Principle for Bible Reading
Are you a friend of Jesus? How do you know? In this lab, John Piper looks again at John 15 to see what kind of confidence we can have that Jesus loves us and died for our sins. He looks closely at one two-letter word that makes all the difference.
Condition or Evidence? (00:50–05:00)
“You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:14). What does this “if” mean? One kind of “if” communicates Christianity. Another would be heresy.
- One kind of “if” would communicate a condition, meaning one thing precedes and brings about the effect. e.g. If you are strong and courageous, then the Marine corp will want you.
- Another kind communicates an effect, meaning one thing follows and confirms a cause. e.g. If your white blood cell count is low, then must (already) be in remission.
Christianity: Proven Free Friendship (05:00–09:15)
- Conditional “If” (Heresy) — If (and only if) you do what Jesus commands, then you will be a friend of Jesus and his death will count for you. (John 15:14)
- Evidential “If” (Christianity) — If you do what Jesus commands, then you confirm that you are already his friend, and that his death paid for and changed you. (John 15:14)
- John 15:12 confirms that the “if” in John 15:14 is describing a confirming effect, and not a condition. Jesus loved us before we loved one another. His love came first and causes our love. We do not earn his love and friendship with our love for one another.
- What does the “if” mean in John 15:14? Explain the “if” clause first as a conditional statement: If A happens, then B happens. Now, explain the “if” clause as an evidence statement: If A happens, then B must have happened.
- Which interpretation seems correct in John 15:14, and why?
- How does John 15:12 change or confirm your answer to the previous question? How does it clarify the meaning of “if” in John 15:14?
Piper: “We never earn the love of Jesus. We can only love and live rightly because he loved us first.”