Bethel Baptist Church
21.1.10 Morning Worship
      • Proverbs 3:5–6ESV

  • INTRODUCTION:
    John 8 is a paradox of a chapter.
    On one hand, the Scriptures record that many of the Jews believed.
    They believe that Jesus was exactly who he said was.
    John 8:30 ESV
    As he was saying these things, many believed in him.
    Yet by the end of the chapter
    They doubted the freedom offered by Christ. (v. 33)
    Accused him of being demon possessed. (v. 48, 52)
    They doubted whether he was truly God. (v. 57-58)
    And tried to stone him. (v. 59)
    What a paradox of a chapter?
    ILLUSTRATION:
    And yet there is an all too familiar theme here.
    We have experienced this.
    How many of you have watched somebody listen to the words of Jesus and confess that they believe in Christ?
    And yet, in time they walked away from and rejected the very thing they said they believed.
    I remember a young man, who came to my church in Hawaii.
    The first six months, we thought he had really come to Christ.
    He confessed that he believed in Christ.
    He was regularly attending church and Bible studies.
    But within six months – he turned from initially accepting Christ to avoiding church, and church members, and ultimately living in brazen sexual immorality.
    There are many people like this , who claim to be a Christian, but in fact are not.
    The Jews initially believed, but in time their believe was shown to be superficial and not true.
    So I ask,
    What is a true Christian?
    Or another way to say it …
    What is a true disciple?
    Jesus answers these question in John 8:31-32
    And these verses help us understand what a true Christians life should look like.
    John 8:30–32 ESV
    As he was saying these things, many believed in him. So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    I asked -

    What is a true Christian?

    Jesus in this passage will teach us - 4 characteristics of a true Christian.

    And for those of us who have known the Lord for a while,
    Or think we understand what a Christian is …
    EXHORTATION:
    Let me challenge you - pay attention, because Jesus is going to teach us it is more than just knowing the facts of the Gospel.
    He is going to teach us that a true Christian does simply ascent to the truth of Christ,
    but the truth of Christ becomes an all encompassing new life.
    It is not simply we know better,
    It is that we now live differently.
    So what are the characteristics of a true Christian?
    First, a

    (1) True Christian Believes in Jesus’s Word’s.

    The entry gate into Christianity is not
    Church membership
    a good life
    or even acts of worship.
    Too many people have made the mistake of assuming Christianity consists of outward religious things.
    The Christian should be a church member, but we are church members because we are Christian.
    The Christian should live a life that honors God, but we live a life honoring God because we are a Christian.
    The Christian should worship Christ alone, but we worship Christ because are a Christian.
    You see,
    Sometimes people get the wagon before the horse.
    Those things don’t make us a Christian, we do those things because we are Christian.
    Instead,
    The entry gate into Christianity is believing in Jesus’s words.
    A Christian is a Christian because he believes in the Words of Jesus
    John 8:31 ESV
    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    Technically, Jesus says a Christian abides in his words.
    While we will deal with the idea of abiding here in a few minutes, I want you to observe the prerequisite to abiding here in the passage.
    Before Jesus told them to abide, many came to believe.
    Belief was the prerequisite to abiding in Jesus’s words.
    So the entry gate into Christianity is belief in the words of Jesus.
    But,
    What are the words of Jesus?
    In some sense, you are talking about the Gospels as a whole.
    The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.
    If you have not seriously read each of the gospel accounts, then I challenge you to take some time and read the account of Jesus.
    It will literally change your life.
    I can remember the first time I read the Gospel for myself.
    A good place to start is the Gospel of Mark.
    It is shorter, but gives you the gist of the story.
    But in the immediate sense,
    Jesus has taught them he is the spiritual light in a spiritually dark world. (v. 12)
    Jesus taught he came from above (Heaven) (v. 14)
    God is his Father. (v. 17-18)
    To disbelieve Christ is to die in your sins, to believe in Christ is to be saved from your sins. (v. 21-26)
    That He will be lifted up as the Son of Man who saves the world. (v. 28-29, also Jn 3:9-21)
    To summarize this -
    you have to believe that Jesus is the son of God
    who was born so that through the cross he could die in you place,
    and free you from the guilt and slavery of your sin.
    What does it mean to believe in Christ?
    Belief here means that you believe that Jesus was exactly who he said he was.
    Not simply a good man, or a great man.
    But the Son of God, who takes away the sins of the world.
    It is to consider the words and life of Christ to be true of reality - and thus worthy of one’s true belief.
    To be a Christian, it must start with belief.
    And thus – true Christians believe in Jesus’s words.
    I ask you - Do you believe in Christ?
    The first character of a Christian is that he believes the Words of Jesus.
    Secondly, a

    (2) True Christian is a Committed Follower, Abiding in the Words of Jesus. (A Disciple)

    Let’s go back to John 8:31 – and further examine this verse.
    Jesus not only teaches that they must believe his words to be true, but that they must remain committed followers of Christ.
    John 8:31 ESV
    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    The word “abide” is important.
    That means a true Christian does not simply assent to words of Jesus.
    Nor is it simply a passing, superficial, agreement.
    It describes someone holding on the words of Jesus.
    He describes someone remaining faithful to the words of Jesus.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    Some of the words of our founding fathers are like that.
    The opening lines of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution .... are words that America is literally held on to the rest of our history.
    While I love my country,
    I as a Christian need to hold to Jesus’s words even more.
    Because they are the way, the truth, and the life. (Jn 14:6)
    >And the word “abide” doesn’t come alone.
    He says –
    John 8:31 ESV
    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    The word “disciple” is important in understanding what Jesus is saying.
    A disciple can loosely be translated a follower word learner of Christ.
    But in modern context – we often think of Jesus simply is a great teacher I should sit down and listen too.
    I should make sure I get my lecture from Jesus every week.
    But that is not what the word disciple means.
    The disciple in the ancient world, would live with, and live according to the lifestyle of the master.
    Your every moment was dedicated to learning the ways of your master.
    Discipleship in that ancient context required a full, 100 %, commitment to the master.
    And you are not simply learning what he believes, but how he lives.
    True discipleship means abiding in Jesus’ words as the truth for every area of life (cf. Jn 8:31–32). Abiding in Jesus’ words does not mean perpetual Bible study. Rather, it means to know and to live in what Jesus says about life. Instead of listening to the world’s values, disciples must listen to what Jesus says. This begins with salvation (cf. Peter’s example in Jn 6:66–69) but involves every other area of life as well.
    Wilkins, Michael J.; Wilkins, Michael J.. Following the Master: A Biblical Theology of Discipleship . Zondervan. Kindle Edition.  
    And that is the word that handed down to us in the Gospels.
    Put it together.
    John 8:31 ESV
    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    A true Christian -
    Or you could say a true disciple.
    Abides in the words and lifestyle of Jesus.
    They remain in the new lifestyle Jesus taught them.
    Are you a commited follower, abiding in the words of Christ?
    Third, a

    (3) True Christian Knows the Truth of Jesus’s Words.

    John 8:32 ESV
    and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    John MacArthur has a book titled, truth wars.
    It is a fitting Title for world full of people who suppress the truth about God (Ro 1:18) in a world duped by Satan (Rev 12:9).
    Paul teaches us that an unbeliever naturally suppresses the truth.
    Romans 1:18 ESV
    For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
    John records the Title of Satan in Revelations.
    Revelation 12:9 ESV
    And the great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world—he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.
    And thus, this world lives in a truth war.
    We live in a world that wants to forget about God, and deny Jesus,
    and who is deceived by the one who wants to be God - Satan.
    The deception is so real, that many of us wonder what is truth?
    Can I really know the truth about myself, God, and my world?
    And we are not he first to ask these questions.
    Consider, Pontius Pilates, the Roman Governor, who ordered Jesus to be crucified.
    John 18:38 ESV
    Pilate said to him, “What is truth?” After he had said this, he went back outside to the Jews and told them, “I find no guilt in him.
    But according to Jesus, if we abide in his Words - we know the truth.
    While there have been many through history who have labeled Christianity as unbelievable.
    There are also many exceptions.
    - C.S. Lewis was once a critic, but latter defended Christianity.
    He wrote a number of books on faith, such as Mere Christianity and Miracles.
    - A movie about the reporter, Lee Strobel, recently came out.
    He is the author Case for Christ … who once was a critic, but latter defended Christianity.
    - Josh McDowell is another person who doubted Christ, but after extensive study came to believe.
    He wrote a book called, Evidence that Demands a Verdict .... which is a pretty extensive discussion on how we know the Gospels to be true.
    To know Christ … is to know reality.
    To know Christ - allows us to fundamentally understand
    our world and ourselves,
    why it is broken,
    and how God plans to change it.
    A True Christian has an absolute certainty about sin and how Jesus Jesus saves us from that sin.
    A True Christian Knows the Truth.
    Do you know the truth about sin?
    Fourth, a

    (4) True Christian Lives in the Liberation of Jesus’s Words.

    John 8:32 tells us that we know truth if we abide in his words.
    But not only do we know truth … but that truth will set us free.
    John 8:32 ESV
    and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    Christians read these words … and rejoice.
    Some people think that Christianity is about rule following.
    And therefore oppressive because of all the does and don’ts.
    In fact, Christianity is about liberation, freedom - not rule following.
    But perhaps you want to know why you need liberation.
    The Jews asked this question.
    John 8:33 ESV
    They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”
    And Jesus answers.
    John 8:34–38 ESV
    Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
    Everyone of us are slaves to sin.
    Sin rule us.
    It controls us.
    We looked at a similar idea found in Gal 5:16-18 a few weeks ago.
    Galatians 5:16–18 ESV
    But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
    Living trapped in sin… is the saddest, hardest, most hopeless place you can be.
    Sin hurts you.
    And sin hurts those around you.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    There use to be a series called “Unshackled” who has recorded hundreds of testimonies of how sin trapped people and hurt them..
    But you know what else that show talks about … how Jesus has set them free from their sin.
    There theme verse was John 8:32
    If you want to know what I am talking about … google “Unschackled Series” … and you can listen to these people who have watched Christ transform their addictions, their depression, anger, their marriage … and goes on.
    CAVEAT:
    Now this doesn’t happen all at once.
    Just like it takes a little while to truly understand the Gospel.
    You must abide in the Words of Christ.
    Further, the more we abide in Christ the more ware freed from sin.
    The more we know the truth of Christ,
    the more we are set free.
    Jesus is giving us a summary statement of what happens to a Christian as they come to know the truth.
    John 8:32 ESV
    and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
    Do you live in the liberation of Christ?
    While Christians are never perfect,
    we do experience liberation from sin.
    And the more we abide in the Words of Jesus … the more we get to live the freedom Christ bought us.
    A True Christian Lives in the Liberation of Christ.
    CONCLUSION:
    So what is a true Christian?
    (1) True Christian Believes in Jesus’s Word’s.
    (2) True Christian is a Committed Follower, Abiding in the Words of Jesus. (A Disciple)
    (3) True Christian Knows the Truth of Jesus’s Words.
    (4) True Christian Lives in the Liberation of Jesus’s Words.
    From Jesus’s own words - may I summarize it this way:

    We must be commited, word-centered, transformed followers of Christ.

    That is what it means to be a Christian!
    EXHORTATION:
    I must confess, this passage does not come by accident.
    This week and next week will be the last time I will be able to preach to you.
    And in my last two sermons –
    I wanted to challenge you with passages that would be important as you look for a new pastor.
    Passages that will be important for the health of the church – until you do get a pastor.
    One is, look to Pastor Skaggs.
    He will love and teach you well.
    I believe John 8:30 - 32 gives some important teaching for the coming months.
    From this text, I challenge you with three important applications.
    > First, do not be dismayed when people who confessed Jesus, depart the faith.
    One commentator said, time is the acid test of Christianity.
    The sad reality in many churches the pastor leaves, so do many of the people.
    Sometimes they simply choose this time to look for a new church without the accountability of the a pastor.
    Sometimes it’s more than that.
    It becomes the final reason why people who have not believed Christ, stopped going to church.
    Other times it’s doubt that been festering in some reason and the absence of the pastor gives them the courage to act out on it.
    I warn you, don’t be dismayed by people who leave.
    Or people we’ve been trying to teach the gospel to, who stop coming.
    Jesus faced the same struggle and even taught that the true test of true Christianity is whether we Abide in His Words.
    Don’t let this discourage you.
    > Second, the goal of everyone of us must be to abide in the Words of Christ.
    I recognize that being without a pastor is hard, but you need to continually look to the words of Christ.
    It is easy to allow yourself to become distracted, or overtaken tby emptation, or simply to become apathetic to living out the example of Christ in your life.
    Remember you are to live and abide in the lifestyle that Jesus has given you,
    and in the absence of a pastor ..... the words of Jesus are going to keep you strong in the faith.
    >>>>> The very words of Jesus are what is going to help you abide in the Faith.
    > And Finally, this is the kind of followers of Christ we want to help each other grow to be.
    On the first Sunday and I am no longer here.
    Don’t shed tear for me. (Ok maybe a little)
    But , I want you to look around and see who needs help.
    Who needs encouragement.
    Who needs love.
    Who needs guidance.
    Who needs the words of Christ.
    Whether you want to call it the one another’s, discipleship, or simply coping without a pastor … help each other Abide in the Words of Christ.
    In a sense, we ought to do this every Sunday.
    Eph 4:11-12 teach that the work of ministry is primarily done by the body, and not the Pastor.
    But especially in the absence of a pastor, we need to be mindful that people need shepherding.
    So go out and help them abide in the Words of Christ.
    In love, notice who is not here.
    In love, encourage those who hurt.
    In love, help those who need the Gospel.
    Let me finish today with Jesus’s own teaching -
    John 8:31 ESV
    So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Questions for reflection at home:
    1) Recall a time when you observed someone leave the Gospel they confessed?
    2) In what way do people confess Christ, but fail to abide in his Words?
    3) How does abiding in the words of Christ set us free?
    4) What areas in your life do you need to abide better in?
      • John 8:30ESV

      • John 8:30–32ESV

      • John 8:31ESV

      • John 8:31ESV

      • John 8:32ESV

      • Romans 1:18ESV

      • Revelation 12:9ESV

      • John 18:38ESV

      • John 8:32ESV

      • John 8:33ESV

      • John 8:34–38ESV

      • Galatians 5:16–18ESV

      • John 8:32ESV

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