatever it is.  I don’t know, but you know all those triggers. 

You say, “Does this mean we could be damned?  Damnation, the word “woe”?  No.  “Woe to the world.”  What is He saying?  We expect it from the world.  We expect it.  By the way, the Lord will recompense the world.  They’re not going to get away with it.  The world, and particularly today, of course, we’re very aware of it.  Our world is full of people who temp people to sin, create temptation, literally work hard creating temptation, creating lies, deception, corruption, immorality at every possible level, every imaginable level of immorality.  The world is working really hard, really hard to push a whole generation into homosexuality.  Woe to them!  They will not get away with it.  Whoever is advocating that will not get away with it.  Woe to them!  Damnation will come on those in the world who have done that. 

“It is inevitable that stumbling blocks com; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes!”  If you’re the architect of something that tempts people into sin, woe to you, my friend, woe to you!  Certainly, we don’t expect that in the church.  We don’t expect that among believers.  We are to have a sanctifying influence.  We have to counter the culture.  That’s why you’ve got to be so careful even as a pastor not to play with the culture.  And when importing elements of the culture, you wind up with not only the nose of the camel in the tent, but the whole camel. 

Take drastic action before you cause somebody to stumble, and He uses kind of a proverb.  “If your hand or your foot – ” verse 8, “ – causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away.  Better to enter into life crippled or lame than to have two hands, two feet, and be cast into eternal fire.  If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you.  Better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two yes and be cast into the fiery hell.”  Look, that’s sort of proverbial.  You better take drastic action against sin.  This is for the world, folks.  This is for the world, and this is also, of course, for us.

Then verse 10 gets even more specific, “Do not despise one of these little ones.”  So we already aren’t supposed to lead them into sin.  We aren’t supposed to be the cause of stumbling; nor are we even to despise one.  That is to think little,kataphrone, to think down, to belittle, to consider beneath us, another believer. 

That might not sound like sin.  That might not sound like causing one to stumble.  Well, it isn’t.  It’s another category.  With God, there is no respect of what?  Persons.  James says you can’t say to this poor man, “Get out of here.  Get in the back.  You smell.” And to the man with the fancy clothes and the gold ring, “Sit down here.”  You can’t do that.  You can’t show partiality.  There’s no respect of persons with God.  You can’t think little of people.

You want to be a sanctifying influence on all God’s children because Christ comes to you in them all, and you want to be a sanctifying influence.  God is so concerned about this that verse 10 says, “The angels who minister to the saints in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”  The angels are pictured in heaven looking at the face of God, metaphorically speaking and they’re watching to see if God has any concern, and they’re hovering around the presence of God to be dispatched to the aid of believers whom God is concerned about.  So when you’re tampering around in an unsanctifying way with the children of God, God is displeased and may have to send the holy angels to care for His own.  The point is, heaven has got its attention on what we do.

God is concerned about everyone.  Like a shepherd, “If he had a hundred sheep – ” verse 12, “ – and one went astray, would he not leave the ninety-nine and go find the one straying?  And when he found it he would rejoice more than over the ninety-nine.  So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones be devastated.”  He doesn’t want you to disregard a little insignificant believer and consequently by ignoring that believer and not having a ministry in that believer’s life, not being a sanctifying influence.  That little believer kind of falls away and is somehow devastated. 

It gets pretty direct in verse 15.  “If your brother sins – ” do what? “ – go show him his fault.”  If he doesn’t repent, take two or three witnesses.  If he doesn’t repent, tell the church.  If he doesn’t repent, put him out.  This is what love does.  Oh, by the way, when he comes back and repents, forgive him.  How many times?  Seventy times seven.  All this is sanctifying ministry.  All this is sanctifying. 

So we love enough to serve and we serve, and you all do that better than any group of people I know of anywhere.  You are amazing in serving, and I will say this, you also are committed to sanctifying.  This is a sanctifying congregation.  You care about each other’s lives.  That’s how love acts.

So how can you tell a true believer?  A true believer loves enough to serve and loves enough to sanctify, okay?  Thirdly, we must love enough to suffer.  We must love enough to suffer.  It’s going to come to that.  That’s kind of the price.  By suffer, I don’t mean no bamboos up your fingernails or whips on your back or chains necessarily in our world, but there are some pretty dire prices to pay for being a faithful lover of the people of God. 

In 2 Corinthians, I want you to look at chapter 12 and verse 15.  Paul has poured out his heart now in two letters to the Corinthians that are in the New Testament.  He wrote two more that he refers to that aren’t in Scripture.  That’s four letters to one congregation, and they have drained his soul.  That’s for sure.  They have been a very difficult group to deal with, infiltrated by false teachers who have accused him of terrible things.  He’s trying his best to minister to them.  But notice what he says in 2 Corinthians 12:15, “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls.” 

I will spend.  I will give anything I have, any commodity, any possession, anything, anything I have I will spend.  And I personally, passive, will be expended.  I will give up my life.  I will give up my life for your souls.  “If I love you more, am I to be loved less?”  This is what he can’t understand.  Why, as I love you more and more and more, and spend and am literally personally expended, why do you love me less?

Go back into chapter 11 and get a bit of an insight into the suffering that Paul endured.  He says, verse 23, “In far more labors, far more imprisonments than any others who call themselves servants of Christ.  Beaten times without number, often in danger of death.  Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.  Three times I was beaten with rods.  Once I was stoned.  Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have spent in the deep; I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, danger in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren.  I have been labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.”

Wow!  That’s all the stuff that came at his body, at his humanity, but look what came at his soul.  Verse 28, above that, above all of that, all those, “External things, is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches.”  He’s not talking about administrative duties.  He’s talking about how the failures and weakness of the church tore at his heart. He says it this way in verse 29, “Who is weak without my being weak?  I feel your weakness.  Who is led into sin without my intense concern?”

His love cost him massive suffering: physical, emotional, and even spiritual suffering.  There was a thorn in his flesh, a messenger of Satan, chapter 12, verse 7, to humble him, keep him from exalting himself because he had so many revelations.  I believe this was the false teachers, the leader of the false teachers in Corinth who were tearing up the church.  He asked the Lord three times to take it away, remove it, agonizing, like a spear driven through him.  And the Lord said, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

“Most gladly, therefore,” Paul says, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”  Wow.  He suffered physically. He suffered emotionally.  He suffered spiritually.  He loved that much.  You want to break his heart?  Go down to verse 20.  He’ll tell you how.

“I’m afraid.”  What are you afraid of, Paul?  Are you afraid of whips?  Are you afraid of sticks?  Are you afraid of beatings?  No.  Here is what I’m afraid of.  “I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish.”  Isn’t that amazing?  I wonder if you’d lined up leaders in church or religion or even pastors and said, “What are you most of afraid of in your church?”  Well, it’d be an interesting question.  Are you most afraid of empty seats?  Are you most afraid of not having wide distribution for your message?  Paul was most afraid that his people wouldn’t be what he wanted them to be, and what did he wanted them to be?  He said it in Galatians.  “I am in birth pains until Christ is fully formed in you.”  That’s what I want you to be, and I go on making whatever sacrifices need to be made to that end.  I don’t want to come and find you not to be what I wish.  Then I have to be what you don’t wish.

I don’t want to come and find, “Strife and jealousy and angry tempers and disputes and slanders and gossips and arrogance and disturbances.”  Then verse 21 he adds, “I am afraid,” again, “I am afraid that when I come my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn.”  What are you going to mourn over, Paul?  Small congregation?  What are you going to mourn over?  No, “Mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality, and sensuality which they have practiced.”

Look, loving the brothers is hard work.  We love enough to serve.  We love enough to sanctify, and if need be, we love enough to suffer.  That is to say we get into their lives and feel the pain and the pressure of living life in a sinful, fallen world.  When I look at a church like ours, I get those prayers of Paul.  My greatest fear in this church is that strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances, immorality, sensuality, and impurity might take hold anywhere in this church, in your life or anybody else’s life.  This is the mark of true discipleship.  You not only love the Lord and His glory; you love each other to this degree. 

Okay, there’s a third point.  There’s a third perspective with this kind of love, and it’s personal.  It’s personal.  It’s love as defined by my own loyalty.  Loved fined by focus on Christ’s glory, focus on loving others, focus on my own loyalty, critical aspect of love.  It comes as a warning to Peter.  Go back to John 13.

“Simon Peter – ” verse 36 “ – said to Him, ‘Lord, where are you going?’  Jesus answered him, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later.’  Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow you right now?  I will lay down my life for you.’”  Nice try, Peter, but we know the truth.  That’s just blowing smoke.  J.C. Ryle called this, “A very dangerous reality in the life of the believer, self-ignorance, over-assessing your spiritual maturity, over-assessing your spiritual strength.”  Discipleship is more than promised loyalty.  It is permanently practiced loyalty. 

Peter made this promise repeatedly.  Back in Matthew 16, back in Luke 22, Matthew 26.  In fact, he made the same promise several more times this evening as recorded by Luke and Matthew.  He was convinced of his unflinching loyalty.  “I am ready to die for you now.”  Verse 38, “Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for me?  Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow until you deny me three times.’”  Whoa!

What does the rooster crow mean?  They didn’t have clocks -I know you know that – so they segmented the night, sundown to three hours or so later, maybe 9:00 was called evening.  Then from then to, say, midnight was called midnight.  Then from midnight to 3:00 was called rooster crow because about 3:00, the roosters began to crow.  Then morning followed from 3:00 to 6:00.  Before 3:00 tomorrow morning, you’re going to deny Me three times, and he did, didn’t he?  More than three times.  In three separate locations, multiple times.  Luke points out that Peter boasted too much, prayed too little, acted too fast, followed too far, and ended up denying his Lord.  When it dawned on him what had happened, Luke 22:62, “Peter went out and – ” what did he do?  He just wept bitterly, agonizing, agonizing, agonizing experience.  Deeply grieved, deeply depressed, fearful, frightened, guilty. 

The Lord finds him in Galilee, and what did the Lord say to him?  “Peter do you – ” what? “ – do you love Me?”  “Yes, Lord I love You.” “Peter, do you love Me?”  “Yes, Lord, I love You.”  “Peter, do you love Me?”  “Lord, you know I love You.”  “Then feed My sheep.”  Peter never flinched after that, never flinched.  He finally went to a cross where he was crucified upside down.  He preached that great Pentecost sermon and a lot of those sermons that followed that in the city of Jerusalem.  What was the difference?  The Holy Spirit came, shed that love abroad in his heart, and it never waned, never waned.  A loyal love. 

How do you know when someone is a true Christian?  Their love focus is on the glory of their Lord, on the well-being of their brothers and sisters in Christ, and it evidences itself in an undying, enduring, loving loyalty to Christ. 

There’s one other wonderful benefit of this, and I want to close there.  So go to 1 John, if you will.  Let’s look at chapter 3, verse 18.  “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth,” okay, reality.  Loving enough to serve, enough to sanctify, enough to suffer.  Then look at the next verse.  “We will know by this that we are of the truth and will assure our heart before Him.”  You want to have a sure heart?  You want to know you’re saved?  You want to have that assurance?  You want to have that confidence?  That’s how you have it. 

I said at the beginning, love is the mark.  It’s not only the mark that puts our salvation on display to others.  It’s the mark that gives us our own assurance.  “We will know by this that we are of the truth and assure our heart before Him, and in whatever our heart condemns us.”  In other words, our heart may condemn us.  Blows of doubt and insecurity may come at us as temptations and our own failures may cause doubts to rise, but manifest love in all these directions removes that condemnation and gives us, “confidence before God.”  What a great statement. 

That’s what we saw, didn’t we, in chapter 4, verse 12.  “If we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”  Verse 13, “By this, we know that we abide in Him and He in us.”  How do you know you’re a believer?  Because you’ve been given the Holy Spirit.  How is the Holy Spirit manifest? In His fruit.  What’s the first?  Love.  Just an incredible portion of Scripture.  The grand, distinguishing mark of true Christians is love.  By the way, it’s not signs and wonders.  It’s not gifts, influence, popularity.  It’s the simple, lovely grace of love.  Grace from a humble heart, reaching toward heaven, reaching toward each other, and stabilizing our loyalty to Christ. 

Father, we thank you again for your precious Word to us.  How blessed we are.  How blessed we have been even this morning to have considered these things.  Be glorified, Lord, in the application of this truth to every heart.  Give assurance to that doubting heart, assurance in the evidence of manifest love toward your glory, toward one another, and that deep passion to be loyal and faithful to you.  Give us the joy of our salvation in that assurance.  We’ll give you honor and glory in Christ’s name.  Amen. 

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-71

VIDEO Traits of a True Believer, Part 1

By John MacArthur  Feb 1, 2015

You can open your Bible to John 13. We have come to a very unique section in all of the New Testament.  The gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – give us a history of the life of our Lord, from His birth, to His ascension and coronation in heaven.  They tell the story.  Most of the texts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are narrative texts.  Along the way, of course, some sermons that He preached. 

But when we come to John 13 through 17, we come to a text that is unique because that entire sweeping section of John’s gospel all takes place on one night.  One night.  It is Thursday night of Passion Week.  It is the night in which our Lord met with His disciples and celebrated the Passover, and then He transformed it into the Lord’s Supper.  It is the night in which Judas betrayed Him and which He went to the garden and prayed and was arrested and put through some mock trials.  It is the night before He is crucified. 

The uniqueness of this section, John 13 through 17, is that it gives His legacy to His own.  Not only to His true disciples, the true believers who surrounded Him that evening in the upper room, but to all who would come after them.  All of us, all believers of all time.  We know that because everything He promised to them in chapters 13 through 16, He then prays for in chapter 17, but extends the prayer to all who will ever believe. 

So, whatever He gave to them that evening, He gave to us, and to all believers before us, and after us.  It is the legacy of Jesus.  It is His final will and testament to His own.  And it’s all activated by the exodus of Judas.  You remember, let’s pick it up in verse 27.  After the Lord had identified Judas as the betrayer, Satan entered into him.  Satan entered into Judas because it was now time to activate the betrayal which would bring about the crucifixion at exactly the moment on the Passover when the Passover lambs were being slaughtered.  And it was then that our Lord, the true Passover would give his life.

Satan then entered into Judas.  Therefore, verse 27, “Jesus said to him, ‘What you do, do quickly.’” And He dispatched the betrayer, who had already set up the betrayal and negotiated for the price of 30 pieces of silver.  All He was looking for was a time and a place away from the crowds to pick Jesus out so that the authorities could arrest Him.  He had to go and do the final act of the betrayal, and that is actually bring the forces that wanted Jesus arrested to the place where He was.

When our Lord says, “What you do, do quickly,” He sets in motion all of the events that led to His crucifixion the next day. 

Verse 30 says that after Judas had received the morsel – that is, that little piece of bread that He dipped in the sop, as it was called – he went out immediately and it was night.  Once Judas was gone, only the true disciples were left.  And it is then in verse 31 that our Lord begins His words to His own, exclusively to His own.

And I want to read verses 31 to 38 because that’s what we’re going to begin to look at.  Here’s the first instruction – Judas having been dismissed to His own.  “And as I said, it is to them and to all who come after them and believe.  Therefore when he had gone out,” that is Judas, “Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.  Little children, I am with you a little while longer.  You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.”  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’ Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now?  I will lay down my life for You.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me?  Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.’”

There are many popular, familiar symbols that Christians like to use to display their loyalty to Christ.  From the ubiquitous and very popular cross, which is part of Christian jewelry.  It has been for centuries – to the more modern t-shirts which can be emblazoned with all kinds of affirmations of our Christian faith and declarations concerning Christ.  All the way to those familiar and ubiquitous bumper stickers.  And we all understand that those are fine, that that’s okay to give an open and bold testimony of our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Christian logos can be attached to many, many kinds of objects to identify our faith, and can be actually helpful in drawing us, perhaps, into giving a Christian testimony.  But at the same time, we understand that every car with a bumper sticker is not necessarily occupied by Christians.  We understand that every neck wearing a cross is not necessarily a redeemed neck.  We get that.  And we also understand that there are a lot of folks who can wear t-shirts that say a lot of things, but may not be the truest and purest representation of what the people wearing them really are.

We understand that you’ve got to go below the surface of any of those kinds of things, though they’re fine, if you want to know whether someone is genuinely a Christian, a true believer.  Then you’ve got to go to the inside and you’ve got to start talking about something other than external, material symbols.

What marks a true believer is something that happens in the heart, because a true believer has been born again, regenerated, transformed, gone through a complete metamorphosis.  And if we ask the question: what marks that transformation?  Then we’re getting to the reality of who is a true believer.  We are known by our character, by our affection, by the things that are important to us, precious to us.  In a word, we are known by what we love.  In fact, perhaps the simplest explanation of a Christian comes in the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5.  But the fruit of the Spirit, that is, the evidence of the Spirit’s presence, which is the evidence of transformation and regeneration and conversion, the fruit of the Spirit is love.  And out of that flows joy, love, joy of the rest.  All the fruit of the Spirit that we’re all familiar with.  Love, joy, peace, gentleness, long suffering, patient self-control.  Those are all attitudes, dominating attitudes that flow out of love. 

But what we’re to be known for particularly as we look at this text and these words of our Lord, is our love.  It is our love that drives all those other things.  Jesus had commanded Judas to get out and activate the betrayal.  And he did.  Hypocrite went out to the night of sin, suicide, and hell; and Jesus is left to address the true disciples.  And the first thing He does is have a conversation with them, an interaction with them that hits at the reality of their salvation.  This is His farewell.

But to those who are genuinely His, He makes personal, private, promises to all of them that night, and all of us who have come after them.  Promises for all that we could ever need, all that we could ever desire.  He literally draws down all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies, as Paul calls them in Ephesians 1, and dispenses them to His own.

Now, all of this flows out of a statement in chapter 13 verse 1, which is where we began this, where it says at the end of verse 1 that He loved His own who were in the world, and He loved them eis telos, to the limit, to the fullness of divine capacity.  Both in terms of the quality of His love, and the endlessness of His love, He loved them to the end of the ends, to eternity.  So it is a love that knows no qualitative limit and it knows no quantitative limit.  He loved His own who were in the world as much as it was possible for the eternal God to love.  And to the degree that He is eternal, and we are eternal, His love is eternal.  It is the most magnanimous, limitless statement about His love in Scripture. 

Now, all of the promises and pledges that our Lord dispenses here to us are essentially the glories that flow from heaven to us out of His love.  What characterizes our Lord with His disciples on that final night is His love. 

We all know from experience and from what we’ve read that the last words of dying people are usually a pretty good indication of what’s in their hearts.  Final philosophies, final expressions of affection, final requests, final warnings, et cetera, et cetera.  There are no words that can come even close to the promises that our Lord gives.  The purest mind, the purest heart, the grandest capacity to love, divine love pours out its affections in a series of promises to every believer.  There are no words that could match these.  They are at once sweet and powerful.  They are calm and yet urgent.  They are supercharged with divine passion and yet tender with concern, and everything is bathed in this massive expression of divine love. 

Everything that He promises flows from love.  And, He expects in return, love back.  John summed it up in his epistle.  We love Him because He first loved us.  Or, you can reverse it.  He first loved us so we love Him. 

Now, we all know verse 36.  By this, by our love, all men will know that you are My disciples if you have love for one another.  We are to be known by our love.  We are to be marked by our love.  And I think that’s true of genuine Christians.  Throughout history, there have been some people who profess to be Christians, some religious institutions and organizations who profess to be Christians who are loveless and in some cases even brutal.  But true believers are to be known by their love.  We can be known for our doctrine.  We can be known for our theology.  That is what we believe.  But what we believe is supposed to transform our lives so that the final test is who we are, how we live. 

The world is not so much convinced of our religion, of our faith, of our gospel by its content, as they are by its power.  I even think true Christians do manifest this love.  I was doing an interview this week, and made the point – they asked the question about: why are Christians being  treated the way they are around the world?  Why are Christians constantly persecuted?  Why is Christianity constantly despised, demeaned, depreciated?  Why is there such an all-out assault on Christianity?  And I said, well, you can make a simple comparison.  People don’t want to say anything against Islam because they’re afraid.  People will say anything against Christianity because they’re not afraid.  What they get back from us is love.  What they get back from us is forgiveness.  We love because we were first loved.  What marks Christianity is our love, and that makes us vulnerable to all the animosity and the hate because there’s no fear of retaliation.  It’s a good thing, in a sense, when the world doesn’t fear reprisals from Christians.  But when we love, not only one another, but even our enemies, as Matthew 5 lays out. 

So we all understand: we are to be known by our love.  This is the manifest evidence of a transformed life.  Now, I get it.  Non-believing people have certain levels of affection in marriage and in families, and certain levels of romantic love, and filial love, and all of those kinds of things.  But there is a kind of love that belongs only to those with transformed lives.  The Bible even uses a unique word for that, agap, or agapa in the verb form.  It is a transcendent love of the will that is affected in a soul by the power of God.  And apart from the power of God, it doesn’t exist.  We are to be known by that love as a transforming evidence of what the Lord has done in our hearts. 

But I want you to look in the passage I read, verses 31 to 38, this morning, and also next Sunday morning.  At the directions this love takes, it really takes three directions that are sort of laid out here explicitly or implicitly.  First of all, we who have been so loved, so eternally loved to the max, to the end, limitlessly, as 13:1 says – we who are the objects of that love are therefore marked by love, and that love goes in three directions. 

First of all, we are marked by love for our Lord’s glory.  Love for our Lord that seeks His glory.  Secondly, we are marked by love for our brothers’ wellbeing.  We are marked by love for one another.  And thirdly, we are marked by loving loyalty, personal loyalty.  So that the genuine disciple, the true believer, has a consuming desire to demonstrate his love toward his Lord, his love toward his brother, and to prove his love personally by being loyal and faithful.  This is developed in these few verses.

And I think this is foundational for us.  I know these are things that you know, but how often do these things in Scripture?  Through the years, we have continually confronted the reality that you need to know that you’re a true disciple.  You need to know that you’re a true believer.  It is all over the New Testament.  We don’t turn very many pages until we’re back at this point again.  Examining ourselves: how do I know I’m a genuine believer?  How do I know I’m really converted.  And again, you’ve got to get past the externals, it’s not about activities that you might do.  It’s about love and where your love goes, where your love is directed, where your love is focused, and how consistent and faithful your love is.

So there are three marks of this love, or three directions this love takes.  Let’s look at the first one.  Number one, we’re going to find out right away from our Lord that a true disciple has love in the direction of his Lord’s glory.  In other words, he loves the Lord.  That’s the most foundational, basic reality of what it means to be a Christian.  You love because He first loved you.  You love back.  If any man loved not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be damned, Paul said.  So, if you’re saved, you love the Lord.  The first commitment, then, of a Christian is to be consumed with the Lord’s glory.  That’s what love pursues.  That’s what love desires.  That’s what love wants.  This is what it’s all about.  This, of course, is the foundational reality of all realities.  Whatever you do, 1 Corinthians 10:31, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all to the glory of God.  All the way through Scripture, we are told to glorify God.  That is a major theme.  Our Lord is even called the Lord of Glory because glory is so consistent with who He is.  You can’t speak of glory without speaking of Him; you can’t speak of Him without referring to His glory.  He is the Lord of Glory. 

Now, the New Testament lays this out for us in so many places.  Let me just make a few suggestions because it’s important to have this in your mind.  Paul, writing to the Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 1:11.  This is his prayer for them.  “To this end also we pray for you, always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you.” 

What is the believer’s primary preoccupation?  That the Lord be exalted.  Lift it up.  Glorified, honored, worshiped.  This is why we were saved.  This is what the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ determined to produce. 

In 1 Peter chapter 4 and verse 11, Peter writes, “Whoever speaks in terms of ministry is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God.  Whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies so that in all things, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever.  Amen.”

Peter isn’t done with his epistle, but he just waxes eloquent into a doxology when he thinks about glorifying His Lord.  In Ephesians chapter 3, and I know you’re familiar with this, the chapter closes: “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all we can ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, to all generations forever and ever.  Amen.”  And Jude shuts down his little epistle with these words: “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ, our Lord be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority before all time.  And now, and forever.  Amen.”

These doxologies, these outbursts from the writers of the new testament are demonstrating what is in their heart.  It is about the glory of the Lord.  They are consumed with the Lord’s glory.  This is the driving affection of their transformed hearts.  Paul says in 1 Timothy 1, “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever.  Amen.”

As they’re writing their epistles and thinking about their salvation at what appears to be just kind of random points, they burst into these doxologies.  It’s a kind of doxological lifestyle.  But it also is more than just lip service.  It’s more than the praise of their lips or the praise of their pen.  It is how their heart cries that their Lord be glorified. 

It’s simple enough.  If you ask the question: how can you tell when someone’s a believer?  And the first answer is, “Because that believer is consumed with loving the glory of his Lord.  His love is all in the direction of the redeemer, the Savior, the Lord, and whatever will bring Him glory.”  Well, this is new to the disciples, I have to confess.  Yes, they had all affirmed: You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.  Yes, You are the Righteous One, and the Holy One, and we believe, John chapter 6, they had affirmed that.

But in all honesty, their lives were not focused directly on the glory of their Lord.  Three of them had been to the Mount of Transfiguration and seen His glory, literally coming through His human flesh.  But still, they were preoccupied with themselves.  They were having that long argument, still, about which of them would be the greatest in the kingdom.  Who sits on the right?  Who sits on the left?  And that argument had gone on for months, if not years, and it was still going on even at this very time during passion week as the Lord stood in the shadow of His own cross. 

So Christ opens this discussion now that Judas is gone by essentially focusing on His own glory, His own glory.  As if to call them away from preoccupation with themselves.  So verse 31: “Therefore when he had gone out,” Judas, “Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.  Since God is glorified in Him, God will also Glorify Him in Himself, and will glorify Him immediately.’” Magnificent language, incredible language.  It comes out of the Lord like some kind of cry of relief that escapes His heart now that Judas is gone.  Now that Judas is gone, everything is in motion, the betrayal will be consummated, the arrest will occur, and the execution the next day.

And then He can turn to the eleven and pour out His heart to the true believers.  And the first thing He wants them to know is that this is all about His glory.  Why is that so important?  Because they are consumed with their own.  They were having such a hard time dealing with this.  Every time our Lord said, “I’m going to die.  I’m going to die.  I’m going away.”  They would say, “No, no Lord.  It can’t be.”  In fact, you’ll remember that Jesus once said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.  You’re after the things of Satan, not God.”  And the disciples did not want our Lord to go.  In fact, later, down at the end of the passage, Peter says, “Lord, well, why can’t I follow You right now?  I’ll lay down my life for You.”  I don’t want to be without You.  I don’t want You to go. 

And later in chapter 14, Thomas says, “Where are you going?  Where are you going?  We don’t know where you’re going.  How are we going to get there?”  The whole notion of Jesus being gone was more than they could stand.  And even after the cross and after the resurrection, they were still stunned by this so that, in Acts chapter 1, two angels appear, and Jesus starts to ascend, and the angel said: “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky?”  Literally, the verb there is gazing intently with a fixed view of Jesus leaving.  Why are you doing that?  The same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come in just the same way as you’ve watched Him go into heaven.  You can’t hold onto Him.  They had just said, “Will you bring the kingdom now?  Will you bring the kingdom now?”  And instead, He leaves.  They were having a very difficult time with this.  To put it mildly, they had all their spiritual eggs in that one basket: the presence of Christ.  Later on in this section, He will say to them: look, it’s better for you if I go away.  It’s better if I go away because I’ll send the Holy Spirit who will be with you inside of you at all times.  That’s better.

For a brief 33 years, He had humiliated Himself, condescended to become incarnate in human flesh, lived as an infant, as a child, as a young boy, as a man.  He had humbled Himself, restricted the full manifestation of His glory, and He had taken a terrible amount of abuse.  That brief blink of time in the midst of eternity is now over and He knows it.  And so, He says now, now finally, I’m here.  Finally, I’m here.  He affirms that same statement in His prayer in chapter 17 verse 4.  “I glorified You on earth,” He says to the Father, “having accomplished the work which You’ve given Me to do.  Now Father glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with you before the world was.”  He knows on this last night, He is on the brink of glory.  He is on the brink of being glorified. 

There are three distinct statements pertaining to His glory in the first couple of verses, 31 and 32.  I want you to see them.  Number one: “Now is the Son of Man glorified.”  What’s He talking about?  What do you mean now?  Now it has arrived.  After 33 years of waiting, it is finally here.  This statement has to do with, listen, the cross.  It has to do with His death.  His death.  And all those subsequent events, like His resurrection, ascension, exaltation, coronation.  But it’s all triggered by His death, and the action of Judas, the traitor, being sent out to pull the trigger, as it were, on all the subsequent events, sets this in His mind.  The decisive act is done.  Judas left redemptive work at the cross, has been ushered in.  The die is cast.  No turning back, and our Lord is referring to His death, the death by which He would be glorified. 

When Peter was preaching in Acts chapter 3, listen to what he said.  Acts chapter 3 verse 13.  “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers has glorified His servant, Jesus.  The one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate when he had decided to release Him.  But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and put to death the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead.”  Now listen to that.  God has glorified His Son, His servant, Jesus, through His death.

It would’ve been wonderful, honestly, to think back and have Jesus stand on the banks of the Jordan River when He was baptized by John the Baptist, and the dove descended on Him, symbolic of the Holy Spirit, and words of the Father come out of heaven.  This is My beloved Son in whom I’m well pleased.  It would have been wonderful if at that moment, there at the Jordan, Jesus had said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.”  But He didn’t.  He didn’t.  It would’ve been wonderful on the Mount of Transfiguration if when Moses and Elijah showed up and the Lord was transfigured before them, and His supernatural nature was manifest in light, it would’ve been wonderful then when the Father also spoke out of glory.  This is My beloved Son; listen to Him.  If Jesus had said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified.” 

But no.  Neither of those incidents did He say this.  But it is here, before the deepest shame, the bottom, the pit of His humiliation, as He stands on the brink of false accusations, lying witnesses, relentless insults, infamy, mockery, shame, nakedness, surrounded by wretched evil men, in the midst of an agonizing death, now is the Son of Man glorified.  His glory came in His death.  He knew that.

And He is, in a sense, saying to the disciples: this is for My glory.  This is for My glory.  How can the death of Christ on the cross glorify Christ?  He is glorified for a number of reasons on the cross.  He is glorified because God has chosen Him to be the sacrificial lamb who takes away the sins of the world.  He is God’s chosen one.  He is the perfect one, the only one God could ever ask to do that work.  He is most righteous, most holy, most blameless, most spotless, most pure, and that’s to His glory.

He will provide on the cross salvation for all who have ever believed through all of human history.  He will basically vindicate all of the promises of God, validate the covenant of God, and He will provide salvation for otherwise damned sinners.  And that deserves glory.  He will destroy the power of sin.  He will destroy the power of death, and that deserves glory.  He will destroy him who had the power of death, the devil, and He will ultimately consign him to a lake of fire forever and ever, and that deserves glory.  He will satisfy God, propitiating God by paying the price that God has deemed necessary.  He will bear in His body all the sins of all the elect of God through all of human history, and He will offer Himself as a sweet smelling savor to God, fairer than any sacrifice ever offered.  He will satisfy offended divine justice and the broken law of God.  He will fully satisfy what God requires.  He will say, “It is finished,” and that deserves glory.

So there is, in all heaven and earth, no act so worthy of praise and honor and full glory as this act of Jesus Christ.  Indeed, now is the Son of Man glorified. 

And there’s a second aspect in verse 31.  “And God is glorified in Him.”  At the same time that the cross glorifies Christ, it glorifies the Father.  It glorifies the Father.  God is glorified when His attributes are on display.  Go back to Exodus 33 and 34.  Moses says, “Show me Your glory.”  God says, “I’ll let My mercy, compassion, loving-kindness, truth, righteousness pass before you.”  God’s glory is simply the consummate realities of His nature.  God has intrinsic glory.  It is His attributes that are His glory, and it is appropriate for us to give Him honor and praise and worship for all of His attributes, of love, and grace, and mercy, and kindness, and patience, and omniscience, and omnipotence, immutability, and eternality, and aseity, and all of the attributes of God for which we give Him glory.

But, there is nowhere in all of history where the glories of God, the attributes of God come together in more clear, bold relief than at the cross.  Just samples.  At the cross, you see the power of God displayed.  And we’ve just recited some of the realities of it.  It was there at the cross, wasn’t it – Isaiah 53 – that the kings of the earth and the rulers took council together against God and against His anointed?  And it was there that God shattered them and defeated them?  It was there that all of the terrible hatred, enmity, depravity of wretched human hearts did the worst that the human heart is capable of, and God overruled the worst that they could do and accomplish the best that could ever be done out of it.  It was there that Satan and the forces of hell came and unyieldingly unleashed the darkness against Him in a fiendish hatred outburst, and Jesus handled it all.  He overpowered the powers that be.  He overpowered the evil of men’s hearts.  He overpowered Satan.  He overpowered demons.  He overpowered the strength of sin.  Jesus was able to survive it all, come out the other side triumphant.  He broke every shackle, every power, shattered it to bits. 

The power of God is on display at the cross.  Man loses, nations lose, demons lose, Satan loses, Christ wins.  Triumphant, and that gives God glory.  God triumphs at the cross in an unleashing of His power. 

Secondly, His justice is demonstrated at the cross.  It is God who said the soul that sends it must die.  It is God who says the wages of sin is death, and death there will be.  Death there must be.  And justice prevails at the cross.  God is so just, so just, that He will even take the life of His own beloved Son.  If the sins of the world are to be laid on His Son, then His Son must take the death that they deserve.  You will never see a greater illustration of the justice of God.  You can look in the past.  You can look in the Old Testament.  You can see most of the miracles in the Old Testament killed people.  If you’re looking for miracles in the Old Testament, most of the miraculous events in the Old Testament killed people, drowned entire armies, drowned the entire world, burned up people, holes opened in the ground and swallowed them up.  People were literally killed by angelic beings.  Most of the Old Testament miracles were miracles of divine judgment. 

They were just.  God is just.  God looked in Genesis and saw that there was only evil continually, that that was all there was in the world.  And as a just God, He determined to drown the entire human race with the exception of eight people who had been established as true believers in Him, and therefore to whom who had been imputed righteousness.  Justice was on display.  But the strength of God’s justice, and the necessity of God’s justice takes on another dimension at the cross because God is not dumping the just punishment on a deserving sinner.  His justice goes so far that if need be, He will crush the life out of a sinless one to do justice.

Isaiah says, “God laid on Him the iniquity of us all.”  The penalty of the law had to be enforced.  The sentence of the law had to be executed, even though it meant slaying His own beloved Son, God could not desist from His justice.  So the Justice of God is more illustriously glorified by the death of Christ than if every member of the human race were to suffer in hell forever, never satisfying justice.  Justice can’t be satisfied in hell.  It can only be satiated. 

But it was satisfied in the sacrifice of Christ.  God is just.  That kind of justice gives God glory.  You also can see His holiness.  At the cross, God is of purer eyes than to behold evil.  Can’t look on iniquity, says Habakkuk, the prophet.  And when Christ was made a curse, God turns His back.  We hear Jesus say, “My God, My God, where are You?  Why have You forsaken Me?”  Never did God so manifest His hatred for sin – never – as when He caused His Son to suffer.  And all the honor due to the holiness of God by all the heavenly angels, holy angels, and all the cheerful obedience of all the holy men of the ages, are nothing in comparison with the offering of Christ Himself as a necessary requirement of God’s holiness.  How holy is God?  So holy that He would pour out fury on His own Son if sin was imputed to Him.  That kind of holiness manifests God’s glory.  At the cross, for example, we see God’s faithfulness.  His faithfulness.  He promised a Savior.  He promised a seed to the woman who had bruised the serpent’s head, crushed his head.  He promised a substitute who would take the place of a sacrifice, a ram caught in the thicket of Genesis 22.  He promised in Isaiah 53 in detail, a sacrifice.  Every animal sacrifice in the whole Old Testament economy pointed toward one final lamb who would take away sin.  And when Christ the sinless one came, He offered His life in the full final sacrifice for sin.  God showed to all heavenly beings, all earthly beings, and all the occupants of hell that He would rather the blood of His Son be spilt than one jot or one tittle of His promise not be fulfilled.  He is a faithful God.  And seeing His faithfulness is seeing His glory.

But really, we have to add: His love is seen at the cross, isn’t it?  ‘Cause He did all of that for us.  God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.  This is love.  Not that we loved God, says John, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the satisfaction for our sins.  He loved us.  When we were enemies, He loved us.  When we hated Him, He loved us. 

We could go on.  We could say His grace is displayed there, His mercy is displayed there.  His compassion is displayed there, His wisdom is displayed there.  He is on display.  So, Jesus says, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”  At the cross, at the cross, Father and Son glorify each other.  Paul makes that great declaration in Romans 15:7.  “Therefore accept one another just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.”  Christ accepted us to the glory of God.  Paul, to the Corinthians, 2 Corinthians chapter 4, really a remarkable statement.  “It is God who has shown in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”  It is God putting Himself on display, Christ putting Himself on display, the Son glorifying the Father by His obedient suffering, the Father glorifying the Son by choosing Him to be the sacrifice, the Father glorying Himself in the display of all His attributes.

And then there’s a third statement.  After repeating in verse 32 the first two, since God is glorified in Him, in Christ, God will also glorify Him in Himself.  This again, God is glorified, Christ is glorified.  Then another statement: and will glorify Him immediately.  That adds a dimension that we haven’t seen.  God will glorify Him immediately.  Well, what does that mean?  Something in the future, something past what is initially going to glorify Him.  He’s going to be glorified in the cross. 

So what’s coming after the cross?  What’s coming immediately?  Well, you know.  Resurrection, ascension, exaltation, coronation.  You know that.  God has highly exalted Him and given Him a name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow.  Philippians 2.  Ephesians chapter 1 concludes with that magnificent statement that Christ was raised from the dead and seated at the right hand in heavenly places far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named not only in this age but in the one to come.  The exaltation, the coronation of Christ.  It is a theme of the writer of the Book of Hebrews, and He is, chapter 1 verse 3, “the radiance of His glory, the exact representation of God’s nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.  When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the majesty on high.” 

Our Lord knew.  Judas is gone.  The events are in place.  By tomorrow, I will be glorified on the cross.  By Sunday, I will be out of the grave.  40 days later, I will ascend into heaven.  And that’s the immediately  that brings His glory to its culmination. 

Now, why all of this?  Well, verse 33, “Little children, I am with you a little while longer.  You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews,” back  in chapter 7 and 8, He said this: “You’ll never come where I am.”  As I said to the Jews, “Now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’” You cannot come. 

A little later, down in verse 36, He says: you will follow after.  But for now, you cannot come.  There’s so much affection in this.  Little children.  Rare for Jesus to use that phrase talking to His disciples.  There’s so much pathos in this.  They don’t want Him to go.  They’re trying to stand in the way.  They’re trying to bar the events that He keeps talking about.  They don’t like the idea.  They don’t mind the fact that He said to the Jews in chapter 7:34 and 8:21 and 24, “You’re not going to be able to come where I go.”  When they hear this for themselves, this pushes them over the edge. 

By His death, He will leave.  His time with them is over.  They can’t stand that thought.  They’ve got all their hope in Him, all their trust in Him.  Everything is tied up with Him.  They are sad.  They are lonely.  They are troubled.  Peter even asks in verse 37, “Lord, why can’t I follow You right now?”  Right now.  If I have to, I’ll die. 

The thought that He would leave them?  Too much for them to bear.  Over in chapter 16 verse 2, He says, “You too have grief now, but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice and no one will take your joy from you.”

What does He want them to know?  You’ve got to be committed to My glory, no matter how it affects you.  You’ve got to be committed to My glory.  I’ve been telling you I have to go.  It is My time to be glorified.  Glorified at the cross, glorified through the open tomb, glorified by ascending into heaven, glorified by Him being seated at the right hand of the Father.  It’s time for My glory.  Time for My glory. 

This was so hard for them, ‘cause they were all caught up in this kingdom concept that this was all leading to their glory, their elevation, their fulfillment of ambition.  A true disciple, a true believer is completely consumed with the Lord’s glory, the Lord’s glory.  Whatever happens to me, whether I live or whether I die, whatever happens to me, may Christ be glorified.  The passionate, consuming love for His glory – just wasn’t in their thinking.  Do they love Him?  Sure.  Did they believe in Him?  Of course.  But they were not consumed with His glory.

Henry Martin sailed for India to be a missionary back in 1805.  And he said, wrote in his diary: “Let me burn out for God.”  He found his way to a Hindu temple.  And as he watched people prostrating themselves before the Hindu gods, he wrote in his journal, “This excited more horror in me than I can express.”  He then wrote, “I cannot endure existence if Jesus is not glorified.  It is hell to me.”  Wow.  And somebody said, “Why do you feel that way?”  And he said this: “If anyone plucks out your eyes, there’s no asking why you feel pain?  And it is because I am one with Christ that I am so deeply wounded.”  The motive for everything. 

You know, it would be nice to have the Lord with us all the time, wouldn’t it?  But I don’t – I wouldn’t want Him in this world.  The ancient world was bad enough.  Can you imagine Christ in this world?  With the degree and level of corruption that exists?  The heart of those disciples should’ve been, Lord, You go.  You be glorified.  You be honored.  That’s the first and driving affection of any true disciple.

So grieved when He is not glorified that we are happy He is glorified.  Let Him be there.  And when He does come back, He’ll come back in full glory.  This is how you know a true believer.  Their love is for the glory of the Lord. 

There’s a second, and I’m just going to introduce this – they are marked not only by love for the glory of the Lord, but love for others.  Verse 34.  “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” 

This is really critical.  Now, notice this new commandment.  That’s how it starts.  A new commandment.  You say, wait a minute.  New?  To love people?  That’s not new.  Isn’t that in the Old Testament?  Yeah, Leviticus, the law of Moses.  Leviticus 19:18.  Love your neighbor as yourself.  And lots of things about love in the Old Testament.  God’s love, love for people, love for strangers, love for family.  Yeah, this isn’t new.  Deuteronomy 6.  Love the Lord with your heart and your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.  And then, love your neighbor as yourself.  That’s the law and the prophet’s first and second great commandment. 

So why is it new?  Well, let me tell you why it’s new.  It’s new, first of all, because they haven’t figured it out yet.  It’s got to be new to them because tall they’re doing is arguing with each other about who’s going to sit in the primary place in the kingdom.  So, I’ve got to teach you something new, something that as of now, you don’t demonstrate that you know.  It was new to them.  They were always quibbling about their positions and prominence.  That is exactly why none of them would wash the feet of the rest in the earlier passage. 

Secondly, to the Jews, it was new, ‘cause Judaism was filled with animosity, bitterness, strife, conflict, separations.  There were all kinds of factions within factions.  The Pharisees, who set the course for the dominant religion looked down on anybody who wasn’t a Pharisee, wouldn’t interact with anybody who wasn’t a Pharisee, had nothing but scorn for anybody who was an outsider or an outcast or a sinner.  But for the Jews, this is new.  If you’re Jewish, this is new.  And even if you’re a disciple, this is new. 

Judaism was loveless.  They loved only those that they chose to love because they saw them as equals.  It was new also because they had seen an example of it that was new.  Love had come to another level with Jesus.  It was new because rabbis didn’t wash feet.  And the Son of God washing feet took love to another level.  And now, He’s on the brink of offering His life as sacrifice for sin, and that’s love at the pinnacle.  Greater love has no one than this, than a man lay down His life for His friend.  So it was new to them in their argumentative attitudes, self-promoting desires, it was new to the Jewish culture because they had no place for love, and it was new in the level that had been set and would be set by Christ.  And it was also new because now, for the first time, they had a new capacity to love.  Because the love of God is shed abroad in your hearts, Romans 5:5, right?  Now you have a new capacity to love.  Now you can love in a way that only you can love, and only believers can love.  Walk in love, Ephesians 5:2.  Be imitators of God, His beloved children.  Walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, a sacrificial, selfless, self-giving love.  That’s how you love.  That’s how you walk in love.

First John 3:11.  This is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.  That’s what marks us.  And by this love, all men will know that you are My disciples.  And I say it again: we’re known by our love.  The extent of this love, how far does it go?  Love one another.  The example of this love?  Christ, as I have loved you, sacrificially, humbly.  The effect of this love?  All men will know that you’re My disciples if you have love for one another.  And in order to love, you have to humble yourself.  Only humble people love.  Only humble people love.  The disciples weren’t humble.  This was all new to them.

But now, in Christ, there is a completely new capacity to love like this.  In 1 Thessalonians 3, “Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you, and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people, just as we also do for you.”  Paul’s prayer is that your love would increase, your love would abound.  Next chapter, chapter 4, verse 9.  As to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to right you.  You yourselves are taught by God to love one another.  You’re taught by God to love one another.  You’re practicing it, but we urge you, brethren, to excel still more.  Second Thessalonians 1:3.  We ought always to give thanks to God and for you brethren, as is only fitting because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows even greater.

Peter says in 1 Peter 4:8 with an extended love.  He uses ektens, which means stretching a muscle as far as it’ll go.  So you need to change your focus.  If you’re My true disciples, and you are, you need to love Me enough to concern yourselves with My glory above all things.  And, you need to love each other.  You need to love each other, and that love needs to grow and flourish and increase.  There is this love connection for every true believer with Christ, and with every other believer. 

Let’s pray. We are reminded again of that familiar word from Paul.  Examine yourselves, whether you be in the faith.  And it comes down to who we love.  Loving You, Lord, loving You so that we are completely consumed with and committed to Your glory, Your honor, Your majesty, Your will.  This is the mark of a true believer.  This is a true Christian.  And Father, we also know that true believers are marked by an undying, focused, faithful love for each other.  May we be known by that love, that love toward You, so that You would be glorified in everything in our lives, and in this world, and in heaven, and forever.  And may we be known by the love we have for one another.  This is enough to demonstrate who we are.  And as we see the evidence of that love in us, we can be assured of our salvation and what a great gift that is.  Lord, I pray that You’ll work in every life and every heart.  Make it our desire that we love even more, excel even more to a greater and greater love for Your glory and for each other.  These things we ask in the name of the Savior who loved us and gave Himself for us, our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-70

Everything You Want Is On The Other Side Of Fear!

October 4, 2019  The Godly Chic Diaries

Our Faith is like a child learning to walk. Jesus is our father. He crouches down, with open arms as we take our bumbling steps towards Him, and each time we make it to Him after a long journey, He stands us upright, helps us catch our breath. And then He backs up a little bit and then ask us to come a little further in our faith…

OUR FEATURED GUEST BLOGGER ISJORDAN SMITH: I am a Jesus lover. An ardent worshiper who longs for nothing more than to revel in the presence of the one who is WORTHY. I am a wife and mother of a new baby girl( BRAVEN) and Hair stylist. I thrive most when delivering the Word of God thus started speaking at local youth meetings at the age of sixteen. I have been traveling abroad doing mission’s work and now lead mission’s teams with my husband. I have had the opportunity to preach in the U.S. as well as Brazil, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua for the past eight years. My hearts beats with passion to encourage and empower women (women’s ministry) to walk in the freedom only Christ can provide. I love writing on topics of relationships and faith to share with you. Please check out Jordan’s blog/follow: Website: http://www.jordansmith.blog

Jordan’s story: I used to think being brave meant not being afraid of anything. I wanted so badly to be brave but I couldn’t seem to shake away the worries and fear. I didn’t know how to just not be afraid. I did devotions, I read the Bible, I prayed about it. For a long time it seemed like I would never get the answer. Until I got pregnant with my sweet baby girl. While in prayer for her, the name “Braven” was on my heart. I couldn’t escape the word Brave.

2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.”

This verse not only says what God didn’t give us, but it tells us what He did give. I wasn’t handed a spirit of fear- the fear was not part of me. But power, love, and self-discipline was given to me. It IS part of who I am. Whether I felt that way or not. Suddenly I realized that being brave had nothing to do with not being afraid but everything to do with not letting fear have a voice in my life. Fear didn’t get to dictate the words I said, the choices I made, or the thoughts I focused on. Those were the words God wanted me to make sure my daughter knew, “fear doesn’t get a say.” Being brave means moving forward in faith regardless of how you may feel in the moment.

Sweet Friends, Do you realize how powerful you are? That you have everything within you to breakthrough FEAR and step into your greatness? Remember, it takes the same amount of energy to BELIEVE as it is to WORRY. In every season, every mountain, every loss, every victory, every answered prayer, God is with you. He loves you. He will take care of you. You are in good hands, today and ALWAYS. Amen! God bless you abundantly!!!

Blessings and Love. . . 😊 🙏

https://gcdiaries.wordpress.com/2019/10/04/guest-post-fear-does-not-get-a-say/

How Much Does Your Life Cost?

by Don’t Fear, Only Believe

Worth.

It’s such a powerful thing. The word is used to indicate how valuable something is, usually the value of an expensive car or your dream house. But also, commonly, it is used to describe a person’s life. We are constantly yearning and seeking to be worth something to someone else. In society, we are constantly told to live your life, your way – your worth being meaningful only to yourself. But you are worth more than anything to a guy called Jesus…

One inspirational woman who I have had the honour of seeing her legacy left behind, has been Lilias Falconer. The Falconer home has a special place in my heart and my family’s hearts, and I’m sure I’ve touched on this subject before in a previous blog. I got the amazing opportunity to visit this amazing orphanage a few years ago in Zambia. But this woman clearly showed why Jesus is worth it all! Lilias was born in 1915 in my home town, Manchester, and at the age of 15 she was telling her family that the call on her life was to go to Africa and to look after babies and children. For her to fulfil this mission, she applied for medical training to train as a nurse. All these applications were refused. In 1939, at the start of World War II, she was accepted into nursing training with the Salvation Army, and after a course in tropical medicine she travelled to Africa to a leper hospital in Zambia. There she saw the plight of little babies left to die when their mothers passed during childbirth. From this, she agreed to look after one baby but soon five babies were brought to her and one her own, she went further into the bus, establishing her Children’s home and Orphanage in the small village of Kabulamema. She died in 1998, and her grave is situated behind the house, in a beautiful lone building, signifying a constant connection to her work. This is a woman who gave up her whole life for Jesus.

The “Waste” of Expensive Perfume

The work of missionaries and people who give up their ordinary lives for extraordinary lives reminds me of a story from the Bible that shows us why Jesus is worth it all…

Clutching the jar tightly in her hands, the woman stood in the doorway and looked into the room. Her heart beat intensely. Her eyes darted back and forth. Her anxiety was at its peak. The room was packed with me, most of them who knew her for the job she did. A prostitute. She consider running away. At that moment, she saw Him. Everything else vanished, the world stopped. Nothing mattered anymore. Running into the room, she fell to the ground, tears forming in her eyes. Breaking her jar open, she poured the expensive perfume in it all over the man’s feet. She loved Him. She was a sinner. But this man, this Jesus, had shown her forgiveness. Everyone else stared at this random woman, shocked by her actions.

“Why have you wasted all that? You could have sold it it and given it to the poor,” the disciples shouted. Then Jesus spoke above the fuss, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done something beautiful for me. You won’t always have me, but you’ll always have the poor. This woman is preparing me for my burial. Listen to me, when the gospel is preached, the memory of her will also be told.” (Matthew 26.6-13).

The Reaction

Imagine if you were one of the disciples. Would you have been angry at the woman? She would have wasted perfume that had cost millions of pounds. But then again, much like the woman in the story, how do we respond to the story of Lilias Falconer? Too often we would respond as the disciples did. When we hear about people giving up their lives in rich, western countries to honour and serve God, we question their choices. Too often we see it as a waste of potential. We may never say it in words but in reality, we are asking the same question the disciples asked, “Why this waste?”

As Christians, we are taught to present our lives as living sacrifices, demonstrating God’s perfect will. Many people, and many Christians, would say if you presented your life in such a way, that you would be vulnerable to the devil and forces of evil. But Paul in Philippians 4.19, clearly states:

“And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

So, in answer to How Much Does Your Life Cost? I think it costs an infinite amount. We have worth because one man spent His worth for our all and so it is never a waste to give Jesus anything. And looking at it this way; it is our only reasonable response.

Thanks for reading.

Don’t Fear, Only Believe

Photo credits – unsplash.com

Original here

Battle Scars

As we endure life in this world, walking by faith and not by sight, walking in the Spirit of God and not in the flesh, seeking to serve the Lord and His Kingdom, doing that which He has commanded us — and entrusted us to do — it can get very lonely sometimes.

I think of the apostle Paul, whose letters — which he wrote from prison — are filled with sound doctrine and teaching; but also, his deepest personal feelings, as he endured great loneliness, being separated from his friends and fellow believers in Christ.

Look at Second Timothy 1.  He clearly missed his young friend, as he wrote:

“I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.   As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.  For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control. 

“Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, — and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, which is why I suffer as I do. 

“But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.  Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.   By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.”

And then Paul added:

“You are aware that all who are in Asia abandoned me.”

Yes, Paul was there, writing to Timothy from prison.  He was jailed for preaching the Gospel of our Savior, and he was alone.  No one stood with him.  All had abandoned him.

Then in Chapter 4, we have this:

“Do your best to come to me soon.   For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.  Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry…. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.   Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.   Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.   At my first defense, no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!   But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it.”

In Second Corinthians, Paul describes what Christian ministry is REALLY like.  Starting at verse 24:

“Five times I received, at the hands of the Jews, the forty lashes less one.  Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea;  on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.  And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.”

There are many today, who will tell you the Christian life is all joy and happiness.  “Just walk the aisle,” they say, “repeat the ‘sinners prayer,’ and MEAN IT,” they’ll tell you…  And “Jesus has a wonderful plan for your life!”  “Just ask Jesus into your heart and you will go from misery to ‘your best life NOW!”  But friends, this isn’t true.  This is a false Gospel…  The fact of the matter is, the Christian life is NOT an easy one.  It’s NOT all happiness and joy.  If you are TRULY living out your faith and serving Christ, you will find yourself in frequent persecution, you’ll be mocked and ridiculed.  You’ll lose your friends.   You may even find yourself being sued in court; you may lose your business, your home, your freedom, and yes, in some cases, even your family.

Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have NOT come to bring peace, but a sword.   For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.   And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household.”

You absolutely will NOT fit in with the modern culture if you are following Christ today.  It is at that point you have a choice:  keep your mouth shut and practice your “religion” in secret, in which case you will NOT endure any persecution and you can just “get along” with everyone — or you can be a faithful servant, obey the commands of Jesus and season this world with salt — being a beacon of light in a dark and dying culture.  Yes, you HAVE that choice.  So, what will you choose?

Those who choose the latter often find themselves very lonely and very misunderstood.  Because they walk by the Spirit and not by the flesh, the world cannot understand them.    Spiritual things are spiritually discerned; and those without the Holy Spirit CANNOT understand.  It’s not that they don’t want to… they just don’t have the Holy Spirit inside them, and therefore they CAN’T understand you.

“Religious” people will not understand you either.  Many times, you’ll even be viewed as a “troublemaker” or a “crazy zealot” by those in your own church, if you dare step outside the box and actually DO the work Christ called you to.  You WILL endure hardship and you WILL experience persecution if you’re openly and faithfully and unashamedly living the Christian life.  Those who preach “health, wealth, prosperity, happiness, roses and rainbows” are lying to you.  You should ask yourself what their motivation is… and oftentimes, you’ll find it’s very simple: it’s so that THEY can be well liked and popular among the people… and well PAID.

How lonely it must have been for Jesus Himself — MANY times — as even His own disciples had a hard time understanding some of His teachings.  Yet He patiently taught them and explained to them the parables the world could not understand.  And though they walked closely with Him for 3 1/2 years during His earthly ministry, on the night of His arrest, they all abandoned Him, when He needed His friends the most.

Look at Luke 22.  Here, Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, following the Last Supper.  He went there to pray with His disciples.  But His disciples couldn’t stay awake and watch with Him even one hour.  How lonely our Savior must have been as He prayed:

“‘Father, if You are willing, take this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.’  An angel from heaven appeared to Him and strengthened Him.  And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.”

Not exactly “health, wealth, prosperity, happiness, roses and rainbows”… is it?  That was NEVER Jesus’ message.  That’s a false Gospel, that creates false converts, who quickly fall away.  As it has been said, “everyone wants to follow Jesus — until they find out where He is going.”  Now, I am NOT saying that the Christian life is miserable.  As a matter of fact, I don’t know how ANYONE can make it through this life without Christ.  There IS a peace.  Though the world around you continues to spin out of control into chaos and evil, as a true believer in Jesus, you DO have peace in your heart.

As Paul wrote to the Philippians:

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;  and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Friends, we would NOT NEED “peace that passes all understanding” if the Christian life were EASY.  But BECAUSE we know Christ as our Savior, BECAUSE we have His Holy Spirit within us, we can have a peace of mind and heart that the world just cannot ever comprehend.  But it’s still, often, very lonely.

In the ministry work I do,  I get a great many phone calls, emails and letters from those who are seeking answers, and often seeking my counsel.  Some have grown children who have become wayward and left their faith behind.  Some have unbelieving spouses who are carnal and worldly, rather than spiritual.  Some deal with ridicule from co-workers.  Most all of them have very shallow “friendships,” with only a few at the churches they attend.  They often have NO ONE they can fellowship with, or commune with or talk to about the deep and rich things of God.  They feel so ALONE.

All of us, who carry the name of Christ and live out our faith — FOR REAL — have endured great emotional and physical hardships.  It often seems we’ve been in one battle after another, and we have the battle scars to prove it.  And it is when we are alone in the battle that things are most difficult and heart-wrenching;  when all have abandoned us, when even those we thought were our friends turn away.  This is also the time when the enemy likes to come and attack; and unless we remain in prayer and communion with GOD, we can easily become discouraged and depressed.

This is why we are exhorted — in the book of Hebrews:

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.   And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” 

How sweet it is to have REAL, GOOD fellowship with like-minded believers.  Not shallow small talk, fake smiles and handshakes during “greet your neighbor time” at your Sunday service… but deep, meaningful fellowship and friendships with the saints of God.  How wonderful to have a support system like that.  It is so refreshing to our souls when we have friends we can be open, honest and transparent with as we share our Christian walk together.  We can “compare notes,” and we can relate to one another as we let our “Battle Scars” show.

When I quoted from Hebrews about not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, I’m not just talking about GOING to church.  I’m talking about BEING the church — all in one accord — with fellow saints you KNOW are true believers and true friends that stick closer than a brother.

Some of the greatest times in my own spiritual walk have been with friends like this.  Recently, one evening, following a busy day at a Christian conference, I sat with a friend, one on one, and we just talked together.  We shared with one another our experiences in ministry, as well as the heavy burdens we both carry.  Though our ministries — and our battles — are different, and though some of our battle scars run deeper than others, they are all part of the same spiritual warfare we’re both involved in.

And then, after we talked a long time, we PRAYED a long time, with each other and FOR each other.  I’ve never felt such peace in my heart as I do at times like this.  As disciples of Jesus living in the times we are living in, I UNDERSTAND what the writer of Hebrews meant when he said, — “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together” —  how it is even MORE important as we see the Day of the Lord approaching.

The spiritual warfare continues to wage all around us.  Those of us who are engaged in this warfare NEED one another.  We need real, deep, intimate friendships; fellow believers we know we can TRUST in any and every circumstance.  We need to KNOW they “have our backs” in our times of need.  We need such friends we can talk to and pray with on a deep, intimate level — and not have to worry about gossip being spread.  We need MORE than shallow, vain, repetitious corporate prayer time.  We need more than “small talk” — we need REAL brothers and sisters in Christ.

It’s like a little glimpse of heaven during these intimate times with our fellow believers.  As Jesus said in Matthew 18:

“For where two or three are gathered in My name, there am I among them.”

If you don’t have this in your life, I encourage you to seek it out.  Pray that the Lord open those doors for you and then, even though you may have deep wounds and battle scars, let yourself be vulnerable enough to let them show, and let others know your needs.  Fellowship together, PRAY together…  build an intimate, close bond of friendship.  Because it’s HARD living a faithful and obedient Christian life.  And it’s even harder doing it all alone, with none who understand.  So, stand firm to the end, fellow believers… and if you need or want to talk with ME, I’d be honored to be your friend.  God bless you.

© 2019 Rob Pue, Publisher

WISCONSIN CHRISTIAN NEWS

PO Box 756

Marshfield, WI  54449

(715) 486-8066

www.WisconsinChristianNews.com

Audio CDs and transcripts of this message are available when you call me at (715) 486-8066 or email Rob@WisconsinChristianNews.com.  Ask for message number 253.

https://barbwire.com/battle-scars/

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