The Commands of Jesus

One of the core values of the good news of Christ is grace. There are many places in the NT we could go to find the message of grace expressed but one of my favourites is in Ephesians ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.’ (Ephesians 2:8–9). Paul makes it clear that our salvation is 100% the work of God in Christ and 0% our own effort. No amount of law keeping on our part will win us access to heaven. Another way of expressing this truth is ‘Nothing I can do will make God love me more, nothing I can do will make God love me less!’ This is indeed good news and something to celebrate! Christ not only offers us forgiveness but also the freedom from the tyranny of law.

Does this mean then that there are no longer commandments to obey? Absolutely not! Jesus said “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them”. (Matthew 5:17). The difference is that our obedience now arises from a love response to the gift we have been given rather than an effort to win God’s favour.

Have you noticed that Jesus actually gave us some new commandments? During the opening weeks of 2017 we will be looking at commands that Jesus gave his disciples and seeing how they apply to us. The first commandment is known as the Great Commandment and is found in both Matthew and Mark’s gospels. Actually we get two commandments for the price of one!

Love God and Love One Another

Only those who know the forgiveness of Christ are able to love God and love people as God intends for us to do. It is a good place to start the year by allowing the Holy Spirit to illuminate again to us how to obey those ‘buy one get one free’ commandments.

The second (third?) commandment we shall look at is also found in Matthew and Mark but is usually known as the Great Commission. It is still very much a commandment because Jesus commands us to

Go and Make Disciples

Some people are inclined towards emphasising either the Great Commandment or the Great Commission but over the next few weeks I hope that we will see that these Commands of Jesus are inextricably combined. For people who have experienced the lavish grace, unlimited grace of God, obeying these commands is perfect freedom; a reciprocating demonstration of a love response to his love for us.

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Good News!

Think about some good news that you had recently – the birth of a baby, a marriage or a job appointment. I wonder how you heard about it? I wonder what your instinct was when you heard the news? Increasingly people use things like Facebook and Twitter to pass on good news but even if you don’t ‘do technology’ I am sure that you will agree that there are few things as frustrating as having good news that you can’t share.

For Christians there is no greater news than the Easter message. The death and resurrection of Jesus provide us with tangible assurance of God’s love for us and the means for our forgiveness and reconciliation. There are few Christians who don’t want to share God’s love with the people around them but many of us struggle with how. Over the next few months we have planned a number of activities that we believe will help us. The two main events are InsideOut and Catch the Flame please put these in your diary now so that you do not miss out.

InsideOut is a series of four Wednesday evenings starting 11th April. Led by Steve Lee from Miracle Street, these sessions will help us to share God’s love in practical and natural ways as part of our daily lives. You can watch a personal invitation from Steve on our website (lifechurchhook.org/insideout) As well as helping us to live our daily lives as followers of Jesus these evenings will also help us get ready for Catch the Flame which will take place over 26/27th May as we work together with the folk from St John’s. On the Saturday afternoon we will be holding another Fun Day followed by an open air ‘Church in the Park’ event on the Sunday. Catch the Flame is intended to tap into the 2012 Olympic theme as well as taking place at Pentecost weekend.

Please make it a priority to get involved on those dates, above all please pray that we will see people respond to the good news over the coming months.

This blog post featured in the April 2012 edition of Lifelines