The Expository Files


If You Abide In My Word

John 8:31

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31).

In this statement, Jesus not only defines one of the terms of discipleship, but impresses upon the believer the importance of His word.

True Discipleship
“If” is a critical word in the understanding of any statement. It is a word that places a condition upon the statement that follows or precedes. In this case, a condition is placed upon true discipleship. In order to be His disciples, we must abide in His word. If we do not abide in His word, are we truly His disciples?

Abiding In His Word
What does it mean to “abide in His word?” To “abide” means to continue in, not to depart from. Hence, we must continue in His word, or teachings, if we are to truly be His disciples.

A disciple is one who is taught, one who follows a discipline, or teaching of another. Therefore, it is fundamentally implied that unless we continue in Jesus’ teaching, we are not His disciples.

Disciples Indeed
The word “indeed” means truly, of a truth, in reality, most certainly. Many profess to be a disciple, but not all are followers. Jesus asked, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46). It follows that we cannot do what He says if we do not abide in His word.

The word “indeed” infers more than in thought. It infers action (deed). One must show His discipleship in action, not only in word.

Many today profess to “follow Christ,” but practice things not taught in His word. If one were to assemble a panel of 10 “Christians” representing various “faiths” and they were all asked what one must do to be saved, what would the end result be?

Chances are some would state that you must believe, accept Jesus into your heart and say some version of a sinner’s prayer. One might teach that you must be baptized in the Holy Spirit. One might propose that there is nothing you can do to be saved. Another might declare that you must be baptized, and then later confirmed into “The Church.” Yet another would argue that you must be immersed in water for the remission of sins, having heard the gospel message, believed, repented, and confessed Christ as Lord. Still another would say, you must simply be a good person. One may cite the keeping of a specific doctrine regarding the day of worship, while another may cite the importance of attending church.

The problem is obvious. Some of these “Christians” are not disciples indeed. How do we discern who is and who is not? Which answer is correct and which is error? What is the measure by which we may know?

As a disciple indeed, who abides in Christ’s word, every action should be based on a book, chapter and verse (Colossians 3:17). A disciple indeed will pay careful attention not to twist or wrest His word by his own understanding (2 Peter 3:16). Furthermore, a disciple indeed will want to be extremely careful not to transgress (go beyond) or omit (fall short of) any aspect of His teaching (2 John 9-10; Revelation 22:18-19).

A disciple indeed will not seek a passage to prove a position, but rather base a position on the whole of God’s teaching on a given matter (Acts 20:27). A disciple indeed will be studious and diligent to present themselves approved unto God, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). He will not be willing to base his faith on what everyone else is practicing or doing, but accept no other foundation but the word of God (Luke 6:46-49). He will prove all things, test the spirits, search the scriptures daily, and examine himself (1 Thessalonians 5:21; 1 John 4:1; Acts 17:10; 2 Corinthians 13:5).

All of this emphasizes the premium that Jesus placed upon His word, His teaching, and His doctrine. His word is the measure by which we shall be judged (John 12:48). His word is the authority for all that we say and do (Matthew 28:18; Colossians 3:17). His word, His gospel, is the basis of our salvation (Romans 1:16; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Peter 1:22-25; James 1:21).

To answer the question posed earlier, the measure by which we may know how to be saved is God’s word, and God’s word alone. Jesus concludes the statement—which is the basis for this article—by saying, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32).

God’s word is truth (John 17:17). Despite men’s best intentions and best efforts to obfuscate, twist, pervert, hide, rationalize, render obsolete, marginalize, and re-characterize God’s truth to conform to some modern standard or idea—they will never succeed. For what is written is written in heaven (Revelations 20:12) and will be there just as it was originally given in that final day.

Therefore, our only hope is to “abide in His word” and be His “disciples indeed” knowing “the truth” which shall “make [us] free.”

By Jonathan L. Perz
From Expository Files 15.11; November 2008