THE MEASURE OF TRUTH
We know that we have come to know Him if we keep His commands. Whoever says, ‘I know Him,’ but does not keep His commands is a liar and the truth is not in him. But if anyone obeys His word, love for God is truly made complete in him. This is how we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did. (1 John 2: 3-6)
What a difference between the standards of God’s Word and the standards that are applied in many parts of the church today! In some denominations, doctrine has become the standard of acceptance. As long as its members adhere to the right doctrines – or at least to the doctrines they believe in – everything else is acceptable.
One denomination I know of makes infant baptism the test. If any of its members dares to be baptised by immersion as a believer in obedience to Jesus’ command, he or she is immediately excommunicated because he has “undone his salvation”. Others make premillennialism the criterion. Its members must believe in a secret rapture, an evil antichrist political world ruler and seven years of tribulation before Jesus returns.
Sometimes the standards of the church are whittled down to what is socially or politically acceptable, regardless of what the Word of God says about it. The gay agenda is a case in point. God’s clear condemnation of homosexuality is smoothed over by fine-sounding arguments and rationalisation until it sounds as though we know the truth and God is at fault.
Now I ask, “Where did they find those requirements among the commands of Jesus?”
Peter had blown it badly. He was in the depths of despair because his beloved Master, whom he professed to love, was dead, and he had no opportunity to seek His forgiveness for his terrible words on the eve of His death. Jesus had warned him about a coming test but Peter had brushed it aside with a cock-sure denial of his weakness. “Even though everyone else forsakes you, I will never do it!”
Then it happened. Peter was caught off guard by a servant girl in the courtyard of the high priest’s house. He lied, and he could not take it back. Instead of owning up, he lied again, twice more and then the cock crowed. It was Jesus’ look that undid him. He remembered Jesus’ warning – too late, and that look of compassion cracked him up. He wept as he had never wept before – big, tough, blustering, motor-mouth Peter!
No, it was not that he did not believe in the right doctrines, or that he failed to carry out the right rituals. He lied about his association with Jesus.
But there was a sequel to Peter’s failure. Jesus was back among them, alive, as He said He would do. He found His disciples in Galilee, back fishing. He prepared a delicious fish barbeque for them and invited them to join Him. After breakfast, when their hunger was satisfied, He turned to Peter with an unexpected question. “Simon, son of John, do you love me?”
Not, “Why did you do it?” or “Do you promise never to do that again?” but a simple, “Do you me?” Jesus said nothing about Peter’s failure. Not a word of accusation. Not a whisper of reproach. Just “Do you love me?” Three times, “Do you love me?” Peter must have had to think very deeply about his response. Did he really love Jesus? Why did He ask him that question? Any other question would have been easier to answer.
But, you see, that’s the difference between belonging to a club or organization and belonging to Jesus. We don’t keep the rules because we love the club. We keep the rules so that we are not thrown out. But belonging to Jesus is based on a different criterion.
If you love me, show it by doing what I have told you. (John 14:15 – The Message)
We have already talked about the essence of God’s nature. God is love. Love is the energy that drives Him. Everything about Him is motivated by love. It stands to reason, then, that love is the glue that binds Him to us and, therefore, should bind us to Him.
Our love for Jesus is the power behind everything we do, or should be. If we find it difficult to obey Him, we need to ask the question of ourselves that Jesus asked Peter: “Do I really love Him?” Love is the only force that will keep us in union with Him. When we are driven to obey by the fear of punishment, we are still slaves at heart. When we are motivated by love for Jesus, we are the true children of God.
Not our belief systems or adherence to our church’s requirements, but our love for Jesus, demonstrated by our obedience to what He told us in His word, is the acid test. Our love for Him is expressed by the way we hate what He hates and care about what He cares about. It’s not about keeping rules or else . . . It’s about loving Jesus enough to uphold everything that is important to Him.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Have you read my first book, Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing)? You’ll love it!
ISBN: Softcover – 978-1-4828-0512-3, eBook 978-4828-0511-6
My second book, Learning to be a Disciple – The Way of the Master (Copyright © 2015, Partridge Publishing), companion volume to Learning to be a Son – The Way to the Father’s Heart, has been released in paperback and digital format on www.amazon.com.
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