Sermon 1932. Love's Law and Life
A SERMON INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, DECEMBER 5, 1886,
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, SEPTEMBER 30, 1886.
"If you love Me, keep My commandments." John 14:15.
THIS is a chapter singularly full of certainties and remarkably studded with "ifs." Concerning most of the great things init there never can be an, "if," and yet, "if," comes up, I think, no less than seven times in the chapter and, "if," too,not about trifles, but about the most solemn subjects. It is, perhaps, worthy of mention that with each of these, "ifs," thereis something connected, as following out of it, or appearing to be involved in it, or connected with it.
Look at the second verse. "In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you." If there hadbeen no place for us in the Glory Land, Jesus would have told us. If any Truth of God which had not been revealed would havemade our hope a folly, our Lord Jesus would have warned us of it, for He has not come to lure us into a fool's paradise and,at the last, deceive us. He will tell us all that it is necessary for us to know in order to a wise faith and a sure hope.The Lord has not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth-He has not spoken in contradiction of His revealed Word. Nothingin His secret decrees or hidden designs can shake our confidence, or darken our expectation. "f it were not so, I would havetold you." Had there been a secret thing which would have injured your prospects, it should have been dragged to light thatyou might not be deceived, for the Lord Jesus has no desire to win disciples by the suppression of distasteful Truths. Ifthere were anything yet to be revealed which would render your hope a delusion at the end, you would have been made acquaintedwith it-Jesus, Himself, would break the sad news to you-He would not leave you to be horrified by finding it out for yourselves!He kindly declares, "I would have told you."
Notice the third verse. Again we meet with, "if," and its consequence. "f I go and prepare a place for you, I will come againand receive you unto Myself." If the Lord Jesus should go away (and this is a supposition no longer, for He has gone), thenHe would return, again, in due time. Since He has gone, He will come again, for He has made the one to depend on the other.We make no question that He went up into Heaven, for He rose from out the circle of His followers and they saw Him as He wentup into Heaven. They had no sort of doubt as to the fact that the cloud received Him out of their sight and, moreover, theyreceived assurance out of Heaven, by an angelic messenger, that, "He shall so come in like manner as you have seen Him gointo Heaven." "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself." His going Home pledgesHim to come and compels us to look for Him!
The next, "if," comes at the beginning of the seventh verse-"f you had known Me, you should have known My Father, also." Ifwe really know the Lord Christ, we know God. In fact, there is no knowing God aright except through His Son Jesus! It is evidentlytrue that men do not long hold to theism pure and simple. If our scientific men get away from the Christ, the Incarnate God,before long they drift away from God altogether. They begin to slide down the mountain when they quit the Incarnate Deity-andthere is no more foothold to stop them. No man comes to the Father but by the Son-and no man long keeps to the Father whodoes not keep to his faith in the Son. Those who know Christ know God, but those who are ignorant of the Savior are ignorantof God, however much they may pride themselves upon their religion! They may know another god, but the only living and trueGod is unknown except by those who receive Jesus. The Divine Fatherhood, of which we hear so much in certain quarters, isonly to be seen through the window of Incarnation and Sacrifice. We must see Jesus before we can gain even so much as a glimpseat the Infinite, the Incomprehensible and the Invisible! God comes not within finite perception till He enters human flesh-andthere we behold His Glory, full of Grace and truth.
The next variety of, "if," you will find a little farther down in the chapter, namely, in the 14th verse-"f you shall askanything in My name, I will do it." The, "if," in this case involves an uncertainty about our prayers, if an uncertainty atall. Taking it for granted that we ask mercies in the name of Jesus, a glorious certainty is linked to them. Jesus says, "Iwill do it." Here our Lord speaks after a Sovereign style. We may not say, "I will," but the, "I wills," pertain to Christ.He can answer and He has the right to answer-and, therefore. He says without reservation, "I will." "If you shall ask anythingin My name, I will do it." Oh that we might put the first, "if," out of court by continually petitioning the Lord and signingour petitions with the name of Jesus! May we be importunate only in prayers to which we are warranted to set that august nameand then, boldly using His name and authority, we need be under no apprehension of failure! The great Father in Heaven neverdenies the power of His Son's name, neither does the Son Himself draw back from the keeping of His own pledges! True prayeroperates with the same certainty as the laws of Nature. "Delight yourself, also, in the Lord and He shall give you the desiresof your heart." Oh that we did delight more in the Divine name and Charac-ter-and then our prayers would always speed to theThrone!
Now comes the, "if," of our text, of which I will say nothing for the moment. "If you love Me, keep My commandments." Something,you see, is to come out of this, "if," as out of all the others. If something, then something-"f you love me," then carryit out to the legitimate result-"keep My commandments."
You have the next, "if," in verse 23-"Jesus answered and said to him, If a man loves Me, he will keep My words." Respect toHis wisdom and obedience to His authority will grow out of love. "The love of Christ constrains us." We hear that passageoften misquoted, "The love of Christ ought to constrain us," but that is a corruption of the text. The Apostle tells us thatit does constrain us and, if it really enters the heart, it will do so. It is an active, moving power, influencing the innerlife and then the external conduct-
"'Tis love that makes our willing feet In swift obedience move."
"If a man loves Me, he will keep my words." He will believe in the verbal inspiration of His Lord. He will regard His teachingas Infallible. He will attend to it and remember it. More than this, he will, by his conduct, carry out the words of his Lordand so keep them in the best possible manner by enshrining them in his daily life.
The chapter almost closes at the 28th verse by saying, "If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, I go unto My Father,for My Father is greater than I." Where there is an intelligent love to Christ, we rejoice in His gains even though we, ourselves,appear to be losers thereby. The corporeal absence of our Lord from our midst might seem to be a great loss to us, but werejoice in it because it is for His own greater Glory. If He is enthroned in Glory, we dare not lament His absence. Our loveagrees to His departure, yes, rejoices in it, for anything which conduces to His exaltation is sweet to us. Let us at thismoment, because we love Him, rejoice that He has gone to the Father!
So you see the chapter, if you read it, though enriched with heavenly certainties, is yet besprinkled with, "ifs." Like littlepools of sparkling water among the ever abiding rocks, these, "ifs," gleam in the light of Heaven and refresh us even to lookupon them.
Let us now think of our own text and may the Holy Spirit lead us into the secret chambers of it! "If you love Me, keep Mycommandments."
The present, "if" is a serious one. Let that stand as our first head. Secondly, the test which is added concerning it is avery judicious one-"If you love Me, keep My commandments." In the third place, I will give you the reading of the RevisedVersion, and say, that test will be endured by love, for the words may be interpreted-"If you love Me, you will keep my commandments."Obedience will follow upon love as a matter of certainty.
I. To begin, then, THE "IF" IN OUR TEXT IS A VERY SERIOUS ONE. It goes to the very root of the matter. Love belongs to theheart and every surgeon will tell you that a disease of the heart may not be trifled with. A clever doctor said to me, "Ifeel at my ease with any matter if it does not touch the head or the heart." Solomon bids us keep the heart with all diligence,"for out of it are the issues of life." If the mainspring fails, all the works of a watch refuse to act. We cannot, therefore,think little of a question which concerns our love, for it deals with a vital part. O Friends, I hope there is no questionabout our love for Jesus!
Observe how our Savior puts this, "if," concerning love in such a way as to teach us that love must be prior to obedience.The text is not, "Keep My commandments and then love Me." No, we do not expect pure streams till the fountain is
cleansed. Nor does He say-"Keep My commandments and love Me at the same time," as two separate things, although that might,in a measure, correspond with truth. But love is put first because it is first in importance and first in experience. "Ifyou love Me"-we must begin with love-then, "keep My commandments." Obedience must have love for its mother, nurse and food.The essence of obedience lies in the hearty love which prompts the deed rather than in the deed itself. I can conceive itpossible that a man might, in his outward life, keep Christ's commandments and yet might never keep them at all so as to beaccepted before God. If he became obedient by compulsion, but would have disobeyed if he dared, then his heart was not rightbefore God and his actions were of little worth. The commandments are to be kept out of love to Him who gave them. In obedience,to love is to live-if we love Christ we live Christ. Love to the Person of our Lord is the very salt of our sacrifices. Toput it most practically-I often say to myself, "Today I have performed all the duties of my office, but have I been carefulto abide in my Lord's love? I have not failed as to doing all that was possi-ble-I have gone from early morning till lateat night, packing as much work as possible into every hour and trying to do it with all my heart. But have I, after all, donethis as unto the Lord and for His sake?"
I tremble lest I should serve God merely because I happen to be a minister and am called to preach His Word, or because thenatural routine of the day carries me through it. I am concerned that I may be impelled by no force but the love of Jesus!This fear often humbles me in the dust and prevents all glorying in what I have done. Only as we love our Lord can our obediencebe true and acceptable. The main care of our lives should be to do right and to do it because we love the Lord. We must walkbefore the Lord as Abraham did and with the Lord as Enoch did. Unless we are under the constant constraint of love to theLord Jesus Christ we shall fail terribly-
"Knowledge, alas! is all in vain,
And all in vain our fear,
In vain our labor and our pain
If love is absent there."
See, dear Friends, how inward true religion is-how far it exceeds all external formalism? How deep is the seat of true Grace!You cannot hope to do that which Christ can smile upon until your heart is renewed. A heart at enmity with God cannot be madeacceptable by mere acts of piety. It is not what your hands are doing, nor even what your lips are saying. The main thingis what your heart is meaning and intending. Which way are your affections tending? The great flywheel which moves the wholemachinery of life is fixed in the heart-therefore this is the most important of all suggestions- "If you love Me."
"If you love Me" is a searching sound. I start as I hear it! He that believes in the Lord Jesus Christ for his salvation produces,as the first fruit of his faith, love to Christ-this must be in us and abound, or nothing is right. Packed away within thatbox of sweets called, "love," you shall find every holy thing, but if you have no love, what have you? Though you wear yourfingers to the bone with service, weep your eyes out with repentance, make your knees hard with kneeling and dry your throatwith shouting, yet if the heart does not beat with love, your religion falls to the ground like a withered leaf in autumn!Love is the chief jewel in the bracelet of obedience! Hear the text, and mark it well-"If you love Me, keep My commandments."
O Sirs, what a mass of religion is cast out as worthless by this text! Men may keep on going to Church and going to Chapeland they may be religious, yes, throughout a whole life and, apparently, they may be blameless in their moral conduct-andyet there may be nothing in them because there is no love to the ever-blessed Christ at the bottom of the profession! Whenthe heathen killed their sacrifices in order to prophesy future events from the entrails, the worst sign they ever got waswhen the priest, after searching into the victim, could not find a heart-or if that heart was small and shriveled. The soothsayersalways declared that this omen was the sure sign of calamity. All the signs were evil if the heart of the offering was absentor deficient. It is so in very deed with religion and with each religious person. He that searches us searches principallyour hearts! He who tries mankind tries chiefly the reins of the children of men. The Master is in our midst, tonight, walkingdown these aisles with noiseless tread, girt about the paps with a golden girdle and robed in snow-white garments down toHis feet. Look! He stops before each one of us and gently asks, "Do you love Me?" Three times He repeats the question! Hewaits for an answer. It is a vital question-do not refuse a reply. Oh that the Spirit of the Lord may enable you to answerin sincerity and truth and say, "Lord, You know all things; You know that I love
This matter of love to Jesus is put prior to every other because it is the best reason for our obedience to Him. Notice- "Ifyou love Me, keep My commandments." Personal affection will produce personal obedience. Do you not see the drift of the words?The blessed Jesus says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments" because, truly, operative love is mainly love to a person andlove to our Lord's Person begets obedience to His precepts! There are some men for whom you would do anything-you will toyield to their will. If such a person were to say to you, "Do this," you would do it without question. Perhaps he stands toyou in the relation of master and you are his willing servant. Perhaps he is a venerated friend and because you esteem andlove him, his word is law to you. The Savior may much more safely than any other be installed in such a position! From thethrone of your affections He says, "If you love Me-if your heart really goes out to Me-then let My word be a commandment.Let My commandment be kept in your memory and then further kept by being observed in your life." So you see the reason whythe Master begins with the heart-because there is no hope of obedience to Him in our actions unless He is enshrined in ouraffections! This is the spring and source of all holy living- love to the Holy One. Dear friends, have you been captured bythe beauties of Jesus and are you held in a Divine captivity to the adorable Person of your redeeming Lord? Then you havewithin you the impulse which constrains you to keep His commandments!
It was greatly necessary for our Lord thus to address His disciples. Yes, it was necessary to speak, thus, even to the Apostles.He says to the chosen 12, "If you love Me." We should never have doubted one of them. We now know by the result that one ofthem was a traitor to his Lord and sold Him for pieces of silver, but no one suspected him, for he seemed as loyal as anyone of them. Ah, if that question, "If you love Me," needed to be raised in the sacred college of the 12, much more must itbe allowed to sift our Churches and to test ourselves! Brothers and Sisters, this word is exceedingly necessary in the presentassembly! Hear its voice-"If you love Me." The mixed multitude here gathered together may be compared to the heap on the threshingfloor and there is need of the winnowing fan. Perhaps you have almost taken it for granted that you love Jesus-but it mustnot be taken for granted! Some of you have been born in a religious atmosphere, you have lived in the midst of godly peopleand you have never been out into the wicked world to be tempted by its follies-therefore you come to an immediate conclusionthat you must assuredly love the Lord! This is unwise and perilous! Never glory in armor which you have not tested, nor rejoicein love to Christ which has not sustained trial!
What an awful thing if you should be deceived and mistaken! It is most kind of the Savior to raise a question about your loveand thus give you an opportunity of examining yourself and seeing whether you are right at heart. It will be far better foryou to err upon the side of too great anxiety than on that of carnal security. To be afraid that you are wrong and so to makesure of being right, will bring you to a far better end than being sure that you are right and, therefore, refusing to lookinto the ground of your hope! I would have you fully assured of your love for Jesus, but I would not have you deceived bya belief that you love Him if you do not. Lord, search us and try us!
Remember, if any man loves not the Lord Jesus Christ he will be anathema maranatha-cursed at His coming! This applies to everyman, even though he is most eminent. An Apostle turned out to be a son of perdition-may not you? Every man, even though heis a learned bishop, or a popular pastor, or a renowned evangelist, or a venerable elder, or an active deacon, or the mostancient member of the most orthodox assembly, may yet turn out to be no lover of the Lord! Though he has gathered to breakbread in the sacred name with a select company, yet if he does not truly love the Lord Jesus Christ, the curse rests uponhim, whoever he may me. So let us take from the Master's lips the heart-searching words at this time, "If you love Me, keepMy commandments." Let us take them personally home, as if addressed to each one of us personally and alone.
While considering the text, let each one view himself apart. What have you to do in this matter with keeping the vineyardsof others? See to your own hearts. The text does not say, "If the Church loves Me," or, "If such-and-such a minister lovesMe," or, "If your brothers love Me." No, but it is, "Ifyou love Me, keep My commandments." The most important question foreach one to answer is that which concerns his personal attachment to his Redeemer and the personal obedience which comes outof it. I press this enquiry upon each one. It may seem a trite and commonplace question, but it needs to be put again andagain before all in our congregations. The preacher needs to be thus questioned-he gets into the habit of reading his Biblefor other people. The Sunday school teacher needs this enquiry-he, also, is apt to study the Scriptures for his class ratherthan for himself. We all need the Truth of God to come home to us with personal and forcible application, for we are alwaysinclined to shift unpleasant enquiries upon others. In the case of very deaf
people, when they hold up their horns, we speak right down into them-and I wish to speak home pointedly to each one of youat this time. Let the text sound into your individual ear and heart-"If you love Me, keep My commandments."
The question is answerable, however. It was put to the Apostles and they could answer it. Peter spoke as all the 11 wouldhave done when he said, "You know that I love You." It is not a question concerning mysteries out of range and beyond judgement-itdeals with a plain matter of fact. A man may know whether he loves the Lord or not and he ought to know. He who is jealousof himself and is, therefore, half afraid to speak positively, may all the more truly be a lover of the Lord. Holy cautionmay raise a question where the answer is far more certain than in the breasts of those who never even make the enquiry becausethey are carnally secure. Do not be content with merely longing to love Jesus or with longing to know whether you love Him.Not to know whether you love the Lord Jesus is a state of mind so dangerous that I exhort you never to go to sleep until youhave escaped from it! A man has no right to smile-I had almost said, he has no right, either to eat bread or drink water solong as that question hangs in the balances! It ought to be decided. It can be decided! It can be decided at once. Not loveJesus? It were better for me not to live than not to love Him! Not love Christ? May the terrible fact never be hidden frommy weeping eyes! Perhaps the dread discovery may drive me to better things. If I do love my Lord, I can never rest with theshadow of a doubt darkening the life of my love. A question on such a matter is unbearable-
"Do not I love You from my soul?
Then let me nothing love. Dead be my heart to every joy,
When Jesus cannot mo ve.
Would not my heart pour forth its blood In honor of Your name And challenge the cold hand of death
To dampen the immortal flame?
You know I love You, dearest Lord, But oh, I long to soar Far from the sphere of mortal joys, And learn to love You more."
Brothers and Sisters, hear the question suggested by this little word, "if!" Consider it well and rest not until you can say,"I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my supplication." So much, then, concerning the serious nature of
II. In the second place, let me observe that THE TEST WHICH IS PROPOSED IN THE TEXT IS A VERY JUDICIOUS ONE. "If you loveMe, keep My commandments." This is the best proof of love.
The test indicated does not suggest a lawless liberty. It is true we are not under the Law, but under Grace, but yet we areunder Law to Christ and if we love Him we are to keep His commandments. Let us never enter into the counsel of those who donot believe that there are any commandments for Believers to keep. Those who do away with duty, do away with sin and, consequently,with the Savior! It is not written-"If you love Me, do whatever you please." Jesus does not say-"So long as you love Me inyour hearts, I care nothing about your lives." There is no such doctrine as that between the covers of this Holy Book! Hethat loves Christ is the freest man out of Heaven, but he is also the most under bonds. He is free, for Christ has loosedhis bonds, but he is put under bonds to Christ by grateful love! The love of Christ constrains him from this day on to liveto the Lord who loved him, lived for him, died for him and rose again. No, dear Friends, we do not desire a lawless life.He that is not under the law as a power for condemnation, yet can say that with his heart he delights in the Law of God! Helongs after perfect holiness and in his soul yields hearty homage to the precepts of the Lord Jesus. Love is Law-the Law oflove is the strongest of all Laws! Christ has become our Master and King and His commandments are not grievous!
The text also contains no fanatical challenge. We do not read, "If you love Me, perform some extraordinary act." The testrequired is not an outburst of extravagance, or an attempt to realize the ambitious project of a fevered brain. Nothing ofthe kind! Hermits, nuns and religious mad-caps find no example or precept here! Some persons think that if they love Jesusthey must enter a convent, retire to a cell, dress themselves oddly, or shave their heads. It has been the thought of somemen, "If we love Christ we must strip ourselves of everything we possess, put on sackcloth, tie ropes round our
waists and pine in the desert." Others have thought it wise to make light of themselves by oddity of dress and behavior. TheSavior does not say anything of the kind-"If you love Me, keep My commandments." Every now and then we find members of ourChurches who must leave their trades and their callings to show their love for Jesus-children may starve and wives may pinebut their mad whimsies must be carried out for love of Jesus! Under this influence, they rush into all sorts of foolery andsoon ruin their characters because they will not take the advice of sobriety and cannot be satisfied with the grand test oflove which our Lord, Himself, herein lays down! The text does not condemn these lightheaded projects in detail, but it doesso in the gross by proposing a far more reasonable test-"If you love Me, keep My commandments." Do not spin theories in yourexcited brains and vow that you will do this desperate thing and the other. The probability is that you are not seeking theGlory of the Lord, but you are wanting notoriety for yourself! You are aiming at supreme devotion so that you may become adistinguished person and that people may talk about your superior saintship. You may even go so far as to court persecutionfrom selfish motives. The Savior, who was wise and knew what was in men and knew, also, what would be the most sure test oftrue love to Himself, says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments." This is a much more difficult thing than to follow outthe dictates of a crazy brain.
Why does the Savior give us this as a test? I think that one reason is because it is one which tests whether you are lovingChrist in His true position, or whether your love is to a Christ of your own making and your own placing. It is easy to cravea half Christ and refuse a whole Christ. It is easy, also, to follow a Christ of your own construction who is merely an antichrist.The real Christ is so great and glorious that He has a right to give commandments! Moses never used an expression such asour Savior here employs. He might say, "Keep God's commandments," but he would never have said, "Keep my commandments." Thatdear and Divine Person whom we call Master and Lord here says, "Keep My commandments." What a commanding person He must be!What lordship He has over His people! How great He is among His saints! If you keep His commandments, you are putting Himinto the position which He claims. By obedience you acknowledge His sovereignty and Godhead and say with Thomas, "My Lordand my God."
I am afraid that a great many people know a Christ who is meek and lowly, their servant and Savior, but they do not know theLord Jesus Christ. Alas, my Friends, such people set up a false Christ! We do not love Jesus at all if He is not our Lordand God. It is all cant and hypocrisy, this love to Christ which robs Him of His Deity! I abhor that love to Christ whichdoes not make Him King of kings and Lord of lords. Love Him and belittle Him? It is absurd! Follow your own will in preferenceto His will and then talk of love to Him? Ridiculous! This is but the devil's counterfeit of love-it is a contradiction ofall true love. Love is loyal! Love crowns its Lord with obedience. If you love Jesus aright, you view His every precept asa Divine Commandment. You love the true Christ if you love a commanding Christ as well as a saving Christ and look to Himfor the guidance of your life as well as for the pardon of your sin.
This test, again, is very judicious, because it proves the living presence of the object of your love. Love always desiresto have its object near and it has a faculty of bringing its object near. If you love anybody, that person may be far awayand yet to your thoughts, he is close at hand. Love brings the beloved one so near that the thought of him acts upon its life.A gentleman has faithful servants. He goes away and leaves his house in their charge-he has gone abroad and yet he is at hometo his servants, for every day their work is done as if he were there to see! He is coming home soon-they hardly know when,but they keep all things in readiness for his return, let it happen when it may. They are not eye-servants and so they worknone the less because he is absent. If he does not see them, yet the eyes of their love always see him and, therefore, theywork as if he were at home. Their affection keeps him always near.
A dear father is dead and he has left his property to a son who honors his memory. What does the son do? He is generous, likehis father, and when he is asked why, he replies, "I do exactly what I believe my dear father would have done if he had beenhere." "Why?" "Because I love him." When a man is dead, he lives to those who love him! So the living Christ, who is not dead,but has gone away, is made present to us by our realizing love-and the proof of our love is that Jesus is so present thatHe constrains our actions, influences our motives and is the cause of our obedience! Jesus seems to say-"If you love Me, nowthat I am gone, you will do as you would have done if I were still with you and looking at you. You will continue to keepMy commandments, as in My Presence."
It is a most judicious test, again, because, by keeping our Lord's commandments, we are doing that which is most pleasingto Him and will most glorify Him! Some enthusiastic Methodist cries-
"Oh, what shall I do my Sa vior to praise?"
Listen, my Brother-if you love your Savior, keep His commandments! This is all you have to do and a great all, too. Amongthe rest, you may come and be baptized while you are thus earnest to praise your Lord. "If you love Me, keep My commandments."There is the answer to every rapturous enquiry! Jesus is more glorified by a consistent obedience to His commands than bythe most extravagant zeal that we can possibly display in what is only will-worship because He has never commanded it. Ifyou wish to break the alabaster box and fill the house with sweet perfume. If you wish to crown His head with rarest gems,the method is before you-"Keep My commandments." You cannot do your Lord so great a favor, or, in the long run, bring to Himso real an honor, as by a complete, continual, hearty obedience to every one of His commandments!
Moreover, the Savior knew, when He bade us try this test, "If you love Me, keep My commandments," that it would prepare usfor honoring and glorifying Him in many other ways. Read the context-"If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will praythe Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever." You can greatly glorify Christ ifyou are filled with the Holy Spirit. But you cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit if you do not keep Christ's commandments!The Spirit of God as a Comforter will come only to those to whom He comes as a Sanc-tifier. By making us holy, He will qualifyus for being useful. The Savior says, "If you love Me, keep My commandments," because we shall then obtain that Divine Giftby which we can glorify His name! If there is any service which your love would aspire to, obedience to your Lord is the wayto it!
But, indeed, I need not stand here and argue. When a friend is dying and he asks you to prove your love by such-and-such adeed, he may ask what he wills-you give him carte blanche. It may be the simplest thing or the hardest thing, but if he willprescribe it as a test of love, you will not tell him no. If your wife should say to you, "You are going to journey far fromme and I shall not see you again for many days. I beg you, therefore, to carry my portrait within your watch-case," you wouldnot fail to do so. It would be a simple thing, but it would be sacred to you. Baptism and the Lord's Supper will never beslighted by those whose hearts are fully possessed with love to Jesus! They may seem trifles, but if the Lord Jesus commandsthem, they cannot be neglected! To leave off your wedding ring might be no great crime and yet no loving wife would do it.Even so, none who regard outward ordinances as love tokens will think of neglecting them. Ours is not to ask for reasons.Ours is not to dispute about whether the deed is essential or non-essential. Ours is to obey right lovingly! Bridegroom ofour hearts, say what You will and we will obey You! If only You will smile and strengthen us, nothing shall be impossibleif great, nothing trifling if small!
III. Time has well-near gone, or we would dwell upon the third head, which we must now leave, only praying God to prove thetruth of it. The third head is this-TRUE LOVE WILL ENDURE THIS TEST. "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments." Thisis the Revised Version and I hope it will be written out in capitals upon our revised lives! We will obey, we must obey sincewe love Him by whom the command is given!
Come then, Brothers and Sisters, as the time has gone, let me say this much to you. If you love Christ, set to work to findout what His commandments are. Study the Scriptures upon every point upon which you have the slightest question. This sacredoracle must guide you.
Next, be always true to your convictions about what Christ's commandments are. Carry them out at all hazards and carry themout at once. It will be wicked to say, "Until now I have obeyed, but I shall stop here." We are committed to implicit obedienceto the whole of the Master's will, involve what it may. Will you not agree to this at the outset? If you love Him, you willnot object.
Take note of every commandment as it concerns you. Let me mention one or two, and beg you to obey them as you hear them. "Goyou into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature." Is not this a call to you, my Brother, to be a missionary?Do you hear it? Will you not say, "Here am I, send me"? Another person has come into this house tonight full of enmity-somebodyhas treated him very badly and he cannot forget it, I pray him to hear the Lord's command-"Therefore if you bring your giftto the altar and there remember that your brother has anything against you; leave there your gift before the altar and goyour way. First be reconciled to your brother and then come and offer your gift." And again, "Little children, love one another."If any of you are in debt, obey this commandment-"Owe no man anything, but to love one another." If you neglect the poor andlive in a stingy way, hear this commandment-"Give to him that asks you and from him that would borrow of you turn not away."At the back of all comes this is-"If you love Me, keep My commandments." I might stay here all night, and mention, one afteranother, the commandments which
would be specially applicable to each one of my hearers, but I pray the Holy Spirit to bring all things to your remembrance.
If there is a commandment which you do not relish, it ought to be a warning to you that there is something wrong in your heartthat needs setting right. If you ever quarrel with one of Christ's commands, end that quarrel by especially attending to itbeyond every other! Do as the miserly man did when he conquered his avarice, once and for all. He was a Christian and he promisedhe would give a pound to the Church, but the devil whispered, "You need your money, do not pay." The man stamped his footand said, "I will give two!" Then the devil said, "Surely you are going mad! Save your money." The man replied that he wouldnot be conquered, he would give four pounds. "Now," said Satan, "you must be insane." Then said the man, "I will give eightand if you don't stop your tempting, I will give 16 for I will not be the slave of covetousness." The point is to throw yourwhole soul into that very duty wherein you are most tempted to be slack. Jesus does not say, "If you love Me, keep this commandmentor that." Out of love obey every command!
Many of you do not love my Lord Jesus Christ. I have not preached to you, but that very fact should make you thoughtful. Gohome and consider that the preacher said nothing to you because you do not love the Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, cannotkeep His commandments. Write down in black and white-"/ do not love the Lord Jesus Christ.''" If it is really so, be honestenough to make a note of it and think it over. If you love Jesus, you may joyfully write out, "I love the Lord Jesus. Oh forGrace to love Him more!" But if you do not love Him, it will be honest to put it upon record. Write it boldly-"/ do not lovethe Lord Jesus Christ." Look at it and look again-and oh, may God the Holy Spirit lead you to repent of not loving Jesus whois the Altogether Lovely One and the great lover of men's souls! Oh that you may begin to love Him at once! Amen and Amen.