Rev. Dick is pastor of Grace Protestant Reformed Church in Standale, Michigan.
Certainly the key verse in this passage is verse 32. There Jesus says: “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
What wonderful gospel here! Truth! Yes, there is truth! No, everything is not relative. No, all is not chaos. There is truth! Besides, it can be known!
Besides, this truth does something. And that something is very wonderful! The truth, and only the truth, and nothing but the truth makes us free!
1. When Jesus speaks of the truth making one free, He is speaking of Himself making one free. Prove this from the passage in John 8:30- 36. Show from other Scriptures that Jesus is the truth.
2. The question is: what does Scripture mean by calling Jesus the truth? Just what is truth (cf. passages such as Deut. 32:4; Ps. 31:5; 51:6; 117:2; 119:42; Prov. 8:7; Jer. 9:2b-6; John 1:14; 14:6ff.; Rom. 3:3, 4, 7; 15:8, 9; I Tim. 3:15)?
3. Show from Scripture how truth is revealed in creation, inspiration, incarnation, proclamation, and through the indwelling of the Spirit of truth. Which revelation of truth “sets free,” that is, saves? When Jesus says the truth shall make you free, what is He saying about who is the Author of salvation, and how He saves? Show other passages which teach the same things (for example, Jonah 2:9b; Rom. 10:14, 15; Eph. 2:8).
4. Jesus Christ is the truth. Comment, in this connection, on what is called the Judeo-Christian ethic. What does Jesus’ being exclusively the truth say of our involvement in non-Christian organizations which aim to promote what is said to be the common goals and values of all people?
5. We have asked, “What is truth?” Pilate asked the same question (John 18:38). Would he have known truth had He been staring him in the face?! Why or why not? In this connection ponder the following questions: Does mere exposure to the truth imply that the truth is revealed to all who are exposed to it? How do Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:25, 26 bear upon Pilate’s blindness?
1.In verse 30 it is said that many believed on Jesus. Was this true faith (cf. the context)? How is it possible for one to believe on Jesus and yet not be saved (cf. 2:23; 7:31; 12:42; Matt. 13:1-23; Heb. 6:1-6; James 2:19)?
2.Jesus describes both the character and the fruit of true faith in verses 31, 32. True faith involves “continuing” in Jesus’ word; it is that ‘which makes for true disciples (disciples indeed!); it is characterized by and yields the fruit of a certain “knowledge” of the truth. Comment on these things in light of passages such as Matthew 16:24- 26 and John 15.
3.What, according to John 8:33, did the Jews believe was their “ticket” to salvation? What are we sometimes tempted to trust in instead of Jesus Christ? Is it possible to trust in faith itself and not in the Lord? How? And why would that be wrong?
1.When Jesus speaks in John 8:32 of the truth making one free, He is speaking of the great blessing of freedom from the slavery of sin. This is being free indeed (v. 36)! That truth’s freedom is freedom from sin’s slavery is clear from the context (v. 34), in which Jesus speaks of those who commit sin (that is, those who live in sin, those who are “accustomed to do evil”) as being servants or slaves of sin. Show from Scripture that the fallen sinner is a slave to sin. What does the reality of sin make of the idea of “free will,” as it is held by many so-called evangelicals? Those who commit sin can, for a while, and as the Jews were, be “in the house” of God (v. 35). What is the reason for their not abiding for ever?
2.Of what does our Christian liberty consist? Is it possible for us believers to become enslaved to sin? If this happens, how do we get out? How is the freedom of the Christian enjoyed through knowing the truth (v. 32)?
3.Think on how people can become enslaved to other things besides sin itself such as: circumstances, a church tradition, drugs, other earthly things, our past, the future, peers, enemies. How does the truth liberate us from all these things?
4.Many are the wrong notions of liberty. The Jews in Jesus’ day, for example, claimed they “were never in bondage to any man” (v. 33). What was the Jewish idea of liberty? Americans love their liberty. But is the “American idea” of liberty, and setting people free, biblical? Comment, in this connection, on the American Civil Liberties Union; the statue of liberty; “Give me liberty or give me death”; the Boston Tea Party; the Emancipation Proclamation; the inalienable right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; “liberty and justice for all.”
5.Jesus speaks in verse 35 of the ground of anyone’s true liberty. He Himself is the ground! This is because He is, as He says, the Son who abides forever. He is the eternal and natural Son of God (LD 13). And as this Son of God, Jesus, as the commentator D.A. Carson notes, “not only enjoys inalienable rights as unique son of God, but exercises full authority vested in Him by the Father (John 3:35) to liberate slaves!”
6.God’s people: free forever in and through Jesus Christ! And loving it! Give me that truth, and give me that liberty . . . or give me death!