Reverend Anthony R. Locke
October 03rd, 2010
at the First Presbyterian Church of Tucker
John 15:1-17 (This sermon was a prelude to a Communion Service) English Standard Version
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
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.
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Two Sundays ago we heard a sermon out of 1 John 2:1-12 about the forgiveness of sin.
1 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.
God wants us to understand that when Jesus hung on the cross He was successful. He did not try and accomplish our salvation. It was accomplished. Jesus did not fail to save anyone for whom He died. There was such great value in His life, infinite value, that His death was sufficient payment for the sins of the whole world. 1 John 2:2 explains that there is enough forgiveness for all.
But that does not mean that every person will be saved. The blood of Jesus opened the door for the whole world to be forgiven. All who call on the name of Jesus Christ shall be saved. There is sufficiency of payment by Christ’s death for all our sins to be forgiven, yes, the sins of the whole world. Yet, only those who call in repentance and faith are promised forgiveness.
How can we know that we are forgiven? 1 John 2:3 says that we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. While there is a global capacity for forgiveness, the certainty in our hearts that WE are forgiven is only enjoyed by those who live obedient lives.
You can be assured that your sins are covered by the death of Jesus on the cross if you obey Jesus. If you live your life without regard for God’s commands then you cannot know that you are going to heaven. You might be going to heaven, but the Holy Spirit uses your obedience to calm your soul that you are not God’s enemy and are in fact His friend. A changed heart results in a changed life. This is God’s only plan for you to know that you are forgiven.
Many religious people never find this assurance. Gallop polling shows that religious people in America do not live differently than their unchurched friends. Both suffer the same divorce rate, manage money with the same priorities, and seem to live for the same temporal values.
Claiming to be a Christian without living differently is meaningless. James would say that faith without work is dead. The Holy Spirit would say that claiming to have the Spirit, without the fruits of the Spirit, is self deception. Jesus said that claiming to be forgiven without living like God’s friend isn’t possible. Why? Because Jesus died for His friends.
John 15:1-17 helps us answer the question, “Did Jesus die for me?”
Verse 13-14 says, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
According to these verses, for whom did Jesus die? Jesus died for people He would redeem and call his friends. Are you God’s friend or His enemy?
Jesus didn’t die for people who would forever be His enemies. Jesus didn’t die for Satan. Jesus didn’t die for people already in Hell. Jesus died for the people he would make his friends. He died for those He would adopt into his family. Jesus died for His elect in verse 16 who were then called to bear fruit and love others (verse 17). Jesus didn’t die for slaves, meaning people with whom He had no personal relationship. See verse 15.
Jesus died for people who would find their life in Him. That’s what Jesus is saying in verse 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. Jesus intends by his death to lead us out of the darkness and into the light of His joyful resurrection.
These blessings are made possible by the death of Jesus. God the Father accomplished these things for His friends.
So on what basis can I tell myself that I am God’s friend? How can I come to a high level of assurance that Jesus died for me? Verse 14 tells us. You are my friends if you do what I command you. We become confident that we are forgiven and God’s friend through obedience.
Are you here this morning without that confidence? Are you feeling God’s displeasure for the way you are living? Are you feeling more like God’s enemy than His friend? Do you feel unforgiven? That can change today. Jesus died for you. He died to make you His forgiven friend.
Romans 5:8-11 says, God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Jesus died for people who were His enemy that He might make them His friends. That’s life altering love. God loves you so much. Don’t reject His plan to redeem and sanctify your life. Amen
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. 2001. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.