Truly His Disciples
Read John 8:31-36 (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 the offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, “You will become free’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
According to today’s verses, what does Jesus say is the mark of true disciples?
A progressive church posted a meme on their website several months ago about what they say the Bible is and what they say the Bible isn’t. On this graphic, they claimed that the Bible isn’t the word of God, among other theologically concerning truth claims. Can people truly be Christians if they deny God’s Word?
Jesus answered that question in today’s passage. Jesus was talking to Jews who had placed their faith in Him. Disciples of Jesus Christ all start here. We put our trust in Him for our salvation. But then, Jesus gave them this command—”abide in my word”. What does that mean?
The NASB, CSB and KJV all translate v. 31 this way, “if you (ye) continue in My word…”. The NIV reads: “If you hold to my teaching…”. The NLT says, “...if you remain faithful to my teachings.” But no matter which version you read, there is always an if-then contingency. If you continue in and abide in His Word, hold to, remain faithful to, and obey His teachings, then you are really and truly His disciples.
The apostle John emphasized this truth several times in his writing. For example, in John 15:10, he quoted Jesus as saying, “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.” True disciples of Jesus seek to obey His Word.
In 1 John 2:6, John wrote: “Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” In other words, if we are going to call ourselves Christians, we ought to follow in His footsteps and try to live like He did.
John also said, in 1 John 3:24, “Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.”
This is key. Our obedience to God’s Word is an indicator that we are truly disciples of Christ, not just because it shows our commitment and desire to please Him and live as He did. But even more than that, our obedience to God’s Word shows that the Holy Spirit dwells in us which is the mark of true discipleship.
There is no way around this teaching, friends. We cannot call ourselves Christians if we reject Christ's teaching. The Bible is God’s Word and contains the direct quotes of Jesus. We can’t disregard what He said and call ourselves His followers. Disciple means “learner.” What kind of a learner doesn’t listen to the teacher?
Jesus went on to say that when we remain faithful to His teachings and continue to study all that He taught, we will “know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jesus is saying that before we know Christ, we are all slaves to sin and blind to spiritual truth. The Jews didn’t get this and neither would most of us today. The Jews identified as sons of Abraham and a free nation of God’s people. As an American, I have the concept of individual freedom in my bones. But, Jesus is saying, no. Without Christ, you remain in spiritual darkness and bondage.
Friends, if we abide in Him and remain in His Word, our minds will be illuminated with the truth! And that truth will set you free from the power of sin and death. Praise God!
Jesus, thank You for making the truth known to me and freeing me from the bondage of sin and death. Now, help me to abide in You. I want to follow Your Word and obey Your teachings. I want to be a true disciple. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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