I wanted to continue the theme I began in my last post to elaborate on the discussion of John 15:1-14 but now I will add these two verses Joh 15:15 “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Joh 15:16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. For the sake of context and to make my last blog more clear we need to take note of these verses and who Jesus is speaking to.
The audience. Who was Jesus speaking to at this point? It’s a good question and the answer is found in John 13. Jesus was celebrating the Pass Over with His Disciples so from this we know that Jesus was not speaking publicly. This dialogue continues until the end of John 17.
Subject and context In John 16:29-31 it is made clear that Jesus was not now using figures of speech but speaking plainly to His Disciples. This is important because those who say the bible only speaks in literal terms to us contradict the disciples themselves that says in verse 29, His disciples *said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. Then in verse 30 they say “Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” To which Jesus replies in verse:31 “Do you now believe? At this juncture it needs to be pointed out that using John 15:1-14 as an object lesson for a children’s talk is not as straight forward as it may first appear. If it is to be taken literally as the fundamentalists insist scripture should be taken they miss the whole point of of what is being said. At the same time they avoid adding verses 15 and 16 because it changes the whole context or point that Jesus is making here. Yes we can clearly see that John 15:1-14 is metaphor Jesus is using figure of speech to describe our relationship with Him and the Father. However as He continues in verses 15 and 16, Jesus is no longer using metaphor calling them friends who Jesus made known all things to. The Jesus states emphatically in verse 16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.
I stated in part 1 of this blog that trees and vine branches don’t exist in a vacuum, In other words they can’t exist or survive without being connected to the stem and root system. The fruit that is produced, (works) are the result of being connected to the stem and root system. On their own they cannot produce any fruit, literally meaning they cannot produce anything of value on their own. Any fruit that is produced is the product of the stem and root system not the branches themselves. The branches are dependent on the stem and root system for its survival. In John 15: 1-14 there are a number of instances where No Lordship advocates will have difficulty justifying their whole theology. Verses 4 and 5 are perfect examples; 4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
No Lordship advocates accuse Lordship advocates of teaching a works (merit) based salvation. If this is true then that is exactly what Jesus was teaching here. There is nothing from chapters 13 right through 17 where Jesus explicitly says we can merit salvation and it is not implied in chapter 15 either.
So what is Jesus saying? verse 5 says “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. and then in verse 16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. If we cannot bear fruit apart from Jesus and he chose us to do this the implication is clear that Jesus is the first cause both of our salvation and the works that are a result of salvation. To put this another way Jesus is saying He is the object of salvation from which all other are the result.
No Lordship salvation has to deny this is true for its theology to stand up. For their view to be correct they have to disconnect and ignore verses 5 and 16. To say that all we need to receive salvation is believe is a true, but to say their will be no evidence or no need for works as proof of one’s faith is untrue.
If I stand in front of a major youth event as Paul Washer has done and I don’t challenge them to think about living in holiness, If I don’t challenge them to examine themselves or their lifestyle am I doing them any favors? When Paul Washer did this he was castigated by many as teaching works.I watched the whole video (which many of his critics didn’t) and came to the opposite conclusion. Some took it upon themselves to post a snippet of his address on social media with the bold caption implying that Paul Washer was teaching works based salvation.
These No Lord salvation advocates argued that Paul Washer might damage the faith of many with this kind of preaching and cause them to turn away from the faith. Didn’t Jesus do exactly the same thing in addressing the 70 disciples that followed Him? Many turned away and only 12 remained. What this says is that of the 70 only 12 were true followers (11 actually). Paul Washer did exactly what Jesus did and yet no one accused Jesus of being too harsh.
The point here is that those who peddle the cheap No Lordship salvation gospel are teaching a false gospel. They are peddling the soft sell where no real commitment is required. Pray a prayer to Jesus and your ticket to heaven is assured nothing more is required. People can try and brag about the notches in their belt so to speak but it denies the very words that Jesus chooses us, we don’t choose Him. The evidence, however imperfect in this world, is that we are a chosen child of the Father who bears fruit through Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.
The other important point to make here is that salvation is not about us, it’s about God the Father who is the author of salvation, the Son who appropriates salvation and the Holy Spirit that empowers us to live the Christian life and glorify the Father. Those who teach No Lordship and the synergist who claims we can only receive salvation after we accept Christ willingly deny the true nature of sin and the fallen state of humanity. These all deny the actual work of salvation and make God impotent or powerless with no real righteousness and no right to judge. It ultimately leads to Pelagianism or semi Pelagianism.