Our Bible passage for today is taken from John chapter 8 verses 31 and 32
Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” (John 8:31-32)
Many years ago and I was a young pastor I was sitting talking to a man who wanted to join our church. He had apparently been a member of a Lutheran church way back when he was a child. He had gotten confirmed. On the coffee table he put in front of his confirmation certificate. Had a nice passage that was his personal passage about faith in Christ to get to heaven. And he admitted that he hadn’t been to church for over 40 years. He was now probably close to 70 years old.
And he wanted to just join our church and I said “Well, let me ask you a couple of questions.” First question I asked was “So if you happen to die tonight, what do you think would happen to you?”
He said “Well, I’d like to think I would go to heaven.”
I said “Are you sure about that?”
He said “Well, pretty sure. I hope so.”
I said “Well, here’s my second question. On what basis do you expect that God will let you into his heaven?”
And he said, “well, I’ve tried to be a really good person all my life. I’ve tried to not do any big crimes. I have never robbed a bank or stolen anything and I’ve always tried to be a nice person to everybody.”
He went on and on for a couple of minutes about his great record and he says “hopefully I’ve done enough.”
I then took his confirmation certificate and I read the Bible passage that said there’s a passage about getting to heaven through Christ. And I said “Isn’t it interesting that you never once in your answer mentioned Jesus at all? Your answer had everything to do with you. It had nothing to do with Christ.” I said “I know you believe yourself to be a Christian and yet you’ve really lost hold of Jesus as your Savior.”
And I said “this is what happens when you stay away from God’s Word for so many years. We start to lose the Gospel.”
Jesus uses this word, he says when you “abide in my word.” Some translations say “continue in my word.” Then you are my disciples indeed.
The word abide their means to actually live inside of it. One commentator said it’s like being a guest in a hotel. Christ wants us to live in His word. To make it such a regular part of our life that that’s where we can be found. And why does he want us to live there? Well, because in that word God teaches us all the truth about ourselves. That none of us have ever lived our life well enough to be let into heaven. And his law exposes that sin in us. But it also leads us to the beautiful message about Jesus and what he came to do. To go to the cross and pay for all of our sins to give us his holy perfect record. So by faith in him we could be sure that we’ll go to heaven someday.
That’s why Jesus wants us to live in that word. He said to his disciples “the words that I give you, they are Spirit and they are life.” So when you do this he says you will know the truth. Isn’t that interesting? In a world where we think truth is so hard to figure out, Jesus says You will know the truth if you listen to my word. And ultimately he says the truth will set you free.
That word of Christ has the power to liberate us. Liberate us from our sin, to cause us by faith in him to be holy before God. And also to liberate us from our grave someday so we can rise again and be with him. That same savior who says to us because I live you shall live also. May God grant us the wisdom to continue living in the word of our Savior. Amen.