Tuesday, May 19, 2009

KEEP My Commandments

How often do we forget the price that Christ paid for us? How often do we forget that in all actuality, Christ did not spend His time burdening man with laws and statutes but rather He spent His time traveling, healing and teaching love. As I stop and look around the Christian landscape today, both close to me and in distance places, I no longer see Christ in His church but rather I see Moses.

One of the arguments I have recently heard to justify attempting to live and teach a life of legalism came from John 14. In this chapter, Christ makes the comment to His faithful follower Philip "If you love Me, you will keep my commandments (15)." That is what the apostle John saw, heard, and recorded for us. So, there we have it. Christ tells us that in order to show Him we love Him, we must keep His commandments. It is because of this verse that if you look through many Christian's Bibles today, you will find every scripture of law from Genesis to Revelation highlighted, underlined, or posted on their refrigerator. Strangely enough, in these Bibles, the portions that have the red lettering do not have that many highlights. I will allow you to deduct the meaning of that for yourself.

A closer look at the scripture though reveals something interesting. Christ's statement to Philip was not a commandment to follow every law set forth. Did/does Christ's father demand perfect obedience to the law? Yes. Hence the need for a Savior. So what was this Savior's point then?

I contend that people who read this passage as a commandment to strictly adhere to the law are misguided and even worse, victims of flawed, if not irresponsible teaching. I support that statement by pointing to the Greek language that John was first written in. The verb "keep" in John 14:15 is the Greek "Tereo." Both Thayer's and Strong's define this word as meaning to attend to carefully, to take care of, or to guard and believe it is akin to the verb "Theoreo" which means to be a spectator of or to look at or more simply, to see.

So Christ is saying in this verse, see and take care of my commandments. He then makes this point again in v. 21 when he uses the verb "Tereo" in discussing keeping his commandments. Christ was asking Philip to guard his few commandments from what? False doctrine?

To look deeper into John 14, Christ says in verse 15 that if we love Him we will see, guard His commandments and then HE (not we) will ask God to give another Helper (counselor, advocate) to assist us. What does this Helper do?? It leads us to a deeper knowledge/understanding of the commandments? For what??? To be able to guard/keep them??? Why?? v 26 says so that we can better remember them??? For what??? To save souls/fulfill the great commission. We are led to and assisted by the Holy Spirit to guard God's word and pass it on unadulterated so that more souls can be won. Not of our own doing, but wholly of God's. That is the power of God's word. We read and are taught it and we are convicted by the Holy Spirit to have a love for Christ that makes us want to dive deeper into His word at which point we are given the assistance of the Holy Spirit to understand it more so that we can be led to produce fruit through TEACHING THE WORD alone. Christ's law = keep my teachings pure. Instead, we have allowed it to be taken hostage by people who want to use it to make law. Apostasy defined.

Read it, be given understanding, keep it pure, teach it. All this is done through us, not by us. Not my opinion, that is the teaching of Christ.

Quickly think about 2 John 1. Look at what John is rejoicing in (v 4). The fact that they are guarding the word from false doctrine and abiding with one another in love (a fruit of the prior). How do we know this, because John tells us so when he states 'For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. 8Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we have worked for, but may win a full reward. 9Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, 11for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

He is happy that they have kept (guarded, taken care of) the true gospel message. That message being the gospel message of Christ. Note, this isn't a one time warning against such and is actually a common theme in the Epistles (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:8; Gal. 1:9; 2 Thess. 3:6; 2 Thess. 3:14 to name a few). John goes as far in 3 John to commend their remaining solid in the word and not allowing the Gentiles to add to their teaching. Teach the word, not the law. Guard Christ's words and teachings in their purest forms. I challenge you to make a list of the "commandments" that Christ made. You will find they are few. Perhaps that's the way he wanted it...

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