(31-32) So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in 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.”
If you abide in My Word … What is Jesus getting at? Is He telling His disciples that they must be loyal adherents of the doctrines of Scripture? Is He telling them to make frequent use of the Holy Scriptures? Is He telling them to live out there lives here on earth according to the Scriptures? … Yes!
He is telling them to do precisely what Michael will promise to do in just a few short minutes when he confirms his baptismal promises. To confess the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church, to faithfully and regularly hear the Word of God, and to live according to that Word – suffering all, even death, rather than fall away from any of it! It is a promise that every one of you made when you became members of this church. A promise to abide in His Word. It is a promise not to be taken lightly, on the day it is made or any of the many days after. For this Word in which we promise to abide is a Word that brooks no compromise.
There can be no mixing of His Word and our words. God’s Word and the World’s words. The teachings of God and the teachings of men. To abide in His Word is to reject all other words. Abiding is an on-going ALWAYS-going process. There is no point when you have been in the Scriptures enough and may safely step back. We are to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest this Holy Word every single day.
Why? Because words go through the ear and straight to the heart. Words can change people for good or ill. The words of this world will not stop for even a single day. And with their words come worldly values and morals, and philosophies and understandings. Evolution, Tolerance, Relativism, Proof, Blame … these are all very powerful words that are misused to tear people away from God’s Truth in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(33-35) 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’?” Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever;
The words of the Jews were full of false hope and misguided self-worth. They simply weren’t true. And so are many of our own words, and our own vows. They are misguided and full of false hopes. I will get to it eventually. I really mean to someday. It is really important to me … just not right now. These words may hold you over for a while, but they are empty words that fall short of everything God wants for us. In the end there is no place for these words in the family of God. There is no righteousness in these words. There is no merit or worthiness spoken in them.
(Romans 3:21-25) But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it– the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.
Among all gifts the gift of the Word of God is the most valuable. For if you take this away, it is like taking away the sun from the earth … For only the Word keeps a joyful conscience, a gracious God, and all of religion, since out of the Word as from a spring flows our entire religion … Therefore though there are many great gifts of God in the world, given for the benefit of man, yet the one gift which includes and sustains all the others is the Word, which proclaims that God is merciful and promises forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. Could this life still be considered life if we had to dispense with these blessings?1
The content of this precious and holy Word is the truth. The truth of a righteousness that comes from God alone, through Christ alone, granted to us by faith alone, as worked by God’s Word alone. It is the truth of sins paid for in the precious blood of the Son of God.
And the result of this Word is Freedom. Freedom from petty, lying words that seek to enslave and ensnare, confuse and entrench. Freedom from sin death and the devil. Freedom not to do whatever we want, but freedom to do what we ought to do, and to want to do it! Freedom to be servants of Christ, and His Holy Gospel.
(31,32,36) If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free … if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Michael and all dear Friends in Christ, you have heard God’s Word of Truth, and it has bespoken you righteous. Abide in His Word always. Treasure this Word every day. Study, pray, speak, and sing God’s Word as you vowed you would. Not because you have to, but because in Christ you are free to. In this Word, and in no other, you are truly free indeed.
1Plass, Ewald. What Luther Says. 1994, St. Lous, CPH #4733.