August 20 – 26, 2017
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34).
Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 5, 167–177; The Ministry of Healing, 25, 26.
“All who are imbued with His Spirit will love as He loved. The very principle that actuated Christ will actuate them in all their dealing one with another.” The Desire of Ages, 678.
1 A NEW COMMANDMENT
How much love was demonstrated by Christ and what is its significance for His followers? John 13:1; 15:13.
Note: “[John 13:34, 35 quoted.] How broad, how full is this love. The new part of that commandment the disciples did not understand. They were to love one another as Christ had loved them. These were their credentials that Christ was formed within, the hope of glory. After the sufferings of Christ, after His crucifixion and resurrection and proclamation over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’ (John 11:25), after His words to the five hundred who assembled to see Him in Galilee, and after His ascension to heaven, the disciples had some idea of what the love of God comprehended, and of the love they were to exercise one toward another. When the Holy Spirit rested on them on the day of Pentecost, that love was revealed.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1141.
What is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit and what is the evidence that this fruit is being perfected in us? Galatians 5:22, 23; 1John 4:11–13; 3:18.
2 A NEW COMMANDMENT (continued)
In what sense did Christ refer to brotherly love as a “new commandment”? John 13:34.
Note: “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 very 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 loved you, that ye also love one another’ (John 15:17; 13:34). 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; through His 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 Spirit will love as He loved. The very principle that actuated Christ will actuate them in all their dealing one with another.” The Desire of Ages, 677, 678.
How do we show that we are the sons of God and the friends of Christ? Romans 8:14; 1John 3:10.
Note: “Religion consists in doing the words of Christ; not doing to earn God’s favor, but because, all undeserving, we have received the gift of His love. Christ places the salvation of man, not upon profession merely, but upon faith that is made manifest in works of righteousness. Doing, not saying merely, is expected of the followers of Christ. It is through action that character is built. ‘As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God’ (Romans 8:14). Not those whose hearts are touched by the Spirit, not those who now and then yield to its power, but they that are led by the Spirit, are the sons of God.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 149, 150. [Emphasis author’s.]
3 CHOSEN FRIENDS
What title does Jesus bestow upon His faithful followers? John 15:15, 14.
Note: “How did Christ manifest His love for poor mortals? By the sacrifice of His own glory, His own riches, and even His most precious life. Christ consented to a life of humiliation and great suffering. He submitted to the cruel mockings of an infuriated, murderous multitude, and to the most agonizing death upon the cross. Said Christ: ‘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 ye do whatsoever I command you’ (John 15:12–14). We give evidence of being the friends of Christ when we manifest implicit obedience to His will. It is no evidence to say, and do not; but in doing, in obeying, is the evidence. Who are obeying the commandment to love one another as Christ has loved them?” Testimonies, vol. 1, 690, 691.
For what purpose did Jesus choose us, and what is His command to us? John 15:16, 17.
Note: “[John 15:14 quoted.] This is the condition imposed; this is the test that proves men’s characters. Feelings are often deceiving, emotions are no sure safeguard; for they are variable and subject to external circumstances. Many are deluded by relying on sensational impressions. The test is: What are you doing for Christ? What sacrifices are you making? What victories are you gaining? A selfish spirit overcome, a temptation to neglect duty resisted, passion subdued, and willing, cheerful obedience rendered to the will of Christ are far greater evidences that you are a child of God than spasmodic piety and emotional religion.” Testimonies, vol. 4, 188. [Emphasis author’s.]
“[John 15:9–17 quoted.] These blessed assurances are for every one who will respect them, and who will, in character, reveal to the world their interpretation. ‘If ye love me,’ Christ said, ‘keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). If we are doers of the Word, we can come to God with full assurance of faith, saying, ‘Remember the word unto thy servant, upon which thou hast caused me to hope’ (Psalm 119:49). When we zealously obey God’s word from the heart, we may make that word our plea. The Lord always works in accordance with His word.” The Review and Herald, December 6, 1898.
4 PERSECUTED BY THE WORLD
Why does the world persecute the followers of Christ? John 15:18, 19.
Note: “[John 13:35 quoted.] This love, manifested in the church, will surely stir 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 of the world, 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 have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My name’s sake, because they know not Him that sent Me’ (John 15:18–21). The gospel is to be carried forward by aggressive warfare, in the midst of opposition, peril, loss, and suffering. But those who do this work are only following in their Master’s steps.” The Desire of Ages, 678.
How does the prince of evil respond to the work of Christ’s followers? John 3:19, 20; 15:20, 21.
Note: “He who came to redeem the lost world was opposed by the united forces of the adversaries of God and man. In an unpitying confederacy, evil men and evil angels arrayed themselves against the Prince of Peace. Though His every word and act breathed of divine compassion, His unlikeness to the world provoked the bitterest hostility. Because He would give no license for the exercise of the evil passions of our nature, He aroused the fiercest opposition and enmity. So it is with all who will live godly in Christ Jesus. Between righteousness and sin, love and hatred, truth and falsehood, there is an irrepressible conflict. When one presents the love of Christ and the beauty of holiness, he is drawing away the subjects of Satan’s kingdom, and the prince of evil is aroused to resist it. Persecution and reproach await all who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ. The character of the persecution changes with the times, but the principle—the spirit that underlies it—is the same that has slain the chosen of the Lord ever since the days of Abel.” Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, 29.
5 I WILL NOT LEAVE YOU COMFORTLESS
What difficulties would the disciples encounter after the ascension of Christ? John 16:1–3.
Even though they would suffer persecution at the hands of the enemies of the truth, what promise did Christ give to the faithful? John 14:18.
What difference in the relationship between Christ and His followers would set in after His ascension? John 16:7.
What far–reaching work would the Holy Spirit perform in behalf of sinners? John 16:8–11.
What is our part in helping the church to receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit? John 15:26, 27; 1John 1:1–3.
Note: “With a loving spirit we may perform life’s humblest duties ‘as to the Lord’ (Colossians 3:23). If the love of God is in the heart, it will be manifested in the life. The sweet savor of Christ will surround us, and our influence will elevate and bless.” Steps to Christ, 82, 83.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 What are the characteristics of the divine love which Christ wants to develop in me through the Holy Spirit?
2 What is hindering me from receiving Christ’s unselfish love in its fullness?
3 How is Christ’s commandment to be new to me?
4 Why shouldn’t I be surprised at persecution?
5 What obstacles may be hindering my reception of the Holy Spirit in great power?
Copyright © 2004 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, 5240 Hollins Road, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.