Bible Passage: John 8:31-54
I have read this portion of scripture many many times. When I was studying for our lesson, I decided to use one of my Bible program’s features called the propositional outline which organizes the scripture into what the truth of the scripture is followed by the explanation.
When I did that something appeared that I never really saw before.
Jesus makes several conditional statements throughout this whole narrative that concern both our spiritual health and growth.
Let me unwrap that a little-cause and eﬀect
A conditional statement is one that puts forth a cause and then an aﬀect. For example if you choose to walk in the rain then you will get wet.
Another example if you choose to eat really spicy foreign food then you may get an upset stomach and become very acquainted with the inside of your bathroom.
The bible calls this the Law of Sowing and Reaping. The Apostle Paul teaches us this principle in- (emphasis slowly)
Gal 6: 7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.
but just in case you have never gardened nor lived on a farm, what this principle is saying here is that if you plant a mustard seed than you will get a mustard plant.
If you plant a tomato vine tomatoes will be the product of that vine. Conversely, you can’t get a cucumber if you are planting beans.
Nor can you get corn if you are planting potatoes. You will gain a harvest by whatever you plant.
What is true in the physical realm when it comes to gardening and farming is also true in the spiritual realm.
And that is what Jesus is showing us in this section of scripture.
By repeating the word “if” several times in this part of John’s gospel Jesus is also talking about the things that we do or that we don’t do that aﬀect our spiritual health and growth.
You can spot these spiritual truths in this section of scripture by looking for the word “IF”
These are 6 choices that we all make that will either help us to grow in God or inhibit the moving of the Holy Spirit within our lives and limit God’s ability to bless us, grow us, and use us in his Kingdom. These 6 If’s will also determine what reward we get when we stand before
Jesus someday to give an account for our lives here on earth and what we did with HIS salvation.
So let’s begin by looking at the first IF of spiritual growth
1st “IF” – DISCIPLESHIP
John 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
The first IF of spiritual choice is discipleship.
In the church, we throw around words like Disciple or discipleship or being a follower of Jesus but I really think most of us have lost what actually being a disciple means.
Take a moment and consider the first 12 people who followed Jesus. Peter James and John all left their fishing nets to follow Jesus.
Matthew left a very lucrative business collecting taxes Andrew was also a businessman who left all that behind
And all of them with the exception of the Apostle John died as martyrs because of their belief, witness, and proclamation of Jesus Christ as Lord.
I have shared this before but it’s such a challenging testimony that fits into this subject.
I was listening to a sermon about the testimony of the superintendent of Assemblies of God in Vietnam. His name is Paul LI. Paul LI has spent the majority of his life in prison for preaching the gospel. Many of these days were spent in a 4 foot by 4 foot box or he would have to be literally crouched over either on his hands and knees or laying in a ball in order to fit. Even when he was in the better parts of the prison, if you can call any part of prisons over there good he would be given only a light covering for his body and a small 3 by 3 foot square blanket. Now your thinking Vietnam is hot all the time but it can get pretty cold at night and what Paul would do is oﬀ for his blanket to another prisoner as long as he could light near them and he would spend the night telling them about Jesus.
Now I know the question comes to your mind will how much good did that do? God used his obedience to raise up churches of over 1000 in each of the prisons that he was in- just with a piece of blanket, willingness to be a little uncomfortable, and obedience to spread the gospel.
In fact, in the Assembly of God in Vietnam, you can’t even become licensed or ordained as minister unless you have spent time in prison for the sake of the Gospel, and shown a productive ministry in the prison.
That is what being a disciple of Jesus Christ means. Being a disciple means to leave behind the old life, the old ways, and give your life to someone in greater.
Jesus says if you are my disciple then will you know the truth and the truth will set you free. Too many of us want something without doing the condition required to get it. Too many of us blame God for our problems but what they fail to realize is that their life choices are simply
following the law of sowing and reaping. If you sow to the wrong thing you should not be surprised when you reap the wrong thing
That brings us to our second “IF”, and that is
2nd “IF” – FREEDOM
John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Speaking about the law of sowing and reaping, most of the problems in our life come from the fact that in some ways we are still reaping toward our flesh or we are reaping the consequences of past decisions that were made according to our flesh.
When we accept Jesus as Lord and Savior he wipes out the spiritual and eternal consequences for our past mistakes, our past sins, and our past rebellion. However, because we still live in this world there may be earthly consequences that he allows us to continue to experience in order to teach us this seriousness of rebellion against God and going against his word.
Now in some cases Jesus wipes out both earthly and spiritual consequences at the same time. Many of us to testify about diﬀerent ways that Jesus saved a person from spiritual death and then wiped out an earthly consequences for that sin.
That’s not a guarantee for everybody. God grows us, shapes us and molds us as individuals and not as a corporate group when it comes to our personal Salvation.
The Apostle Paul implores us in Romans 8:33
Romans 8:33 For sin shall not have dominion (a ruling control) over you: for you are not under the law, but under grace.
Paul is saying here is that if you have given your life to Jesus Christ there is no way for sin to have dominion over you unless you let it. Every time you open the door to your sinful desires or to the devil, you allow them to wedge that door open to your spirit a little bit further.
Then the law sowing and reaping goes into its negative consequences and aﬀects in your life.
That’s not the abundant life that Jesus wants for you. Jesus said if the son sets you free you will be free indeed. That is why we have to live a life of continual repentance. This is not just a onetime thing this is a thing that will occur throughout your entire life.
If you remember the Lord’s Prayer- that model prayer that Jesus gave for us, we are to ask God for forgiveness of our sins daily if not hourly if not every moment of every day. Living in repentance is the key to freedom because sinful thoughts, desires, and actions constantly bombard us and is unrelenting in the day we live.
I ask you, are you free this morning?
If not, I would ask you are you his disciple? Because, if you are then you are set free; if you believe it.
That brings us to the third IF of spiritual growth.
3rd “IF” – SERVICE
John 8:39 If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do what Abraham did
There is a direct link between what we do for the Kingdom and spiritual growth.
I’m not talking works-based Salvation. Jesus Christ did all the work to pay for your sin and win you back to God.
What I’m talking about is how your spiritual growth is intrinsically tied to the work you do for him on earth.
Let me give you an example
Going to school to be a pharmacist but never providing a prescription
This is the same exact situation that occurs when a person claims to be a Christian but does nothing to see the Kingdom of God grow, spread, or take root in the lives of others.
The same thing happens spiritually to us when we use the title Christian but do nothing to see the Kingdom grow or prosper. We act a part in church, but then go back to who we really are once we get back into our cars to drive home.
That is the challenge of the IF of service-“Are you actually a disciple of Jesus, and if so, what Are you doing anything to see the name of Jesus made famous in your community?”
That leaves us with the 4th IF of Spiritual Growth
4th “IF” – SONSHIP
John 8:42- Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I have come here from God. I have not come on my own; God sent me
This is an amazing truth that is hard for me to comprehend (blows my mind). Not only has Jesus Christ paid for my sin,
not only does his blood cleanse me from all my own unrighteousness, not only does he send the Holy Spirit to live inside me,
not only is he working to prepare a place for me in heaven, but he has made me an actual son of God
The closest human example I can come up with to describe what he is done for us is if a man broke into your house and stole your child, that you would go to the prison, unlock the door, take his place, set the them free and then give him your name, your possessions, your title and any inheritance you have.
That’s an incredible truth of what Jesus did and does for you and me.
Jesus did it all, all to him I owe, sin has left its crimson stain, but he washed it white as snow. He’s washed me, he’s claims me ,and then he is giving me his name and adopted me into his family as a son of God.
Several years ago the news kept talking about the credit crisis in this country. So many people are living beyond their financial needs and being suﬀocated underneath a huge amount of credit card debt that they believe a major financial crisis will eventually hit our economy because people just can’t get out of debt.
The irony is that the same Christians that might be buried under financial debt live the opposite spiritually.
You and I have all the riches in the universe available to us as sons and daughters of God.
Yet. we are spiritually starving to death while sitting at a banquet table filled with anything we could ever want or desire and yet we will not reach out and take it because of a lack of faith or because we love the things of this earth too much that we don’t want what’s on God’s table.
This morning if you feel like you’re all alone, or starving to death spiritually, or just not growing in the things of God I would ask you a question
Are you his disciple?
Are you living in the freedom that Jesus oﬀers you? Are you actively serving in the Kingdom?
Are you seeing yourself as the Bible describes you- as a son and daughter of God himself?
If you cannot answer yes to all of these this is where you need to exercise your faith and be obedient to god’s word.
Jesus didn’t give us all these truth because John needed to fill up space in his gospels.
Jesus gave us these truths so that we can have life and have life more abundantly then the rest of the world.
That brings us to the fifth “if” of spiritual growth
5th “IF” – RESPONSIBILITY
John 8:46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
When you are going to school to earn a paralegal degree, one of the first chapters you read in your textbooks is usually about the ethics and responsibilities that are related to the job you’re training for.
It talked about being honest, fair, unbiased, unprejudiced and treating every patient with respect and dignity.
Looking at that Gallup poll I was saddened to see that clergy was 10th on that list, and even Most health care providers scored higher.
If that is true in America’s pulpits , it should be no wonder to us why that’s true and many of our churches today.
I want to remind you this morning that when you chose Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior you also took upon yourself a responsibility to accurately show the world the character of the one you believe.
My friends we have to do better. We must do better
Jesus deserves our absolute best. He gave everything. He deserves to receive back what he is given to us- and that is an accurate testimony of who he is so the world through the way we live our lives and treat other people.
That’s the responsibility you and I took on when we became Christians and we took that name of Christ upon ourselves we also have a responsibility to show the world what Christ looks like and who he actually is by how we live before world that really doesn’t know HIM.
If you are a disciple
If Jesus has set you free
If You are serving His Kingdom
If you are living as a son or daughter of the King of Kings
If you are accurate representing the character and love of Jesus to the world, then- You have the final if-
6th “IF” – ASSURANCE
John 8:51 Very truly I tell you, whoever obeys my word will never see death.”
The reason why so many of us in the church live far beneath the privilege that we have as sons and daughters of God is because of fear doubt or unbelief.
However, if we can put these if statements of Jesus into action regarding how we live and grow and let God work out our Salvation with fear and trembling then we will have the assurance that
God loves us,
that God wants to use us,
that God is going to reward us,
and someday we will hear the words as we cross the finish line into heaven
“Well done good and faithful servant enter into the joy of your master.” Do you need that assurance today?
Discipleship Freedom Service/serving Sonship Responsibility Assurance