Photo Credit by Flickr/Jesslee Cuizon
FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
April 11, 2014
Are We Preparing for the Latter Rain?– Part XXV
A Loving People
The New Commandment of the Third Angel’s Message. Jesus said, “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are My friends, if you do whatsoever I command you.” John 15: 12-14, K.J.V.
Christ, through John, author of the gospel bearing his name, the three small epistles, and the last book of the Bible, wrote to the churches: “Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye have heard from the beginning. . . .Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in Him and in you; because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth. He that saith he is in the light andhateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.” 1 John 2: 7- 9. John continues, “He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer and ye know no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” 1 John 3: 14, 15. “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? 1 John 4: 20.
Many “unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also other scriptures” (2 Pet. 3:16; Ps. 56:5), propagating the antinomian lie that the Ten Commandments were abrogated because “they were nailed to the cross” or replaced by “the new commandment to love one another.” This often occurring word “brother,” is used with a variety of meanings. It also means (1) “Any fellow man, as all are descended from the same first ancestor [Adam]. In this sense the Lord taught the true relationship of brethren (Matt. 5: 22, 24; 7:3) (2) A fellow believer, as indicated in Matt. 23: 8; John 21: 23; Acts 6: 3; Gal. 1: 2. Christ Himself is represented as a Brother to those whom He saves (Rom. 8: 29).”
None of the disciples understood what this “new commandment of love” meant for while they willingly accepted His invitation to follow Him and fell in love with this humble Carpenter from Galilee whose words mysteriously thrilled their hearts, they did not love one another as Christ loved them. Not yet. There were character-transforming lessons they still had to personally witness and experience.
John returned from exile at Patmos to become patriarch of the church in Jerusalem . Having now experienced more fully the love, power, and wisdom of God in Christ, he manifested these as did the rest of the 120 who received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Thousands of new converts were baptized into the New Testament church, the majority of whom the Jews, in their national pride and prejudice, despised as “Gentiles.” But sadly, change gradually came into the early church itself. Satan was working. The love manifested for one another in words and deeds began to wane. The brethren began to indulge in suspicion, evil-surmising, and fault-finding—the very same problems we are dealing with today. John, seeing this dangerous element creeping in, then, repeated Christ’s very words given them before His crucifixion—“Little children, a new commandment I give to you.” But preceding this he tells them that ‘I give you no new commandment but the same one which you heard from the beginning.” God’s moral law is from everlasting to everlasting, eternal and unchangeable as its Author. It is the law of love, liberty, and royalty for it is the law King of kings and Lord of lords. It is “the same commandment which ye heard from the beginning,” the law Christ came “to magnify and make honorable.” Isa. 42: 21; John 15:10.
See 1 John 2: 7, 8. Compare to John 13: 33, 34 (Last Supper); Desire of Ages, pp. 662-3, 677-8, based on John 13: 31-38; 14-17: We see the following scenario:
“Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest sympathy, Christ said, ‘Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.’ Judas left the upper chamber, and Christ was alone with the eleven. He was about to speak of His approaching separation from them; but before doing this He pointed to the great object of His mission. It was this that He ever kept before Him. It was His joy that all His humiliation and suffering would glorify the Father’s name. To this He first directs the thoughts of His disciples. Then addressing them by the endearing term, ‘Little children,’ He said, ‘Yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek Me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say unto you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13: 33, 34. See verses 36-38.
“The disciples could not rejoice when they heard this. Fear fell upon them. They pressed close about the Savior. Their Master and Lord, their beloved Teacher and Friend, He was dearer to them than life. To Him they had looked for help in all their difficulties, for comfort in their sorrows and disappointments. Now He was to leave them, a lonely dependent company. Dark were the forebodings that filled their hearts.
“But the Savior’s words to them were full of hope. He knew that they were to be assailed by the enemy, and that Satan’s craft is most successful against those who are depressed by difficulties. Therefore He pointed themaway from ‘the things which are seen,’ to ‘the things which are not seen.’ 2 Cor. 4: 18. From earthly exile He turned their thoughts to the heavenly home. [John 14: 1-3 quoted]. ‘And wither I go ye know, and the way ye know.’ For your sake I came into the world I am working in your behalf. When I go away, I shall still work earnestly for you. I came into the world to reveal Myself to you, that you might believe. I go to the Father to co-operate with Him in your behalf. The object of Christ’s departure was the opposite of what the disciples feared. It did not mean a final separation. He was going to prepare a place for them, that He might come again, and receive them to Himself. While He was building mansions for them, they were to build characters after the divine similitude.”
“In this last meeting with His disciples, the great desire which Christ expressed for them was that they might love one another as He had loved them. Again and again He spoke of this. ‘These things I command you,’ He said repeatedly, ‘that ye love one another.’ His first injunction when alone with them in the upper chamber was, ‘A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have love you, that ye also love one another.
“To the disciples this commandment was new; for they had not loved one another as Christ had loved them. He saw that new ideas and impulses must control them; that new principles must be practiced by them; throughHis life and death they were to receive a new conception of love. The command to love one another had a new meaning in the light of His self-sacrifice. The whole work of grace is one continual service of love, of self-denying, self-sacrificing effort. During every hour of Christ’s sojourn upon the earth, the love of God was flowing from Him in irrepressible streams. All who are imbued with His [Holy] Spirit will love as He loved. The very principle that actuated Christ will actuate them in all their dealing one with another.
“This love is the evidence of their discipleship. ‘By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples,’ said Jesus, ‘if ye have love one to another.’ When men are bound together, not by force or self-interest, but by love, they show a working of an influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness exists, it is evidence that the image of God is being restored in humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that there is a power in the divine nature to withstand the supernatural forces of evil, and the grace of God subdues the selfishness inherent in the natural heart.
“This love, manifested in the church, will surely stir up the wrath of Satan. Christ did not mark out for His disciples an easy path. ‘If the world hate you,’ He said, ‘ye know that it hated Me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me. ’ John 15: 17-21.
Luke 12: 8. “The refining influence of the grace of God changes the natural dispositions of man. Heaven would not be desirable to the carnal-minded; their unsanctified hearts would feel no attraction toward that pure and holy place, and if it were possible for them to enter, they would find there nothing congenial. The propensities that control the natural heart must be subdued by the grace of Christ before fallen man is fitted to enter heaven and enjoy the society of the pure, holy angels. When man dies to sin and is quickened to a new life in Christ [Romans 6] divine love fills his heart; his understanding is sanctified; he drinks from an inexhaustible fountain of joy and knowledge, and the light of an eternal day shines upon his path, for with him continually is the Light of life.”- God’s Amazing Grace, p. 250. (The same topic continued next week)