Text: John 8:24-32
At the trial of Jesus, Pilate asked…’what is truth?..and then he didn’t stick around for the answer. He scoffed at the very concept of truth and dismissed the possibility that it could ever be known.
It is a marvellous thing for us to open our bibles and to have Jesus reassure us of three things.
- The first is…that there is such a thing as truth
- That its capable of being known by each and every one of us.
- And the truth is not always bad news.
That is what Jesus said…in John 8:32:
As He spoke these things, many came to believe in Him. So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” .
Now Jesus did not explain on that occasion how it would set them free. But He did say that without the truth, they could not be set free.
As we proceed, let’s consider two things
- The relationship between Satan & truth.
- And just how it was…that Jesus accomplished our salvation.
Now as long as God has spoken to men and women, Satan’s had something to say. But, Satan is an enemy of the truth…the arch-enemy. He does not want the truth to get out…certainly not the kind that saves. The Bible calls him a liar, a deceiver, an accuser and an adversary. When Satan tells a lie, that’s the only time that he’s not a hypocrite. Now Satan is able to tell the truth…and he does as long as the the truth that he tells – amounts to a lie. For when Satan lies, that is the real Satan
His most effective weapon is the partial truth…the kind that amounts to a lie. He is the ultimate spin-doctor. And when he gets done, Christians look like tyrants, and sinners like freedom fighters, standing up for our human rights.
When Jesus told the parable of the soils, he explained that the seed was the word of God and that the birds who took the seed away…represented Satan
Here’s how serious that is… Luke 8:11-12
“Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. “Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved.
Now the point is – that people are lost because of sin. The only remedy to the problem of sin is the gospel. If Satan stops us from hearing it…he can keep us from being saved. So, the fight against Satan has always been a fight for the truth.
During his final week, Jesus met a man whom he commended. He said to him: You are not far from the kingdom of God.”(Mk.12:34). He was an honest man…who understood scriptures. He was on the right track, but Jesus said that more was needed. He was still outside of the Kingdom of God. You see, close to – is not the same thing as – a part of.
Let me suggest, that Satan loves it, when as many people as possible…are ‘not far’ from God’s kingdom. He wants them close to God’s kingdom but not in it. He wants them to believe that they’re in it, secure in that conviction and immune to further appeal.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed, he prayed for his disciples (John 17). That prayer – was all about truth. Jesus asked his Father for, two things…things that his disciples would need once Jesus was no longer with them.
During his ministry – Jesus protected them from Satan. He did that in large part, by teaching them the words of the Father. They had believed what he said and because of that, Satan’s world hated them. Now that Jesus was leaving and going back to heaven, He petitioned the Father for protection. Here is what he prayed: (15-17)
“I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. “They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
“Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. “As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. “For their sake I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth.
Jesus asked for divine protection in the area of truth. He did that because truth is the first thing that Satan takes away. Jesus asked for the safety and protection of God’s sanctifying truth.
From what Jesus said, it is also evident that the truth that sets us apart is the truth that makes us one. Sanctifying truth is unifying truth. The way that it works is like this. When God’s truth sanctifies two people – it joins each of them to Jesus. And when two people are both joined to Jesus, they are joined to each other.
So, the unity of God’s people is not something that we create. It is the work of God. We are united in Christ only with those who have been united with Christ. Sanctification happens when we believe and obey the word of God. As the apostle Paul would put it – years later, our job is to maintain the unity created by the Holy Spirit.
But that unity is the product of Truth – given by the Spirit of Truth. It is brought about by the word of God. You and I can destroy unity…but we cannot create it.
We cannot create unity in Christ any more than we can create our own word of truth to sanctify ourselves.
God keeps us safe by giving us his word…the truth. That’s where the scriptures come in. Whenever false doctrine put the church in danger, the Holy Spirit fought back. He inspired men to write and protected the church with the truth.
John’s gospel shares two of the ‘truth’ promises that Jesus made to his apostles, both of which he delivered to them through the Spirit of Truth
The first promise looked to the past. It was total recall. God’s Spirit would cause them to remember all that Jesus had taught. The second promise looked into the future, because they weren’t ready yet to hear the whole truth. They weren’t even ready for the crucifixion.
So Jesus promised them that after he left, the Holy Spirit would come upon them and that they would be clothed with power from on high. The Spirit of God would lead them into all the truth. He would guide them and teach them all of those things that they were not yet ready to hear. This is what began to happen on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2)
Jesus said :
“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you.
The words of Jesus are not just found in the red letter sections of the gospels. The New Testament is from start to finish, the words of Jesus. The New Testament does not merely contain the word of God, it is the word of God. It was and it still is, divine protection in the area of truth
Now the bible does not recognize many different orders of truth. There is only the regular garden-variety that you and I use every day. The scriptures are not only inspired but are also factual historical documents. They give us an accurate record of real events. The reason why the gospel of Jesus Christ is the truth that sets us free, is because all of those events recorded in the New Testament actually took place.They are not fictitious.
Here are some of those non-fictitious facts about Jesus.
The scriptures make it clear that Jesus came to earth to save sinners. But as we look at certain things that Jesus did and said, there are two questions that we ought to ask –
This first is:
Did it have to happen – in order for Jesus to save me?
Was it necessary?
The second question – goes one step further. When I find an event that was necessary, was it also sufficient to save me?
Let’s start with the incarnation. The apostle Paul has some things to say about that in (Phil 2:6-8) as does the prologue to John’s gospel
But the writer of Hebrews explains why it was necessary (2:14-18)
Therefore, since the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.
For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham.
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted.
In order to save us, Jesus had to become one of us. It seems that Jesus could not save…what he had not become. He did not become an angel to save angels. It was necessary for God to come in the flesh in order to save those who were flesh.
The sacrifice for human sins…had to be human. But it had to be more than human to be sufficient. It had to be of infinite value – It had to be divine. Jesus was both.
Therefore, the incarnation was necessary. It was necessary, but was it sufficient?
What if Jesus had showed up on earth as a man…taken a good look around and then caught the next flight back to heaven? Would that have saved us?
Not according to the scriptures. Coming in the flesh was necessary…but not enough. It was necessary – but not sufficient
When God became a human, it was a package deal. The birth of Jesus necessitated his death, as does ours. (Phil 2:5-8)
As a human being, Jesus exercised freedom of choice. The writer of Hebrews says that he was ‘tempted in all points like as we are’. He was perhaps tempted as we have never been. He was the only man in history that had never sinned, and Satan knew it
Matthew tells us that Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan. Temptation was a necessary part of God’s plan and part of the human experience. But when Jesus was tempted, he chose life over death, obedience over sin. He was tempted as we are, yet without sin.
No sinner could ever purchase our salvation. But the sinless life of Jesus was not sufficient. Had He checked out before the cross, you and I would not be saved.
During his ministry, Jesus fully obeyed the Father. His life was not just defined by the absence of sin…it was filled with goodness and righteousness. Jesus came to fulfill the law and in the process, to keep all of God’s promises. He was the son of Abraham and the son of David. He was the prophet like Moses who delivered a new covenant – in his blood.
The apostle Paul put it this way:
“For as many as are the promises of God, in Him (Christ) they are yes”
God has said yes to each one of His promises because Jesus fulfilled the scriptures. His ministry followed the itinerary set by his heavenly Father. He did what he saw the Father doing. He said, what he heard the Father saying. He did not come to do his own will.
Jesus did all of the things that were needed in order for him to ‘fulfill all righteousness’. He did not just make it up as he went along
Was this necessary? Of course it was. Jesus was no freelance saviour. He always did the will of his heavenly Father
But was it sufficient?
Was it enough for Jesus to persist in ministry, to resist temptation and to do the will of the Father while on earth? Had he stopped short of the cross, the answer is no. No…it was not.
Then there is that terrible scene in Gethsemane…when His hour had come. He was beaten down with sorrow and alone among men – who slept..
Jesus… went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.” (Mk 14:35-36)
Jesus prayed to the God with whom all things are possible. What He wanted to know, was if it was possible for God with whom all things are possible – to let the cup to pass?
The answer was….No. It was not possible. It was not possible for the God with whom all things are possible…to save Jesus from the cross and also to save us from sin. It could not be done.
God could not save the world by just trying a little harder. He could not simply speak and make it so.There are some things that are not possible – for the God with whom all things are possible. There was no other way and no alternative means. There was only one way and it excluded all others.
The cross was necessary. All of the events leading to the cross were necessary. But piled one on top of the other…they were still not sufficient
Not even the cross – by itself was enough. An impure sacrifice would not do. An incomplete ministry – would not have fulfilled the scriptures. The cross was necessary, but by itself, it was not sufficient
Later that night, Jesus said to Peter,
“Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? “How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”
As Jesus hung on the cross, His enemies insulted him. They said:
“You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying,”He saved others; He cannot save Himself.
He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him.
Satan was back. The stakes had never been higher. The last thing that Satan wanted Jesus to do were the last things that Jesus still needed to do.
So the people cried out, ‘If you are the Son of God, prove it!’. After all, God would never let his son die on a cross! Surely, the real Son of God would come down from the cross and stomp on his enemies. They taunted him and mocked him with their theology, saying ‘Come down & we’ll believe’. Satan said – it’s over – It’s finished. But Jesus knew it was not. Satan tried to bring him down from the cross – with bad theology. And he didn’t just use the enemies of Jesus. His disciples didn’t want him there either. They tried to talk him out of it. They tried to stop the soldiers with a sword. And if we’d been there, I expect that we would have wanted him to come down as well
What if Jesus had come down from the cross? He could have shut them all up…and blown them away. And I think…that at that moment, the disciples would have loved it. They would have loved it for a day or two…until Jesus explained to them just what had been lost
Jesus had every right to come down. And if he had…not one of us would be saved today. We would not be saved, because it wasn’t finished until it was finished. Our salvation was not actually finished…until Jesus came out of the tomb. Had Jesus failed to rise again, all would have been lost
Rising from the dead – proved that he was the Son of God. It fulfilled the promises of God and opened a door from death to eternal life…where none had ever been
All these events were necessary and all together, they were enough. This is how Jesus has secured for us a salvation that endures to eternal life. This is the truth that sets us free…and there is no other. As the apostles would later declare – there is no other name given among men by which you must be saved.
It is the name of Jesus. He is the son of God who came in human flesh in order to redeem those who are flesh. He was tempted in every way that we are, yet without sin. He lived a life of positive righteousness and obedience to his heavenly Father before dying on the cross to purchase our salvation. And he rose again so that we might join him in life eternal
All these things were necessary for God to make salvation available to us
Our salvation has cost God everything. He has paid a price beyond which not even He can go.
More than anything, God wants to save each one of us. Knowing what we do about what Jesus did in order to save us, we ought not be surprised if God asks us to do more than one thing in order to be saved.
To believe that Jesus…the man from Nazareth was his son. To recognize that we are separated from him because of sin and to turn away from that life of sin. To let others know that we believe in Jesus and to be immersed into his death so that we might rise from the water eternally alive to God. Our spirits need never again part company with our Lord, whose Spirit of Truth will come to live within us.
Each of these things are necessary and all together they are by the grace of God sufficient to bring each of us to salvation and keep us saved.