Scripture and Logic : Jesus commands Proof of Discipleship.

John 15:4–17

SCRIPTURE and LOGIC: Jesus Commands Proof of  Discipleship.

John 14:12–14 (LEB)

12 Truly, truly I say to you, the one who believes in me, the works that I am doing he will do also, and he will do greater works* than these because I am going to the Father.
13 And ⌊whatever⌋ you ask in my name, I will do this, in order that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.*

John 15:4–17 (LEB)

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches…
6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch…
2 …Every branch that does not bear fruit in me, [the Father] removes it. …
7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
8 My Father is glorified by this: that you bear much fruit, and prove to be my disciples.
10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. …
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain, in order that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.

John 16:23–24 (LEB)

23 And on that day you will ask me nothing. Truly, truly I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

 

Also,
[Some of these statements below are better as categorical, and thus contraposition would be best; however, since our passage in John is using the hypothetical “if.. then,” I will continue with this and transposition for simplicity.  Also, doing a simple transposition is a quick way to do a modus tollens, and I am going to cover a multitude of them. That is, the transposition skips premise 1 and starts with premise 2 and 3 of a Modus Tollens syllogism. For this to work in a “sound” way is, the original, “if…then,” modus ponens must indeed be a truth about a necessary aspect of cause and result. And if it is meant as a place holder for the one reading it, then whether it is sound as a MP or MT depends on the one reading it is truthful about how they belong in it; and thus, it can go either way,  Thus, if I say, (1) If you have been declared righteous by God, then you are a child of Abraham. And so, last two lines of this modus tollens would be for a unbelieving person reading it. (2) You are not a child of Abraham. (3) Thus, you have not declared righteous by God. But these last two lines are the transposition of the first premise. Thus, transpositions and modus tollens can be interchange and be sound in both instances, but not always and so caution is advised. But since we are going over Scripture with similar themes in the same doctrines such mistakes will be avoided here.]

One common thing I have done over many years is listen to the book of John–particularly, chapters 13-17, and at night. I have done this hundreds if not thousands of times as a devotional. It has long been obvious, how Jesus’ commanded to pray and get what you pray for, is emphasized as much or almost as much as to love your neighbor!  And that both (not just love your neighbor) prove you are a disciple of Him.  After learning logic this is even more so. However, I rarely hear any say, “prayer and getting exactly what you pray for is proof of discipleship.”
The context is that God’s predestining includes being predestined to bear fruit as a proof you are truly Jesus’ disciples.

Vincent Cheung explains,

God has chosen us, and predestined us. Predestined for what? There was more to what Jesus said: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit — fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.” God predestined us to bear fruit. What is this fruit? Christian teaching often assumes that fruit refers to spiritual and ethical effects such as improvements in character, works of charity, and also works of ministry, such as saving sinners and building churches. This is not entirely wrong, but the biblical idea of fruit includes much more, and Jesus clearly had other things in mind when he made the statement.”

God will give me whatever I ask. I will have whatever I ask. What I ask, I get. And I am predestined for this. So I am chosen to get whatever I ask. I am predestined to get whatever I ask. It is my foreordained destiny to receive whatever I ask God in the name of Jesus. If you have never heard this, then you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of predestination, you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of prayer, you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of the name of Jesus, and you have never heard the Bible’s doctrine of discipleship. Just several verses earlier, Jesus said, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (15:7-8). Getting whatever we ask from God is intertwined throughout his discourse with the notions of bearing fruit, being his disciples, and loving one another. Thus getting whatever we ask from God is as pervasive as the gospel itself. It cannot be taken out and thrown away without tearing apart the entire gospel, and thus also our salvation. Here bearing fruit is almost the same thing as getting whatever we ask from God, and by getting what we ask from God, we show ourselves to be true disciples of Christ.

Tradition teaches that we show ourselves to be disciples when we demonstrate how well we put up with God when he does not answer our prayers. Historic unbelief suggests that we show ourselves to be disciples when we keep our word of allegiance to him more than he keeps his word of blessing to us! That is supposed to be good fruit. That is supposed to be true discipleship. But Jesus said that we show ourselves to be his true disciples when we abide in him, have his words abide in us, and then ask for whatever we wish, and receive whatever we ask from God. Look, are we disciples or not? If we are disciples, then we should let the master define what it means to be disciples. ..

Forget about spiritual gifts. What does that have anything to do with what we are talking about? Jesus said that anyone who has faith can do the same miracles he did and even greater miracles, because he will get whatever he asks from God (John 14:12-14), and he said that this has to do with fruit, not gift (John 15:7-8, 16). So I am not thinking about any spiritual gift at all. I am talking about spiritual fruit. I am talking about the fruit of ordinary discipleship. I am talking about what naturally happens when any person abides in Christ and have his words abide in him.[1]

The Gospel is more than bear forgiveness of sins. As Isaiah 53 says, it includes things like our High Priest taking our sicknesses away and giving us a portion of the spoils. Paul says in Galatians that Jesus’ bloodshed makes us receivers of Abraham’s blessing, which includes baptism in the Spirit now and Miracles now.  This is what was predestined in the bloodshed of Jesus Christ at that definite time and place.

Also, Smith WigglesWorth,

We have a Jesus that heals the broken-hearted, who lets the captives go free, who saves the very worst. Dare you, dare you, spurn this glorious Gospel of God for spirit, soul and body? Dare you spurn this grace? I realize that this full Gospel has in great measure been hid, this Gospel that brings liberty, this Gospel that brings souls out of bondage, this Gospel that brings perfect health to the body, this Gospel of entire salvation. Listen again to this word of Him who left the glory to bring us this great salvation, “Verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, . . . he shall have whatsoever he saith.” Whatsoever!” (Ever Increasing Faith)

This is like the predestination and salvation. That is, God’s predestination of the Elect applies to the issue of faith for salvation and faith for all sorts of things. The ultimate view is that Scripture reveals, if God causes x, then necessarily God makes y result. That is, all ontology is God’s direct and absolute sovereignty. Some statements in the Bible are just purely on this ontological level.  Romans 8 and the chain argument is one of these. Whom God predestines He calls, and who He calls He justifies… (etc.).  Some however, deal with ontology on a relational level. So that, Jesus in the gospels is often saying things like, “if you believe,” or “you did not believe,” thus, you did or did not receive X. Jesus is not contradicting His own sovereignty but is dealing with us on a relational level. Jesus has no problem with this way of speaking.  In fact, on this issue of healing, Luke says in Acts when Peter heals the cripple, two things. First, Peter says the man’s faith made him get healed, but secondly adds that Jesus gave him the faith to believe for the healing. However, many times these events in Scripture are told merely on the relation level. That is, it does not say, “God in kindness healed them,” but rather, “your faith has healed you.” Again, the Scripture has no issue speaking like this about such doctrines.

(John ch. 3) Jesus says (P) if you are born again, (Q) then you will see the kingdom of God. [Transposition] – Thus, ~(Q) if you do not see (i.e. understand and believe) the kingdom of God, ~(P)then you are not born again.

Or,  according to Romans 8, (P) if you have been predestined by God, (Q) then you are justified by God. [Transposition] ~(Q) If you are not justified by God, ~(P) then you have not predestined by God.

Or Jesus in John ch. 6, (P) if the Father teaches you, (Q) then you will come to Me. [Transposition] ~(Q) If you will not come to Me, ~(P) then you have not been taught by the Father.

Or in Hebrews 3:14. This verse is really stated as an “only if,” and so the ‘P’ and ‘Q’ are reversed.  (P) if we have obtained redemption in Jesus, (Q) then we are steadfast with our faith to the end. [Transposition] ~(Q) if we are not steadfast in our faith to the end, ~(P) then we have not obtained redemption in Jesus.

Or Hebrews 10:4 & 18.

(P) If worshipers have been purified of their sins, (~Q) then they will have no more consciousness of sin.  [Transposition] ~(~Q) if they still have consciousness of sin, ~(P) then they have not been purified of their sins.

(P) If there is forgiveness of sins, (~Q) then offering for sin is not needed.  [Transposition]  ~(~Q) If offerings for sin is still needed, ~(P) then there is no forgiveness of sins.

The apostle John being well taught by his Master said some similar things to Jesus found in his gospel account about abiding in Jesus and the necessary result of this.

(1 John 1:10) “(~P) If we say that we have not sinned,(Q) then we necessarily make God a liar.” Also,  “(~P) If we say that we have not sinned,(~Q) then we necessarily do NOT have God’s word abiding in us.”  [ Transposition ] ~(~Q) If we have God’s word abiding in us, ~(~P) then necessarily we confess that we have sinned.”

The apostle John did not speak this way from within a vacuum, for Jesus spoke this way as recorded in John’s own gospel account. His gospel focuses on believing in Jesus. This focus in John’s gospel would often therefore, focus on what is proof that you do indeed believe Jesus. That is, a false profession verses a truthful profession of faith in Jesus’ words.

John 8:31 (LEB), 31 “Then Jesus said .. “If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples.””

So, if you are abiding or that is, if you confess Jesus’ words are true and continue with this confession, then you give proof you are a disciple of Jesus.  And so, you do not give proof you are Jesus’ disciple, when you are not steadfast in your confession that Jesus’ words are truth.

Also 1 John 2:15 . The apostle it appears, starts off with the transposition of the original modus tollens. “If you love the world, then the love of the Father is not living in you.” And so, the proof of true discipleship is, if the love of the Father is living in you, then you do not love the world.

This theme of abiding in Jesus and His word and proof of discipleship is found in chapters 14-15. Again, this is not proof of apostleship, but of ordinary discipleship, and the proof is found in ordinary fruit.

John 15:8,16. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and your fruit should remain, in order that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. ….My Father is glorified by this: that you bear much fruit, and prove to be my disciples.

Ephesians 2:10 (LEB)  For we are his creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, so that we may walk in them.”

Thus, if Jesus predestined you to bear fruit, then you prove you are his disciples if you bear fruit. If you do not bear fruit, then Jesus did not predestined you to bear fruit. In context of John 13-16 this fruit is twofold. One is to love each other as Jesus loved them, and secondly to ask anything from God and (not get an answer) get the very thing you ask for.  Since loving each other as Jesus loved us is not a doctrine that is usually contested, we will focus on the faith and answer part.

And so, Fruit in context is asking and getting what you ask for from God. Jesus says this “PROVES” you are HIS DISCIPLES. This is important in more one way. The gospel of john stresses the theme of believing in Jesus and helping us understand what a false profession of faith is, and what is a real profession of faith. Therefore, the Apostle john keeps highlighting throughout this gospel points about how you prove you are truly Jesus’ follower. Then in 4 chapters of long dissertation John highlights how Jesus stresses the aspect of answered prayers as much as He stresses loving others! Where is this in modern preaching? Do preachers suppose they can escape God’s judgment when they do not emphasis these points like their Master did? Who are they really serving?  God or the kingdom of Self?  The point is not that God answers their prayers with a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe later,” but rather, that God gives them whatever they ask for in faith. Jesus says this is ordinary fruit that proves someone is an ordinary disciple of their master.  This has nothing to do with apostles, or gifts of the Spirit, or the prophet Joel. This is fruit that comes from being a normal follower of Jesus, that proves you truly belong to Him. If Jesus’ words abide in you and you in Him, then not only do you prove this by (1) continuing to believe Him, and (2) by loving others and (3) being set free from sin, but also (4) by asking anything and actually receiving it. Only true disciples can have these results.

Thus, (P) if you ask anything from Jesus and receive it, (Q) then you are truly Jesus’ disciple. [Transposition] Thus, (~P) if you are not truly Jesus’ disciple, (~Q) then when you ask anything from Jesus you do not receive it from Him.

Lastly, there are such things as being weak in faith. Jesus pointed out “weak faith,” and even publicly shamed it all the time. There is a difference between a point of weakness of faith that can be rebuked, corrected and matured verses having no faith at all. (Yes, immaturity can include the sin of being weak in faith regarding particular points of doctrine and promises). As with all points of weakness and besetting sins we are commanded—not suggested—by God to correct them and improve them.  In fact, in context about heroes of faith we are told about struggling with besetting sins in Hebrews 12. The instruction is to heal the dislocated arm that hangs limp; that is, to correct and improve on the point of our weakness. The guarantee is that we are not alone, but Jesus who is the author and protector of our faith will help us.

Let us put this argument together in a hypothetical destructive chain argument or Modus Tollens.

M.1. (P) If Jesus has predestined you for salvation, (Q) then Jesus has predestined you to be His disciple.

M.2. (Q) If Jesus has predestined you to be His disciple, (R) then you have been predestined to bear fruit of a disciple.

M.3. (R) If you have been predestined to bear fruit, (S) then you are predestined to ask whatever you want from God and you receive it.

M.4.  ~(S) It is not the case, that you are ask whatever you want from God and receive it.

M.5. Therefore , ~(P) you have not been predestined for salvation.

or

B.1. (P) If you are to prove you are a true disciple of Jesus, (Q) then you will bear fruit.

B.2. (Q) If you bear fruit, (R) then you are asking whatever You want from God and You receive it.

B.3. ~(R) It is not that case, that you are asking whatever you want from God and you receive it.

B.4.  ~(P) Therefore, you have not proven you are a true disciple of Jesus.


endnotes

[1]Vincent Cheung’s essay, “Predestination and Miracles,” also, found in, TRACE, 2018 chapter 18.