Being Unified by Remembering the One Who Gave All

Rod Hutton May 26, 2019 John 15:9-16
Outline

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Luke 9:23 - And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.”

John 15:12 - This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

Matthew 3:17 - This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.

John 10:30 - I and the Father are One…

John 14:31 - …so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me…

John 6:38 - For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

John 3:16 - Because God so loved the World that he gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life…

3 blessings of unity received when we accept the greatest love

I. Unified to Receive Joy

A. Abiding brings unity

1. Abide = to remain, to continue, to endure, to stand by in trials

2. Elements of Abiding:

a. Knowing Christ

John 17:3 - This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

b. Trusting Christ

Proverbs 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.

c. Suffering with Christ

1 Peter 4:12-13 - Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation…

B. Abiding means following the commands of another

John 15:10 - 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.

“However much God’s love for us is gracious and undeserved, continued enjoyment of that love turns, at least in part, on our response to it. Lest we should fill the injunction to remain in Christ’s love with some insipid, pious jargon, v. 11 immediately makes the issue clear. If we are the recipients of Jesus’ love in a way analogous to his own reception of the Father’s love, we must remain in Jesus’ love by exactly the same means by which he has always remained in his Father’s love: obedience.” (Carson, PNTC)

II. Abiding Leads to a Change in Our Relationship

A. The old self – a slave to sin

John 8:34 - Truly, Truly I say to you everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.

Romans 6:16-19 - Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

B. The new self – a friend to Christ

III. Unified to Bear Fruit

John 15:16 - 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…

· Bearing Fruit requires Accepting the Mission

Matthew 28:19-20 - Go therefore, make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.

John 15:16 - …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 15:17 - This I command you, that you love one another.

We have so much to be thankful for and to give praise for while at the same time, I want us to be able to consider the reasons that we celebrate this weekend each year.

It may be that some are celebrating because school is out and Memorial Day marks the “Official beginning of Summer” and so we have plans for barbeques and family picnics, watching baseball and the Indy 500...I think that is fabulous and I love celebrating with family and friends.

But I also want us to step back and consider what we are Memorializing on Memorial Day. Today is a day we remember and give thanks for those who have given everything in serving our country.

For most of us here – we can’t even remember a summer without a Memorial Day. Though Memorial Day only became a National Holiday in 1971, the tradition goes much further back. Even before the Civil War, it was common for communities to decorate the graves of fallen soldiers as a way of honoring their sacrifice. This was done in Gettysburg and in Savannah as well as other communities. In some cities there were parades too. In 1865, in Charleston, 10,000 recently freed African Americans held a parade to honor 257 dead Union Soldiers who were buried in a mass grave at a Confederate prison camp.

Here in Indiana too the tradition runs strong. The desire to remember evoked deep feelings in the past. For many years there was opposition to the running of the Indy 500 on Memorial Day as it was thought to detract from the real meaning of the holiday. Eventually, in 1966 the race was switched from Monday to Sunday.

The name of Memorial Day became commonly used after WWII leading eventually to the national proclamation in 71. In last year’s proclamation, our president began by saying -

“On Memorial Day, we pause in solemn gratitude to pay tribute to the brave patriots who laid down their lives defending peace and freedom while in military service to our great Nation. We set aside this day to honor their sacrifice and to remind all Americans of the tremendous price of our precious liberty.”

Today as we observe Memorial Day, I want to reflect on what it takes in the heart of a man or women to make this kind of sacrifice. To get a firsthand account, I asked Rob Gaither to share a few thoughts about his time in service of our nation.

PLAY VIDEO

I am thankful for Rob’s willingness to share his experiences with us as it was not easy to talk about the friends that he lost. What I saw in his testimony was the unity and the bond that held those units together, and how that bond then motivated them and enabled a heart willing to risk and ultimately give their lives for others.

In preparing today’s message I spent some time reading the Medal of Honor citations describing the heroics of Soldiers and Marines, Sailors and Airmen who sacrificed their lives in order to save the lives for others. Men like Corporal Jason Dunham who absorbed the full force of a grenade blast with his body so as to shield the blast from the others in his unit. Or Sergeant First Class Paul Ray Smith who when under attack in Baghdad after helping evacuate 3 wounded soldiers, “fearing the enemy would overrun the defenses...under withering enemy fire manned an .50 Cal machine gun mount on a damaged armored personnel carrier. In total disregard for his own life, he maintained this exposed position to engage the attacking force –during which he was mortally wounded yet his efforts resulted in the withdrawal of numerous wounded soldiers.

These men and many others have laid down their lives for the protection of others, for the defense of our nation. Today, we want to respond to that by remembering, honoring and giving thanks for the freedoms which they died to protect.

Today as we remember the sacrifices that have been made by our family or friends who have served and died for our nation, I want to also draw our eyes to see the One who gave everything for all the nations and look at what God’s word has to say for us, the Lord’s Army fighting a battle today for the eternal lives of those who we love.

TITLE: “Being Unified by Remembering the One who gave All.”

This year we have been focusing on our theme of Growing what God has given us most recently in our series by embracing the Cross and today we will be exploring how we can Grow what God has given us in “Being Unified by Remembering the One who gave All.”

John 15:13 - Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

Social Media today may be flooded with military tributes quoting John 15:13 saying “Greater love has no one than this, than one lay down his life for his friends.” and I would agree with that sentiment as long as we can remember the greatest example of love that came at the Cross.

We want to remember, honor and give thanks for Christ who laid down his life as a sacrifice to save us from death and give to us eternal life. Butt more than just remembering, we also need to ask how should we then respond? How should we live?

To answer this question, I want to pull back just a little further and try to understand better what God’s calling is for us in relation to John 15:13.

What is God’s command for me?

Is it that I am to lay down my life for others? (John 15:13)

Luke 9:23 - And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

Or is it that I am to die to self and take up my cross? (Luke 9:23)

In our passage today, we will find more than just a statement to remember, but also a command.

So, then we can ask - How will we apply God’s commands to our life and what will that look like?

If you will join me by opening your Bible to John 15. That will be page 85 of the back section of the Bible in the chair in front of you.

For context on what Jesus is saying in this passage, The Passover meal is complete, and Jesus is again teaching his disciples what is going to happen, and he is teaching them what they need to know for after he is gone even though they do not understand what he was saying. After giving them the illustration of the vine and the branches, Jesus wants his disciples to know how he wants them to carry on after he has given his life for them.

READ JOHN 15:9-17

John 15:12 - This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.

The heart of this passage rests in the center and begins with verse 12. “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.” Then, knowing that this would be the night he would be betrayed and tomorrow he would go to the cross he gave them the example of love that they just could not yet comprehend - “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. If we are going to follow his command, we need to understand how Jesus loved so that we can follow him.

The source of Christ’s love for his disciples and for us came from his relationship with his Father, a relationship that has existed eternally. We know the love of the Father for the Son as it was the very voice of God from the heavens that confirmed that when he said

Source of Christ’s Love – His relationship with the Father

Matt 3:17 “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

and whenever Jesus spoke of the Father we can see the depth of his love for him:

John 10:30 – I and the Father are One

John 14:31 - so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me

John 6:38 - For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.

And why did he come down from heaven -

John 3:16 - Because God so loved the World that he gave His one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life

The relationship between the Father and Son is exemplified by the deepest love and in that love it demonstrates the unity between them and in that unity, it carries forward to the mission of the Son ultimately such that “greater love has no one that this that one lay down his life for his friends.”

Three blessings of Unity received when we accept the greatest love

With the time I have remaining I would like to trace out the three blessings that we receive in the unity that comes in abiding in his love when we accept Christ and his greatest love for us.

I. Unified to receive Joy

First, we are unified to receive Joy by abiding in Christ’s love.

Let’s begin by looking at how Jesus abided.

A. Abiding bring Unity

    1. Abide = To remain, To continue, To endure, To stand by in trials

The very meaning of the word abide leads us to a blessing of unity.

The word used for abide μένω (meno) is also translated as “to remain”, “to continue” or “to endure.” Or in Luke 22 the same word is used when Jesus described his disciples as “those who have stood by me in my trials.”

In each of these, the abiding brings the unity between those involved. It creates a bond that strengthens the relationship.

Even though it is a model made of imperfect men, I find several parallels with a military unit that is training and preparing to go into combat. Knowing what his men will face, the commander begins by building commitment within the unit. His goal is unity. In the term we are using today, he wants his troops to abide with him and to abide with one another. In the military this has to be built. It is built through challenges, both physical and mental, the commander seeks to create the faith and trust of his men in him that he cares for them and that his decisions and commands are based on what is best for the unit and best for the men. But that faith and trust can only come if his soldiers trust and believe that their commander will be there with them in the challenges, that he will remain or abide with them so that they will choose to remain or abide with their commander. The commander who in training tells his men to run to the top of the mountain and then follows them in his jeep will hardly begin to build a faith in his men that he will be there at the point when the bullets start flying.

At the same time, these challenges create the bonds and the relationships between the men like what Rob described earlier in his testimony. Without going through this process, the command would be nothing more than a group of soldiers looking out for themselves, but instead as they learn to abide with the commander, they become a unit with a singular purpose and the result is that they are ready to receive their orders and deploy as one.

    1. Elements of Abiding:

If abiding brings Unity, it is only fair to ask what are some of the ways in which we abide:

First we need to know the person whom we are abiding with -

John 17:3- This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.

Being here today is a good start and even going to small groups to hear more teaching is valuable – but I want to challenge you in your personal relationship with Christ that in abiding, seek to hear his voice directly and we have that in his Word. I think many of us would say we need to spend more time in the Bible – here's the challenge – open his word daily. If you have struggled with that in the past, then start by adding one day this week, then one more until the habit becomes your desire and without it you feel less ready for the day

A second would be his call for us to pray and seek his wisdom -

Prov 3:5-6 - Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

In order to abide – we need to be going in the same direction, we need to be on the path God would place us upon that we might walk together. As a part of abiding – be in prayer

Third, to abide with Christ, we must be willing to share in his sufferings and know that he shares in yours – there is nothing you are going through today that God cannot use to draw you closer to him. We can know that he has gone there before us and that he will remain with us in every trial or persecution. There is nothing in this world that he has asked us to do that he has not himself suffered. As such we can take Christ’s suffering and Christ’s promises to never let us go as a motivation to abide in Him and in doing so we gain Unity in Christ – we become one in Him

Peter says in

1Peter 4:12-13 - Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation

In knowing Him – In trusting him through Prayer – and in sharing in the suffering of Christ – we find the opportunity for joy.

B. Abiding means following the commands of another

There is another element to abiding that is even clearer in our text today

John 15:10 - 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.

Verse 10 says “just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love” These two phrases are one in the same, they are not to be separated.

For Jesus, abiding in the Father meant following the Father’s commands, doing the Father’s will and loving what the Father loved. This resulted in the unity between the Father and the Son.

We too are called in verse 9 to abide in Christ’s love

The Unity that comes from abiding in Christ is contingent upon our obedience to Christ’s commands.

It is not that Jesus calls us to a begrudging work of obedience to earn our way back to him, but rather when we love him because he loved us first, our love becomes the motivation for our obedience out of a desire to abide in Him.

The evidence of Jesus’s love for the Father comes in his obedience to the Father, so too the evidence of our love for Christ may be seen only if we choose to be obedient to his commandments.

DA Carson explains this command saying

“However much God’s love for us is gracious and undeserved, continued enjoyment of that love turns, at least in part, on our response to it. Lest we should fill the injunction to remain in Christ’s love with some insipid, pious jargon, v. 11 immediately makes the issue clear. If we are the recipients of Jesus’ love in a way analogous to his own reception of the Father’s love, we must remain in Jesus’ love by exactly the same means by which he has always remained in his Father’s love: obedience. (Carson, PNTC)

Carson then goes on to say that If obedience is the condition of continuously remaining in Jesus’ love, we must remember that our love for Jesus is the wellspring of our obedience to him, as our obedience is the demonstration of the reality of that love.

Our obedience is not a work to be done - but it is the overflow of a loving heart. It is the choice to love Christ more than anything else thus creating our Unity with Him

Therefore, the blessing of the unity which comes from abiding in Christ is the joy of sharing and returning his love for us.

He told us these things so that “My joy may be in you.” By abiding in Christ in Unity and obedience, Jesus gives to us the joy that he himself has from abiding in his Father and further he tells us this “so that our joy may be full.” By abiding in Christ, by seeing Jesus as so captivating that we desire to remain with him, to follow him and to obey his commandments, the blessing is a fullness of joy.

Let’s go back to one of my starting questions before we move on “How will we apply God’s commands to our life and what will that look like to be obedient?

It begins with the first command – You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind.

Do you want to love God? –

Love what he loves and love in the way he loves –

In Matthew 25:40, the King concludes by saying “to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even to the least of them, you did it to me.”

God loves our community including those who are in need – ask yourself, how might I serve in our community ministries in a way that will help the least of these. If that is on your heart, there are many opportunities to serve at our community centers – If I discussed them all we would need another two hours, so instead – my application for you is to take step one – Contact one of the Community Center Directors, Josh Greiner, Josh Karshen or myself and we will help you to take the next steps.

Maybe you feel like you are struggling with the idea of Loving God more, or loving God most, consider reading the book “Gospel Treason” by Brad Bigney as a means to explore what it is that is captivating your heart and help to fill your heart with loving God first.

In doing these things, we have a promise, because he told us that in abiding and keeping his commandments that He would fill us with His joy and that it would be made full.

Now that’s a motivator that should cause us to jump into action that we might abide in Him.

Our second blessing that comes from the Unity of abiding in Christ’s greatest love is that

II. Abiding leads to a change in our relationship.

A. The Old self – a Slave to Sin

A change from what though? The answer again is found in Christ’s words

John 8:34 “Truly, Truly I say to you everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin.”

While we remain in a relationship with sin as our Master, we are incapable of abiding in Christ. No abiding, No Unity and No Joy

In Romans Chapter 6, Paul describes how our abiding in Christ changes our relationship and brings unity

He begins by showing how we are unified in Christ’s death, burial and resurrection and therefore by abiding in Christ, we are no longer presenting ourselves to sin as our master, but now we present ourselves to Christ in obedience.

Here is that obedience theme again showing itself in a promised blessing...

Rom 6:16-19 says

16 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed,18 and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

Paul stayed with the picture of changing from a slave of sin to a slave of righteousness in order to show the contrast in how our nature and our choices change. This does not contradict the teaching in our passage today, but rather sets the stage for it.

B. The New Self – a Friend to Christ

For first we needed to change our allegiance, we needed a new master and that comes when we profess Christ as Lord and Savior. Then Jesus offers the change in relationship, we are no longer called slave, but rather friend.

With the heart change to abide in Christ and to follow his command we are now blessed to be called his friends. The difference between simply being a slave to obedience without Christ (which would be impossible by the way) and the friend of Christ is that we are now given the privilege to be a part of what the Master is doing. He has opened our eyes and unstopped our ears so that we might see and hear. We know the motivation; we know the mission and we can share in it with the blessing that we know that the work we are doing is pleasing to the Father because we are directly on mission.

When we talked earlier about the unity that comes from abiding, how much stronger is that bond when we are called friend. In Rob’s testimony earlier, he described that very attitude amongst the men of his units. For the men willing to put their very lives on the line, their relationships were more than just a group of soldiers assigned to the same mission. They called one another friend and were willing to sacrifice for one another.

For us, the change from slave of sin to friend of Christ provides a new heart that can sacrificially give without considering the cost to themselves. By abiding in Christ and gaining a new relationship as friend, we can come alongside him to sacrificially love others.

I see an example of sacrificially loving others every day at the Northend. Each day we have men and women coming in with needs ranging from housing, to vehicle repair to counseling. Each day we have a full schedule of those who have signed up for Care Team appointments and each day I see sacrificial love being poured out. Our Care Team faithfully comes in to serve the needs by connecting people with services in our community. Our Care team faithfully listens as a person comes in demanding to be helped in a very specific way which they feel will love them most even though it will not solve the problem for more than a few days and then our Care Team lovingly presents other solutions that can truly help meet the need knowing that their offer may not always be graciously received. Our Care Team each day loves our community, including those who might otherwise be seen as unlovable by sacrificing not just their time, but by risking being rejected in their offer of help and they do all of this knowing that Christ loves our community so they come alongside to share a prayer or extend an invite to church all working as a friend of Christ who knows the work the Father is doing to draw those in need to his Son in order to meet their greatest need.

This greatest need in our community is the same need we all have, that we all begin with when we are slaves of sin. Our need is for a Savior. As slaves of sin, we are lost and alone. We do not have relationship, we do not have unity, We are like a soldier on a battlefield fighting only for ourselves and fighting for no reason and on that battlefield our death is assured, but that would not be laying down our life for a friend because we are alone, our death would not be a sacrifice, but only a tragic loss.

How does that change? We have to admit that we have a need, that we need a Savior to save us from our sin and when we choose to trust in Christ as our commander, as our Lord it is in his work, his sacrifice that he lays his life down for you and makes it possible for our status to be changed from slave to friend, from being alone, to abiding in Him.

If you are questioning what that means for you today...if you are ready to make the choice to follow Christ and abide in Him, I urge you to let someone know – You can communicate that on the connection card in your chair to let us know and we will get in touch with you or better you can find one of the service pastors at the visitor tent and we would love nothing more than to discuss this with you. Just as there is an urgency for the soldier who is in combat, there is also an urgency for each of us today, please consider the unity and the friendship that Christ is offering.

For those here that have already made that choice and know that they are a friend of Christ, I would urge you too to see the urgency in our actions. Being a friend of Christ is not a privilege to be taken for granted, but rather a responsibility because he tells us that we did not choose him... he chose us. We did not earn our position, but rather he chose us and has appointed us to a task, a mission that needs to be accomplished which leads to our third blessing that comes from Unity of receiving the greater love of Christ.

III. Unified to Bear Fruit

John 15:16 - 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 far we have seen that by Abiding in Christ we find unity with Christ and in the body. We know that when we abide in Christ that it means that we follow his commands and along with our obedience, we find ourselves changed from slave to friend motivating us to be a part of the Master’s work because he has shared his plans and his purposes with us.

Now from our abiding, we appointed for a purpose and that purpose is to bear fruit.

A. Bearing Fruit requires Accepting the Mission

Most commentators believe that the fruit in view in this verse is the fruit that emerges from a mission specifically a mission to which the disciples would be sent, the Great Commission.

Matt 28:19-20

“Go therefore, make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”

The Mission is consistent – to be fruitful and multiple, it began in creation...it continued after the flood, it is inherent within the covenants and the mission has been given to the church today

John 15:16 - 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.

We are called to bear fruit by sharing the gospel.

We are called to bear fruit that lasts, this means walking alongside and discipling new believers that their fruit would last and that they too might grow to bear fruit.

We are called to bear fruit boldly and prayerfully, not in fear that we go on our own, but trusting in the promise that whatever we ask of the father he will give us.

If you feel unequipped or not trained for the mission, trust that because you are abiding in Him - he will equip you and that you do not go alone because in his commission for our mission he followed it by promising that “I am with you always to the end of the age.”

Today, I want to close with the challenge. The first two blessings of our Unity with Christ are to be received –

Abide in Him and receive the fullness of his joy

Abide in him and rejoice in being called friend

But the last blessing of being Unified is one that will take your action

Abide in him, in obedience to his mission and your appointment – Where will you bear fruit this week? With whom will you share the joy and friendship only available by choosing to be Unified in Christ.

As we remember the One who gave his life for all the nations, who laid down his life for his friend – I think it is also important that we remember his command

John 15:17 - This I command you, that you love one another.

Let us pray...

Have blessed Memorial Day


Rod Hutton

Roles

Northend Community Center Director - Northend Ministries

Bio

B. Mathematics – University of Minnesota
M.A. – National Security Affairs – Naval Post Graduate School
M. Div – Faith Bible Seminary

Pastor Rod Hutton and his wife Kathy have been married for 30 years. They have five children, Chris, Tim , Malia, Grace and Josie. The Huttons came to Lafayette on assignment with the Navy to Purdue University which afforded the opportunity to attend Faith Bible Seminary. In 2018, Rod retired from Naval Service and joined the staff to lead the efforts in opening and operating the Northend Community Center and in 2019 he was ordained as a pastor with Faith Church.