John 8:31-32 Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, "If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free."
Often we come at this text from entirely the wrong direction. We ask, are you a disciple – which on the face of it does not seem such a bad question. Indeed it so close to right most people can’t see what’s wrong. But something is fundamentally wrong with the question, for the center is YOU, or I – it is human centered – and that is precisely what is wrong with the question.
Our salvation is by grace through faith in Christ, not of works lest any many should boast. All the other religions in the world teach a salvation whose center is man, and the means for that salvation is works. We alone teach that salvation is God’s work to which we contribute NOTHING!
There is a question we can ask – Have you resisted God’s call to follow Jesus? And if you have, have you repented of this rebellion against God. We can take credit for our sins, but who wants to do that – for such credit does not add anything to us, but only puts us further in debt. Sometimes people continue in sin, never coming to repentance, by telling themselves that they will never need to pay their debt. Life ends. Judgement day comes. And all flesh shall stand before God.
Once we see our sins, it is not hard to see the need for our Savior. But salvation doesn’t depend on us finding him – rather not only does he call us to repentance – but he also calls us to salvation. We are disciples because He has made us a new creation. That’s something we might miss – for often we stop – at the new creation – as though that is the end – but just as the life God creates doesn’t remain an infant forever – so the new life which God works in us – doesn’t remain the same, but it also grows – grows from one who is learning, to one who is going out to invite others in to meet the Savior of the World.
How do we become disciples – we might talk about baptism, and catechism and confirmation – and again we might think it is something that we are doing. Again, this is wrong. For we have learned that it is God who calls gathers enlightens and sanctifies us and keeps us in faith. The credit and the glory go to God. God has set us free. God has given the full and complete salvation.
How do we know the truth? Not only from the revelation of God’s will which he has given us for our instruction, which is of course the primary way. But God has sent his Spirit into our lives to call, gather, enlighten, sanctify and keep us in faith. And there is also our experience, where we have seen for ourselves, that hand of God at work in our lives and in the lives of others. And there is the testimony of others, who also bear witness to the God of our salvation, his works and his ways – Parents, teachers, pastors, relatives, friends.
How will the truth will make us free? If God gives us our daily bread, forgives our sins, makes us a new creation and frees us from bondage to sin, to death, and to the power of the devil. If God has loosed all these chains, and since God is our defender and protector – who can harm us?
And so it is that we continue in His word – Because we want to know more about our incredible God and this great love that he has shown for us in Jesus Christ. And we want to have the power to overcome ever temptation and follow our savior always. And if that were not enough – we continue in his word so that we might be more able to tell others of the love of God which has come in Jesus Christ, so that they too may be saved.
Thanks be to God for his grace, mercy and love.