To Those Who Have Believed
Read John 8:31-33 (ESV)
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it you say, “You will become free’?”
Believing in Jesus is the first step toward being a disciple of Christ. But what did Jesus say those who had believed in Him must continue to do in order to be a true disciple?
It seems like I come across a new “deconstruction story” in the news at least once a week or so. It’s a growing trend right now. Someone who had long claimed to be a Christian “deconstructed” their faith and often completely “de-converts” from Christianity or “reconstructs” their faith in a way that is unbiblical and doesn’t resemble the historic Christian faith in any significant way. It makes me wonder if we understand what it means when we say we “believe” in Jesus.
Now, Scripture is clear that salvation is solely by God’s grace alone through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, believing in Jesus is obviously important! But when we say that “we believe in Jesus,” we need to think about what that means. What do we believe about Jesus? Where did we get our information about Him? And will we continue to believe in Him, even when the going gets tough? Are we going to follow Him when it’s not popular or when we come across a difficult teaching that forces us to submit to His ways over our own? Do we believe in Him as He is revealed to us in Scripture or do we believe in Him so long as He matches up with who we want Him to be?
Yesterday, we read that many people believed in Him after He spoke about being raised up, being One with the Father, and always doing His will (John 8:28-30). In today’s verses, Jesus directed His words toward the people who had confessed belief in Him. He said that in order to truly be His disciples, they have to abide in His word. In other words, they have to continue to submit to His teaching. They have to continue to walk in obedience to His word.
As we continue to read the Gospel of John, we’ll see Jesus emphasize this again. He said: “If you love me, you will keep my commands” (John 14:15). In his first letter to the early church, John wrote: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him; whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (1 John 2:3-6).
You see, merely saying, “I believe in Jesus” isn’t enough to make you a true disciple. Disciples are students who follow the teachings of their leader. Thus, the proof of whether or not you have salvation in Jesus Christ is whether or not you obey His Word.
James, the brother of Jesus said, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” (James 2:19). Satan knows and believes that Jesus is the Son of God and demons know and believe that Jesus is the Son of God (Matthew 8:28-30). The difference between Christian belief and demonic belief is discipleship! Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God so they seek to follow Him and obey His Word. They demonstrate their faith by their works! (James 2:18). They love Him so they follow His commands. Demons do not want to do God’s will, they don’t want to follow in Jesus’ ways, and they reject His Word. They do not love Him.
Jesus went on to explain the benefits of abiding in His Word. He said that abiding in His Word leads to knowing the truth and that the truth will set us free! Dr. Warren Wiersbe explained it this way, “When we obey His Word, we grow in spiritual knowledge, and as we grow in spiritual knowledge, we grow in freedom from sin. Life leads to learning, and learning leads to liberty.”
So, to those who have believed in Jesus, what do you believe about Him? Do you abide in His Word? Are you seeking to follow in His ways? Are you growing in your knowledge of the truth? That is the test of true Christian discipleship and that discipleship leads to freedom.
Jesus, I do believe in You. But I don’t want to just mentally acknowledge You, I want to follow You. Help me to abide in Your Word and walk in Your ways. I love You and want to obey You. Through Your Word and by Your Holy Spirit, please transform my heart and mind. Thank You for setting me free with Your truth. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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