A preacher was standing at the church house door shaking hands as the congregation departed and saw a man who rarely attended.
He grabbed him by the arm and said, “You need to join the Army of the Lord!”
“I’m already in the Army of the Lord,” the man replied.
“How come I don’t see you except for Christmas and Easter?” the preacher questioned.
He whispered back, “I’m in the secret service.”
There’s nothing secret about being a soldier of Christ. About following Christ. About being a disciple of Jesus.
Often in Jesus’ ministry, he called upon those who heard his message to openly declare their commitment to Him. To confess Him. And to follow Him. That’s what discipleship is.
Our text today provides a clear and definitive definition of true discipleship.
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.” (Jn 8:31-32)
(1) Disciples believe.
Not all who heard Jesus believed on Him, but these Jews did. Belief is more than mental assent. It accepts Jesus for who he is. The Christ. The Son of God.
True Believers also accept all that He says. About sin. Salvation. And set-apart living. Faith is the foundation to being a disciple and growing spiritually.
(2) Disciples abide.
They are not in and out. Up and down. Hot and cold. Here today and gone tomorrow. There is a constancy and consistency to the Word. Their commitment is not to men, traditions or church creeds, but to the Word.
Disciples continue in the Word. Hold fast to Jesus’ teaching. And keep on obeying what they’ve been taught.
(3) Disciples know the Word is Truth.
“I’m rethinking my position on that,” is a common refrain we hear today. While it’s admirable that we always have an open mind to learn, grow and be willing to change, there are some things I know.
I know God loves me. I know Christ died for me. I know how to be saved from sin. I know the importance of the church in God’s eternal plan. And I know heaven is eternal hope and home for God’s people.
I know that truth is absolute. It does not change. I may change. But God’s Word is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Truth is recognizable. You can distinguish it from error. Disciple know how to discern God’s Truth from human philosophy, denominational doctrines, and fads of pop culture where truth is relative. It takes work. Requires study. And demands a true love for God and His Word.
(4) Disciples enjoy freedom.
Jesus’ Jewish audience disputed His claim by saying, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?”
Jesus’ response? “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.”
But Jesus promises true freedom. Freedom from sin’s guilt. Freedom from sin’s enslavement. Freedom from sin’s shame. Freedom from sin’s sentence.
Sadly, many are deceived and deluded into thinking that spiritual freedom comes from freedom of thought to believe and practice whatever makes them feel good.
True freedom is found in faithful allegiance to Christ. And to the revealed Word to direct us.
We cannot be disciples on our own terms. Discipleship is only founded and facilitated by Truth.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman