I am grateful for you taking the time to read my blog today and every other day you do so. I hope that you are blessed through my sharing as I am inspired by the Holy Spirit and that you will share this blog with someone else. Thank You!
BlogFam, a friend of mine recently began preaching a sermon series entitled, "Things Jesus Did Not Say." Now I was not able to attend his church during the sermon series but I definitely get the overall point. We tend to attribute a whole lot of cute sayings, song lyrics, and inspiring memes to Jesus that Jesus did not say as much as we are privileged to what Jesus said as recorded in the Gospels. I understand why we might do so. The words sound good or someone we highly respect who is "super" spiritual said them or maybe it was encouraging to us in the moment. We also attribute things to Jesus that Jesus did not say only because it is related to a tradition that was passed down to us or we have misinterpreted the scripture and shared it as the truth.
BlogFam, I have always been taught to read the Scripture for myself. Now, biblical interpretation takes time, prayer, study, research and even after all of our human efforts, we must humbly admit that we will never fully understand or fully grasp the depths of the Almighty God. Furthermore, if we are honest about the human frailty of those who wrote these ancient texts in specific situations and for very particular audiences, not to discount their divine inspiration, but all they knew was what they knew at the time they wrote. So, in the 21st century, we must continually ask how we are to interpret the words we call Holy today.
With all of that being said, I humbly approach every writing, teaching, and preaching moment because it is a weighty claim to communicate what "thus saith the Lord." I have found that there are a few foundational Scriptures that I consistently refer to as my personal guide for life and biblical interpretation. Perhaps you have the same for your own life. I wonder what they are for you. What are those tried and true spiritual principles gleaned from scripture that you rely on for your faith journey? It is critical that we all answer this question honestly before we start attributing things to Jesus that Jesus did not say AND so that we will be free.
Yes... so that we will be FREE. For we can ONLY really be free if the Son makes us free and THAT freedom comes from the truth of the words that Jesus did say. So our scripture for reflection today becomes one of those things that Jesus said that we must keep in mind as we go about this business of living as followers of Jesus Christ.
"Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, "You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teaching. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." [John 8:31-32]
BlogFam, how many times have you quoted the words after the then in the verses above? I have heard it and we have used it for all kinds of "truths" that are completely unrelated to our freedom in Christ, which is what Jesus is speaking of here. First of all, he is speaking to people who believe in Him. Let's start there. Do you believe in Jesus? Yes or No. Period. If you do not, in this context, the freedom that Jesus is referring to cannot be fully realized unless you already believe in Him.
Secondly, are you faithful to the teachings of Jesus? Yes or No. This question refers back to what I mentioned earlier. What are those tried and true spiritual principles gleaned from scripture that you rely on for your faith journey? In other words what are the words that Jesus did say as recorded in the Bible to which you are faithful? This second question also pushes us to reconsider the consistency of our own walk. We must be faithful. We tend to want every benefit of the Kingdom without being faithful to the King. Lord, help us to believe and to be more faithful...
Lastly, we must acknowledge the THEN. Friends, our freedom in Christ is conditional on the first two points - our belief and our faithfulness. If we do not believe AND if we are not faithful, we cannot be FREE. There is a freedom in Christ that goes beyond the freedom we frequently think of as it is tied to a government. THIS freedom, knows no bounds and is not governed or constrained by any earthly law. Freedom in Christ is the freedom from the bondage of sin. It is the freedom in your Spirit that releases you to live a life that is pleasing to God and thereby, leads to the freedom that all human beings deserve to experience in every way - socially, economically, emotionally, etc. If you believe in Jesus and if you are faithful, THEN you will know the truth and that truth that you learn as a believer who is also faithful, is what makes you FREE!
So, I will ask you again.
Do you believe in Jesus?
Are you faithful to the teachings of Jesus?
Have you experienced the kind of freedom in Christ that releases you to live a life that is pleasing to God because you believe and have been faithful?
I pray that your answer is YES to all of the above because I want YOU to be FREE!
And if you are struggling, waivering, unsure about any of your responses, I encourage you to talk to a friend, talk to your pastor, talk to another believer who can encourage you toward freedom.... IN JESUS NAME, we pray...
God LOVES You and I Do Too!
Blessings, Glory, and Sunshine!
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