I noticed an interesting thing while preparing my sermon based on John 15:9-17 not long ago. In looking around for resources, I browsed through John Piper’s sermons on the Book of John. It is interesting that the only verse from this section that Piper preaches on is the 16th, which speaks of Jesus choosing the disciples so they will bear fruit. It works for his Calvinist framework.
But, in picking that verse, he leaves out other verses that call some aspects of TULIP Calvinism into question.
Here is one such key verse:
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. (John 15:10)
Or this one:
You are my friends if you do what I command. (John 15:14)
Notice the conditional “if” in each verse. Jesus is saying that remaining in his love depends on our actions. Perhaps that cannot be pushed far enough to challenge “once saved, always saved,” but it does raise pretty thorny questions for that doctrine. And it is a hammer through a window for those who want to argue that works do not matter in the life of faith.
As John Wesley noted in his notes on the New Testament in writing about verse 14:
Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you – On this condition, not otherwise. A thunderbolt for Antinomianism! Who then dares assert that God’s love does not at all depend on man’s works
Jesus commands us to love each other and tells the disciples directly that if they wish to remain in his love they must follow his command.
Anyone who wants to argue that Jesus does not require actions of us or anyone who says we can never fall back into darkness once we have been in the light needs to contend with John 15.
As a Wesleyan, Arminian Christian, I had no qualms about or struggles with preaching those verses, well, no more struggle than every other Sunday.