Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed;…
Faith cometh by hearing (ver. 30). It is in connection with the word of truth that the Holy Spirit works in us.
I. THE RECEPTION OF CHRIST'S WORD BEGINS DISCIPLESHIP. There may be alarm, disquietude, inquiry, before this, but these are not discipleship. They are but inquiries after a school and a teacher which will meet the wants, capacities, and longings. All men are saying, "Who will show us any good?" Discipleship begins, not with doing some great thing, but with receiving Christ's word as the scholar receives the master's teaching. What does He teach?
1. The Father.
2. Himself. From the moment that we accept this we become disciples — taught not of man, but of God.
II. CONTINUANCE IN THAT WORD IS THE TEST OF TRUE DISCIPLESHIP. This is not continuance in general adherence to His cause; but continuance in the word by which we become disciples. As it is by holding the beginning of our confidence that we are made partakers of Christ, so by continuing in the word we make good the genuineness of our discipleship. "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" — in that word is everything we need.
1. It is an expansive word: ever widening its dimensions; growing upon us; never old, ever new; in which we make continual discoveries; the same tree, but ever putting forth new branches and leaves; the same river, but ever swelling and widening — loosing none of its old water, yet ever receiving accessions.
2. It is a quickening word: maintaining old life, yet producing new — "Thy word Lord hath quickened me."
3. It is a strengthening word: nerving and invigorating us; lifting us when bowed down; imparting health, courage, resolution, persistency.
4. It is a sanctifying word: it detects the evil and purges it away, pouring holiness into the soul. Let us continue in this word; not weary of it, not losing relish for it.
III. KNOWLEDGE OF THE TRUTH IS THE RESULT OF DISCIPLESHIP. All that enter Christ's school are taught of God. Consequently they know the truth; not a truth or part of it, but the truth — not error — Him who is the Truth. They shall know it; not guess at it, speculate on it, get a glimpse of it; but make choice of it, realize it, appreciate it. Blessed promise in a day of doubt and error!
IV. THIS TRUTH IS LIBERTY. All truth is, so far, liberty, and all error bondage; some truth is greater liberty, some error greater bondage. Bondage, with many, is simply associated with tyranny, bad government, evil or ecclesiastical despotism. Christ's words go deeper, to the root of the evil. The real chains, prison, bondage are within — so true liberty. It springs from what a man knows of God and of his Christ. Seldom do men realize this. Error, bondage! How can that be if the error be the man's own voluntary doing — the result of his intellectual effort? But the Master is very explicit. The truth shall make you free. There is no other freedom worthy of the name. "He is a free man whom the truth makes free; and all are slaves besides."
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;