John 14:29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.
The word today is backwards, and that said, the world today is backwards, not only is it not going in the right direction, we do not see progress, but we are seeing a lack of things which were once considered ordinary and expected – it used to be we could assume people would use common sense, now we lament that not only is common sense not used, but it seems to be lacking – hardly a sign of progress, probably a sign that the world and most that we know is going backwards.
Sure, there are some people who can write backwards, and some people who can speak backwards, we may even believe that some people listen backwards – that is, they are ready with an answer even before they know the question. But if we are living life backwards, why would you want to start and the end – and then, go back to the beginning?
What is the beginning? The beginning is faith, that which God works in our hearts, that which holds on to the promises, that which trusts in the grace and mercy of God in Jesus Christ. That is the beginning, and creating, building, and sustaining that faith is the chief purpose of God’s Word – so that by grace through faith, we might reach the end which has been prepared for us in Christ – heaven. Heaven is the end, the place we want to get to, faith is the way we get there.
Once you understand that – then you can look at the other text,
John 14:23 If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
This is the text that Christians most often get backwards, that is we are mislead into thinking that it is something we can do all by ourselves.
Do what? Love God? Keep the Word?
It is often said that if you could keep the first commandment, you could keep all the commandments perfectly – we hear the word which says to us:
Be Ye Perfect, as I the Lord your God am perfect.
And we believe that if we just try hard enough we can do it. Sure there are other people who don’t even try – but they’re not here, we are. And hard as we try, we fall short – we sin, we fail – and we fail because we’ve got it backwards – we are trying to do without God something that God would freely do for us, if we would let him.
If faith doesn’t come because we work hard at believing, but because God works in us and creates a clean heart, renews a right spirit within us – then keeping the word is not about what we do, but being open [not resisting] to God working on our hears minds and lives. Keeping the word, is then about how God works his change in us, so that we live as what God has called us – his children. We are not his children because we believe, but because God is with us.
So, those who resist God, who do not permit room for the Word in their lives, because God is not with them, because God does not work a change in their hearts, minds and lives – these people do not live as the children of God, to them it seems impossible, so they soon give up trying to keep the commandments and slide down, towards hell, with nothing to slow the descent. Problem is that that is worse that backwards.
The point is that the power is with God, and the Word is very much God with us, and that is how we live by faith, resist temptation, and find peace in the forgiveness of sins.
You see the most basic form of idolatry, is when we think we can do by ourselves, what God has purchased and won for us by the suffering death and resurrection of His only Son. We begin by opening our hand to receive the gift of God in Jesus Christ, but the beginning is the gift, it is what enables us to open our hand – faith is that basic, fundamental, indispensable.