The New Life Mission

Sermons

Subject 16 : The Gospel According to JOHN

[Chapter 15-5] (John 15:11-17) We Have Become The Lord’s Friends

(John 15:11-17)
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.”
 
 
God Has Accepted Us as His Friends
 
Today’s Scripture passage says that God no longer treats us as mere creatures, sinners, or slaves, but He has made us His own friends. Having made us His friends, God spoke to us everything about the plan He has for us. He is telling us in detail what work He will do, and how He will accomplish this work. Servants or slaves cannot fully understand what the master is doing, nor is there any need for them to try to understand it. All that they have to do is just do whatever the master commands them.
How, then, was it possible for us to become friends of the omniscient and omnipotent God? It was because we believed in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Anyone who has not received the remission of sins is a servant of sin, no more than a slave of Satan. This was who we all were in our fundamental nature. Yet to make such people like us His friends, God came to this earth incarnated in the flesh and solved the problem of our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit. To relieve us from the yoke of sin, the Lord shouldered all our sins through the baptism He received from John the Baptist, and He paid the wages of our sins for us by bleeding to death on the Cross. And as He rose from the dead again, those of us who believe in Him could be freed from the slavery of sin. Our lowly status, destined to hell for our sins, was elevated to be the Lord’s friends by His love for us. And now that we have become His friends, God has shown us everything He plans to do, and while we are living on this earth, He is always walking with us.
It is truly amazing and marvelous that we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit have become God’s friends. How is it possible for human beings who are, after all, mere creatures to become friends with the Almighty God? As there is a saying that goes, “Birds of a feather flock together,” people normally tend to associate with those with a similar social status. The rich and the famous befriend those who are similarly wealthy and famed. So the fact that God has become a friend of us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit implies that on account of this gospel, our status has changed into the same as that of God. In other words, the Lord has not only remitted away all our sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, but He has also accepted us, who believe in this gospel, as His own people, which is a tremendous blessing.
We were mere creatures made by God out of dust. We were insignificant beings living imprisoned in darkness because of sin. And since we were all born as sinners incapable of avoiding sin, we could be freed from God’s curse only if we were born again by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Cursed for our sins, we were worthless beings who couldn’t avoid hell. Yet despite this, God made us believe in the salvation that came by the water and the blood, He accepted us as His own born-again children, and He even treated us as His friends. It is nothing short of constituting an amazing and astounding miracle.
The Lord is saying to us, “I will now make you My friends.” He has enabled us to participate in His divine attributes and stand in His file as His own children. That we have become God’s children and His friends alone is an indescribable blessing to us. By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have not only received the remission of sins, but we are now also able to share our hearts with God in our lives.
What is a friend? A friend is someone with whom you can share your deepest secrets shared with no one else. Just like such a friend, the omniscient and omnipotent God also tells us everything, and He wants to share His heart with us because He regards us as His closest friends. Because we believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, in other words, we now have a very special relationship with God. The Lord has made us such people.
  
 
God Has Entrusted Us His Friends with His Work and Asked Us to Be Faithful to His Work
 
As today’s Scripture passage says, servants do not know their master’s work. However, because God has made us His friends, we can know what God will do in the future. God makes this known to us through His Word written in the Bible. And through the guidance of the Holy Spirit, He is leading us all. The only thing we have to do is just follow God our Shepherd according to this guidance and obey Him by faith. As we have received the remission of sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, it has become clear to us how we ought to live the rest of our lives; and as we are walking with the Lord, we are no longer lonely. You and I have now been removed far away from our past status as slaves destined to destruction for our sins.
What is our statue before God then? We are His people and His friends. The Almighty God who created the universe and all its hosts has accepted us the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit to be His friends. That is why we are walking with the God of Truth in faith.
God is entrusting His work to us, who have become His friends through the gospel of the water and the Spirit. He is asking us to take care of His work as His friends, saying to us, “My friends, I want to save even more people from sin and make them My children and our friends. Would you do this for Me?” God has chosen us to be His workers so that we would bear abundant fruit. Moreover, God does not just sit idly after asking us to carry out His work, but He hears our earnest prayers for the spiritual harvest and answers us. Just as God has asked us to take up His work, so does He also provide us with more than enough help to meet His request. That is why whenever we pray, we pray in the name of Jesus who has become our own friend.
When people are asked to do a favor by someone who is not a close acquaintance, they usually try to come up with some excuses to evade the request. However, if the request is made by a friend, not to mention a very close friend, then most people would do their best to meet the request, even if this entails them to set aside their own affairs for a while. As those who have received the remission of sins from Jesus and become God’s children, we are very close friends with Jesus. So Jesus always keeps His ears open to our prayers and answers us, thus helping us to bear abundant spiritual fruit. Jesus is not only our God and our Savior, but He is also our everlasting friend.
There is a saying in Korea that if one has just one true friend, then his life is a success. That is how important friends are to everyone’s life. We now have such a true friend. Not only is this Friend faithful, but He is also omniscient and omnipotent. This means that we now have a solid backer who fills all our needs and helps us to bear even more fruit. For this reason, it is absolutely imperative for us to realize clearly and believe that Jesus has become our friend, and to thus clarify our relationship with Jesus. If we were not His friends, we would be nothing more than His enemies. We should therefore faithfully carry out the work our friend has entrusted to us, and we should also conform ourselves as to be worthy of His friendship.
 
 
How Do You Feel about Having Such a Great Friend?
 
If you have a friend commanding a very high stature and a great deal of power, you would have a very strong backer. Imagine that you were an extremely close friend of the president or the prime minister of your country. This fact alone would make you feel rather safe and secure. Jesus our friend has far more power and authority than any secular ruler in this world. So whenever we ask Him for His help, He does not decline our request. Far from it, He accepts our request in pleasure and He tries to answer it as soon as possible. Of course, He doesn’t answer our request if it’s to satisfy our own greed or lust. That’s because such a prayer is wrong.
By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have been saved from sin once and for all. However, attaining our salvation from sin was not the end of the story. As soon as we were saved from sin, our Lord wanted to become a friend to His people abiding in God’s Church, and He has actually become our friend. In other words, there are even greater blessings awaiting us after our salvation. I don’t know how many friends you have in this world, but can any of them save you from sin and grant you the Kingdom of eternal life? You will never find such a friend in this world.
Moreover, once Jesus becomes your friend, He will stay your friend no matter how insufficient you may be. So long as we are not like Judas Iscariot, Jesus will never cut us off from His friendship. The only way for this to occur is if we decide on our own to turn our friendship with Jesus into an enmity. That is why John 13:1 says, “Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.” Even though Jesus knew that Peter would deny Him three times and the other disciples would flee for their own lives as well, He still loved them until the end. And He had even washed their dirty feet with a sincere heart. This was to show that Jesus had washed away His disciples’ sins with the gospel of the water and the Spirit, for He knew that they were too weak and would commit sin again. Like this, once Jesus becomes our friend, His friendship lasts forever, and He continues to understand us and helps us in any and every possible way. That is why we are so much happier than anyone else, for we have Jesus, who came by the gospel of the water and the Spirit, as our friend.
Let’s turn to John 15:5 here: “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” Jesus is saying here that of those who have been saved from sin, He makes friends out of those who live out their faith and hold fast to the vine. The vine here refers to none other than Jesus. So attaching to the vine means abiding in Jesus. It is to such people that Jesus has become their everlasting friend. In other words, it is we the believers in the gospel of the water and the Spirit that Jesus treats as His friends; and as our friend He hears our prayers and answers our request. Put differently, Jesus is not only our Savior but also our friend. In this light, the saved who abide in the Church can be said to be sharing a deep friendship with the Lord.
To repeat, all of us who have been saved from sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are the Lord’s friends. How do you feel about having such a great friend? I am overwhelmed with joy that we have been saved from sin, that we have become friends with our Lord, and that we are now living in the Church in this friendship. As we carry on with our lives in this world, every day we receive help and merciful love from a powerful friend called Jesus. Like this, Jesus gives everything He can to those who abide in His love and remain in God’s Church as their special friend. Jesus helps them because He wants His relationship with them to be faithful and unchanging, not because He wants to show off His friendship, and that is why He blesses them throughout their entire lives.
Jesus wants to make friends with each and every human being out of His infinite love. When He was on this earth, however, the people of Israel thought that Jesus was just a prophet or Elijah. Even though they knew that He was no ordinary man, they couldn’t recognize until the very end who the Lord really was. But His disciples knew that He was God Himself. Peter, for instance, confessed as the following: “Jesus, You are the Lord, the Christ and the living God. You are the Son of God and my personal Savior. You are my King and my High Priest. And I am Your sheep.”
We also need to confess like Peter. By believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have now become friends with Jesus Christ. As we have been saved from sin by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit, we have become God’s own people as well as Jesus Christ’s friends. We should therefore always acknowledge who Jesus is and be thankful to Him in our lives.
 
 
I Am So Happy to Have Met a Friend Called Jesus
 
We have now become friends with Jesus. We are now living in this world as His friends. We are living as the holy Lord’s friends, no longer as sinners destined to be cursed and destroyed. We can see that as we have been saved from sin, our stature has been elevated very high. Who can then walk shoulder-to-shoulder with the Lord and live according to His will with His encouragement? It is none other than we ourselves, who have received the amazing blessing of being born again through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and at the same time have the omniscient and omnipotent Lord as our own friend. If we have indeed heard from the Lord Himself and realized who we are, why we are in the Church, why we are living like this, and why we must serve the gospel of the water and the Spirit; and if we have therefore decided to share our lot with the Lord our friend, then we must also realize how we ought to live from now on.
Those who have become friends with Jesus Christ must labor and live for the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit that the Lord has entrusted to them. That’s because it’s not only the greatest commandment our Lord has given us, but it is also the sincerest wish that the Lord our friend has requested to us to fulfill. For His sake, who has given us everything so generously, it is now our duty to spread the gospel that He desires so much. The Lord has raised as His workers no one else but us, each and every one of you, and He has entrusted all of us with the great task of spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit throughout the whole wide world. Having been raised to be God’s workers, we in turn ask for His help in order to carry out the work of God entrusted to us. The Lord then helps us as our friend, so that we may receive everything and anything we ask from Him. Jesus Himself said, “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).
In fact, that we have become God’s workers, the Lord’s friends, and righteous people—none of these came about because we ourselves loved God first. All these things were possible because God the Father loved us first. It’s the Lord who first forgave us, and it’s also the Lord who made us His friends, for He loved us first. It is not because we loved God, but because He chose us first, that He and we have become friends. And to us His friends, God gave us a new commandment: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” Just as the Lord loved us and saved us from sin first, it is now incumbent on us to love others. And as Jesus Christ has become our friend, as His Father has become our Father, and as we have become His people, in this love of God we ought to love one another and love God. That is how we must all live.
 
 
We Must Realize That It’s Because God Chose Us That He and We Have Become Friends
 
What we must realize clearly is that it is God who accepted us to be His friends. This means that God has also entrusted us with His work. It means that it is God who loved us first. We must grasp here that it’s all because God loved us first that we have become His friends. In addition to this, that God made us His friends, we must also realize that God has put His Church on this earth so that His friendship with us would be sustained, and that it is precisely through His Church that God prevents us from being cut off from this friendship.
What all of us must realize today is that God has not only saved us, but He has also made us His friends. Remembering this, we should pray to the Lord always, who has become our friend. As we try to carry out God’s work in His Church, there will surely be difficult times for us. However, if we pray to God the Father and ask Him for His help rather than falling into despair, the Lord will help us without fail, and so we will be able to accomplish God’s work with His help. Let us therefore maintain our friendship with Jesus without any interruption, practice the will of God the Father our friend, and serve this will in our lives. For us to serve the will of the Father, we must first believe that we are God’s friends, and we must have the faith to believe that we have become Jesus Christ’s friends. God has made it clear that He has not only become our own God but also our friend, saying to us, “No longer will I call you My servants, but My friends. Friends know everything about each other. But a servant does not know what his master is doing.” Therefore, we should all share fellowship with God as His friends, walk with Him as His friends, and treat Him as our friend in our lives.
You and I are not to be only in a subordinate relationship with God perpetually. We have now been saved through the water and the Spirit, we have become God’s sons and daughters, and we have been made friends with Jesus Christ sharing the same Father. The day will come when we hold our hands with our everlasting friend and walk in an infinitely wide and beautiful pasture. We ought to then have the faith to live in this world as Jesus’ friends with a trustworthy backer, realizing what the Lord our friend desires, serving the will of this friend, and helping each other. We are Jesus Christ’s friends. We are not merely His servants, but we are also Christ’s friends who can speak and share our minds with Him.
What about friends in this world? Don’t even worldly friends tell everything to each other? Don’t they share even their most shameful secrets with one another? All good friends do this. You can tell your friends what you would never even dream of telling to your own father or mother. Such a friendship is to be cherished. And we have found such a dear friend in Jesus. We can tell Him everything and anything. It’s all because Jesus is our friend. When we talk to those who still have not been saved from their sins, they cannot understand us. That’s because for those who remain unsaved from sin, their relationship with the Lord is still that of subjugation, one between the Creator and mere creatures.
But that is no longer true for us. Our relationship with Christ is that of friends. So we can ask Jesus our friend for anything and everything. Just as we turn to our friends when we need help, so should we ask Jesus for help in His name. Then Jesus our friend intercedes between God the Father and us so that we would receive everything we ask. We can attain everything we need, for Jesus asks the Father on our behalf, saying, “Father, these are My friends. It’s only fitting for You to help them. Please do these things for My friends.” So, as we carry on with our lives in this world, all of us should indeed be friends with Jesus, and we should lead our lives in this friendship.
 
 
Are You a Friend of the Lord?
 
Is your relationship with God still one of subordination, between the Creator and a mere creature, or are you a friend of the Lord? Is Jesus still just your God, while you remain merely as one of His creatures? If your relationship with Jesus were not that of friends but of the Creator and a creature, then just how distanced would you be from Jesus? What an aloof, fear-provoking, and suffocating relationship would this be? Our Lord did not choose us to be in such a distant relationship of subjugation. Far from it, He has made us His friends. The Lord made us His friends rather than just His servants in order to teach us the will of the Master. Even though Jesus is our God, this God still treats us as His own friends. We should therefore talk to Jesus as His friends, and we should lead our lives in this friendship.
Would we be able to approach God at any time if He were not our friend? If our relationship with God were that of subordination rather than friendship, then this relationship would be such a remote one that we would not even dare to approach Him unless called by the Master. Therefore, the very fact that the Lord has made us His friends means that He wants to keep us that much nearer to Him. Friends may get upset at each other, but they can still be reconciled in no time; there may be some misunderstanding between them, but they can clear it up with a dialogue; and even though they may sometimes come short of their friendship and cause some grief, they can still open their hearts, speak to each other honestly, and be reconciled again. Like this, friends have neither any barrier nor any shame.
Our ministry workers are my friends. I consider our saints my friends also. So I can open up my mind without hesitation and say all kinds of things to my fellow born-again saints who believe in the gospel of the water and the Spirit. That’s because true friends can say anything and everything to each other. So has Jesus become such a friend to us. Our Lord says everything to us and tolerates all our mistakes. That’s what a true friend does.
My fellow believers, is your relationship with Jesus that of friends? Jesus is indeed your friend. That’s precisely why you can tell Jesus about everything even when you make a mistake, and you can also believe that the Lord Almighty has solved away all your problems. And as you are thankful for this, you are able to come nearer to His presence and keep your friendship until the end.
I am your friend. And you are also my friends. I believe that every saint is my friend, whether young or old. Those who have become one family by believing in the gospel of the water and the Spirit are all friends. Just as the Lord Himself said that He is my friend, I believe in this wholeheartedly. And I also believe that the Lord is your friend as well. Friends understand each other. True friends have nothing but the best wish for one another.
Are we strangers to Jesus Christ and God? No, we are not. We are a family. Jesus said that He is the vine of life and we are its branches. We are therefore one family. Though we are friends with Jesus, we are family-like friends; and though we are very close friends without any barrier, we still respect the Lord and honor Him. Since Jesus is our friend, it may seem as though there is no gap between the Lord and us, but this gap is very large, for He is God and we are His creatures. Therefore, although we can share our deepest secrets with our friend Jesus, we also have to show the proper respect that He deserves as our Creator and Savior. This is what’s different from worldly friendships.
It’s wonderful that we have such a faithful friend. I thank Jesus for making us His friends. We will live as Jesus’ friends forever, and we will do what He has asked us to do as our friend. And we will ask the Lord for help as our friend in our lives. In my relationship with Jesus Christ, my faith is that He is my friend. You, too, are friends with Jesus Christ. Do you believe in this? And the Father of Jesus is your Father and mine. Let us then live in this world with such faith.
What did Jesus say in today’s Scripture passage? He said, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you” (John 15:16).
Remember this one more time. Jesus has made us His friends. He therefore hears all our prayers. And He relays our prayers to God the Father and beseeches Him together with us, so that we may receive everything we pray for. Jesus grants all the requests of His friends, and He also helps them for their requests to be fulfilled. For this, we give all our thanks to the Lord who is always faithful. Halleluiah!