John 14:15 (ESVST)
15 “ If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
This is one verse that has sparked quite a lot of controvesy especially among the Roman Catholic Church or similar churches and the Reformers or Protestant Churches or similar churches. This is because the Roman Catholic Church beleives in Salvation by grace through faith plus obedience to the law, while the Reformers believe in Salvation by grace through faith plus nothing. This verse and others like it, have been used by the Roman Catholic Church and other churches similar to them, to prove that we need to obey the law as part of our salvation. We cannot be saved if we don’t keep the commandments or the law. If you don’t keep the commandments then, you don’t love Jesus and if you don’t love Jesus, you are and cannot be saved.
The Reformers or Protestants on the other hand beleive that obedience to the law is a result of salvation. In other words, the keeping of the commandments comes as a result of one having received salvation. Keeping of commandments is the result of or the fruits of salvation. In other words, the proof that one is truly saved, is in his continuous compliance to God’s commandments.
My position on this is the following, the verse above starts with a condition “if”. The word “if” introduces a condition. The condition is that if you love Jesus, you will keep his commandments. Now, we know that you cannot love Jesus unless the Father has drawn you to him.
John 6:44 (ESVST)
No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.
So, one must first be drawn to by God and only then, can they come to Jesus.
John 6:65 (ESVST)
And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”
Again here we see that no one comes to Jesus unless it is granted that he comes to Jesus by God.
Acts 16:14-15 (ESVST)
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. 15 And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “ If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.
Again here Lydia only listened to Paul and was saved because God opened her heart so that she may pay attention to what was said. So, it is clear that to love Jesus, is not something that one decides out of his own will but a decision that God makes. It is God that draws you, grants you and opens your heart, for you to come to Jesus and Love him. You love him, after God has opened your heart, you respond to your heart being opened, by having faith in Jesus, by loving Jesus and by beleiving in him. This process is called regeneration. Regeneration is a process whereby God out of his own will, chooses to call you to repentance, not because you have done anything to deserve it, by first opening your heart and allowing it to respond to the gospel call. A responce by you to that call by faith in Jesus leads to salvation. Once this process has happened, you will love Jesus and want to serve him. Once you have responded by faith in Jesus to the gospel call, you are saved.
Romans 10:9 (ESVST)
because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
This process of regeneration, is a process that God instituted when he made a new covenant with himself, replacing the old covenant that he did with Israel at Mount Sinai. This new covenant is found in Jeremiah 31:33-36 and it’s implementation process is found in Ezekiel 36:24-27.
Jeremiah 31:33-34 (ESVST)
For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘ Know the Lord, ’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Ezekiel 36:24-27 (ESVST)
I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
Jeremiah 32:37-39 (ESVST)
Behold, I will gather them from all the countries to which I drove them in my anger and my wrath and in great indignation. I will bring them back to this place, and I will make them dwell in safety. 38 And they shall be my people, and I will be their God. 39 I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their own good and the good of their children after them.
Notice two things in the passages I have quoted above. Firstly, in all the passages, God is the only one who does anything. There is only “I” in all these passages and this “I” represents God. Notice how no one else is part of this covenant. In other words, no one else has to do anything. The rest of us, are only receivers of this covenant and are not part of the covenant. In other words, we do not have to do anything for us to recieve the promises in this covenant. The process explained in Ezekiel 36:24-27 above, is the process of regeneration.
Secondly, if you look at the underlined verses, it is God who cause us to walk in his statutes or commandments and to obey his rules. Notice in Ezekiel 36:24-26 how the process of regeneration unfolds and only at the end of, in verse 27, does God cause us to obey his commandments. Notice the same thing in Jer 32:39 above, it is again God who gives us one heart and one way, that we may fear him forever. We don’t just decide to fear him, it is God who causes us to fear him.
The same process as is, is applicable to our passage that we are dealing with in this message. The condition is that if we love him, that is, if we have already being regenerated through the process of regeneration as explained above, only then, can we keep his commandments. The eagerness, the desire or the need to want to keep Jesus’s commandments is as a result of having being regenerated. So, keeping God’s commandments, keeping Jesus’s commandments is proof of salvation and not a requirement of salvation. If keeping the commandments was a requirement of salvation, then God in his covenant in Jeremiah above, would have indicated that he was going to do all that, only If we kept his commandments but, God does all the promises and at the end of it, He is the one who cause us to keep the commandments.
In as much as salvation is the work of God in us, so is the keeping of commandments. We keep commandments because God made us or caused us to want to keep them. So, we don’t keep commandments to impress God so that he can save us but, rather we keep commandments because God has already saved us and made us to keep the commandments. Therefore we can read the verse as such, “to show that you love me, keep my commandments”.
Now which commandments is Jesus talking about, the Ten Commandments? No, Jesus in this verse, is talking about the commandments that he gave us, not the commandments that God gave us. How do I know this and why am I separating the commandments? Good question. It is because Jesus himself seperated them.
John 15:10 (ESVST)
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.
There are commandments that were given by God and that Jesus himself gave. In this verse, Jesus is the one talking to his disciples and he says that they should keep his commandments. Which commandments did Jesus give us? I have attached this link that will take you to a website that has listed 38 commandments that Jesus gave us.