Summary: We can only enjoy freedom when we experience God’s Word.
For two weeks now, Deacons Jun Go and Alex Chun are going through a Freshmen Integration Training in preparation for their upcoming masters in the Int’l Graduate School of Leadership. Though I am not really a freshman, I have to join that immersion experience. One of its highlights was a cultural awareness session. Since we have more than 10 countries in our batch, we have to give them a crash course about Filipino culture. For example, we taught them how we gesture to communicate [demonstrate some examples like asking for the bill and raising our eyebrows to say ‘Yes.’]. I also volunteered to demonstrate how to eat our world famous, fear factor comfort food, “balut.” And we did not even talk about the “tabo” and other unique things about Filipinos. If we are in a foreign country, we know we are in a Filipino home when we see those things.
Now, we claim to be followers of the Lord. How can we tell if a person is a follower or not? Open your Bibles to John 8:31-32. “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.’” Let us pray…
We are now looking in the “V” part of our series on the “7 Habits of Highly Effective Servant-Leaders.” A servant-leader… “Values the Word”. How do we value the message that God sent, that is, His Word? We already saw that we can only ENJOY freedom when we EXPERIENCE God’s Word. Now, in our first point, we discussed that obeying God’s Word REQUIRES our entire being. Our Lord Jesus gave us this condition: “If you hold to my teaching…” Circle the word “hold”. To hold to His teaching is to follow it continually. Holding to the Lord’s teaching require our mind, our heart and our will. With our mind, we agree with the Word. With our heart, we accept it. With our will, we act upon it. We need the mind, the heart and the will to continually obey the Word of God.
Verses 31-32 are actually one sentence. It goes like this in the NET Bible, “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In the Greek, this conditional sentence shows a logical connection. When we hold to the teaching of the Lord, two things will happen as a logical result. First, “you are really my disciples.” Second, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Let us look at the first result. “If you continue to follow my teaching, you are really my disciples”. Obeying God’s Word REVEALS who we really are. The word “disciple” means “follower.” So, obeying God’s Word reveals that we are really His followers.
The Gospel of John gave us three marks of a follower of the Lord. That’s where we got our mission statement. “Glorify God By Multiplying Biblical, Committed and Loving Followers of Jesus Christ.” The first mark is in John 8:31. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” This is the “Biblical” part in our mission statement. Then, the second mark is in John 13:35. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” This is the “loving” part in our mission statement. And the third mark is in John 15:16. “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” This is the “committed” part in our mission statement. That’s the kind of followers we want to multiply. We want to multiply Biblical, committed and loving followers of the Lord.
It will be a contradiction if we claim to be followers of the Lord and not follow Him at all. In Luke 6:46, Jesus said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Thus, the Lord had set this benchmark. “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.” When we obey, we prove that we are truly His followers. Note that He said these words to people “who had believed him”. That if they truly believe the Lord, they will follow Him. The call to faith in the Lord is also the call to follow Him. Believers are called to become followers also.
In the M-G-C… the Master’s Great Commission… we are commanded to “make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” Note that it did not merely say “teaching them… everything I have commanded you.” If that’s how to fulfill the Master’s Great Commission, we would have fulfilled it a long time ago. We can just teach you and you can just take notes. Then, you are now followers. Mission accomplished! But it actually says “teaching… to obey”. Now, that’s entirely different! It is not enough that we teach you. We should teach you to obey.