Lesson 10

A Love Response

(John 14, James 2, Romans 8)
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Introduction: After going through all of the lessons so far, you likely feel that you need to witness to others. You need to do something to advance the Kingdom of God. But after you come home from work (or school) and you fix a meal and eat and do some other chores, you feel like just sitting down and resting. Day after day is just like that. Finally, you feel guilty because you look back and see that you have done nothing! Is guilt bad? If we are to be motivated by love instead of guilt, how can we change guilt to love? Let's dive into the Bible and see what we can learn about our motivation to witness!

  1. A Drive


    1. Read John 14:15. When you read the introduction, did you answer "That is me!" If so, how do you feel now? (The implication is that if you do not make time to advance the Kingdom of God, you don't really love Jesus. That makes us feel guilty.)


    2. Read Philippians 1:15-16. We looked at this text a couple of weeks ago. What does Paul say about having a motive other than love to share the gospel? (He acknowledges that you can be motivated by something other than love.)


    3. Read Philippians 1:17-18. Does our motive to share matter? We feel guilty, so we share. Is that bad? (No, not as far as sharing the gospel goes.)


      1. Read Matthew 6:5. What does this suggest about witnessing with the wrong motives? (Jesus suggests that the wrong motive harms us.)


  2. The Right Drive


    1. The problem for me (and I'll guess for many of my readers), is how to exchange guilt, ambition, or competition as witnessing motives for a love motive. Let's go back and re-read John 14:15 and then add John 14:16-18. What has this to do with Jesus' statement that if we love we will obey? (I think Jesus realizes that love obedience is not easy (to put it mildly)if we are just gritting our teeth and saying, "I love, therefore I must obey!" We end up admitting: "Okay, I don't love, so I have guilt, therefore I must obey!" Because of this practical problem Jesus sends someone who "lives with you and will be in you.")


      1. What do you think this "lives with you and will be in you" means, as a practical matter? (It has to be a reference to a new addition to our thinking and our attitude.)


    2. Read John 14:19-21. Just in case you thought the "love and obey" statement had nothing to do with the Holy Spirit living in us, this makes the connection obvious. What do you think Jesus means when He says that He will "show [Himself] to [us]?" (We will be aware of Jesus' presence in our life when others would not be aware.)


    3. Read John 14:22. What do you think is the answer to this?


    4. Read John 14:23-24. This is Jesus' answer to the question of Judas. What does Jesus teach us?(Those who have given their allegiance to God (love) stand on different ground than the world. God rewards this love by showing us love and sending the Holy Spirit to live in us.)


    5. Read John 14:25-26. What is the role of the Holy Spirit when it comes to our obedience? (The Spirit both teaches and reminds us.)


      1. How many times have you missed something when you were not paying sufficient attention?


        1. Think about the last time you were given a speeding ticket by the police. Did you know you were speeding and just got caught? Or, were you not paying attention, had no idea you were speeding, and got pulled over? (Most likely you were not paying attention. So many things in life escape our notice because we are not paying attention. The Holy Spirit helps us to notice.)


      2. Let's revisit our introduction. You get home, feed the family, do some chores and are too tired to do something else to advance the Kingdom of God. How does what we just learned about the Holy Spirit change the picture? (What about all of our relationships during the day and evening? If God reminds us ("pay attention") to the opportunities to advance the gospel, if the Holy Spirit teaches us how to be constantly nudging others towards the Kingdom of Heaven, then perhaps we will have already done a great deal of Kingdom work by the end of the day.)


  3. Understanding the Transformed Drive


    1. Perhaps you are concerned about the mystic nature of what we have been discussing. We know that gritting our teeth is not going to give us a love motive to witness. At the same time, you may want more detail than just waiting for the Holy Spirit to give us a love drive and make us more alert. Of special concern is that some of the texts we just read ( John 14:23) make it appear that love comes before the Holy Spirit comes to live in us.


    2. Let's look at some practical lessons. Read James 2:8-11. James starts out talking about love, but ends talking about murder. What is James saying about love? (His point is that obedience is not easy. If we show favoritism, we sin. If we commit adultery, we sin. If we murder, we sin. It is not easy to avoid sin because a single, minor, stumble (favoritism) gets us in the same sort of sin trouble as murder.)


    3. Read James 2:12. Given what James just said, what law gives freedom? (Read Romans 8:1-3. James suggests that keeping the law perfectly is not possible. Paul tells us that Jesus kept the law on our behalf. This is what James means when he refers to "the law that gives freedom.")


    4. Read Romans 8:4-9. What is God looking for in us? (To have our minds set on what God desires. This is the practical work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.)


    5. Read James 2:12-17. What does James say that God has shown to us? (Mercy!) What should we show to others? (Mercy.)


      1. Let's get back to guilt. After reading what James and Paul say about the law, do we need to feel guilt? (No! No amount of witnessing will make us righteous. We cannot say, "I failed to earn my place in the Kingdom today because I failed to witness." Jesus makes us righteous. If we are motivated by guilt, we don't understand the gospel.)


      2. How then does James hook the work of mercy to faith? (He seems to say mercy is required.)


      3. Isn't that contrary to salvation by grace alone? (Yes, on the surface it seems to be a contradiction. Looking deeper removes the contradiction. Jesus saves me. I'm not compelled to witness to earn something Jesus has just given me. However, salvation by grace alone is a tremendous act of mercy. How can I neglect to show mercy to others?)


    6. Read James 2:18-20. Is James wrong when he writes that "faith without deeds is useless?" (Read Romans 6:12-14. The distinction here may seem small, but it is of infinite importance. James is not saying that our deeds create our faith. Rather, he is saying that when we truly understand God's mercy to us (we who cannot obey without stumbling), then a proper attitude, an attitude of mercy towards others, follows. Just like you can be downstream and test the purity of the water upstream, so you can look at the deeds of someone to judge the authenticity of their faith.)


    7. Read Romans 10:1-4. Can we be zealous for God without having a proper understanding of this? (Paul says, "Yes!")


      1. What is the key to salvation? (Jesus. Righteousness is available to all who believe. Keeping the law is not required for salvation.)


        1. How do you feel when you read this? (Liberated! I have been shown the ultimate mercy!)


        2. Do you want to share this? (This is the "mercy motivation." It is the love motivation. God showed mercy to us by saving us by His life, death and resurrection. If we truly believe and understand this, we have our motivation to witness! The Holy Spirit convicts us of this truth. The Holy Spirit reminds us of this truth. The Holy Spirit points out opportunities to share this truth. Romans 8:5: "those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.")


    8. Friend, you can be motivated by guilt to witness, but what a terrible thing that is for you. Jesus saved you from your sins. He gave you eternal life when you believed. He delivered you from guilt! If you believe this, no one has to urge you to witness. Will you confess your sins and accept Jesus' life, death and resurrection on your behalf? You can be liberated right now! And you can joyfully share your liberation with others.


  4. Next week: Let the Church Know.

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