Responding to the Divine Invitation
Read John 14:18-24
“If anyone loves Me, he will keep my word and My Father will love him.”
If God gives us an invitation to participate in the loving relationship of the Triune God, how do we respond? While many claim to love God, Christ cautions us that for many the claim is unfounded. In Matthew 7:22-23 Christ gives a very sobering warning, one that should cause anyone who claims to be a Christian to carefully examine one’s relationship with Christ. He warns, “Many will say to me on that day Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name…and then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’” The test of the authenticity of our salvation is not merely in what we confess it is in how we live. When our life, morality, and worldview are not aligned with and driven by scripture, then there is reason to question the genuineness of our faith. As the old idiom points out, “The proof is in the pudding.” What then is the proof of our faith? The answer lies in Christ’s instruction to the disciples in John 14. In John 14-16 Christ reveals both the promise of the coming of the Spirit as well as the characteristics of those who are walking in the Spirit. This life is grounded in our relationship with Christ, where he is the vine giving life to the branches (15:1-11). To live in Christ is to place ourselves in direct conflict with the world in which we live and the values characterizing our age (15:18-27). As he sets forth the contrast between the world and his genuine disciples, Christ makes obedience as the ultimate test of one’s faith and the expression of genuine spirituality. Six times Christ repeats the refrain that the authenticity of our love for him is revealed in our obedience to his word (14:15,21,23,24; 15:10,14). Obedience is the expression of our love for Christ, it is the means by which we abide in Christ, it is the basis for our relationship with Christ and one another. The lack of obedience reveals a rejection of God’s invitation to enter into a loving relationship with him (14:24). This love, revealed in obedience, is grounded in the work of the Holy Spirit in our life for Christ sent the Holy Spirit to teach us to walk in submission to his revealed word (14:26; 15:13).
This brings us back to the question: How do we respond to God’s loving invitation? The answer lies in our surrender to his will and our commitment to live according to his Word. The greatest danger confronting the church is not the liberalism from without, but the confession without genuine surrender and transformation within. It is too easy to attend church, perform our religious activities and be moved emotionally by the worship but walk away indifferent and unchanged by the requirements of God. We know the Gospel, we give verbal assent to the gospel, but remain unchanged by the gospel. We are like the false followers of Christ Paul warns of when he states that they are “holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:1-7). While obedience is not the basis of salvation (we are saved by grace and grace alone), it is the inevitable expression of our faith. To respond to the Divine invitation to enter into the fellowship of the trinity involves a compete surrender to the Triune God. Just as the Son expressed his love to the Father through his obedience (John 14:31), so we express our love to God through our obedience. The two go hand in hand. It is in obedience that we give expression of the authenticity of our love for him. Begin each day with the prayer, “not my will but yours” and then you will discover the joy and fully depths of the love God has for you.