Elements Of True Commitment To Christ

Many surrender their life to Christ only later to walk away from Him because of various reasons (Matthew 13:3-23). In some cases it is because that, though they thought they made a commitment, they did not understand or accept what the Holy Bible means when it comes to a commitment to God. Let us look at a passage in the Gospel of John to see what comprises a true commitment to Christ.
Elements Of True Commitment To Christ
Source - Image owned, uploaded and copyrighted 2016 by the author, Peter P. Macinta (BrotherPete).

Quite a number of people make a commitment to Christ in a year’s time, but many of those, if not most, back off from that commitment over the course of time. The parable of the sower recorded in Matthew 13:3-23 gives some examples, but I feel how people think about a commitment to Christ weighs heavily upon the matter. 

Just about all the disciples of Christ mentioned in the Gospels demonstrated a level of commitment to Him. However, from the time of the arrest of Christ to His crucifixion we see that commitment was weak in some and nonexistent in others.

Peter was outspoken in regard to his dedication to Christ but that commitment vanished with His three denials of Christ.

Jesus loved Peter, just like He loves everyone else including you, and desired to fix Peter’s shaky dedication to Him. As recorded in John 21, the opportunity came when some of the disciples went fishing at night. By dawn they had caught nothing. They then heard a Man asking from the shore if they had caught any fish. They replied none. The Man told them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. They did, and caught a tremendous number of fish.

John identified that Man as Jesus. As soon as Peter heard that, he clothed himself and jumped into the water. They brought their fish to shore. Jesus, who had fish already being cooked, invited them to bring some of their fish and have breakfast. They did. After the meal Jesus had a talk with Peter. We will see three things in that discourse as recorded in John 21:15-22 that are elements of true commitment to Christ.

I. Foundation 15-17

Our commitment to Christ is based upon love, and in this discourse with Peter Jesus teaches us how we are to love Him. “Love" can be understood in multiple ways in English and is often overused. The ancient languages have more than one word to express various types and degrees of love. Jesus and Peter were having their discussion in Aramaic. However, their conversation was written down in Greek.

Most translations just use “love” in this question-answer session between Jesus and Peter. We see in verse 17 that when the Lord questioned Peter the third time that Peter was grieved. Peter was not grieved because Jesus asked him three times if he loved Him. To see why Peter was grieved we must know what was written in the Greek.

Two different Greek words for love are being used here, agapao and phileo. Agapao is the “newer” word when compared with phileo and its meaning, as was described by our Greek professor Hobart Grazier {1}, conveys unconditional love, devotion, esteem stemming from the mind or will. Phileo can denote {2} a fellowship type of love, to treat tenderly, etc.

The discourse between Jesus and Peter is fairly well expressed in Charles B. William’s translation: 
“After they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, are you more devoted to me than you are to these things?’ Peter answered Him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I tenderly love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then feed my lambs.’ 16 Jesus again said to him a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, are you really devoted to me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord, you know that I tenderly love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then be a shepherd to my sheep.’ 17 For the third time Jesus asked him, ‘Simon, son of John, do you really tenderly love me?’ Peter was hurt because Jesus the third time asked him, ‘Do you really tenderly love me?’ So he answered Him, ‘Lord, you know everything; you know that I do tenderly love you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Then feed my sheep.’”


According to Albert Barnes {3}, William’s rendering of the end of the first question as “more than these things” is plausible, but he notes there is an ambiguity in the Greek so that it could also mean “these disciples.” Personally I feel the Holy Spirit meant both, otherwise, more than likely, it would be more clear {4} on that point. Christ was probably asking Peter if he loved Him more than his occupation of fishing, more than his possessions (like the boat), and so on.

Christ also asked Peter if he loved Him with agapao love more than the rest of the disciples. Peter, who had thrice denied Christ, could only bring himself to say he tenderly loved the Lord. The exchange could be rendered this way: “Peter, ..., do you willfully, devotedly love me without conditions more than the rest of these disciples?”, “Lord, you know I tenderly love you.” 

However, on the third question Jesus uses the same word Peter does: “Peter, ..., do you really tenderly love me?” This is why Peter was grieved. His tender affection now came under scrutiny. Peter was not at the crucifixion to watch Christ die, but John and Mary the mother of Jesus were (John 19:26).

From this discourse we see the love that we are to have for Christ needs to be both a continually willful, unconditional total devotion and also one of tender affection. Many have little trouble expressing tender affection to Jesus, but to willfully and unconditionally be devoted to Him is often another matter. Trouble, temptation, weariness and a host of other things challenge our commitment to Christ on the point of committed loving dedication to Him.

However, when someone is born again by His Spirit, Christ dwells within. He enables such a one to truly love Him back. It is written in 1 John 4:19, “We love him, because he first loved us.” We no longer do things in our own strength, including loving Him and staying committed to Him. This is not to say we cannot lose our salvation by turning away from Christ. It is clear from Holy Scriptures like John 15:1-5 that we must choose, we must will, we must determine to remain in Him.

II. Following 18-19

“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He says to him, ‘Follow Me!'"--NASB*

Our commitment to Christ means we must follow Him. When you link this fact with Holy Scriptures like John 14:6 it means to follow ONLY Christ. With the balance of the Gospels it means to follow all that He said and did. As we read the epistles, it is to follow Him with Him leading inside of us by His Holy Spirit. It means doing regular things like attending church, and it also means permitting God to work through you to do the miraculous.

We will indeed be blessed, but it does not mean we will not be tempted or we will not have trouble. If we carefully read the Gospels we see that if we are truly saved there will be times that trouble will come from our own family. It will come from our friends. We could even be spoken against and betrayed. This and more all happened to Jesus. We are to follow Him no matter what we might come across in life on earth.

Doing so means that there will be many


times that we say “no" to our personal desires, “no" to family, “no" to friends, and more. This crucifies our own self (Galatians 2:20). Jesus is recorded saying in Matthew 16:24-26, “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" 

Thus we are to continue unto physical death unless the rapture of the Church occurs. If we are to die physically then by the grace of God may we die while walking in Him and not in the world. God grant us the grace to go through a painful or debilitating disease, live our last days on earth in a nursing home, or be martyred, or any other unpleasant thing. An objective every true Christian must have is to glorify God here on earth unto their last breath.

III. Faithfulness 20-22

Some of what we have just said speaks of faithfulness, another element of true commitment to Christ. Because Christ was faithful, if He dwells within us we have the ability to be faithful. By His grace we must be careful not to be sidetracked by temptation or trouble, or anything else. We must remain in tune with Christ and in step with whatever He plans for our life. This is the lesson we get from the last verses of our text.

“Peter, turning around, seeing the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ So Peter seeing him says to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’”--NASB*

Jesus had indicated to Peter in verses 18 and 19 that he, too, would be crucified. This was certainly an unpleasant thought to Peter. While we cannot really say as to why Peter moved the topic of their conversation to John it is quite probable that what he had just heard from Jesus was too uncomfortable and Peter now wanted to speak of other matters.

The Lord’s response to Peter is clear in that we must keep our eyes upon Christ and our steps in the path He chooses for our life, and that whatever lot we might find ourselves in we are to make the the best of it for the glory of God. For example, a pastor of a very small church might be saddened to think he is stuck with a small church while another pastor might have a congregation of hundreds. A church member lacking skills or ability might become discourage by those who seem well capable of almost every task.

We might ask why some are healed and others are not? Why does not every Christian die a pleasant death? The “Hall Of Faith” chapter of Hebrews, viz. Hebrews 11, presents a variety of scenarios of those deemed to have faith in God. Their individual lives ranged from not seeing physical death (Enoch) to dying a miserably painful death of being sawn asunder from the bottom up. Carnal thinking would say, “Not fair!” Christ-minded thinking says, “Not my will, but yours be done.”

So, we must not look to other people. We must only look at Christ. Our salvation must come first. We must stay in God’s general will. We must stay in His specific will for our lives. We must be, and remain, faithful to Him Who remains faithful to us. Our commitment to Christ must be a true commitment, and it can be if we maintain a foundation of godly love, always follow Him, and remain faithful to Him.

Notes:

{1} Brother Hobart Grazier taught New Testament Greek when I attended Northeast Bible Institute in Green Lane, Pennsylvania from 1970 to 1974. Brother Grazier later went on to be with the Lord after succumbing to pneumonia while ministering in India. Northeast Bible Institute became a college soon after my graduation and later relocated to Valley Forge and at the time of this article was University of Valley Forge.

{2} From an electronic version of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance by James Strong incorporated in the Online Bible program, and so throughout the article whenever the ancient language is referred to and no other authority is cited.

{3} From an electronic version of Barnes’ Notes, by Albert Barnes, incorporated into the Online Bible computer program.

{4} This is very consistent with many other portions of the Gospel of John where more than one meaning is applicable. Hence, the Gospel of John is a treasure trove full packed and overflowing with spiritual truths. For another example, please see the article, Dynamics Of The New Birth at http://holybibletreasures.expertscolumn.com/article/dynamics-new-birth .

This article was written in the form of a sermon (message) outline with comments. God willing by May 15, 2016, (hopefully much sooner), you should be able to hear the actual message (sermon) by selecting a link at http://www.sapphirestreams.com/life/audioM.html#M401 .

Unless otherwise noted all Holy Scripture is from the 1769 Authorized Version with spelling of some words updated for our time in addition to changing LORD to YHVH as it rightly should be when the text so indicates. An * next to the abbreviation for another translation or version indicates the same for the text presented. For this article when the New American Standard Bible was use its text indicated certain verbs were in the present active tense and so I changed the words to reflect actual wording. For example, “Jesus said” was changed to “Jesus says.”

Not responsible for any advertisements appearing with this article nor am I necessarily in agreement with any of them. The statements of this paragraph hold true not only for this article, but for everything I have placed on the Internet.



Article Written By BrotherPete

I am a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, having served over forty years as a pastor. I graduated from Northeast Bible College of Green Lane Pennsylvania and have a Bachelors Degree in Bible. I am enthused about the Word of God and how it can make a positive change in the life of anyone once it is teamed up with faith and the Holy Spirit. I am happily married. Visit www.sapphirestreams.com.

Last updated on 23-07-2016 59 1

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  • nbillett  28-12-2016
    We find it hard to carefully observe the reality in which we live. We prefer to discuss and debate about ideas rather than to analyze particular situations.
    reply 0
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