The Freedom of True Discipleship

young man and sunset

Corinthians 13:5, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith.

…we’ve seen less than true faith such as those who believed in chapter two, but Jesus didn’t commit Himself to them because He knew what was in their heart and He knew their faith wasn’t the real thing. It wasn’t a true faith.

Nicodemus represents those people, and he articulated that they did believe that Jesus was a teacher come from God…but that’s not sufficient to save.

Those who had believed

another group of believers here in verse 30 who came to believe in Him. He refers to them as, “Those who had believed,” in verse 31. And yet I want you to know how these people are referred to, these same people in verse 44. “You are of your father, the devil.”

Sermon on the Mount

…the Sermon on the Mount. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven. But he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter.

The soils

Perhaps the most memorable of all his parables in that chapter is the parable of the soils in which we find out that there will be people who make a superficial commitment to Christ such as the rocky soil and the weedy soil. It’s superficial…In fact, Luke 8:13 describes such people as, “Those who believe for a while.

They went out from us

He (John) says this in chapter 2, verse 19, “They went out from us. They were not really of us, for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us. But they went out so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.”

You need endurance

The writer of Hebrews addresses this multiple times…chapter 10 he says in verse 38, quoting from Habakkuk, “But my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” And earlier he said, “You have need of endurance.”

Angels separate the wheat from tares

We know Jesus in Matthew 13 also told the parable about the wheat and tares growing together, and that we would be unable to tell them apart in every case. Some cases clearly we can. By their fruits we can know them, but sometimes it will be hard to distinguish and the only distinguishing will come at the end of the judgment when the angels do the work of God and separate the wheat from the tares.

The dragnet

We also know the parable of the dragnet. The kingdom is like a dragnet that drags the bottom of the Sea of Galilee, for example, and pulls in all kinds of things useful and useless. And the kingdom is going to collect all kinds of things. We also know the parable of the mustard tree…

The pull of sin

…lot of people do that, but when they start in that direction and the world, the flesh, and the devil fully empowered by their own fallen nature starts to pull hard against Christ; the half believer, loving sin because half believers still love their sin, and unwilling to yield to the hard demands of true repentance and humble submission to Christ falls back. It may take a little while. It may take a long time.

Halfway to Christ

…J.C. Ryle, and he had an interesting little paragraph…he said, “This is the most dangerous spiritual condition any person can ever be in where you’re halfway to Christ;

…He says, “That is the most dangerous position to be in because that’s the path of apostasy and if you go down that path and you reject Christ in the end, you could be an apostate.” And it’s impossible to be renewed again to repentance, and you’re guilty of trampling under foot the blood of the covenant. And that is going to bring about the severest judgment in hell.

…To hang on to carnal pleasure in the face of all that Christ offers – very dangerous, very dangerous.

False faith is everywhere

…when He (Jesus) came into the city of Jerusalem in Passion Week, they had affirmed Him as the Messiah, threw palm branches at His feet. And masses, tens of thousands of them had done this, but by the time you get to the upper room and true believers, there’s 120. False faith is everywhere, very common and very dangerous.

The benchmark

Mental assent to Jesus, not enough, not enough. “The devils believe and tremble,” James 2 says. They have orthodox theology. Mental assent is not enough. What is the benchmark?

“if you continue in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” What is the benchmark? Perseverance, or if you want another word: endurance, endurance.

“If you continue in My Word.” What does that mean? Obedience to everything He has said, a life pattern of obedience. That’s why the Great Commission, Matthew 28:19, 20 is, “To go into all the world and teach them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”

Jesus is Lord, kurios, I am doulos, His slave. He is my Master, my Lord, and that essentially defines what it means to be obedient. He is the Master. I’m the slave.

Sound theology and sound practice

So what is the mark of a true believer? It’s not a profession. It’s not some past event. It is a continuing loving obedience. Obedience out of love. You can’t separate keeping commandments from love.

…So in 2 John 9, he says, “If anyone goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, he doesn’t have God. The one who abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.” If you have an errant Christology, if you err regarding who Christ is, and a lot of people say, “I believe in Christ,” but it’s the wrong Christ. It’s the wrong Christ, not the Biblical Christ. You don’t know God either. Sound theology and sound practice go together.

If you have doubts about the legitimacy of your salvation

That’s how you know a true believer. That’s how you know, and in the midst of persecution, persecution will not destroy his faith. Persecution will reveal the legitimacy of his faith, Peter says, and that will be the proof of his faith, which is a gift. You should pray for persecution. You should pray for difficulty. You should pray for suffering if you have doubts about the legitimacy of your salvation.

Saving faith is a gift from God

…saving faith is a gift from God, Ephesians 2:8 and 9. That’s why the devil tried to destroy Job’s faith and couldn’t do it. The devil tried to destroy Peter’s faith and couldn’t do it. The devil assaulted Paul and couldn’t destroy his faith because saving faith cannot be destroyed.

The benefit of true salvation

We talked about the benchmark. Here is the benefit, and the benefit is clear, and it’s in one simple statement, which is then expanded in the conversation, but the statement is in verse 32. “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

….here is the benefit of believing, true belief, true discipleship. “You will know the truth. You will know the truth.” It’s not so bold to say, “I know the truth.” You will know the truth. Well, what truth is he talking about? Well, he’s talking about spiritual truth, eternal truth, salvation truth. I love the phrase inEphesians 4:21, “Truth is in Jesus,” Paul says. “Truth is in Jesus.” That’s the only place you’re going to find it.

Jesus is the truth, John 14:6. He said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” “The Holy Spirit is the source of truth,”John 16:13 and 14. Jesus says, “I’m going to send the Spirit of truth, who will teach you about Me.” “Scripture,” John 17:17 “is truth.” “Thy Word is truth.” “Jesus is the truth.” “The Holy Spirit is the truth.” “The Scripture is the truth.” And all of it represents the God of all truth.

The Jews weren’t free

“Because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.” If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? “He who is of God hears the words of God.

In Matthew 23, He says, “You produce sons of hell,” with your legal system. The Jews weren’t free. They wouldn’t admit that.

They tried to kill Jesus after His first sermon in Nazareth. They tried to throw Him off a cliff. Why? Because He said, “You are the poor, prisoners, blind, and oppressed, and you will not acknowledge it.” It’s the same as your ancestors. God couldn’t heal any widows in this country, had to go to a widow in Baal’s world. God couldn’t do wonders among Jewish people in the past. He had to do a miracle for a border terrorist named Naaman from Syria.

What kind of freedom is He offering them? Go to verse 34, “He said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin.’” Oh, now we see. Freedom from what? Slavery to sin.

The false disciple is unwilling to take the diagnosis of his own wretchedness that is necessary to true salvation. Our Lord then says something to them that was really shocking, verse 35, “The slave doesn’t remain in the house forever. The son does remain forever.”


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