As he spake these words, many believed on him. 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 8:30-32
Even though the leaders of the Jews were present and attempting to suppress the truth, many in the crowd believed what Jesus was saying and doing. They believed He was the Messiah and the Son of God!
Jesus takes a break from His debate with the Pharisees to encourage these believers. He tells them that continued belief in Him will set them free from the bondage of improper law worship that they had been taught. What a wondrous blessing to know that the more we understand and believe in the finished work of Christ, the more liberty we will have in our lives to serve God and man out of love and not fear!
But Jesus’ declaration also says something that a lot of theologians miss or try to explain away. These people believed but they were not disciples!
The fact that they believed showed that they were born again.
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.John 5:24
Jesus declares that belief is an evidence, not a cause, of eternal life. Therefore, our shifting doubts and fears do not determine whether we gain or lose eternal life. If there is belief in a person, that is evidence that they are no longer dead in sin.
And their’s was not a “historical faith” or a temporary one. Jesus recognized their belief. That means that their belief was real! But in order to be a disciple, more was required —
They needed to continue in that belief and have it transform their lives.
The outward expression of belief varies from person to person. Yes, James does tell us that the clearest evidence of faith is good works (James 2:17) but this is a justification in the eyes of men and angels, not God. We can only judge by what we see. God judges the heart and intents.
Therefore, discipleship is not what justifies before God so that we may gain our eternal home. We are justified for all eternity by the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ. His righteousness is counted as ours.
For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.2nd Corinthians 5:21
So, why do we need to obey and follow Jesus? I mean, if our eternal home is secure because of what Jesus did then we don’t have to do anything, right?
It is correct that we cannot do anything to gain eternal life. This is comforting because it also proves that we cannot loseeternal life either! But this does not give us a license to sin.
We are commanded to follow. Therefore, we ought to follow. We have been given the ability to follow by the change made in us in the new birth. Therefore, we have the ability. Jesus did the impossible part. Therefore, we ought to be thankful. And…
It will set us free!
Too many sects of Christianity are judgmental toward God’s people and try to hold them to a standard that they themselves are not able to keep (Acts 15:10). Outward conformity to men’s standards will never justify us before a holy God.
Therefore, let us rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ. And how shall we rest? By sinning? No. By living a life of thankfulness because we are no longer dead in sin. We are dead to sin and alive for Christ!
Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 6:11