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Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John 8:31-32

Jesus was in the temple on the Feast of Tabernacles teaching the people. He emphasized that He is the Light of the world—the world that is sunk in the darkness of ignorance and unbelief. Jesus is One who gives light to those in darkness. It is He who illuminates mankind with knowledge and faith and salvation.

When challenged by the Pharisees, Jesus responded that He had been sent of God the Father and speaks only what the Father had taught Him.

As He spoke these words, many believed on Him.

Jesus emphasized to those that believed on Him that only those who continue in His word are truly His disciples.

And these disciples shall know the truth, and the truth shall set them free.

A Blessed Word!

In teaching the people, Jesus had spoken many words during the course of His short earthly ministry.

And Jesus always emphasized that the word He brought was not His own word but the word of His heavenly Father. On this occasion also Jesus emphasized, “he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him…. I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things” (vv. 26-28).

Notice Jesus’ claim. It is the Father who sent Him. The Father is the triune God who fathered Jesus through the virgin birth, and who through that miraculous birth accomplished the greater miracle of sending the eternal Son into our flesh as Mediator. It is this Father who sent Him. And He was sent into the world to teach that which the Father had given Him. As the eternal Son, Jesus has perfect knowledge of the Father. And the Father sent Jesus into the world to enlighten the world concerning the Father—who He is, what His will for our lives is, and concerning our sins and the salvation He provides in Jesus Christ.

These words that Jesus taught are the contents of the Bible. We must not limit Jesus’ words to the red letter words in the gospel accounts that are direct quotes of Jesus. The whole Bible is the Word of God through His Son. It was the Son of God that raised up the prophets of the Old Testament to speak the Word of God, and then led them to make a written record of God’s Word by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As the Son of God in our flesh, Jesus continued to speak the Word of God personally during His ministry on earth. He completed the Word of God through the apostles, whom He led also to record these words infallibly by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

And the word that Jesus spoke from the Father is true.

Jesus emphasized this: “he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him…” (v. 26).

How important this is to understand and embrace!

God the Father is true.

That means that He is truly God. There have been many gods worshipped by mankind throughout history. None of them is truly God except the Father of Jesus, the God of the Bible. He is the one, only true God.

But that God the Father is true also means that He always speaks the truth. This cannot be said of all that speak. The Devil is the liar from the beginning ( John 8:44). Those under Satan’s control propagate his lies about the origins of the universe, about who God is and how He is to be served. But God always speaks the truth. Truthfulness is one of His virtues. And so He speaks only truth. This truth is recorded in the Bible.

This Word of God spoken through His Son is the only measure of truth. Truth is not determined by what is reasonable to us, what feels good to us or what the majority think is true. The Word of God the Father, spoken through His Son and recorded in the Bible, is the sole measure of truth.

And in these words of Jesus we have all we need to know for our salvation.

An important continuing!

“If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.”

To continue in Jesus’ word presupposes that you are already in His word.

You are “in the word” of Jesus when you hear the word of Jesus. In Jesus’ day that meant that you came to listen to His teachings, when He was in your area. Today it means that you become a student of the Bible and especially seek the preaching of Jesus’ word in the church. The preacher is a herald or ambassador of Jesus Christ, who speaks officially as the mouth of Jesus. When he expounds the Bible faithfully, you hear Jesus.

You are “in the word” of Jesus also when you accept that word as truth and believe it with all your heart.

And, finally, you are “in the word” of Jesus when believe on Jesus as Savior, relying upon Him for salvation and all things.

But we must not just be “in” Jesus’ word. We must also continue in that word. We must persevere in that word and never depart from it.

And one that continues in that word is Jesus’ disciple indeed. He is a true disciple.

A disciple is one who is a follower and student of some teacher. In Bible times there were many teachers who had their followers and students. Also today there are disciples of various teachers. Some are disciples of great theologians, such as Augustine, Calvin, Kuyper and Bavinck. Some are disciples of great men in the world of science or philosophy. Sad to say, many great leaders and teachers are false teachers who mislead their disciples.

Jesus is the great Teacher of truth, who leads His disciples into all the truth. Those who continue in His word are truly His disciples. Many who claimed to be Jesus’ disciples did not continue in His word, but rather abandoned it. This would be true of many who “believed” in Him on this very occasion. After Jesus told them that being the natural children of Abraham did not assure them a place in the kingdom of God, they took up stones to kill Him (v. 59). And consider the multitudes that “believed” on Him but finally rejected Him before Pilate.

Also today there are those that claim to be Jesus’ disciples but do not continue in His word. They studied the Bible; they heard the word of Jesus preached; they confessed their faith in Jesus Christ and even belonged to the church. They claimed to be Jesus’ disciples, and to all outward appearances they were. But they did not continue in Jesus’ word. For one reason or another they left the Word of God so that they no longer or seldom attend the preaching or study God’s Word. They drift away from the church. At best they are evasive about their faith in Jesus Christ. This departure may be temporary—or it may be permanent. Those who depart from Jesus’ word are not truly His disciples. Those who leave the word of Jesus temporarily certainly are not Jesus’ disciples during the time of their departure. Those who leave the word of Jesus permanently never were His disciples.

We must be warned to continue in Jesus’ word as Jesus’ true disciples. The Devil would have us abandon the word of Jesus. He uses many means. He uses persecution and opposition. He uses the pleasure of sin. He even uses the adversity that God sends into our lives to turn us away in anger from Jesus’ word.

We must be on our guard not to be led away from the word of Jesus, but to continue in it.

A blessed result!

Those who continue in Jesus’ word as true disciples shall know the truth.

This is the logical conclusion of all that Jesus has said. Jesus speaks only what the Father teaches Him. The Father is true and thus speaks only the truth through Jesus. And so, those who continue in Jesus’ word as true disciples shall know the truth.

And they shall not merely know the truth intellectually. They will also know it with the spiritual knowledge of faith. The word “know” that Jesus used here speaks of a knowledge based on experience. Jesus was speaking of a deep and profound spiritual knowledge of the truth. To know the truth is to know your sins, so that you are overwhelmed with godly sorrow. It means to know the salvation of God in Jesus Christ in such a way that you taste the forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice. You know the power of a new life in Jesus’ death and resurrection. You know the joy of living in the friendship of God.

And this (knowledge of the) truth shall set you free.

Many freedom seekers think only of political freedom, economic freedom, freedom from abuse or freedom from discrimination. And they may even attain these freedoms to one degree or another. But they are not truly free.

In verses 34-36 Jesus makes clear that He speaks of a higher freedom. He speaks of those who commit sin, that is, continue in sin. They are servants to sin, in bondage to sin. This is a terrible slavery in that it brings misery and ruin—even when there is political, racial, or economic freedom. Such we all are naturally. True freedom is freedom from the bondage of sin. It is deliverance from the penalty and control of sin. It is freedom to be right with God, to serve Him, live with Him, and enjoy Him forever.

The truth that Jesus’ true disciples come to know will give them this freedom. It will not necessarily give them political, racial, or economic freedom. But it will set them free from the terrible slavery of sin.

Let us seek that freedom by continuing in the word of Jesus.

Then we will be free indeed.