Faith and Works - Understanding the essential relationship
The Spirit of God said through John, “For God so loved the world that He gave the only begotten Son that everyone believing in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
He said through James, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”
The words that translate as “believing” in John and as “faith” in James are of the same Greek word-group. The distinction is simply in their forms. In John the verbal form is used and means “to have faith in, to believe”. In James the noun is used and means “faith, trust in God, faithfulness”.
We have come to another one of the many misunderstood fundamental positions of Christianity. The reason why the churches stand outside of the will of God is precisely because they have failed to grasp and obey the basic requirements of Christianity. They stand in the same failed position regarding faith and works as they do concerning holiness/worldliness, purity/fornication, marital fidelity/adultery, humility/self-importance, and God/Mammon. Comparing this particular failure with these just named, it can also be regarded as a faith/unfaithfulness matter. But because it is one which is more subtle and refined than the other mentioned antithesis, it is best to regard it as a faith and works issue. It has been regarded this way since the first apostolic declarations, explanations, and corrections about misunderstanding this subject.
Before beginning the clarification of the Scriptures cited above, consider these Scriptural declarations (many such comparisons can be given. I will only give a relevant portion of them):
Paul is held in high esteem, especially among Protestants, as being the definer and defender of the teaching of justification by faith. He was, although not according to the salvation doctrine of either Protestantism or Catholicism.
Paul said: - To the believers at Rome – “(God) shows His righteousness at the present time, so that He might be just and the justifier of the one who is of the faith of Jesus. Then what becomes of boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. (Here, any modern day system of merit can be correctly substituted.) Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since God is one. He will justify the circumcised (the Jews) by faith and the uncircumcised (the Gentiles) through faith.”
He also said: - Earlier in the same letter to the same believers at Rome – “(God) will recompense (judgment) to each one according to his works: to those who by endurance of good works seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who works evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good works, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.”
Again, Paul said: - To the believers in Galatia – “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law (again, any merit system of justification can be substituted here) but through the faith of Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by the faith of Christ and not by works of law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”
And Paul also said – Later in the same letter to the same believers in Galatia – “if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. But each one must prove his own work, and then he will have boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. For each one will bear his own burden…Do not be led astray, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life. Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not fail. Therefore, while we have time, let us do good to all people, and most of all to those who are of the household of the faith.”
Again, Paul said: - To the believers in Asia Minor – “by grace you have been saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Then, in the very next statement, he said – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”
He also said to the believers at Philippi – “my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” And he said to the believers in Corinth – “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable crown. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I severely treat my body and lead it as my slave, so that, after I have proclaimed (God’s will) to others, I myself will not be rejected (by God).”
The author of the letter to the Hebrew Christians said – “‘My (God’s) righteous one will live by faith. And if he withdraws, I will not be pleased with him.’ But we do not withdraw to destruction, but believe to the preservation of our souls.” And he said, “Now faith is the reality of things hoped for, the proof of things not seen.”
He also said – Later in the same letter to the Hebrew Christians – “Strengthen the hands which hang down, and the enfeebled knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be turned away, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord. See to it lest anyone fall away from the grace of God.”
I will now list what the foremost of Jesus’ apostles, Simon Peter, said. When writing to the dispersed Jewish Christians, he said, “According to His great mercy He (God) has regenerated us to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and unfading – kept in heaven for you, who through faith are guarded by the power of God to salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time…and though you have not seen Him (Jesus), you love Him; and though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and greatly rejoice with unspeakable and glorified joy, obtaining the end of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”
Then, after a very brief digression about Old Covenant prophets and angels, he said, “Therefore, gird up the loins of your minds; be self–controlled; perfectly hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance; but according to the Holy One Who called you, also become holy in all of your conduct; because it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’ And if you invoke as Father the One Who impartially judges each person’s work, live your lives as resident foreigners here (on this earth) in fear (of God).” Then, later in the same letter he said, “For the time has come for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the good-message of God? And ‘If the righteous are barely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ So then, those who suffer according to the will of God must commit themselves to their faithful Creator in well-doing.”
In his second letter to the same believers, Peter began by saying, “Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those having obtained equally precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ; May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the full-knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the full-knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.”
Then, immediately, he said, “For this very reason, with all diligence, bring in and supply to your faith valor, and to valor knowledge, and to knowledge self-control, and to self-control endurance, and to endurance godliness, and to godliness brotherly affection, and to brotherly affection love. For if these things are in you and are abounding, they make you neither inactive nor unfruitful in the full-knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For whoever lacks these things is blind, being shortsighted, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his past sins. Therefore, rather brethren, be diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you are doing these things you will never fail (concerning your salvation). For so (in this way) there will richly be supplied to you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Finally, I will quote Jesus. Through His apostle John, Jesus said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, (this is an historical reference to Moses placing a metal snake on an elevated pole so that everyone who simply looked up at it could be physically healed) so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone believing in Him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave the only begotten Son, that everyone believing in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Jesus also said – Later through John – “Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him…If anyone loves Me, he will obey My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling place with him. He who does not love Me will not obey My words. These words you hear are not Mine, but are of the Father Who sent Me.”
Luke declared, “He (Jesus) turned toward the woman and said to Simon (the Pharisee), ‘Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give Me any water for my feet, but she wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give Me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped fervently kissing My feet. You did not anoint My head will oil, but she has anointed My feet with ointment. For this reason, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven because she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.’ Then Jesus said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.’ The other guests began to say among themselves, ‘Who is this who even forgives sins?’ Jesus said to the woman, ‘Your faith has saved you; go in peace.’”
Later, Luke said, “On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he asked, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ ‘What is written in the Law?’ He replied. ‘How do you read it?’ He answered: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ ‘You have answered correctly,’ Jesus replied. ‘Do this and you will live.’
In Matthew, there is a close parallel to Jesus’ teaching here in Luke. Matthews states, “Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, ‘Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?’ ‘Why do you ask Me about what is good?’ Jesus replied. ‘There is only One Who is good. If you purpose to enter life, obey the commandments.’ ‘Which ones?’ the man inquired. Jesus replied, ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother’, and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’
Before ending this group of representative declarations, I will give one more from Matthew that reveals that faith must have works to be genuine. Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be collected before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep (the believers) on His right and the goats (the unbelievers) on His left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father; inherit the kingdom, prepared for you since the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed Me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to Me.’ Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You something to drink? When did we see You a stranger and invite You in, or needing clothes and clothe You? When did we see You sick or in prison and go to You?’ The King will reply, ‘Truly, I say to you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ Then He will say to those on His left, ‘Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave Me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite Me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe Me, I was sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’ They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not serve You?’ Then He will answer them saying, ‘Truly, I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do to Me.’ Then they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Now, to clarify: As a realistic generalization, the issue can be stated thusly: concerning faith and good works, Catholicism has gone too far and Protestantism has not gone far enough. (Remember, on this website Catholicism includes Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy and all of their subgroups. Protestantism includes all other church denominations, whether formal or informal, who do not hold to the majority (if not to any) of the essential sacraments of the stated Catholic churches.)
The issue of understanding and vitally holding the Scriptural teaching of faith and works is paramount in Christianity! To teach against it and to hold to different grounds for standing justified before God is eternally condemning! Clearly, like the antithetical issues named above, this subject is another one of the supremely important teachings.
At the outset, I will note that Catholicism is at least honest about its position of how a person is justified before God. Without equivocation or excuse, Catholicism plainly teaches that a person is justified before God and, therefore, eternally saved from spiritual death, because of that same person’s faith and good works; not faith only, but faith plus works! According to the Scriptures, when works come in alongside of faith as the co-equal reason (or the very grounds) for justification, the person holding to such persuasion places himself outside of the grace of God and establishes himself in a merit-system of salvation. Not only so, but he is immediately obligated to keep the entire will of God in order to be saved by fulfilling all of the commandments of God without committing any sin. Any sin committed merits eternal death. Furthermore, he has no atonement for the sins that he committed before he adopted the merit-system of salvation because he has cut himself off from the grace of God through which atonement for sins is made through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The Word of God declares that the two systems of salvation, that of Grace and Merit, are mutually exclusive. They cannot be mixed. A person cannot have it both ways. Grace can no more be mixed with Merit as the co-equal grounds for justification than light can be mixed with darkness, or holiness can be mixed with impurity, or God can be mixed with Mammon. Catholicism has established the Merit system as the way of salvation. The outcome is that its system of salvation is grounded, established, and finalized in each person’s meritorious works. Therefore, Catholicism has missed the teaching of the Scriptures in a huge way! Because of this colossal departure from the Word, its position is not as confused as Protestantism’s.
Protestantism does not share Catholicism’s honesty regarding its teachings about salvation. Its dishonesty is based in ignorance, misconceptions, and prejudice. It shows itself in attacks on Christians who hold to the essential need for faith realized through good works based on all the teachings of Jesus. The attacks often degenerate into ad hominem and slander because the protagonists walk according to the flesh and are personally liable. (The dishonesty is especially hypocritical because many of these same Protestants teach that the disciples of Jesus must be holy in reality and not merely in theory.) One reason for their failure is because they have not truly comprehended that the Scriptures do not establish truth at the expense of truth, nor does God’s Word proclaim and teach half-truths! They claim that they understand, but their defenses and explanations show otherwise.
The problem with Catholicism is that it has gone too far and added falsity to truth and, therefore, corrupted truth into a different gospel! The problem with Protestantism is that it has not gone far enough and has subtracted from truth and, therefore, corrupted truth into a different gospel! What makes Protestantism stand out less than Catholicism in its error is that Protestantism stands much closer to the truth about justification from sins than does Catholicism. Furthermore, its subtraction from the truth is subtle, unlike the coarse and huge departure of Catholicism.
The Catholic teaching is that good works (or holiness) must be added to faith as co-ground of merit before God so that God must render (or will owe) salvation to the person “believing”.
The Protestant teaching about faith is that good works (or holiness) can be dispensed with from one degree to another because God renders salvation to “believers” notwithstanding their immoral lives. The Protestant confusion about this is aided by the fact that the truths about regeneration or spiritual rebirth and godliness are confounded. It is true, absolutely true, that God comes to all sinners while they are in their sins and redeems them, irrespective of any merit or worth on their parts. Yet, this is the beginning of the journey of eternal life, not the means or the end. Protestantism has confounded the glorious creational, beginning of the grace of God with the means and end of His grace. This is just as wrong as to conclude that a person’s development and final stage of life are the same as his conception in life. While the whole range of a person’s existence is life, the final stage of an elderly man is a universe away from his nascent being as a fertilized egg. Both the Old and New Covenant Scriptures lay the major emphasis on people’s journey through life and outcome of life rather than on their initial stage of life. Very tellingly, Protestantism takes the opposite stance. It places the major emphasis on the initial stage of spiritual life to both the detriment and destruction of entering eternal life through one’s journey.
Both the Catholic and Protestant systems of salvation are false! To hold to either of these condemns the adherents to eternal judgment.
The Scriptures teach the opposite of both churches’ teachings about salvation. The Word of God declares that a person is saved or justified from sin solely upon believing God and appropriating the truth that He sent Jesus Christ to die and rise from the dead in order to atone for sin through His death and reconcile sinners to God through His Life. That and that alone is the ground of eternal salvation before the Lord! A person is not justified from sin or saved based upon anything that he has done, is doing, or ever will do. A person is not saved based upon one great good work or a life of innumerable good works. No! Never! A person is saved based solely upon the finished work of the love of God in His Son Jesus Christ to end the power of and pay the penalty for sin and open the way to the Father through Himself and that person’s believing in that reconciling Son of God’s love! Christians are justified from sin in the death of Jesus and reconciled to God in the Life of Jesus. That is what is not properly comprehended by Catholicism and Protestantism. Generally speaking, Catholicism fatally adds to the first part of this eternal truth while Protestantism fatally subtracts from the second part of it. You cannot have one part of the truth without the other. If you try to maintain either without the other, you have half-truth, which is not the truth of the Gospel. According to Paul, the natural mind cannot understand or comprehend spiritual things. The spiritual person understands everything that is essential for eternal life. In the Holy Spirit, this subject is readily comprehensible. The seemingly Scriptural contradictions are not really there. As in other important things that concern eternal life, it is not an either/or issue. Certainly, it is not true that you must choose and emphasize either Catholicism’s or Protestantism’s declaration about salvation in order “to be right”, as the churches have done. Simply put, the truth is that you must truly believe the testimony and provision of God. And the Scriptural definition of believe is to give credence to and rely on and adhere to.
Simply put, a person is justified from sins or saved based on his faith in Jesus alone – faith in Jesus that does not stand alone, but is full of the works of God.
It is best to explicate this with the Word itself. But before turning to the final authority of reality, an old adage aptly illustrates the truth of the essential relationship of faith and works: You do not put the cart (with its goods) before the horse when going on a journey. Note that if the horse and cart do not move, you have no journey. Yet, the cart is not pushed by the horse, but moves forward with its goods as it is pulled under the direction and power of the horse. Note, too, that the goods are not delivered without the cart. In this illustration, when you see the horse as representing faith and the cart as representing works and the goods as representing life you see a simple yet profound illustration of the teaching of the Word about faith and works and life. They all vitally exist and operate together. You can no more separate faith from works and have eternal life than you can separate hydrogen from oxygen and have water.
Now to explicate with the Word: (In this examination, both sides of the seemingly contradictory Scriptures quoted above will be clearly revealed. The matter is not “either/or” but “both/and”. There is no real contradiction in God’s Word. Rather, there is clarification.) When writing to the believers at Colossae, Paul said, “…the Father has qualified you for the share in the allotment of the holy ones in the light. He rescued us from the authority of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in Whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of our sins.” Applying this Scripture to God’s people then and now, Paul is saying that God made us fit to share in His eternal life. As he said elsewhere, God came to us when we were dead in our sins and regenerated us into eternal life. This is the point of the pure, unmerited grace of God. It is also the point at which we are saved. We had done nothing to deserve this life from God. Indeed, we could do no righteous deed worthy of acquiring this regeneration from God. In fact, the sinful condition of our lives produced only the works of death and constituted us helpless before God and in urgent and dire need to receive His gracious redemptive mercy and power. Before God made them all fit to share in His life, the lives of all were held under the authority and power of darkness as its prisoners, only capable of producing works in this sphere of existence. But when God made us qualified through regeneration, He simultaneously transferred us from the realm of darkness into the realm of Jesus, that is, into the kingdom of Jesus. From that point onward, the life of everyone who is so redeemed manifests the things of the kingdom or rule of Jesus Christ. These things of the kingdom are defined by the commandments of the King, according to His authority and power. Whereas before regeneration, all lived in darkness and produced the works of darkness, after regeneration, all live in light and life – that is, in God’s holiness – and produce the works of life. The Word of God teaches no other way. It countenances no teaching that states that the redeemed holy ones will live in sin and produce the works of darkness. Relating our qualification by God to the subject of faith and works, the transference by God that we experience corresponds to our faith in God and the new life of holiness that we thereafter live corresponds to our works in God, or to put this last phrase more fittingly, in this new realm of our holy existence in God’s presence, our faith works itself out through the love of Jesus. Again, the Scriptures know of no other way. Jesus said it this way through John, “This is the judgment: the light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of the light because their works were evil. For everyone who practices evil hates the light, and does not come to the light lest his works be reproved. But whoever does the truth comes to the light, so that it may be manifested that his works are wrought in God.” And, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain.”
The clear reality of the teaching of the Scriptures is that we are not saved based on meritorious works (or any meritorious work), but we meritoriously work because we are saved. That is not a sophisticated argument, but it is the very truth and clarity of God’s Word. According to the Scriptures, there is no such thing as a person who is saved because of good works; just as there is no such thing as a person who is saved who does not practice good works. It is because we are justified by faith that we work, indeed, we are thereby compelled to produce abundant, abiding good works. This reality is established by God’s Word and is understood and submitted to by faith. It is accepted in the very same way that one understands and accepts the teaching of the Godhead. There are not three separate Gods in heaven: The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. No, there is one God Who is manifested the three distinct and separate Persons. This is not error or contradiction. Rather, it is truth and clarification. It is by faith that we understand that the Father begot the Son and that this occurred by Mary being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit and that at this occurrence the Holy Spirit is called The Most High by Gabriel, who was sent to Mary by God. It is by faith that we understand that the Son declared that Father would send the Holy Spirit to His people and that the Son sent the Holy Spirit to His people. It is by faith that we understand that one of the Names of the Son is The Everlasting Father. Again, the truth about the necessity of faith and works for eternal life is established through faith in the very same way that one understands the teaching about any obedience to God. (The subject that “theology” calls sanctification.) No one can obey God apart from the enabling power of God. Humanity is so dependent upon the grace of God that the Word of God declares that God works in us both the will to obey and the actual obedience to His requirements. The Scriptures declare that we were created in Jesus Christ for the purpose of performing good works that God previously prepared for us to walk in; that those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son…And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified. The same Scriptures declare that we enter eternal life through great struggle, beseeching God, trial, complete self-control, toil, fighting, yearning, vigilance, and things like these; and that by all this effort - laboriously practiced until the end of our lives - we are finally proven worthy of entering eternal life and are, therefore, approved by God.
By faith we understand that these seemingly contradictory declarations about the characteristics of the Godhead and of Christians are not opposing positions at all, but instead are clarifications that illuminate the Godhead and define who we are in God. In the very same way we, by faith, understand and submit to the truth that we are justified by faith and that we are justified by good works. It is the faith of Jesus that has herein established us and at once sets us apart from the natural mind which through Catholicism wrongly rejects faith as the ground for justification and which through Protestantism wrongly rejects works as the means for justification.
The essence of everything that I have said is this: All who are saved from sin are saved only because of the life and death of Jesus Christ. At the time that someone believes God and appropriates by faith that He sent Jesus to atone for the sins of the world and to reconcile the world to Himself through Jesus’ death and life, then that person is forever saved from sin and death! It is because of the penalty paid for his sins by Jesus Christ and the life and righteousness of Jesus that he is reconciled to God. At that point, the righteousness of Jesus is reckoned to him by God as his own righteousness. From that point on he lives forever in the new life of the righteous ways of Jesus Christ. He works the good works of God precisely because he is reconciled to God in Jesus Christ. The fact that he works the good works of God is the only proof that his faith in Jesus is alive and genuine. The good works do not create the faith; they prove that the faith is there. Because the faith is of Jesus, it is real and labors in the works of God. If the life is not full of good works, the faith is not of Jesus – it is not true faith. James said it this way, “Faith worked with his (Abraham’s) works, and by the (his) works the (his) faith was completed.”
Usually, when I summarize, I give a concise statement of what I’ve said before. Here, though, I will repeat what Jesus said on two separate occasions that absolutely bears upon the necessity of understanding the essential relationship between faith and works.
(This is a summary statement by Jesus about believers.) Through Mark, He said, “And other seeds (the Word of God) fell into the good soil (the lives of believers) and produced fruit (the works of faith), growing up and increasing, with some seeds producing thirty times over, and some sixty times over, and some one-hundred times over in fruitfulness.”
Through John, He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear much fruit. Already you are clean because of the Word that I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and those branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned…By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.”