Study Series in John's Gospel

Who is a Friend of God?

Study Series: The Gospel of John

Larger Context: The Identifying Marks of Those in the True Vine

This Study: Who is a friend of God? (John 15:9-17)

The Commandments of Christ (John 15:9-17

Murray McLellan

No longer Servants

A radical distinction between the type of people produced by the O.C. and the N. C.

Servants (Old Covenant relationship) – were under guardians and stewards and in bondage. Even the heirs did not differ from slaves. Gal. 3:23-25; 4:1-3

Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian. (Galatians 3:23-25 ESV)

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. (Galatians 4:1-3 ESV)

Friends (New Covenant relationship) – are brought into the fullness of God’s revelation, receiving the adoption as sons. Gal. 4:4-7

Slaves are simply told what to do, while friends are informed of their master’s heart. Jesus informs his friends of his motives, plans, and purposes. In times past, God’s covenant people were not informed of God’s saving plan in full measure, as is true of His New Covenant people.

Old Covenant Era = Slaves

Unbelieving picture of the people of God. Hebrews 8:7-8; Gal. 4:21-31

For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second.
8 For he finds fault with them when he says. (Hebrews 8:7-8 ESV)

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically:these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia; she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,
“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
than those of the one who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. (Galatians 4:21-31 ESV)

Inferior status of the people of God in the Old Covenant era.

The slave description seems to describe the O.C. people of God as not the real people of God.

To be under slavery is to be under bondage. The Old Covenant is a legal or works covenant that can
only produce people who are under the wrath of God.

New Covenant Era = Friends

Only the New Covenant produces true believers who are eternally loved by God, have their sins forgiven, and have a new heart. Hebrews 10:14-18

11 And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
15 And the Holy Spirit also bears witness to us; for after saying,
16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
after those days, declares the Lord:
I will put my laws on their hearts,
and write them on their minds,”
17 then he adds,
“I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.”
18 Where there is forgiveness of these, there is no longer any offering for sin. (Hebrews 10:14-18 ESV)

Are you a Friend of Christ?

The Privileged Place of His Friends

  • The love of God. Jesus laid down His life for His friends and only His friends. The love and relationship of Father and Son is the only adequate analogy to describe His love for us (v. 9).
  • Fullness of joy. Jesus’ obedience to the Father is the ground of His joy (and ours!). He promises that those who abide in Him in obedient love will share the same joy. All other joys are incomplete.

Identifying His Friends:

  • Apart from willing and loving obedience you have no biblical grounds for claiming to be a friend of God (v. 10, 14). This obedience is not what makes us friends, it is what characterizes His friends.
  • People are either friends of Jesus Christ or friends of the world. Friendship with the world is hostility toward God. Friendship with Jesus Christ is intimacy with God. James 4:4; 1 Jn. 1:3-4
  • His friends keep the law of Christ – (v. 10, 12, 14, 17). If you deliberately keep sinning against Jesus, you are His enemy, not His friend.

The Model and Motive Provided by Jesus for His Friends:

Jesus is the model – “as I have loved you,” “as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” Jesus laid down His life for His friends. 1 John 3:16

Chosen to be His Friends:

The fact of the previously mentioned privileged place and greater revelation of His friends is not because they are wiser or better, but because Jesus chose them (v.16).

~ Murray

About Murray McLellan
Murray is the lead church planter and Bible teacher at Grace Fellowship Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. He and his wife Cheryl have labored in the Gospel for many years despite the many discouragements along the way. Our brother is associated with “InDepth Studies”, the Acts 29 network of church planters, and more recently the uniquely Canadian C2C church planting network. In new covenant circles Murray is a long time contributor to new covenant thought and discussion.