What was Jesus' new commandment?
After being with the disciples for three and a half years, Jesus would eat one last supper with them before his crucifixion. All through the night, he taught and encouraged them. In John 13, he would leave them with a new commandment. What was this new commandment and what does it tell us about the gospel? How does this gospel compare to the gospel of the "Iglesia Ni Cristo"?
The new commandment is to love as Jesus did.
John 13:34 (ESV) - 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
Here, Jesus gives his new commandment. Notice, he says we are to love others with the same love that he loved us! Have we been longsuffering with others as Jesus has been to us, or are we quick to become angry? Do we humble ourselves and serve others just as Jesus washed the disciples' feet?
If we have not loved in any of these areas as perfectly as Jesus did, we have failed to love as Jesus commands.
The new commandment is new in that it comes with a new clarity.
How then can this be a new commandment if we have already been called to love others? The answer is in 1 John:
1 John 2:7-11 (ESV) Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. 8 At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
As John says, the command is new because we have greater illumination of what it means. Jesus has been the perfect example of this love. He has demonstrated to us how we ought to love others.
1 John 4:10 (ESV) - 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
John teaches that Jesus' love for us is the very definition of love.
Jesus work on the cross is the greatest expression of love.
Later on in his talk with the disciples, Jesus gave greater insight into the depths of this love:
John 15:13 (ESV) Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
Although he is God Almighty, Jesus humbled himself by coming into the earth as a man. He spent much of his earthly ministry teaching, healing the sick, and comforting the broken hearted. He then died on the cross for us taking the punishment we justly deserved for our sins such that we might have an opportunity to be saved if we believe on him and repent of our sins.
Who can say they have loved others like this? Have we been as selfless with our time as Jesus, or have we used it to pursue pleasure for ourselves? No one has been as selfless of Christ. No matter how hard we try, we can never match what he did.
If we do not love as Jesus loved, we have failed to obey the new commandment.
We have failed miserably to love as Jesus commands. We have not loved others with the perfect, self-sacrificing love of Jesus. All are utterly guilty and utterly worthy of his divine judgment and wrath. As people who do not love perfectly, we are haters of God and haters of others. Without intervention, we can be certain Hell is our eternal destination.
However, recall to mind the love of Jesus. In love, Jesus kept God's commandments perfectly in our place. In love, Jesus died on Calvary to take God's wrath on our behalf. It is through this love that you can have salvation if you believe on Christ, ask forgiveness for your sins, turn away from them, and cry out to Christ to save you.
This is the gospel. The INC preaches a gospel of church membership and doing good deeds in order to be counted as righteous, but the true gospel is one that acknowledges we have fallen short and cannot do anything good to be counted as righteous. The true gospel is one of forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ.