John 8:31 is certainly not the only verse where Jesus speaks to what the character of a disciple of His ought to be. He addresses this character in many parts of the Gospels, and the rest of the New Testament â€œfleshes outâ€ what He taught. Naturally, the character of a Christian is the main â€œsermon fodderâ€ in our Churches. Much is expected of us. We are saved by the free gift of His grace. We did nothing to earn that grace (Ephesians 2:8,9). But, the next step, which some call sanctification, takes up the rest of our lives.
Jesus tells these new â€œconvertsâ€ who believe in Him: â€œIf you continue in My word, then you will be disciples of Mine (John 8:31).
I looked up the word â€œcontinueâ€ in the Treasury of Scripture Knowledge. Some of you know this book. It is on the Internet, I believe. It basically cross references every verse in the Bible. If you go through all of these links, you might discover how the Bible can comment on itself.
Consider one of these links: the parable of the sower (Matthew 13:18-23). My Ryrie study Bible interprets these four people this way: â€œthere would be four different responses to the Word: no response; emotional response; worldly response and fruitful response.â€ I think that Matthew 8:20-21 is an example of not continuing in the word. A person hears the word and responds to it with great joy (emotion). But, he has no firm root in himself. Soon he falls away. Maybe that could be some of those Jews who came to believe in Jesus: they responded emotionally and it did not â€œstick.â€ Also see Luke 8:13.
To continue in His word is to abide in His word. Jesus describes Himself as the Vine. We, the branches, abide in Him (John 15:5-7). If we are rooted in Jesus, we will know that His love will fill us (Ephesians 3:17-19). Jesus has caused a reconciliation in our relationship with God if we continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast (Colossians 1:22-23).
We are told in Colossians 2:6,7: â€œTherefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude .â€
In many respects, that verse sums up what is expected of us. Normally we view expectations as â€œwork.â€ This is true here. Sanctification is hard work. It is never an easy path. One reason is that God intervenes in that path with life lessons. It is almost as if â€œschoolâ€ is in session in our lives every day. A day that goes by without having learned something is a wasted day, I believe. God would certainly view this to be true in terms of the learning tree called sanctification.
Sometimes people can hear the word but because that hearing was not united in faith by the hearer, it did not profit them (Hebrews 4:2). Perhaps this might describe some of the people Jesus spoke to in John 8:31.
To continue in His word is to live in it, abide in it, imbibe it, seek it, spend time with it, and to let it become us. I firmly believe that when you open His word, you see yourself. I see myself in Adam, Jacob, David, Jonah, and Peter. That is just for starters. Often when I read His word I wonder how the heck He ever knew that was me he was talking about. Reading His word can be pretty disconcerting at times. It forces you to look at yourself.
So, we need to continue in His word, and if we do, we will become disciples of His, and we will know the truth and the truth will make us free.
So, what is this â€œtruth that will make us freeâ€ This is pretty much going to be the â€œmeatâ€ of what Dr. Stanley taught in that sermon set I mentioned.
But, before I do that, I want to explore, in the fifth installment, my own impressions of His Word â€“ Scripture.
I am Michael the Penguin and I am a Christian in Recovery