Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.John 8:31-32
Truth and freedom
In this Bible study on the truth shall make you free, there are two thoughts that immediately come to mind for seekers of faith. First, what is the truth in an age of relativism where new societal norms are evolving culturally throughout our lifetime? Secondly, once you know the truth, what will it make you free from, lies, sin, bondage, corruption, persecution, false doctrine? It will be upon these two premises where this study will expound upon to give readers a better sense and understanding of just what Jesus meant when he proclaimed to the Jews that the truth shall make you free. But first, let us take careful notice of the prefatory remark Jesus made in tandem with this statement, “If ye continue in my word…” Jesus placed a condition upon the premise of knowing the truth and being made free and that was to continue in his word. In other words, no pun intended, Jesus wants us to continue in his teaching as contained in the scriptures from the Bible for this is where his preaching of doctrine is documented from several eyewitnesses of his testimony.
What is truth
It is interesting to note, during the mock trials of Jesus before one of the Roman rulers named Pontius Pilate that the subject of truth came to the forefront. Let us have a look at the scriptures to see how it transpired between Jesus and Pilate during his interrogation of him, “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.” [John 18:37] This statement in itself was remarkable teaching from Jesus before Pilate because Jesus affirms that he is the king of the Jews and that he is bearing witness unto the truth. This should have been causation for Pilate to fall to his knees and worship the Lord of glory but instead he replies and postulates with this saying as though he was some notable philosopher, “Pilate saith unto him, What is truth?” [John 8:38]
Seeking God’s truth
It is notable in the scriptures, that the word truth is used the most by King David in the writing of the Psalms where the wisdom and the truth of God were sought after during the trials and shortfalls during his life. David wrote many memorable verses pertaining to the truth of God such as noted here, “Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day.” [Psalms 25:5] The Psalms record the use of the word truth an astonishing 40 times and this is only followed by the apostle John in his gospel account containing the word 22 times. John’s gospel account had a very specific purpose as shown in one of his closing statements, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” [John 20:31] This was indeed the truth and was meant to dispel any false notion among early believers about Jesus that he was just some notable teacher or prophet; rather he was the Christ, the Son of God!
This is the truth, the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus is God manifest in the flesh ( 1 Tim. 3:16), and he came to save us from our sins (Matt. 1:21). The apostle Paul encapsulated the gospel truth in this passage to the early church by stating, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” [1 Cor. 15:3-4] Did you note how Paul highlighted how all these events took place, according to the scriptures? Paul is saying that all these things that happened to Jesus were based on scriptural writings from the Old Testament, notably from Isaiah the prophet and the Psalms. They did not happen by accident or fate, they were events ordained by God from the very beginning of time. So there is the first part of the truth shall make you free but now let’s explore the free part of this verse!
The scriptures describe mankind’s circumstances as rather bleak without Christ. In fact, Jesus himself stated that “He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” [John 3:18] For many, this will cause offence because it makes the claim that outside of Christ as a non-believer in him, one is already condemned. But condemned to what? Well, whether we like it or not, believe it or not, we are condemned before God for our sins and in this case it is the sin of unbelief. As a creation before God, we have freewill and it is in our will whether we believe in Jesus or not. There is a reason why Jesus proclaimed in the scriptures, “I am the way, the truth and the life” [John 14:6a]. There is a reason why Jesus stated, “that no man cometh to the Father except by me” [John 14:6b].
Love of darkness
But here is the dilemma all of us face in this world and the answer is found by following the dialogue from Jesus in this passage, “And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.” [John 3:19-21] It is the love of sin, described as darkness in this scripture, that keeps people from coming to the light of Jesus. It is the love of sin that keeps people from finding the truth that is in Jesus. It is the love of sin that prevents people from being set free in Christ! This is the crux of this week’s scripture reading, the truth shall make you free.
The way, the truth, and the life
Let us close this Bible study on the truth shall make you free with some parting thoughts. Jesus never gave the impression that there were other ways to get to heaven. In fact, he described the true way in this manner, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” [Matt. 7:14] Life in this context is eternal life in heaven with God and Jesus describes the way of getting there as “narrow is the way”. It is a complete fallacy of truth to believe that all roads lead to heaven. Consider the words of John the Baptist who was an itinerant preacher foretelling to the multitudes of the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ, “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” [John 3:36]
Clearly, there was no middle ground preached out to the people and many will be offended in this but it is the exclusivity of Christianity that makes it unique in a world of pluralistic beliefs. The contrasting promise of this from Jesus is that the gospel of grace is a message of love, compassion and inclusion from God, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” [John 3:16] Take careful note of that word from Jesus, whosoever, for the gospel is open and available to all who come to him in faith. In closing, the apostle Paul wrote a poignant warning in his letter to the early church in Rome by stating, “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:” [Rom. 1:20] Deer seeker of faith, there is no excuse for not believing, for the truth is there and it will surely make you free indeed!
Bible Study Questions
- In this study on the truth shall make you free, consider reading chapter eight in the book of John to gain further understanding of this week’s scripture reading.
- Can you name the two things that stood out in this passage of scripture? Hint, they start with T and F.
- What was the name of the Roman ruler who questioned what truth is to Jesus?
- Who was the author of most of the Psalms and sought the truth of God?
- Fill in the blanks from this verse, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our _________ according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he _________ again the third day according to the scriptures:” [1 Cor. 15:3-4]
- Who was it in the scriptures that made the proclamation, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
- If you know someone who loves the darkness rather than the light, please consider sharing this study with them.