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The Central Pillar of Religion

July 25, 2019

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.” They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” John 8:31-33 (NIV)

Can you feel the tension? This was a generally supportive audience, but they were not yet committed to Christ, and Christ was not committed to them (John 2:23-24).

So Jesus invites them to move beyond a general acceptance of what he is saying to a life of committed obedience: “If you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples.” Then our Lord hits a raw nerve: “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This gets an immediate reaction: “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?” What Jesus says here makes the people absolutely furious. Finally John says, “At this, they picked up stones to stone him” (8:59).

Their own freedom was the central pillar of their religion, and when Jesus says to them, “There is a kind of freedom that only I can give you, and without me you do not have it,” they don’t like it, and neither do we. We want to feel that we’re in control of our lives, and especially that we’re in control of the things that matter most, including our salvation.

You hear this all the time on the talk shows: “You can be anything you want to be.” That’s the spirit of our culture. But there are some things you cannot be, that only Jesus can free you to be.

React to this statement: “You can be anything you want to be.”


The Author
Colin Smith

Colin Smith is the senior pastor of The Orchard Evangelical Free Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. He has authored a number of books, including Heaven, How I Got Here and Heaven, So Near - So Far. Colin is the president and teacher for Unlocking the Bible. Follow him on Twitter.



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