Pastor of First Baptist Church in Lubbock, Texas.



“If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin: but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well” (John 15:24).

The great tragedy of many modern American pulpits is the abandonment of the historical/grammatical understanding of the biblical text, and to embrace other sources of authority, so as to accommodate as many lifestyles as possible—and all in the name of love. What could be more unloving, and self-damning, than the withholding of truth; to affirm what scripture has deemed sin? The one thing that makes God’s grace amazing is the reality of sin. The attempt to eliminate all the lines and boundaries defining sin, is but an expressed hatred for the Boundary Maker.

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“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin” (John 15:22). 

“They would not have sin” is a strange statement, but one Jesus twice makes (See also v.24). It means that if the life and ministry of Jesus had not broken into the world, humanity could have continued on in its self-destructive path without guilt, shame, or indictment. With the in-breaking of the gospel, however, and the proclamation of deliverance from sin, the world is now under conviction. As the church, the living presence of Christ in the world, we are an indicting presence to all having no regard for the things of God; present reminders of what could and should be. Convicting because we do not offer assent, or change the definition of sin, to accommodate activities and lifestyles scripture has deemed outside God’s design.

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“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you” (John 15:19).

Besides our association with Jesus, whom the world hates, what is most problematic for the world, and its enmity for all his true followers, is that “you are not of the world.” That is, you have rejected their system, structure, game, and rat race for living. It is the refusal to “dumb down” life, settling for lower and temporal things; aspiring, instead, for higher and eternal things, fitting to the call of God upon our lives. Like the proverbial crab trap, the masses always seek to pull down, and keep among them, anyone trying to escape a mundane existence.

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“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you” (John 15:16).

Being a chosen people doesn’t mean we become frozen into a state of blissful leisure. Ours is an appointed task, to be obediently carried out. The fruit-bearing mission to which we have been called is fulfilled not by sequestering ourselves in upper rooms, mountaintops, or sanctuaries but, rather, in our going. What a great privilege we have been afforded—chosen, appointed, and sent to bear his fruit into the world.

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“that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief” (Ephesians 3:3). 

Revelation is the process of God making himself and his purposes known; it’s a pulling back of the veil so that we might understand those things once hidden and unknown. The coming of Christ is the full revelation of God and has made known to us that even we, Gentiles, are recipients of, and full partakers in, the promises afforded the chosen people of God. Mystery solved.

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“For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart” (Hebrews 12:3).

In isolation is an unnecessary way to face adversity. To be alone in our struggles only exacerbates the pain and its debilitating effects. Jesus did what he did upon Calvary’s cross to redeem us from our sins but also to sustain and inspire us in our pain; that both the fellowship of  his Spirit and the community of his Body might support and energize us for another day.

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“You did not choose Me but I chose you…” (John 15:16).

In contrast to ancient days, when students chose their rabbi of preference, Jesus has chosen all those who would be his disciples, both past and present. This twice repeated statement, “I chose you,” (v.19), along with Paul’s allusions to the elect (Romans 8:33), and being chosen before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4), are assurances offered to God’s people, and always in the context of their persecution. Instead of confusion, exclusion, and division, these words were intended as an encouragement to persevere and not give up in the face of adversity.

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“But Jesus aware of this, said to them, ‘Why are you bothering the woman? For she has done a good deed for Me’” (Matthew 26:10).

In the Greek New Testament two words are translated as good—agathos and kalos. The former points to a deed or activity beneficial in its effect. The latter has to do not just with the quality of the action, but the attitude. When the woman poured the expensive perfume over the head of Jesus, what he commends is the kalos, the good spirit by which she performed her good deed. It’s a very real possibility, Christian, that you can be right, but hold it forth in a way that is wrong, mean-spirited, unattractive, and divisive. As followers of Christ, we should seek to do good things, but doing them in a good way is even better.

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“This I command you, that you love one another” (John 15:17).

For the third time in this upper room discourse, Jesus has commanded his disciples with the imperative to love one another (13:34; 15:12). It is not a divine suggestion, applicable when appropriate, but a mandate from the Lord. If even the most godless reprobate loves the lovable, then, is it not the intentional way we love the unlovable that separates us, and gives us our distinctive Christ-like presence in the world? Perhaps, like his first disciples, we need the frequent reminder that even when we were the unlovable, Christ loved us; that if such love was extended to the likes of us, the only fair and appropriate response is to offer it to others.

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“This is My commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you” (John 15:12).

Jesus’ use of the singular “commandment,” after referencing the plural “commandments” in verse 10, should be noted. A hallmark characteristic of true discipleship is the desire to follow his teachings; knowing these provide, not only the guidelines and parameters necessary to living a life pleasing to him, but also the kind of life that gives credibility to the testimony of our faith. In living them out, and holding them forth before an unbelieving world, all commandments must emerge from a loving faith, not a hateful religion. This is the supreme commandment.

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