John of AllFaith's Biblical Questions Biblical Answers Walking With The Master The Absolute Truth of Jesus A Study by Pastor John © July 2000 (revised 8-8-2006) This is the second part of Walking With The Master. In this series, we will be looking at ways to draw closer to Jesus and to know God’s will for our lives. Go to part One The Absolute Otherness of Jesus. Please turn in your Bibles to John 8:31-36: 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. 33 They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. 35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. 36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. There's a direct correlation between our conception of the truth, and how we live our lives. When we understand the Absolute Truth of Christ, it will change our lives! This verse teaches us that the truth will set us free. Now, that being the case, it stands to reason that without the truth we are not free, else how are we to be made free? We spoke last time about the Absolute Otherness of Christ, about how without Christ in our lives we are absolutely separate from God and about how we can never attain to his righteousness nor identity. People describe Hell in many different ways. To some it's a place where demons ceaselessly torture the unrepentant, chasing them around an inferno as Dante' so vividly described. To others Hell is complete and torturous isolation, being utterly alone, abandoned and forgotten! Maybe to city folks Hell is more likely being trapped with masses of people, unable to move or breathe due to the press of the crowds. However, regardless of the mental images invoked when you ponder that place of unspeakable sorrow and horror, at its heart, Hell is the absolute absence of God. What additional tortures could make this grim state of existence any worse than that? There is an absolute otherness to God that is bridged by His love for us: His amazing grace. Hell exists when that bridge is severed and one is cut off from God. Scripture tells us at James 1:16-18 that God is love and that whatever is of love, is of God. In the Absolute Absence of God therefore there is no love. No human kindness, no friendly touch, no concern for another's well-being. In Hell, there is no art, no literature, and no music. There is no debate over issues of morality because morality, justice, compassion and all such concepts and virtues are utterly absent. There is merely alonement. Those in Hell are imprisoned and their judges and jailers have absolutely no concern for them. During the Nuremberg trials one of the Jewish US officers defined evil as the absence of empathy. In Hell, no one is empathetic or sympathetic. Hell is the Absolute narcissistic absence of empathy. My friends, Hell exists on many levels and planes of being. For many, life here and now seems like a reflection of Hell. And yet while we live God is never completely absent, however for a great many people it seems nearly true. They are alone and without God in their lives. Jesus said that "knowing" the truth would set us free, praise God! Would you like to KNOW the Truth and be set us free! What do we mean by the verb "to know?" The Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "to have in one's mind or memory as a result of experience or learning or information, to feel certain, to recognize, to understand." The biblical meaning is a bit more informative. The English language is in many ways a great tongue. It is by and large the lingua franca of the world (the language used by peoples of different cultures and languages to communicate). However, it, as all languages, has its limitations. This is especially true in terms of spirituality. English is a highly utilitarian language. It works well for mundane conversations, business and information sharing, but it lacks the depth of languages like Hebrew, Sanskrit and Greek for more philosophical and abstract concepts. That's why so many Bible students feel the need to use good study aids like Strong's Greek and Hebrew Dictionary, Spiros Zodhiates' Key Study Bible, the Amplified Bible or more scholarly works. Here's a case point. In English "to know" simply means to have 'head knowledge' of a given thing. We "know" from scripture however that head knowledge is insufficient. We read in James, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." Knowing there is one God is not enough. A person dying of dehydration may know that water will avert death, but unless that person drinks, she or he will still die, though pristine rivers flow nearby! In the book "Stranger in a Strange Land" Robert Heinlein introduced the word "grok" as a way to expand our intellectual conception of this idea of knowing. To be free we must 'grok' the truth. We must grok God. You can 'know' the Gospel Truth and still not be set free! Intellectual consent is not enough. So then, to what does "to know," as used in the Bible, refer? To "know," "ginöskö" (ghin-océ-ko), is a very rich word which in this case carries the idea of making a resolve based upon the thing that is 'known'. James says that even the demons "know" the truth but it's not enough. Our scriptural reading tells us that as followers of Jesus we will know the truth and the truth will set us free, but as always context is vital: John 8: 31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. If you continue in my "word," my teachings, my Way... "If you CONTINUE to follow Me," THEN you are my disciples mathetes or "learners." "If you continue to follow Me, THEN you are really going be learning from me and THEN..." This word "then" is so important here! If you continue to follow me and learn my Ways THEN you will resolve in your hearts to "know" the truth, and THEN the truth will set you free!" Following Jesus changes a person! Has it changed you? We aren't talking about salvation; we're talking about discipleship, about following Jesus no matter where he leads because we accept that he is our Master. Only if we are following Jesus are we his disciples (under his discipline) and if we are, our lives will be different. The word "Christian" is a fine word, but it has largely lost its meaning. We want to be followers of Jesus, Amen? Then we can "grok" the Truth of Jesus! Now, maybe your thinking, "But... that sounds like a lot of work!" Guess what, it is! Followers of Jesus must daily take up their crosses and keep following him. We say and we teach that "For by grace are we saved, through faith and that faith is not of ourselves, [even it's] the gift of God, not of works lest anyone could boast." We believe that! This is not about being saved! It's about being a follower of Jesus, being a disciple and being set free indeed. There are lots of ineffectual saved people living in prisons, but Jesus is willing to set us free IF we follow. Friends, salvation is where this life begins, not where it ends! There's a lot of Christians out there who are not free! Sure, their sins are under the blood. But their lives don't demonstrate freedom. So many are still living trapped in various prisons! Some live imprisoned to drugs or alcohol. Some are imprisoned by self-loathing and feelings of inferiority and despair. Others are enslaved by prejudice and fear. Some sisters and brothers are enslaved by sexual compulsions. And some, no one in this room of course, but some are the prisoners of religion and the doctrines of fallible humans. There are so many prisons! But Jesus came to set us free! When we are in these prisons, we are not experiencing the fullness of Christ's presence in our lives. But this ought not to be the case! Jesus said we could know the truth and it would set us free from our various prisons! And it will! Amen? Yes indeed, the truth will set us free! But it's not automatic! Paul warns us that the 'letter of the Law' brings death whereas the 'spirit of the Law brings life'. Now, I believe that we need to learn of Christ! We need to study the Bible daily, memorize it, make it part of our very being! But that's not enough! Not if we would be truly free. Jesus said, "I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly." Do you want that abundant life? Do you want to be free from your prisons? Then really grok John 8: 31, 32. "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. IF we CONTINUE in Jesus' Word or teachings THEN are we his LEARNERS, then are we placed under his discipline and THEN we will resolve ourselves to knowing or groking the truth and THEN the truth will set us free. This is what is meant by working our salvation with fear and trembling. We are saved, now we work that gift, we exercise it as servant who need not be ashamed. The pursuit of intellectual knowledge for its own sake is not what Jesus wants. Each of us is called to be disciples, to place ourselves under the discipline of Christ. The more completely we accept the headship of Christ in our lives, the more completely our lives conform to the model Jesus has set before us AND the freer we become. We must not only ask ourselves the question, "What would Jesus do?" We must resolve in our hearts and our minds to DO what Jesus would do, as best we can! Scripture says we must be 'DOERS of the Word and not hearers only'. Turn with me if you would to James 1:22-25 22 But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. 23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: 24 For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. 25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. 1 Corinthians 13:8-13: 8 Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 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Walking With The Master
The Absolute Truth of Jesus
A Study by Pastor John © July 2000 (revised 8-8-2006)