walk in the word
Reassurance of Faith
In last week’s devotional I laid out the question, “Are You Sure?” I was talking about being saved. Are you absolutely sure you’re saved? I pointed out that not everyone who says they’re a Christian actually is one.
In response, you ask, “So, how can I know for sure?” Good question. The first characteristic of a genuine disciple is found in John 8:31, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.’” Or to put it another way, “You demonstrate that you are truly My disciples when you abide in My words.” In short, genuine disciples abide in Jesus’ words.
But, you ask again, “What does it mean to abide in the words of Jesus?” Well simply put, it means to remain or continue or persevere. While salvation and conversion happen at a moment in time, their legitimacy is demonstrated over a period of time.
Let me illustrate this truth. Suppose I gather together five people with a very serious virus. I tell them that the way to have their virus healed is to believe that George Washington was the greatest person who ever lived. Of course, all five would quickly say, “I believe that.” Now, it’s easy for them to declare their belief, but how do we know whether or not they truly believe? Obviously, the real test is whether or not they are healed of the virus! Suppose that four of the five individuals do believe that George Washington was the greatest person who ever lived, but one holds out that Thomas Jefferson was the greatest. He claims to believe that it’s George Washington, but really he doesn’t. Over time, the truth will become very clear because we will see him die of the virus. The four others will be healed, but he won’t. Now translate that into what it means to be a Christian. Many people say, “I believe in Jesus,” and it is difficult to contradict them because they seem sincere. But over time, you’ll see if they truly believe by what happens on the inside.
Abiding in Jesus’ words means abiding in what has been revealed about Him in Scripture. He is not just a good moral teacher. He is God. He died in our place to pay for our sin. He is our only hope of salvation. And most importantly as it relates to this, He is Lord.
Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” There are those who want Jesus as their Savior, but not as their Lord. As I interact with such people, I find that when I bring the teachings of Jesus to bear on their lives, they don’t want to hear it. They say, “Keep that off of me!” I might press them with, “Do you know what you really need to do? Here’s what Jesus taught about what it means to be married. Here’s what you need to do in your relationship with your wife.” They don’t want to know. But I say, “Wait! Didn’t you receive Jesus as Lord? Isn’t He the ruler of your life? Shouldn’t you do what He wants you to do if He really is your Lord?” They respond, “But I don’t want it. Get it away from me!” If that describes you, you’re not a genuine disciple. You’re not a true believer, not a real follower of Jesus Christ.
Genuine disciples abide in the words of Jesus. They live in complete submission to what He has revealed about Himself. He is the Lord.
You may be asking, “How will I know if I’m abiding? I’m finding myself a little bit in between on that. In all honesty, I struggle with the lordship of Christ.” Don’t miss Jesus’ words to those who believed in Him in John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” Here’s the test of abiding. Abiding leads to freedom. Genuine disciples experience freedom.
You may ask, “Am I abiding in the words of Jesus? Am I submitting to Him as my Lord and living in obedience to Him?” I really can’t answer those questions for you, but I can tell you this: If you are abiding, you are becoming free.
Remaining in the truth revealed about Jesus leads to freedom. Notice that Jesus said, “And you shall know the truth . . . .” The word know here refers to an experiential knowledge. You will know firsthand, not like facts read in a book. You will know the truth personally and intimately. Your heart will resonate with the truth about Jesus. You know it! It’s like the difference between a person who has watched a video on skydiving and a person who has actually done it. You know Jesus firsthand, personally, experientially – not just facts, not just a head full of information. Hell will be filled with seminary professors because it’s not about knowing stuff. It’s about a personal experience with Christ. Jesus said, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
You may ask, “Free from what? What kind of freedom do genuine disciples experience?” First, true believers have freedom from the power of sin. Sin is a powerful thing. Our inclination to do wrong is very strong. In and of yourself, you cannot overcome your tendency to do wrong. You can’t. Some who read this booklet will not be genuine disciples. If you are one of these, you are trying by the power of your own will to do what’s right. You can’t. Neither can I. You can only do right because of the power of Christ in your life. If He is setting you free, He is setting you free from the power of sin. You can now do what is right.
Second, genuine disciples are being set free from the pain of sin —its hurtful, destructive consequences. Sin is a painful thing, and doing wrong is a painful thing. You are being freed from that pain. You are gaining freedom from the power — I don’t have to sin anymore — andfrom the pain — I don’t have to hurt anymore.
Friend, the truth shall make you free. Certainly, genuine Christians do sin. They do struggle. But they persevere, and they see as the pattern of their lives an increasing growth in godliness. It’s an ongoing process. Here’s a little tip:
IF . . .
. . . your heart for God is the same as it was two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago;
. . . you’re not more in love with Him;
. . . you’re not a better husband or a better wife;
. . . you’re not a more honest business person;
. . . you’re not growing;
. . . you’re not changing;
THEN you may not be a Christian, because He’s not in the process of setting you free.
Jesus said it. “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” This is no game. We’re discussing your eternal destiny. Will you go to a real place called heaven, or will you go to a real place called hell? Are you a genuine follower of Christ?
You can be a follower of Christ today by repenting of your sins and living according to what God teaches us in His Word. Start abiding in Christ today.
brought to you by change partners