Summary: Next in series on John, examines the difference between believing in Jesus and being a believer in Jesus. It looks at what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ.
John 8 (3b)
A True Disciple
- Read John 8:31-47, 59
I stand before you today, upset, because of what I have to share with you; but also grateful to a merciful God Who allows me to do so.
Did you notice how verse 31 began? “Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in Him.” Now notice how the chapter ends in verse 59, “And they picked up stones to throw at Him.”
Evidently, their professions, their claims that they believed in Him, the fact that they were attracted to Him, meant nothing in the long run.
We don’t know why they “believed in Him.” They may have liked His teachings. There are many non-believers today who like that stuff about, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, or, “Judge not lest you be judged”. A lot of people in the world like those ideas.
They may have “believed in Him”, because of the miracles they saw Him perform, or the ones they had heard about at least.
They may have believed in Him because of the way He treated women and the under appreciated. He was known as a friend of sinners, and the fact that He treated the outcasts, the losers in life’s lottery, well, may have attracted them.
I read an article recently, where 2 atheists said that without Christianity there would be no western civilization. They are not Christ-followers, but they like what Christianity did to give women rights, to provide upward mobility, to value life, to build the family, and society. These folks may have “believed in Jesus” for some of those societal reasons.
They may have “believed in Him”, because He fed them, or entertained them, or got their minds off of the their day-to-day struggle to survive. They may have “believed” in Him, because He gave them hope. They heard in His words some ideas that God loved them and wanted the best for them. I don’t know why they, “Believed in Him”, but the fact is, their temporary, surface-only belief amounted to nothing. It changed nothing. In the end they wanted to stone Him.
Sadly, and why I am both grieved and grateful to be able to share this message today, is that there are people today just like these folks, perhaps, some of you.
People who like some idea about God, or they like some of the things about Jesus, or religion, or God, but who have never been changed by what they claim to believe; people who are like some Jesus encountered earlier, who wanted to crown Him king one minute, but who, after hearing the requirements to being one of His followers cried, “This is hard, who can do it”?
This section is written to people who believe and yet, do not believe. Clearly they were inclined to think that what Jesus said was true, but they were not prepared to yield to Him their long-lasting, totally encompassing allegiance that real trust in Him implies.
This is a very dangerous spiritual state. To recognize that truth is in Jesus and to do nothing about it means that in effect one aligns oneself with the enemies of the Lord.
In chapter 6, many of those who excitedly wanted to crown Jesus king, soon withdrew and were not with Him anymore. John 12:12 records the encouraging news that many “even of the rulers believed in Him. because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue (Romans 10:9-10).
In the parable of the sower, Jesus described “those on the rocky soil”, as “those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in the time of temptation, fall away (LK 8:13).
This week, Lonnie invited a man and his family to church. In response, the man, who is spending the weekend in the gulf said, “You only live once and I want to enjoy myself.”
How dangerous it is to recognize Jesus as the Savior, to recognize what He says is true, and then to do nothing to follow up on that knowledge.
In verse 31, a verse I had never completely recognized the importance of until studying on it for several weeks, I believe we have recorded 4 important characteristics of a true disciple, a true follower of Jesus Christ.
1. Discipleship begins with belief. The beginning of discipleship is the moment when a man accepts what Jesus says is true. When a woman accepts what Jesus says about sin, death, punishment, salvation, and says, “Yes, I believe that.”
Saving faith has 3 elements:
1) knowledge of the facts. The facts are these.
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Our eternal, all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing God, created everything out of nothing.