The Great Call – Part Four

The Great Call

Part Four

“As the Father hath loved me,
so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9

Jesus continues in John 15 by presenting the disciples with the way for them to enter the Great Call and to remain in His empowering love and grace.

If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love”
John 15:10

There can be no misinterpretation of the enormity of His call. Discipleship is not a comfortable teaching. It is not a popular invitation, nor an aspiration for those who seek a life of ease and respectability. It is a call of full surrender to the Will and purposes of God, a life of subservience to His Ways. A true disciple obeys His commandments to abide in the power of His Love. Love is the only motive able to transform a selfish, egotistical, and lost soul through the workings of the Cross. In dying to self, we discover the pure wonder of a Love so encompassing, so vast and so freeing that the cost is considered nothing in comparison to the “weight of glory” we will know.

“And he that taketh not his cross,
and followeth after me, is not worthy of me”
Matthew 10:38

There is something radical, even unnerving in His Call. Accepting the offer of Christ is not a trendy and popular decision. It is a Call to selfless living and selfless giving. Obedience is not optional to the disciple. But the Love we hold, or more correctly which holds us to His Way, culminates in pure joy. The context of John 15 leaves little doubt as to His Call or His purpose. Let us see through the eyes of the Spirit the power of all Jesus is implying.

John 15:9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”

John 15:10 “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.”

John 15:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

In verse 9 Jesus presents to us the all-encompassing love of God; a Love of heavenly origin. It is a Love that knows our condition, that feels the agony and the lostness of humanity. It was a Love that sent Jesus into this world to walk as a man, to feel the oppression of mankind’s sorrow, to experience the corrupt and self-serving religious and political systems of the day. He spoke the truths of love in the parables of everyday life. The common man, the addicted, the afflicted, and the wounded were His focus. He exposed the religious elite who walked in the pride and arrogancy of hypocrisy. The Parable of the Good Samaritan revealed the beauty of a selfless life, caring for others more than ourselves. He called out to the poor and the needy to come and find the solace of heaven. He took notice of the offerings of the poor widow and saw the value of her mite; He was unimpressed with the rich who flaunted their offering. He was God in the flesh. His compassion, His uncompromising and unflinching walk was a source of anger and hate for the religious but a source of inspiration for the common man. He was the breath of heaven clothed in human form. He was and is the image of God’s purpose for all humanity.

Mat 20:25 “But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.”

Mat 20:26 “It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,”

Mat 20:27 “and whoever would be first among you must be your slave,”

Mat 20:28 “even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

The nature of man apart from Christ is one of self-seeking, self-pleasing, and self-gratification. This focus on ourselves is the source of our own misery. Ask the addicted, the abused, and consider the countless stories of human sorrow which we have all known. It is to this crisis of human nature that the Cross is presented. In its deep work, we find rest, freedom, and the Divine enablement to love as He loved. We are free to forgive injustices and the tyranny of the human condition; to offer to all who would hear the wonder of freedom found in the Love of God!

Feel the depth of the Great Call of God in Christ:

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”
Matthew 11:28-29

The Call goes forth to all who would hear and respond. The “yoke” of Christ is His invitation to enter a rest for our weary souls. The “yoke” of Christ is His Cross whereby we are freed from the poison of self to know His Joy in our hearts. This life of joy cannot be known by sitting in a pew, believing in a teaching, or adherence to a doctrine. It can only be known through the intimacy of a relationship, walking in the yoke of His grace and love.

Jesus spoke of His true intention for us being captured by His Love to a growing obedience:

“…that my joy may be in you,
and that your joy may be full”
John 15:11

See: The Great Call
See: The Great Call – Part Two
See: The Great Call – Part Three

Brian Troxel

The Great Call – Part Three

The Great Call

Part Three

“As the Father hath loved me,
so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9

The Great Call of God to each of His Own is to remain in the power of HIS Love. It is a life-long call. It is a call that causes us to forsake anything that weakens His influence and power over our hearts. We, of our own volition, order our steps, make decisions, and choose our friends to facilitate His Kingdom within our lives. Everything is subservient to this one thing. The Book of Jude is a short, but fiery admonition to the growing pollution of a pervading influence of the world within the Church. There was an increasing tolerance of sin resulting in apathy and lethargy. The love of many was becoming cold*. We read his passionate exhortation to contend for THE FAITH; to fight the ethos of moral decay by which His people flagrantly used the concept of the grace of God to continue in sin, rather than understanding grace as the power of God to deliver them from their sin.

“I had necessity to write to you, exhorting [you] to fight for the faith once delivered to the holy ones…”
Jude 1:3

WHY?

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Jude 1:4

What is the great sin? It is a gospel which “perverts the grace of our God” to tolerate sin, sympathize with sin, thereby denying Him of His lordship in our lives. This perversion brings the grace of God into the realm of the senses. Where human sympathy subverts God’s Word, it twists and perverts His purpose into a demonic understanding as first evident in the Garden of Eden. The serpent beguiled Eve with this reasoning: “you shall not die”. In other words, do not fear God. Surely, He will not judge you for this act. We see this same “human” sympathy at work in Peter when he wanted to prevent Jesus from fulfilling Calvary’s call. Jesus rebuked him:

“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”!
Matthew 16:22-23

One thing is certain. There can be no true fellowship with those who esteem sin lightly. To walk in the Light of Christ is to hate sin and love righteousness. They who walk in this light know the power of true fellowship (1 John 1:6-7). Jude continues:

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
Jude 1:5

The people in Jude’s day knew this truth. The Apostolic ministrations made known the vital truth that we must “continue” in His Love. We must fight the fight of faith to remain under the power of His Grace that we are not “shipwrecked” as Paul spoke of those who started out well but failed to “continue” in the faith.

“Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck
1 Timothy 1:19

And again in Jude:

“Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”
Jude 1:11-13

People who live without a healthy “fear of the Lord” are those who have fallen to this perverted grace. The fear of the Lord is simply an attitude of heart that knows its utter need and dependence to abide in Him to live godly in this world. There is an understanding that allowing sinful thoughts to invade our hearts will lessen the influence of His Spirit and leave us vulnerable and captive to sin’s destructive ways.

“continue ye in MY love”

Our only hope of remaining true in this hour is to abide in Christ. If I lightly esteem His salvation, I will walk in this deadly world without His keeping power. Inevitably I will succumb to a worldly life while still confessing His Name. I will walk “sensually”, meaning subject to the senses and reasoning of this world, sympathizing with sin, feeling little or no remorse for my sinful inclinations. The deadliest aspect of sin is that it numbs us to its own devastating power. Only in Christ do we value exhortation, rebuke, and admonition. The natural man avoids these things, for the natural man cannot receive spiritual ministrations (1 Corinthians 2:14). The “fruit” of the perverted gospel of grace is people who only want to hear “smooth things” (Isaiah 30:10), pleasant things, with no desire for the two-edged sword of the living word of God (Hebrews 4:12).

Jude ends his fiery ministration with a plea to all who would hear:

“Keep yourselves in the love of God”
Jude 1:20-21

Keep yourselves under the influence of His grace. Keep yourselves in the fervency of His love. Fellowship with those who have not succumbed to the ethos of a gospel that alleviates His people from their responsibility to walk with God and abide in Him. Keep yourselves from living without fruit or purpose. The comfort of this human-centered gospel message is designed to assuage the conviction of the Holy Spirit.

“Having a form of godliness,
but denying the power thereof: from such turn away
2 Timothy 3:5

In the Book of Revelation Jesus says to His Church at Ephesus:

“But I have this against you,
that you have abandoned the love you had at first”
Revelation 2:4

What was God’s remedy?

“Remember therefore from where you have fallen;
repent, and do the works you did at first…”
Revelation 2:5

In God’s eyes, to live outside of this “pre-eminent love” (Greek), is a fallen state which requires repentance and a returning to what they did when they first started. The KJV uses the phrase “first love” in verse 4 and in verse 5 it uses the phrase “first works”. It takes the “first love” in order to DO the “first works”. It is impossible to hold the love of God in our hearts and be without the works of God. Utterly impossible. The branch which abides in the Vine “bears much fruit”.

May the magnificent words of Jesus resound within our hearts:

“As the Father hath loved me,
so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9

See: The Great Call
See: The Great Call – Part Two
See: The Great Call – Part Four

* Note: Jesus spoke concerning the “beginning of sorrows” that during this time there would be people with cold hearts because iniquity would be rampant. He is not speaking of the world for they have not been given the love of which Jesus spoke.

“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12)

For iniquity to abound requires a gospel in which iniquity, sin, and loose living are tolerated.

Brian Troxel

The Great Call – Part Two

The Great Call

Part Two

“As the Father hath loved me,
so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
John 15:9

In reading this powerful discourse to His disciples we must pause to note the depth, the power, and the decisiveness of the words Jesus uses. There was nothing common or mundane about His speech. Every word was filled with the majesty and weight of truth. Having declared His incomprehensible love for them, He now addresses the need for them to stay in that love.

“continue ye in MY love”

The Greek translated “continue” means to dwell, abide, and remain in that love. The Love of God is more than a sentiment; it is an atmosphere, a power, and an all-pervading influence by which He rules and subdues our whole being. Those who know Him love because He is love. This love is of an entirely different nature than anything this world has to offer. It is not a love that we can fabricate. It is beyond the scope of human origin. It emanates from God and the pure delight and privilege of His children are to simply abide in its sphere.

The Love of God can only be realized by relationship. In making known to His disciples the wonder of this love Jesus clearly communicated their need to continue, to abide, and to dwell within the source of its inspiration. The secret to the Christian life is to remain within its warmth and power.

There are many who view His Love as a teaching or a doctrine. This reduces His love to a thing. But this concept negates the intent of God to rule by that love in their hearts and instead enables them to justify their cold indifference to walk in His Ways. His Love is not a thing to be taken for granted but an influence by which our lives are to be governed.

The whole discourse of John 15 can be summed up in ONE pervading truth: ABIDE. He is the source of Life and Love, and the Christian Life is simply one of partaking and drawing from Him. There is a joy that fills our hearts as we grow into the realization that we are free from trying to work up this life. It is not in us, nor of us that the verity of this influence is to be found. May we hear with the simplicity of child-like faith, “Abide in Me”.

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit”
John 15:5

In my own journey, it has taken a long time to realize that many of the New Covenant scriptures are statements, not suggestions or doctrinal teachings. This has been revolutionary in understanding my life in Him. “He that abideth in me…bringeth forth much fruit”. A simple declaration of a fact. A healthy fruit tree bears fruit consistent with its nature. Lives which bear His fruit testify of Him. Lives that are barren and unfruitful are not abiding in the Vine regardless of their confession.

“continue ye in MY love”

See: The Great Call – Part One
See: The Great Call – Part Three

(continued in Part Three)

Brian Troxel

The Great Call

The Great Call

Part One

“As the Father hath loved me,
so have I loved you…”
John 15:9

This partial scripture is staggering. The incomprehensible Love of the Son for us is of the same magnitude that the Father has for His own Son! Selah. May the Spirit of God cause us to pause here and let the immensity of this word pierce our hearts. Let it drive out thoughts of our inadequacy, meanness, and self-loathing.

“As the Father hath loved me,
so have I loved you…”
John 15:9

If we can read these words without being overwhelmed, we need to spend more time in His Presence. Let these words impact how we see ourselves and more importantly how we are to see others. It is one of those scriptures that will take us eternity to grasp the significance of its message. Only by His Holy Spirit can we be transformed by its singular vein of thought. Let it break any vestige of pride and arrogancy within and free us from seeking to validate ourselves before men and before God.

Love is the heart and soul of every disciple. The Love which bound the heart of the Son to the pure will of God will also bind those who know its grasp upon their hearts. The love which bound the Son to the Cross will bind us to the Will of the Father unto the same obedience. Without love, there can be no true discipleship.

Until His Love has ravished our hearts, stolen our hearts away from the love of this world, we know little of our salvation. Where the love of God is resident, it will be accompanied by the Fire of God for love is the fire burning within.

“Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”
Song of songs 8:7

Throughout the ages, there have always been those whom the Love of God has sealed unto Himself. There has always been a remnant whose lives were His to do with as He willed. He that spared not His Only Begotten Son did not spare them. Whatever they lost here was compensated in the resurrection.

“…who through faith overcame kingdoms, worked out righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the mouths of the sword, acquired power from weakness, became strong in war; made armies of foreigners to yield. Women received their dead by resurrection; but others were beaten to death, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection
Hebrews 11:33-35
(The Greek Word for better means stronger, greater in power)

The secret of the life of a disciple is the love of God, burning, purifying, and bringing His own to the path of obedience. Love produces greater sacrifice, greater offerings, and purer motives. Love is the great gift of Himself to us.

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned: From which some having swerved have turned aside unto vain jangling…”
1 Timothy 1:5-6

See: The Nature of Love

See: The Great Call – Part Two
See: The Great Call – Part Three

(to be continued)

Brian Troxel