Love, Obedience & Victory

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever.” (John 14:15-16)

Then there was an eerie silence that roared within the mist of the jungle at the mid-morning moment. Where the hollow thumping sound of mortars sounded as they launched into flight, the crackling burst of rifles singing the song of coming intrusive invasion, air parting from the alto shrill of lead passing by, the splash made by shot which found its mark, earth and wood wailing through the air angry from its disturbed rest, the shouts of Captains to go here or to stop there and to rise and fall, and now only the murmuring moans of souls departing the flesh which no longer serve, and the crying invincible boys who learned that life can end in the twinkling before the arrow is heard. I too, that hot Southeastern Asian day, wept as I knew that not one heart was changed and not one soul was saved and all had been lost. It was then that I knew, at a much too early age, that victory is not won on a battlefield of men.

Our Lord had gathered His eleven Disciples after the last supper they would share together before the day of His crucifixion would dawn. It would be His last opportunity before His death to give them intimate instruction for the charge that lie just before them. To “Go” and “make disciples” of all the nations and build His Church. They had come to the Lord’s Supper with self-righteous attitudes in their hearts. They argued over who would be the greatest in the coming Kingdom. They had come with a traitor in their midst that before the sun would shine upon a new day would sell their Lord into the hands that would crucify Him. They had come in the self-confidence that they would stand by their Master’s side to the end only to scatter like shepherdess sheep when the Roman Cohort came to take Him away. But Jesus, the Son of God, displayed His love wrapped in humility and washed their feet. He honored the one who sat to His left as a special guest and sent Him off to perform the deeds that Satan had placed into the heart of Judas. Now that they had been fed, their hearts humbled by His surpassing love, they were ready to receive the teaching that would encourage them to turn the world right-side up.

I can imagine that somewhere in this final discourse Jesus paused, looked each one in the eye, as He said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” Is this a question, if you love me? I don’t think so. Jesus knows the heart of men and He knew their hearts as He chose them to be His disciples. He knew what they have given up to follow Him those past three years. He knew the determination that they had shown and committed themselves to. When others had turned away, others had mocked Him, the Sanhedrin we plotting His death, they had not forsaken Him. Surely they, His chosen, loved Him. I think it not a question but a challenge. Jesus had led them through all the trials and tribulations of the past three years and lost not one. Jesus had guided their every step as He protected them beneath the wing of His love. But now it must have been sinking in, as He had told them this was their last night together, that they would have to stand on their own against the spiritual battle before them.

They now would have to stand upon the rock of his words against the evil forces that would surely come against them without the Master of their souls to fend for them. They would have to have the faith to work the signs and wonders as He had. They would have to face the crowds of people who had come to be healed of their sicknesses. They would have to make the lame to stand, the deaf to hear, and the blind to see. They would have to stand against the ruling class the Sanhedrin with all the wisdom and courage their Master had. They would have to in faith test that which they believed to be truth and founded upon His word only. If the loved Him, then now they would have to walk in His commandment.

Here Jesus is teaching that obedience is a mark of our love. If we love Him them we will abide in His word. We will keep His commandments. Our faithfulness to the words of Jesus is a defining mark of a true disciple of Christ. “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” (John 8:31) Peter had testified that Jesus had the words that led to life eternal. (John 6:68) If we love Jesus, then we should have love for all as He died for all. We have this command to love one another. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (John 13:34) We are to love as He has loved us, He who died for us out of His love for us. That is the measure of the love we are to have for one another. As we express His love towards us in our relationships with others we will come to understand His love in a deeper and intimate way. “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.” (1 John 2:3)

With our expression of love towards Him who first loved us by keeping his commandments, by ordering our lives in obedience to His Word, we our making our hearts a suitable place for His Spirit to dwell. As we would not want to live in a dirty home neither would His Spirit desire to live in a darkened heart. Jesus is the light of the world and if that light is to shine through us to the world, then we must have a heart of love, we must have a heart of obedience to His commandments, and we must have a heart that shines in His truth. “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.” (John 8:12) We are His ambassadors from the Kingdom of Heaven where we hold our citizenship and we must live before the world as citizens of His Kingdom, as the body of His Church, and as His witnesses of the Gospel of His salvation by word and deed.

The followers of Christ are given the Helper, the Holy Spirit, which has come down from God by the prayers of Jesus. God’s Spirit dwelling in our hearts, the Spirit of Jesus. I had always had envy for the disciples of Jesus because they were able to be with Him when He was present here upon the earth. But as I have become a little more elder I have come to believe that the Christian today has the advantage. Whereas Jesus was with them leading them in the steps they should go, we have the Spirit of Truth residing within driving us in the way that we should go. We have our commission which is the same commission as the first disciples of Jesus and we have the same power they had living through us, the Spirit of Truth. “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.” (John 15:26)

Our battles are not on the streets of our towns, or the battlefields of men, we will never find a true victory there, as we are fighting in the power of mere men. If we are fighting to change the hearts of men to see our own way, then they would be no better off if we won the argument. Pastor James Stewart told me long ago that only Jesus can change the hearts of men. We too, are men such as them. Our battle is in the realm of the spirit for there is the life that endures eternity. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) We cannot reach the spirits of the heavens and we cannot face the spirits that traverse to and fro across the world. If we give them the opportunity they will accomplish their goal and destroy us. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)

The one who loves Jesus, obeys His commandments and has the love of God within their heart, has accepted the power of the Spirit of Truth in their life, is then fully equipped to fight the battles against the evil forces that seek to devour men. The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Ephesian Church list the arsenal available to us though our faith in Jesus Christ to stand in the battle. We must daily put on our belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, carry the shield of faith, put on our helmet of salvation, and carry the sword of the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:14-17) With these six armaments and we are prepared to withstand the attacks of the evil one. Five are for our defense but the Sword of the Spirit is the Offense, the Word of God.

This is the victory that we shall share with Jesus Christ that the love of God will overcome all evil and eternity will reign in righteousness. We will never change the world on the battlefields of men by sending men to their death but we can be instrumental in changing the hearts of men by loving them to life in the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Thomas N Kirkpatrick

Durant Bible College, June 11, 2015

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