Ephesians 4:3-6; One Faith –the believer and the disciple, part 2.

Class Outline:

Wednesday March 31,2021

We never read anywhere of a faith in Christ that is not saving. Man postulates this; not God.


JOH 8:30-32

As He spoke these things, many came to believe in [eis] Him.


31 Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."


It is obvious that the individuals in vs. 30 are the same as those in vs. 31. But are they the same as those in vv. 33, 39, 41?


It is however claimed that the ones in vv. 30 and 31 are the speakers in vv. 33, 39, 41, and that in vs. 44 Jesus tells them they are of their father the devil.


This postulation misses the whole point of vv. 30-32 in the context of the entire passage.


As Jesus deals with doctrinal controversy with a large crowd (Pharisees, Jews, and “they”) in the Temple, He singles out believers for His statement -


JOH 8:13-59 is clearly a controversy section which has its setting in the Jewish Temple (8:20). Jesus’ hearers and opponents throughout the section are his general audience in the temple treasury. They are described as Pharisees (8:13), as Jews (8:22, 48, 52 and 57) and more simply as “they” (8:19, 25, 27, 33, 39, 41, 59). John does not expect us to construe the “they” of verse 33 any differently than we do the same word in verses 19, 25 and 27. He intends the larger audience. Verses 30-31 are about those who believe in Him out of that crowd. They are a kind of “aside” to the reader to explain the background and purpose of Jesus’ statement in verses 31b-32 about continuing in His Word.


"If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."


That statement applies to everyone in the crowd, but if it is a reality rather than a fancy delusion or unattainable aspiration, then how can it be done? How can a man become truly free?


Let’s note the entire discussion. Jesus stands in the Temple treasury (vs. 20; outer court) and begins:


JOH 8:12

Again therefore Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world; he who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life."


JOH 1:4

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.


They reply that His witness is not true. Jesus retorts that He and the Father bear witness of His truth.


Jesus then speaks of another matter, His ascension to heaven from where He came.


JOH 8:21

He said therefore again to them, "I go away, and you shall seek Me, and shall die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come."


And then He says something profound.


JOH 8:24

"I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins."


Their slavery is to sin, not to governments or other men.


How can any man free himself from slavery to sin? Jesus said, “Where I am going, you cannot come,” point being that no man can follow Him to heaven. Only He is qualified to do that.


It is slavery to sin that He is warning them against, not improving themselves in a way that might make them qualified to follow Him to heaven. He will make this clear as He continues to teach them.


They are all slaves to sin, but if the Son sets them free, they will be free indeed and themselves become sons of God. How will He set them free? The Son of Man will be lifted up (vs. 28) and they must believe that He is the Savior.


JOH 3:14-15

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life.”


As an aside, to those who did believe in Him, He warned them against slavery to sin and the world after salvation. In other words, you can be free but not live free.


And then, speaking to those who had believed in Him, He warns them further about slavery, just as the NT writers will do in many ways.


GAL 5:1

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.


GAL 5:13

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.


2PE 2:19

for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.


JAM 1:25

But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does.


Because we are believers, set free by the redemption from the death of Christ, it doesn’t mean that we will live free. We can be free and think we are slaves because, still have a sin nature, we can be deceived by others and ourselves. So then, He adds another truth for the believers.


JOH 8:31-32

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."


The reply from “they” is not necessarily from “those Jews who had believed Him,” for there are a number of unbelievers in the audience.


JOH 8:33-38

They answered Him, "We are Abraham's offspring, and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that You say, 'You shall become free'?" 34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. 35 "And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. 36 "If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. 37 "I know that you are Abraham's offspring; yet you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 "I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father."


It is inconceivable that the believers in the crowd were seeking to kill Him. He says, “Unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Then He says, “everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. And the slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.”


This passage is not difficult to discern if we accept it simply, literally, and in light of the entire Gospel of John where “believe on Him,” is directly stated and simply stated 21 times, and is implied many more times. Further, at the end of the book, John tells us that it was the purpose for his writing to book.


JOH 20:30-31

Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.


Getting back to His message to the believers in the crowd about abiding in His word and so being a disciple who is free:


It is because of His salvation of those who believe upon Him and their calling that makes the words “abide in My word and be a disciple who is free,” a reality for mankind rather than a meaningless wish, like so many other unattainable vision statements.


This is a very real condition that will produce disciples, who themselves will really be like the God/Man. This is the only real dream for mankind that isn’t an illusion or a pipe dream. It is the reality of a life exceeding, abundantly, beyond all that we could ask or think.


A disciple was a pupil or learner and was under the guidance of a teacher. In their time, very often this was not in a university with classrooms and so it was not unusual for a disciple follow a travelling teacher. Being a student of such a teacher, a student would have to leave home. Since this was true, it wasn’t odd for a home-sick student to leave his teacher and to return home. So then, a follower of Christ is to be devoted to Him above family and even self - discipleship is conditional.


In contrast, being born again is only ever conditioned on faith in Christ as Savior.


JOH 8:31-32

Jesus therefore was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, "If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free."


Jesus says to His believers, “abide in My word,” same word used by Him of the branches in the vine who abide in Him by keeping His commands and they produce much fruit and experience answered prayer.


The beautiful truth is that through faith in Christ one finds freedom from the penalty of sin. Yet, the one so freed is to remain in his fallen body and in the fallen world ruled by the devil. Being free from all, he must learn to live free in the midst of opposition and temptation, and that demands abiding in God’s word and believing its commands and promises throughout the rest of his sojourn as an alien in this world.


Peter makes the distinction between salvation from sin/death through Christ and living as a disciple.


1PE 1:1-2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, that you may obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.


Chosen by the foreknowledge of the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, so that you may obey the Son.


1PE 1:13-21

Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; 16 because it is written, "You shall be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.


The conditions for eternal life are everywhere a result of faith. But discipleship depends upon the believer’s continuance in the Word of Christ. This is plain enough and should occasion no confusion at all.


If any believer should begin to doubt the reality of their personal salvation and their fundamental relationship to God, they will be more easily enticed to the self-seeking lifestyle of the world around them.


This is true even in human relationships. If a child didn’t know if his father was his real father or didn’t know if his father would leave him or not, just that thought in the child’s mind would destroy any true fidelity to his father. If a wife doesn’t know that her husband is with her until “death do you part,” then she will hold back some of her own devotion. If rumor was circulating throughout the company you worked for that you were likely to be laid off, how committed could your work be? Unchangeable commitment is the only thought that can make a person loyal. God thoroughly and repeatedly communicates this to us.


Also, if the believer does not understand that being saved involves a call to holiness and conformity to the life of Christ, he will be more enticed to a lascivious lifestyle.


As commitment only breeds loyalty, so the demand for holiness breeds holiness. If a company instructs management to allow their employees to do as they please, they most likely will and not do what they should. This is true of any authority. However, with a company the employee could be fired; a marriage may end in divorce. Yet with God, no matter how badly we mess up, God will not divorce us or abandon us if we are believers in Christ, and at the same time, God passionately demands that we live holy.


Knowing the truth of all aspects of God’s plan and putting our faith in them is the only sure way of avoiding the traps of carnality.


We must know that we are truly saved and have eternal life.