A warm welcome to another edition of Brooklands Digital Church.
The message is given by our Pastor Karl Stanfield, and can be listened to as audio using the LISTEN button above. An audio MP3 is also available via the SAVE button.
The Bible readings are taken from Acts 17:22-31 and John 14:15-21.
The service starts with a 15 minute countdown, where we share some news and announcements. Please use the scroll bar to skip straight through to the service/message if desired.
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INTRO: As you know I always like to have a focus verse, and it is verse 15. “If you lovee me, you will obey what I command.” (John 14:15)
The Ten Commandments have sometimes been referred to as the ‘Decalogue’, which literally means ‘The Ten Words’. Over the generations, the Ten Commandments have, for many people, often symbolized what it meant to be a Christian. So if you ‘obey’ these commands you are saved. As a child, I remember being taught to memorise these words in the Church of Ireland Sunday School I went to each week.
They certainly are a great guide to life but people tended to see them as a list of Rules rather than being indicative of a Relationship with God. What stood out for me was the emphasis on, ‘Thou shalt not!’
We live in a society that does not subscribe to the Number One commandment – that we should have ‘no other gods before’ Him.
(It’s quite challenging, isn’t it!) We don’t have to travel far to encounter secularism, humanism, and atheism besides other religions. As Christians, though, we find ourselves living by principles which often conflict – and greatly differ with much in our nowadays worldly secular society.
Though difficult in our multicultural society, it is good to stand up for what you believe while respecting the opinions of those who differ from us.
I think there is such a wonderful power available to us through the Holy Spirit because, with the coming of the New Testament, Love is our strength – and not the Law! Just for us to be clear on this powerful and profoundly Christian point, I want to look a little deeper at Jesus’ words here…
1. My Commands
When Jesus talks about ’my’ commands, he is essentially speaking of two. When summing up the Old Testament Law of Moses (quite an accomplishment, I have to say!), Jesus said ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’. Those are both shortened versions. [‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul and all your strength…’]
‘Love God’ sums up the first four commandments and ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ sums up the other six commandments. Today these two Jesus commandments form the sum-total our social and religious structure; it has become the basis of our way of life.
By comparison, the Jewish emphasis, traditionally, is their Mitzvah, and their 613 commandments divided into 365 negative commandments and 248 positive commandments.
We believe with Paul that by the Law no one can be justified. The other interesting link to the Ten Commandments in the OT are the
Ten Plagues in Egypt. I discovered that each plague was a challenge to specific ‘gods of Egypt’. For example, the Egyptians had a god for irrigation called Hapi, so when the first plague turned the water of the Nile into blood, it challenged one of their gods. They also had a goddess depicted as a frog and so the second plague of ‘frogs’ challenged that figment of their imagination. And so it continued through all ten plagues.
The final plague was the death of the firstborn. Moses said that unless a lamb’s blood was daubed on each doorpost the firstborn therein would perish. The angel of death would ‘Passover’ their home. It challenged Pharaoh’s power to keep his people safe (because he too was looked upon as a god).
God said of that Passover evening, ‘… I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord.’ (Exodus 12:12) The chronology is striking! Immediately after the LORD brought Israel ‘out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery’, the first Ten Words directed to them from Mount Sinai are rooted in the gracious act of God’s liberation from slavery!
2. My Father
Jesus’ primary focus was upon the relationship of two – The Father and the Son. Before Jesus talked to people, he talked to his father in prayer. This relationship is the heart of Christ’s faith. He has so much to say about ‘My Father!’ He said, ‘He who has seen me has seen The Father’. ‘No one can come to the Father, except through Me’.
“Before long, the world will not see me any more [referring to His Death], but you will see me [referring to His Resurrection]. Because I live, you also will live [referring to the Promise of Salvation]. On that day you will realise that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:19–20) It’s just mind-blowing stuff! “Jesus replied, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23)
Verse 21: “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.” (John 14:21) As Jesus Obeyed his Father, he gave Himself completely to the task before him; and what a task it was… summed up in those words in the Garden of Gethsemane – ‘not my will, but yours be done.’ He gives ‘Himself’.
I want to tell you this morning that God’s Son and Heir, the Commander of Heaven and Maker of all creation in its glorious splendour ‘obeyed’ the ‘Father’ and came amongst us into our sphere of existence, with all its bugs, germs and viruses of body, soul, mind and spirit. And it was here that He kept every good and holy Law perfectly. The Commander became the Obedient Servant in love.
Grace and Peace!