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John 15:7-11

7. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, 8282     “Demandez tout ce que vous voudrez;” — “ask whatever you will.” and it shall be done for you. 8. In this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and become my disciples. 9. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. 10. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, as I also have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may abide in you, and that your joy may be full.

 

7. If you abide in me. Believers often feel that they are starved, and are very far from that rich fatness which is necessary for yielding abundant fruit. For this reason it is expressly added, whatever those who are in Christ may need, there is a remedy provided for their poverty, as soon as they ask it from God. This is a very useful admonition; for the Lord often suffers us to hunger, in order to train us to earnestness in prayer. But if we fly to him, we shall never want what we ask, but, out of his inexhaustible abundance, he will supply us with every thing that we need, (1 Corinthians 1:5.)

If my words abide in you. He means that we take root in him by faith; for as soon as we have departed from the doctrine of the Gospel, we seek Christ separately from himself. When he promises that he will grant whatever we wish, he does not give us leave to form wishes according to our own fancy. God would do what was ill fitted to promote our welfare, if he were so indulgent and so ready to yield to us; for we know well that men often indulge in foolish and extravagant desires. But here he limits the wishes of his people to the rule of praying in a right manner, and that rule subjects, to the good pleasure of God, all our affections. This is confirmed by the connection in which the words stand; for he means that his people will or desire not riches, or honors, or any thing of that nature, which the flesh foolishly desires, but the vital sap of the Holy Spirit, Which enables them to bear fruit.

8. In this my Father is glorified This is a confirmation of the former statement; for he shows that we ought not to doubt that God will listen to the prayers of his people, when they desire to be rendered fruitful; for this contributes very greatly to his glory. But by this end or effect he likewise kindles in them the desire of doing good; for there is nothing which we ought to value more highly than that the name of God may be glorified by us. To the same effect is the latter clause, that you may become my disciples; for he declares that he has no one in his flock who does not bear fruit to the glory of God.

9. As the Father hath loved me. He intended to express something far greater than is commonly supposed; for they who think that he now speaks of the sacred love of God the Father, which he always had towards the Son, philosophize away from the subject; for it was rather the design of Christ to lay, as it were, in our bosom a sure pledge of God’s love towards us. That abstruse inquiry, as to the manner in which the Father always loved himself in the Son, has nothing to do with the present passage. But the love which is here mentioned must be understood as referring to us, because Christ testifies that the Father loves him, as he is the Head of the Church. And this is highly necessary for us; for he who without a Mediator, inquires how he is loved by God, involves him in a labyrinth, in which he will neither discover the entrance, nor the means of extricating himself. We ought therefore to cast our eyes on Christ, in whom will be found the testimony and pledge of the love of God; for the love of God was fully poured out on him, that from him it might flow to his members. He is distinguished by this title, that he is the beloved Son, in whom the will of the Father is satisfied, (Matthew 3:17.) But we ought to observe the end, which is, that God may accept us in him. So, then, we may contemplate in him, as in a mirror, God’s paternal love towards us all; because he is not loved apart, or for his own private advantage, but that he may unite us with him to the Father.

Abide in my love. Some explain this to mean, that Christ demands from his disciples mutual love; but others explain it better, who understand it to mean the love of Christ towards us. He means that we should continually enjoy that love with which he once loved us, and, therefore, that we ought to take care not to deprive ourselves of it; for many reject the grace which is offered to them, and many throw away what they once had in their hands. So, then, since we have been once received into the grace of Christ, we must see that we do not fall from it through our own fault.

The conclusion which some draw from these words, that there is no efficacy in the grace of God. unless it be aided by our steadfastness, is frivolous. For I do not admit that the Spirit demands from us no more than what is in our own power, but he shows us what we ought to do, that, if our strength be deficient, we may seek it from some other quarter. In like manner, when Christ exhorts us, in this passage, to perseverance, we must; not rely on our own strength and industry, but we ought to pray to him who commands us, that he would confirm us in his love.

10. If you keep my commandments. He points out to us the method of perseverance. his, to follow where he calls, for, as Paul says,

They who are in Christ walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit,
(Romans 8:1.)

For these two things are continually united, that faith which perceives the undeserved love of Christ toward us, and a good conscience and newness of life. And, indeed, Christ does not reconcile believers to the Father, that they may indulge in wickedness without reserve, and without punishment; but that, governing them by his Spirit, he may keep them under the authority and dominion of his Father. Hence it follows, that the love of Christ is rejected by those who do not prove, by true obedience, that they are his disciples.

If any one object that, in that case, the security of our salvation depends on ourselves, I reply, it is wrong to give such a meaning to Christ’s words; for the obedience which believers render to him is not the cause why he continues his love toward us, but is rather the effect of his love. For whence comes it that they answer to their calling, but because they are led by the Spirit of adoption of free grace?

But again, it may be thought that the condition imposed on us is too difficult, that we should keep the commandments of Christ, which contain the absolute perfection of righteousness, — a perfection which far exceeds our capacity, — for hence it follows, that the love of Christ will be useless, if we be not endued with angelical purity. The answer is easy; for when Christ speaks of the desire of living a good and holy life, he does not exclude what is the chief article in his doctrine, namely, that which alludes to righteousness being freely imputed, in consequence of which, through a free pardon, our duties are acceptable to God, which in themselves deserved to be rejected as imperfect and unholy. Believers, therefore, are reckoned as keeping the commandments of Christ when they apply their earnest attention to them, though they be far distant from the object at which they aim; for they are delivered from that rigorous sentence of the law,

Cursed be he that hath not confirmed all the words of this law to do them,
(Deuteronomy 27:26).

As I also have kept my Father’s commandments. As we have been elected in Christ, so in him the image of our calling is exhibited to us in a lively manner; and therefore he justly holds himself out to us as a pattern, to the imitation of which all the godly ought to be conformed. “In me,” says he, “is brightly displayed the resemblance of those things which I demand from you; for you see how sincerely I am devoted to obedience to my Father, and how I persevere in this course. My Father, too, hath loved me, not for a moment, or for a short time, but his love toward me is constant.” This conformity between the Head and the members ought to be always placed before our eyes, not only that believers may form themselves after the example of Christ, but that, they may entertain a confident hope that his Spirit will every day form them anew to be better and better, that they may walk to the end in newness of life.

11. These things I have spoken to you. He adds, that his love is far from being unknown to the godly, but that it is perceived by faith, so that they enjoy blessed peace of conscience; for the joy which he mentions springs from that peace with God which is possessed by all that have been justified by free grace. As often, then, as God’s fatherly love towards us is preached, let us know that there is given to us ground for true joy, that, with peaceable consciences, we may be certain of our salvation.

My joy and your joy. It is called Christs joy and our joy in various respects. It is Christs, because it is given to us by him; for he is both the Author and the Cause of it. I say that he is the Cause of it, because we were freed from guilt, when

the chastisement of our peace was laid on him, (Isaiah 53:5.)

I call him also the Author of it, because by his Spirit he drives away dread and anxiety in our hearts, and then arises that calm cheerfulness. It is said to be ours for a different reason; because we enjoy it since it has been given to us. Now since Christ declares that he spake these things, that the disciples might have joy, we conclude from these words, that all who have duly profited by this sermon have something on which they can rest.

That my joy may abide in you. By the word abide he means, that it is not a fleeting or temporary joy of which he speaks, but a joy which never fails or passes away. Let us therefore learn that we ought to seek in the doctrine of Christ the assurance of salvation, which retains its vigor both in life and in death.

That your joy may be full. He adds, that this joy will be solid and full; not that believers will be entirely free from all sadness, but that the ground for joy will be far greater, so that no dread, no anxiety, no grief, will swallow them up; for those to whom it has been given to glory in Christ will not be prevented, either by life, or by death, or by any distresses, from bidding defiance to sadness.


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