True Disciples of Christ

True Disciples of Christ

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 4/8/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“So, Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet 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 commits sin is the slave of sin. “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. “So, if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. “I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore, you also do the things which you heard from your father.” They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. “But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. “You are doing the deeds of your father.” They said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.” Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.”

                                                                                   John 8:31–42 (NASB95)

It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Whether it be an athlete, a movie star, or a family member, we all want to be like, and often emulate, those we look up to. We generally do this by doing what we have seen them doing. There have been many an actor or comedian who has made a career out of imitating successful people in the entertainment industry. Closer to home, sons often imitate their fathers and daughters often imitate their mothers. So, it seems there is some truth in the statement that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

However, in our passage today that does not seem to be the case with the religious leaders of Israel found mixed into the crowds following Jesus. They claim to be children of Abraham, but they are far from it as witnessed by their desire to kill Jesus. True Disciples of Christ know the truth and recognize Him as Messiah. They have been made free from the power and grip of sin because they have received the truth through the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus tells the Jews who believe in Him that to be True Disciples of Christ they must remain in His word to know the truth and to be made free. Though they are not slaves to another person, those who commit sin are slaves to sin. As children of Abraham, they must do the deeds of Abraham, but they do not, thus they do not love Jesus or His word.

As Christ followers, to be True Disciples of Christ, we must know the truth, be made free in the truth, remember we have been sent by God, and love others in God. This will happen as we continue in His word, that His word might have a place in our lives.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “What makes the Christ follower True Disciples of Christ?”

To be True Disciples of Christ, the Christ follower must remain in the word, be set free in the truth, and do the deeds of our Father.

1). To be True Disciples of Christ, the Christ follower must know the truth and be set free in the truth.

We know the truth by continuing in His word and making a place for it in our lives.

Jesus is fully aware that not all of the Judean Jews in the crowd oppose Him, this is a mixed crowd that includes many who believe in Him. So, Jesus addresses those who are aspiring disciples, encouraging them to continue in their new path by holding on to His teachings. Every human being is enslaved by sin and its consequences. Because people cannot keep from sinning, thus, they bear the consequences of sin: guilt, shame, hurt, pain, death, and eventually, judgment. People need to be freed from sin, set loose, and delivered from sins grip. Jesus now speaks to those who have already believed in Him.

In John 3:15, in His conversation with Nicodemus, Jesus states that those who believe in Him will have eternal life. This is the first step in being made free from sins grip. Next, those who believe must “continue” in His word. To “continue” or to “abide” in His word is to dwell, or live, in His word. This is the same sense as someone dwelling or living in their home. It is to take up residence in His word. Unless the Christ follower is continuing, dwelling, or living in the word, they will never be able to gain victory over sin. That Jesus claims to make them free has a negative implication for these Jews, that they have been or are in bondage.

Jesus, therefore, clarifies the nature of their bondage. It is bondage to sin which only Jesus, as the eternal Son of God, is qualified to break. They desire Jesus’ gift of life as an additional adornment to the moral and spiritual status afforded in their Jewish heritage. They also claim that the righteousness of Abraham guarantees their righteousness. In fact, their spiritual superiority made them blind to their real slavery to sin. Thus, the Jews thought their needing freedom devalued their unique position with God. So, Jesus reminds them there is another kind of bondage – other than social or economic slavery – sin is a slave-master and those who commit sin are enslaved by sin. Jesus points out their need to be made free because everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin, and it is entirely possible for those who think of themselves as free to be enslaved by sin.

The Greek word for “commits” indicates a continuous action, it is our nature to commit sin, thus, we cannot keep from sinning – we are slaves to sin. The word “slave” has in mind the bond-slave, one who has been bought and bound to the one who bought them. The idea is that sinful humanity has been bought by sin. As a slave we have no permanent place in the home of the master. The son, however, is always a part of the family and he has full authority to free, or set loose, the slave. Jesus is the liberator of all who sin. As the Son of God, He has full authority to grant forgiveness to set us free from the grip and power of sin. Yeshua is the Savior only of the desperate, to those who have nowhere else to turn and no other to call on.

As Christ followers, we need to count the cost of following Yeshua. We abide in Christ when we place ourselves in Christ and continue there, drawing life from His word. A true and obedient disciple will know the truth by knowing the One who is the truth, Yeshua Himself. This knowledge frees us from our bondage to sin. When Yeshua spoke of “knowing” or to “know the truth,” He was speaking of knowing God’s revelation to all people. This revelation is embodied in Yeshua, the Word, therefore, to know the truth is to know Yeshua.

This truth is not political freedom or intellectual knowledge. Knowing the truth means accepting it, obeying it, and regarding it above all earthly opinions. Doing so offers the Christ follower true spiritual freedom from sin and death. Christ followers become truly free because they are free to do God’s will, and thus fulfill God’s ultimate purpose in their lives. Once the Christ follower has learned the truth about sin, acknowledged sin in their own life, then through the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Christ follower is made free from sin’s grip and power over their life – they are made free! Christ is the answer to setting people, and their world, free from the power and grip of sin.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you “continuing” is His word during this season of life? If not, why?

How or where do you find you are still being held as a slave to sin? If not, what steps have you taken to ensure that you are not?

Where do you sense you need Jesus to make you free today?

To be True Disciples of Christ, the Christ follower must remain in the word, be set free in the truth, and do the deeds of our Father.

2). To be True Disciples of Christ, the Christ follower must remember they are sent by God and must love as God loves.

We must do the deeds of God our Father.

To continue in the word is to adhere to the teachings of Jesus – to direct one’s life by it. The teacher’s instruction becomes the disciple’s rule of faith and practice. What Jesus taught is truth, as His disciples, by paying attention to and doing what he teaches, we are receiving truth. We either see the truth for what it is, or we do not. These Jews had a false sense of security because they claimed to be Abraham’s children – and thus thought this guaranteed a permanent place in God’s family and household. However, these Jews were Abraham’s children only in the physical sense, not spiritually or morally, because they sought to kill Jesus.

They were not Abraham’s spiritual children, for if they were, they would recognize Jesus as Messiah. So, Jesus points to their evil nature by stating, “You do what you have heard from your father.” In being ready kill Jesus, they are linked to another father – the devil. These religious leaders were hereditary children of Abraham and therefore claimed to be children of God, but their actions showed them to be true children of Satan, for they lived under Satan’s guidance. Church membership and/or family connections will not make people true children of God – only rebirth can do that.

Sons copy their fathers, but the Jewish leaders did not behave like the One they claimed as father. These Jewish religious leaders could not claim Abraham as father while seeking to kill Jesus – the One who brought them truth from God the Father. When the Jews claim they are not “illegitimate children,” this could be a reference to the Samaritans who were not considered purebred by the Jews. They are, in fact, offended that their ancestry does not automatically place them in a more privileged standing with God.

All people are enslaved to sin, many will deny this truth, but it does not change the fact that it is indeed true. The Jews misunderstood Jesus because He called them slaves. They were thinking only in the physical world and being slaves to another nation or people group. But they have failed to recognize their own sinfulness and have been blinded to the One who has been sent to bring them truth that will make them free from the grip and consequences of sin. They have missed the Spokesman and Judge sent by God, from the very side and household of God the Father, claiming they are the true spokesman of God. As the teachers and leaders of Israel they should be able to recognize the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Messiah as He stand before them – but they do not because they remain in their sin.

As Christ followers, we must remember that we have been called and sent by God to proclaim His Son and the message of salvation in Christ. We can only do this if we know the truth in our own lives and can show that to be true to those around us. We will face people who will be unwilling to accept the truth because our society today refuses to acknowledge sin, instead we call them anything but sin. Greed is called ambition; lust is called a healthy appetite – whether food or sexual in nature, we find a way to justify it; selfish behavior is now called being self-driven to succeed. I could go on, but the point is clear, our society refuses to acknowledge sin. These things, in and of themselves, are not evil but become sin when we allow them to replace God, His will, and His way.

We have been called to be spokespeople for the One who has redeemed us and granted our eternal life. We have been loved much and we must now love much in return. We are reminded that we love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19), this is seen by the fact that God loved us and sent His Son (1 John 4:10). In John 15:12 Yeshua gives His followers a new commandment, to love one another as He has loved them. So, we are called now to love others, especially those who do not know Yeshua as Lord and Savior. Our task, boiled down to its most simple form is to love others as if the end is near.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How are you adhering to the teachings of Yeshua during this season of life? If not, why?

As a son or daughter of God the Father, how are you copying Him today? If not, what steps need to be taken to change this?

How are you showing others, through your life, that you are called and sent by God? If you are not, what needs to change to make this happen?

To be True Disciples of Christ, the Christ follower must remain in the word, be set free in the truth, and do the deeds of our Father.

Sin has a way of enslaving us, dominating us, and dictating our actions. Sin manifests itself in many ways, including self-centeredness, rebelliousness, possessiveness, and addictive behaviors. Yeshua can save us from this slavery and the consequences that prevent us from becoming the people that God has created us to be. Even if sin has mastered and enslaved a person, Yeshua can break the power and grip over our lives. Yeshua is the truth that makes us free, He is the source of truth, and the perfect standard of what is right. Yeshua frees us from the consequences of sin, He saves us from self-deception, and from the deception of Satan. Yeshua shows us the way to eternal life – He alone provides a clear path to the Father.

Many today continue to take “the truth will make you free” out of context and in the wrong way. For many “to know the truth” means personal autonomy, creativity, and freedom from oppression and ignorance. Colleges and universities press the value of knowledge to promote academic knowledge. But Yeshua did not die to guarantee personal freedoms or personal freedom of expression. The error comes in thinking that truth is nothing more than a concept, rather than God Himself, which is how Yeshua uses the term. By interchanging “truth” and “Son,” Yeshua implies that granting freedom is God’s work. That freedom begins when we acknowledge our bondage to sin. This is done by remaining in the word.

There is a dual meaning or application of the “word” here. The first is, obviously, the written word, the Bible. We must be in the word daily to hide the word in our hearts and our minds. The other sense of being in the “word,” is Yeshua. We must stay close to our Lord daily. This means we must spend time, not only in the written word, but also in communication with Yeshua through prayer and meditation of the written word. By remaining in the word, by living in the word, we will know the truth and it is the truth that will make us free. It will first make us free to understand how God sees sin, not how the world regards sin. Then it will make us free to know the truth about sin in our own lives. No one can overcome sin unless they are first able to acknowledge sin in their own life.

The world may refuse to acknowledge sin, to call some acts sinful, they in fact, are now going so far as to call good evil and evil good, but by knowing the truth we are made free from the power, grip, and consequences of sin in our lives. Only God can make us free through His forgiveness, which He made possible through the death of Yeshua on the cross. Yeshua took our place, He took our sin, He took our punishment, upon Himself to make us free from sin, not free to “do our own thing,” but free from doing our own thing that we might be free to serve God. Thus, Yeshua did not make us free to do what we want, but free to follow God. It is in seeking to follow God that Yeshua’s perfect truth has made us free to be all that God has created us to be.

We do all things to the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week: John 8: 43-59

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: