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To apply yourself to come to know the more there is to know of God through the Holy Spirit sent by Jesus so that you may make it known freely to all His friends, is the true laying down of your life that Jesus spoke of and commanded His disciples to do in John 15:12-13.

All false teachings, all false doctrines, everything that is not the truth, comes from men who have refused to enter through the Gate that is Jesus, but have sought some way to climb over the wall to get into the sheep pen.  For anyone who enters through Jesus only, staying faithful to the command to listen to Him, will never fail to have the Spirit of the Fear of the Lord constantly convicting them with regards to righteousness, therefore the thought of deviating from anything that Jesus has said would be far removed. 

Unfortunately, as simple as this sounds, it has not manifested in the practical, for if there is anything that the early disciples have shown us by their examples, it is the ease with which we ignore and overrule what Jesus has said.  Beginning with the mother in John 2 when Jesus said, “My time has not yet come,” to the multitude of times that the eleven did not listen and obey, from the feeding of the 5000 to the command to go to Bethsaida, to the command to go to Galilee on Resurrection morning and the appointment of Matthias before the Holy Spirit’s arrival, and so on and so on.

If Jesus’ friendship to the eleven was on the basis that He had made known to them the everything He has learnt from the Father and that the new command for disciples was to lay down our lives for our friends, meaning the friends of Jesus, then anyone who teaches doctrines and theories, fanciful myths not based on the words of Jesus to reveal the Father and what He has learnt from the Father, is no friend of Jesus at all.  You see, the new commandment is not for servants and disciples who are not His friends, but rather it is for His friends who happen to be servants and disciples as well.  It is not given by itself as a new command, but rather, He takes the new command in John 13:34 and opens it up in John 15:12 in the middle of His expression to them of His love and friendship from John 15:9 to 15:17.

The revealing of this command in the absence of Judas and those disciples who could not handle His hard teachings means that the command to “Love each other” is for disciples who are His friends only.  The proof of that friendship is how much the Lord is prepared to make known to you of what He has learnt from the Father, and the reciprocation of that friendship is how much you are prepared to receive from the Lord and, here is the authentication, how freely you are prepared to give it to others no matter how much it cost you.

Jesus laid down His life for His Father to save His Father’s enemies, the sinners of this world, and from those sinners the Father draws them to Jesus, giving them to Jesus to be His disciples.  However, the hallmark of Jesus’ life is the generosity with which He freely gives away what cost Him everything.  If something has cost you, then it means you have purchased it, you have bought it, and anyone of you who lays down your life for your friends has in truth purchased, bought and even redeemed your friends’ lives. 

As the song of the saints of Revelation 5 says of the Lord Jesus, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because You were slain, and with Your blood You purchased men for God…”  You see, Jesus does not take or steal, but Jesus purchases, He buys, meaning that whatever it is that Jesus has, it cost Him something.  So that whatever He has learnt from His Father, it cost Him, especially the obedience that He learnt through suffering.  But now, to His friends, He makes known everything that He has learnt without cost, without price, without charge, for free.  Even though it is given freely, it was not received freely, but was purchased with His life through obedience to His Father’s command to death on a cross.

To His disciples when He first sent them out, He told them, “Freely you have received, freely give,” as an initial part of their training.  For up until then, their discipleship had not yet cost them, but as their discipleship progressed, it would cost them to remain with Him.  When they had experienced what could be done through His teachings, He announced the cost of discipleship:  “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate His father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be My disciple.  And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow Me cannot be My disciple.”

The continuing discipleship with Jesus would cost them, just as learning what He had learnt from the Father would also cost Him His life.  Having received the basics of discipleship by Matthew 10, the closer, deeper requirements of discipleship would exclude those who would leave because the teachings grew hard.  Luke 14 was spoken only to the crowd about those who were still left to be His disciples.  Anyone who experiences doing miracles and driving out demons, yet still finds the eating of His flesh and drinking of His blood a hard teaching, will never come to the place where he will hate, much less leave his father and mother, wife and children, and his own brothers and sisters.  Thus, to begin to purchase from Jesus that which He has requires a discipleship that has progressed beyond the feeding of the 5000.

As such, that which Jesus made known to those disciples who are His friends is of a different value to that which was given to those who were sent out on their excursions in Matthew 10.  These were the ones who had left their fields, homes and families to be His disciples.  To them He would make known everything He has learnt and to them the Holy Spirit would make known what belongs to Jesus.  These are the ones He gave the new commandment to:  “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

So now see and understand that not everyone whom Jesus calls, “Friend,” is the friend He has made known everything to, for not everyone who claims to be a disciple of Christ has come to the place where they understand what friendship with Jesus truly means and entails.  Certainly not those who claim to be His disciples and yet introduce teachings of their own that have nothing to do with what Jesus said.  You see, true friends do not steal from one another; they are not thieves of each other’s possessions.  As Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the Gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.”  And Jesus made it clear by saying plainly, “I tell you the truth, I am the Gate for the sheep.” 

If you are a friend of Jesus, you would not steal His sheep, His ministry, His Name or His church.  You would not stand up in the midst of His congregation and pronounce your judgement as to how His people should behave, but rather, you would be careful to always defer back to what He has said.  But when the thief is surrounded by those who have displayed a tendency not to listen to Him (Jesus) in the first place, but to listen to others, then it is easy for the man who jumped over the wall to lead the flock of Jesus to pastures Jesus never intended.  And by their lives you will know them, for they have not only not been discipled to listen to Jesus, they have not yet laid down the price of their discipleship to purchase from Jesus the gold refined in the fire.  They have not left father or mother, brothers or sisters, fields and houses in order to hold onto the teachings of Jesus.  There are those who have left these things to take up a religious career, but a religious career has nothing to do with holding onto the teachings of Jesus.  A religious career, even a Christian one, has to do with holding onto the teachings of their denomination or traditions, which may have nothing in common with what Jesus said.  To illustrate— a true discipleship career is one that goes to Bethsaida immediately, but a religious career is one that joins the twelve to go to Capernaum after the feeding of the 5000.

Now, even if you have paid the price for discipleship, friendship with Jesus will still elude you if you are one who seeks to sell that which you have received freely from the Lord and betray Him by selling what secret information you know of Him, like Judas did.  No seller of the truths of Jesus, no seller of the testimony of Jesus is a friend of Jesus, for Jesus gives away what He purchased without ever selling.  A servant who sells what belongs to his Master is a thief as well.  However, everyone who wants to sell something must present it in a way that it would attract purchasers, for how else can you convince the buyer to part with their gold or money.  Thus, those who sell the teachings of Jesus, which they have received freely, will always exaggerate the value of what they are selling, and those who purchase them will always be left disappointed.

So when you look at the church, and all who claim to be friends of Jesus, and even though Jesus may call them friends, learn to distinguish between those who are thieves from those who are His true friends.  And until you and I learn what it is to be a true friend of Jesus, we cannot begin to obey the new command:  “Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”  No thief can be a friend of the owner, and therefore cannot be a friend of those who are the friends of the owner.

A man who comes into the church of Jesus Christ with His own teachings and judgements, even though he may lay down his life to have them propagated, is still a thief.  A disciple who sells what he has received freely from the Lord to his fellow disciples is still a thief.  Even if he loses his life as he carries out his merchandising of the Lord’s teachings, he has not laid down his life for his friends.  For the One he has stolen from and the ones he has sold to are not his friends.  Because so much of the teachings and doctrines that are taught to the believers of Jesus are teachings that come from thieves who have jumped over the wall or from the servants who are selling what they have freely received, true friendship has never been possible in the church, and the obedience of the new command has been almost impossible to the majority of saints, except for the martyrs.  Even when you examine what constitutes a martyr, does a Protestant who was killed in the wars against the Catholics constitute one who has lost his head for the sake of his testimony for Jesus and the word of God or is he just another man who was killed fighting a war?

Thus, the distinguishing pattern of behaviour that the elect of the Holy Spirit must have is friendship with Jesus and one another that satisfies what Jesus used to define friendship in John 15:  “You are My friends if you do what I command.  …I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from My Father I have made known to you.”

You see, the Holy Spirit is One of those friends of Jesus, for the Holy Spirit only does what Jesus has commanded Him to do first, and to the Holy Spirit Jesus has made known everything He learnt from the Father, even His lesson of suffering on the cross, so that the Holy Spirit can take “from what is Mine and making it known to you, He will bring glory to Me.”  The Holy Spirit does not steal from the flock of Jesus to have His own flock, so that you the elect are not stolen from Jesus, but always belong to Jesus.  Except He has set you aside for the work He has, and the work of the Holy Spirit is always in accordance to the commands of Jesus.  Even if He takes the liberty to ensure those commands are adhered to when the disciples are not listening, as exemplified in the way He opposed the twelve on their way to Capernaum by causing a wind to blow against them.  He is the true Friend of Jesus, who not only does what is commanded Him, but goes the extra mile to ensure that others also obey Him.  And the Holy Spirit certainly does not sell what He has received from Jesus for silver, gold or fame.

It is only when you are amongst the true friends of Jesus that you can lay down your life for your friends to display that greater love Jesus spoke of.  And it is not until you recognise the Friend that the Holy Spirit is to Jesus that you yourself can be counted a friend of Jesus.

So when the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 took up the recommendations of the thief, the man who did not enter via the Gate that is Jesus, and yet penned in their letter to us Gentiles:  It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements… requirements that went against the commands of Jesus, they in their ignorance and willingness to listen to a man called James, broke friendship with the Holy Spirit.  From then on the relationship between the church and the Holy Spirit has never been what it should be.  Indeed, so strained is that relationship that those who say the Holy Spirit left after the first century are correct in this sense, the Holy Spirit let them to their own devices whilst He continued on with His Friend’s work and His Friend’s friends wherever He found them.

Friendship with Jesus then is to do what He commands first, and then extend that friendship to His first Friend, the Holy Spirit, who has been here for 2000 years doing what Jesus commanded.  However, the friendship that Jesus has given us and wants us to have is not monastic or hermetic, that is, we are not to take that friendship so that we can lock ourselves up in some room or cave, sacrificing all so that we may come to know all there is to know of the Lord and forget everybody else.

Rather, having understood what friendship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit really is, you are then to give, yes, give what cost you to purchase freely to those who are likewise friends of Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  So you lay down your life in order to purchase from Jesus the gold that is refined by fire to give it freely to His friends.  Whenever you do that, then there is no greater love, and when you see your fellow disciple doing just that and giving what they have purchased to you freely, know and understand then what real friendship and love in the Lord is, and not the friendship and love that you have learnt from the church that has lost its friendship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit because it neither listens or does what Jesus has commanded.

Now perhaps your eyes are opened with the salve that Jesus spoke of in Revelation 3:18.  Having checked that you yourself are not the thief, the man who jumped the wall to be in the church or the servant who is selling what belongs to the Master for his own profit, you can cover up your nakedness.  Now, being dressed and eyes opened to see the truth, you might just understand why Jesus had to enter the temple of His Father not once, not twice, but three times to drive out the thieves and robbers as well as the money changers who were there.

The need for Jesus to clear out the temple three times is a warning first to each of us to show us how easily we ourselves can become thieves by introducing teachings that do not belong to Jesus and to sell what Jesus gave us.  Having heeded that warning for ourselves, now understand and see just how the thieves are running the temple of God today.  So, once your obedience is complete, you will be given the powers to punish, but not as a man punishes, but as the Lord punishes, the threefold whip in your hand representing the knowledge of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit being given out freely with unlimited power so that the thieves are shown for what they are— thieves.

Now let that which was shown to Zechariah, the 30 feet long and 15 feet wide scroll and all that is written on it be made known so that the timbers and stones of the house of the thief will be destroyed from the house of the Lord until only the timber and stone, which belongs to our Lord, remain.

But as for you elect, lay down your live to purchase gold from the Lord so that you may be truly rich and give away freely what you have purchased to His true friends.  If winning friends with worldly wealth will get you welcomed into eternal dwellings, what reward awaits those who win friends with eternal wealth?  Be a true friend of the Holy Spirit and you will see.  Amen

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