Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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October 28 – Reformation Sunday – John 8:31-36 – Truth And Freedom

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Gospel Lesson just read, from John 8.  We begin with prayer.

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • Our text begins with a seeming paradox:  “Jesus said to the Jews who had BELIEVED in Him, ‘If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples.”  This seems to imply a distinction, that one could “BELIEVE” in Him, and yet not “abide” in His Word, that one could be a believer and yet not truly a disciple.  This is a distinction that many of us have contemplated – we want to claim the blessings and promises given to believers – “he that believes the Son has everlasting life,” and yet we are hesitant, and perhaps even reluctant, to being “full-blown” disciples of Jesus. 
  • I do not believe that this distinction can be maintained.  The one who “believes” in Jesus is invited, encouraged, and compelled to “abide in His Word.”  How could it be otherwise?  In what sense can we truly believe in Him without abiding in His Word?  And even if the distinction can be made, it cannot be maintained, for it is obvious that Jesus wants us to “abide in His Word” and that He calls us to “truly be His disciples.”  This is His good and gracious will for us, that we follow Him, that we learn from Him, that we receive Him for what He is – certainly our Savior, but also our dear Lord and Master! 
  • Much is at stake in how we think about this – for Jesus packages these things together:  faith, abiding in His Word, being His disciples, knowing the truth, and being set free by the truth.  All of these things are His good and gracious will for us, and surely things that we should seek from Him!  Thus, the Reformation emphasis on “Grace Alone,” and “Faith Alone,” and “Scripture Alone” was not an escape from discipleship, an effort to avoid truly following Jesus, but rather the key to true discipleship, the door to truly following Jesus, the pathway to “knowing truth” and “having freedom.”    We who are the heirs of this Reformation heritage should not desire to short-circuit our own discipleship, or to look for some cheapened version of relationship with Jesus, the only True and Living God!  Rather, we should eagerly embrace all that the Lord Christ seeks to bestow upon us!  For:

 

I.  The Worst Slavery Is That Of Ignorance Of The Truth

 

A.  The Heart And Core Of Such Ignorance Of The Truth Is Impenitence, Like That Expressed By The Jews Jesus Was Addressing, Who Responded Negatively To His Gracious Invitation

 

Text:  “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone.  How is it that You say, ‘You will become free’?”

 

But Jesus spoke the truth to them:

                   

Text:  “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a   slave to sin.”

 

And the apostle Paul asserts the dismal truth:

 

Rom. 3:23  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

 

B.  The Impenitent Are Therefore Stuck In The Slavery Of Self-Righteousness

 

Text:  “We have never been enslaved to anyone.”

 

But the apostle John makes it quite clear what such a denial involves:

 

1 John 1:8,10 “If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves, and  the truth is not in us . . . if we say we have not sinned we are calling God a liar, and His Word is not in us.”

 

C.  So Those Enslaved In Impenitence And Self-Righteousness Remain Ignorant Of And In Rejection Of God’s Gracious Mercy And Forgiveness In Christ Jesus

 

Only those confessing and acknowledging their sin and guilt have the promise and assurance of God’s gracious Word of forgiveness:

 

1 John 1:9  “But if we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

 

Statement:

  • This was the dilemma of the “visible” Church in the days of the Reformation – there was no “abiding” in Christ’s Word which identifies and condemns our sin, and hence there was no genuine repentance, and so the whole spiritual pursuit was not about “discipleship to the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ, or about truth, and freedom in His gracious forgiveness, mercy, and salvation, but rather it consisted only of the slavery of “self-righteousness.”  But no one can both follow Christ and engage in such “self-righteousness” – for this is denying His Word, His gracious redemption, and rejecting the truth! 

 

Application:

  • Even within the church of the Reformation heritage, the same temptations afflict us.  If we desire to be “free” from Christ’s Word and “free” from following Him as His disciples, then we plunge ourselves back into the slavery of impenitence and self-righteousness – justifying, explaining, and rationalizing why we can be free from His will, free from what His Word instructs us, free to determine for ourselves what is right and wrong for us, free not to truly be His disciples!  But all of this is in reality delusion and slavery, and it can easily destroy faith!

 

Transition:  Obviously, this is not the Lord’s will for any of us – and hopefully this is not what any of us wills for himself!  For:

 

II.  Real Truth And Real Freedom Comes Only By Abiding In Christ’s Word

 

A.  First Of All Truth And Freedom Come By Abiding By God’s Word Which Compels Honest Recognition And Confession Of Our Sin, Of Our Slavery To Sin And Of Our Inability To Free Ourselves From Sin

 

Rom. 3:20  “By works of the law no human being will be justified in His sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.”

 

B.  Real Truth And Freedom Come Only Through God’s Gracious Forgiveness And Mercy – It Is Only Jesus Who Can Truly Free Us By His Redemption

 

Rom. 3:23,24  “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of  God, and are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”

 

This is why Jesus was so bold to say:

 

Text:  “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

 

C.  God’s Truth, His Gracious Mercy And Forgiveness – These Alone Provide Us With Freedom To Approach God, to Worship Him In Truth And Purity, And Freedom To Follow Him Rather Than Remaining Slaves To Selfishness And Sin

 

This is the encouragement of the angel who proclaimed the eternal gospel, in the book of Revelation:

 

Rev. 14:7  “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him Who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

 

Statement:

  • Those who experience the truth of God’s Word – both regarding the dire and dismal nature of our slavery to sin, and the freeing and joyful truth of God’s gracious mercy and forgiveness, His redemption in Christ Jesus, begin to understand the glorious blessing of being Jesus’ disciples.  These truths do not compel greater immorality and slavery to sin, but rather free us from sin’s darkness and grip. 

 

Application:

  • How blessed we are if we not only hear, but truly believe and abide in Jesus’ Word!  Then we understand that we are not “freed” from Jesus Word, or “freed” from following Him and doing God’s will; but rather that we are “freed” TO follow Jesus, freed to be His disciples.  This blessedness God wants to impart to each of us – if we are willing to receive it!

 

Conclusion:  Do not allow this devil’s distinction in your hearts – that you only “believe” in Jesus, thinking that you are free to remain enslaved in sin.  The call to faith in Jesus is also a call to discipleship, to following Him, and this means abiding in His Word.  And His Word enables us to “know the truth,” and such knowledge of the truth “sets us free.”  This is what Jesus promises!

 

God desires nothing less for any of us – it was what we were originally created for, and it is our destiny in the joy and glory of His heavenly kingdom!  Let us pray that we always remain “true disciples of Jesus,” abiding in His Word, knowing the truth, and living in the freedom of following Him!  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.