John 15, Election and Covenant

John 15 is a covenant passage. We can never be too cautious about using this type of language, but at the same time I often wonder why people miss something so simple. Opponents of Norman Shepherd argue that John is addressing simply an external covenant. This is the only way to make sense out of this conundrum.  But there is a more direct way to look at this passage. Man can claim faith, but not live the life of faith. Shepherd argued (Trust and Obey by Ian Hewitson, 196) that “election does not mean that we can live by sight.” Election means that though we have no insight into God’s decrees (Deut. 29:29), nevertheless it calls us to “live by faith in Christ, to walk in the Spirit, to be in fact the people of the covenant.” The branches live because they are being nurtured by the vine. At the point they cease to trust and follow the vine, they lose their branch status and are cut off. As John Murray once stated: “Covenant privilege always entail covenant responsibility (197). To be in covenant with God is to receive a call to faith. This call is of grace. Not even one iota of our works can be claimed as our own.

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