30 Minute Radio Lesson - WAVG Radio 1450 AM
Clarksville church of Christ
September 26, 1999
Speaker: Richie Thetford
Good morning and welcome to another presentation of "What Is Truth!" here on 1450 WAVG radio. Once again, we do appreciate the privilege of coming into your home this morning as we further study the word of God. We trust that you already have your Bible ready to turn to the passages of scripture that we will be studying this morning. The apostle Paul encouraged the young evangelist Timothy to "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2:15). This encouragement applies to all of us today because we cannot be approved unto God unless we know what He wants us to do. We cannot rightly divide between right and wrong if we do not read His word to us. Therefore, we ask that you have God's inspired book, the Bible, ready to search the scriptures to find out if what is discussed this morning is in fact Bible truth.
This morning we are going to discuss "Freedom by the truth." In order that we may have a scriptural setting and a spiritual background for our study this morning, I would like to read two verses from the eighth chapter of John's gospel. It is the language of our Lord and we should give it our undivided attention. Beginning with verse thirty-one, we read, "Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." Unless our prejudice rises up to prevent it, we can't help but see that we must continue in the word of Christ in order to be saved ultimately. A child of God must live a faithful life if he expects to go to heaven when he dies. Perhaps nothing has lowered our moral standards as much as the doctrine that a child of God will go to heaven no matter what kind of life he lives. The lord, looking down through the ages and anticipating the time when such a doctrine would be foisted upon the people, sought to refute it by saying if, note that, if you continue in my word, then are you my disciples indeed.
We want to concern ourselves this morning, not with that part of our text but rather with a part of the next verse. Verse thirty-two, that is. Jesus said here, "the truth shall make you free."
That is our text, that is what we want to talk about. We want to reason with you concerning the truth making you free. Now we are not going to question the truthfulness of this statement. Jesus said it was so. Like everything else that Jesus has said; That settles it with me. I believe the truth shall make you free. I have some neighbors and friends however that will not accept the statement of our Lord as the truth. They do not believe that the truth shall make people free, at least that is evident by their practice in life. I heard that a fellow Christian talked to an individual one time that held to the belief that they believed that the truth did not make people free because the Bible was a dead letter He said there was no power in the written word I must say that not many people will be that frank about the matter but yet their theory of how people are saved argues that very thing all the time. Indeed the principal difference between me and a denominational preacher is that I say if we take the New Testament and do what it says we will get to heaven, while he says it takes something besides the New Testament.
So we are not going to question the truthfulness of the statement. We are going to accept the Lord's declaration as the truth. We are going to admit that the truth shall make us free. We have no right to argue otherwise. We do however, have a right to raise certain questions concerning this freedom by the truth. We can increase our faith by answering some questions regarding this matter. For instance we can ask, what is the truth? That is what this program that is aired each Sunday morning wants you to find out. That is why we call our program "What Is Truth?" Jesus said "You shall know the truth and the truth shall make us free." But what is the truth? Well, we will let the Bible answer that for us. That is the way to arrive at the correct answer. Man could guess at the answer. Men could tell what they think the truth is. But if half a dozen answered the question, we might have half a dozen answers. So let's appeal to the word of God and get the answer. Jesus said, in his prayer to God, in John 17:17, "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth." Did you note that last clause? Thy word is truth. Why that's almost the answer right there, isn't it? We will know the truth and the truth shall make us free. But the word of God is truth. So, we shall know the word of God and it shall make us free. I want you to also note that in that passage of scripture that says "Sanctify them through thy truth, thy word is truth" the word sanctify. This word means to set apart and make holy unto God. One becomes sanctified or set apart through the truth of the gospel. One cannot be made holy any other way. It says through thy truth we're sanctified. Yet many teach today that one can be made holy or sanctified in various other ways.
Yes friends, it matters not what you have heard to the contrary, the word of God will make us free if we will obey it. Haven't we told you time after time about the statement of Jesus that,"Whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them shall be likened unto a wise man which built his house upon the rock"? Perhaps a statement from the first chapter of James is pertinent here. Verse twenty-five says, "But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does." Who will be blessed? The one who continues in the perfect law of liberty. He who continues in the word of God, doing the things God said to do. Yes, the truth or the word of God will make us free if we will obey it. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven."
There is no doubt about it my friends. Neither is there any doubt that those who do not obey will never be free. He will take vengeance on those who obey not the gospel. Notice the words of 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9: "in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power."
Well, we will raise another question regarding this text. We ask now, has the word power to make free? If the truth is to make us free, can we be sure it has power to do that? Well, let's look at John 15:3. Here Jesus addresses his disciples and says, "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." They are what? They are clean. By what means are they made clean? Through the word spoken by the Lord. Come to think of it, that is the only way we can be clean. Why it matters not how clean we may look, if Jesus says we are not clean, what about it? Well, we are just not clean. On the other hand one may work in a grease pit or in a coal mine and be black and dirty, but if Jesus says he is clean, what about him? He's clean. That's all there is to it. In Matt. 8:2-3 we have a demonstration of how the word of Christ can make one clean. Again, take out your Bible and turn to this passage of scripture in Matthew, chapter eight, verses 2-3. Notice what is said: "And behold, a leper came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean." Then Jesus put out His hand and touched him, saying, "I am willing; be cleansed." Immediately his leprosy was cleansed." When was the man cleansed? Was he cleansed when the leper came to worship Jesus? Was he cleansed when he acknowledged the fact that Jesus had the power to make him clean? Was he cleansed when Jesus touched him? No, it was when Jesus said, be cleansed. Then it was that his leprosy was cleansed by the word of the Lord. Many today feel good about themselves or even possibly that they are saved just because they go someplace and worship God. But it is not until the word is spoken that we can have freedom in Christ. Friends, the word of God has been spoken in the form of the Bible that we have today. Christ has spoken, will you listen and obey? Yes, the word of God is quick and powerful and can make us free.
But, another question regarding our freedom by the truth. From what will the truth make us free? To what are we in bondage that we should desire to be free? We can get the answer to that question from the context of our lesson. Right there in the eighth chapter of John. These very people to whom the Lord was speaking said they didn't need any freedom since they were never in bondage. but Jesus reminded them they were servants of sin and were thus in bondage to it. He said:"Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin" (John 8:34). Yes the truth will make us free from sin. In sin, we learn the truth, we obey it and thus come over on the Lord's side. The inspired apostle Paul, in Romans 6:17 said, "You have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you, being then made free from sin."
Yes, the truth, or the word of God will make us free. It has the power to do so. It will make us free from sin, when we obey that form of doctrine which was delivered us. And now, we ask, who can receive the truth? Who can know the truth? Who can obey that form of doctrine? And of course the answer to that question is evident. Any and all people upon the face of the earth who are responsible before God can accept the truth. Everyone in the listening audience this morning can obey that form of doctrine. Any of us can be made free from sin. Jesus invites all to come to Him and receive His words of eternal life. In Matthew 11:28 He says: "Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Yes my friends, anybody can come. And on the very last page of the New Testament we have these words, "Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely." And as the old hymn goes, "Whosoever, surely meaneth me."
Yes, I can come, you can come, any and all can come if they want to and will do so. Let me ask you a question this morning. Do you find yourself in a constant turmoil as far as religion is concerned? Do you constantly wonder if you are doing the right thing as far as God is concerned? Why be in turmoil? Why wonder whether you are doing right or not? Let the truth of the gospel of Christ set you free today! It is only the power of the word of God that can save our soul and give us an eternal salavation with God. Paul wrote: Rom 1:16 "For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek." Everyone of you this morning can be made free of sin if you would just learn the truth of the gospel. The idea that God, or Christ or the Holy Spirit must do something to you before you can come and be saved is as foreign to the teachings of the Bible as any other sectarian doctrine on this earth. You can come, just as you are without one plea. Why if God had to operate on you before you could come it would make him responsible for your coming, and also your failure to come. I resist the idea that my Lord is responsible for you not coming to him. I want to insist that he has made it possible for all to come because that is what His word, the Bible tells us. And I want to impress upon you that you can come and that if you ever come to the salvation thus provided, you will come without God, Christ or the Holy Spirit doing anything other than that which they have already done for you, You are in sin just as a man that has committed a crime is in the penitentiary. God has already signed the release just as the Governor has signed the release from prison. When the necessary steps have been taken the release from prison may be effected without additional action by the Governor. So, your release from sin may be effected without additional acts from God when the necessary steps have been taken. You see friends, Jesus said come. In other words we are the ones that are to come. But in the modern Mourners-bench system the procedure is reversed and the people are taught to say in effect, "No, Lord, YOU come." God has done his part in giving us His only begotten son to die upon a cruel cross that we might have eternal salvation. He has told us what we must do in order to receive the eternal inheritance. Yes friends, God has done his part, now we must do our part in order to accept his wonderful grace. Don't you see that now? Jesus said come and I will give you rest. People are told to pray for Jesus to come. If you were foreman over a bunch of men and said to one of them, "Nail this plank up right here." What would you think if he said, "No, you nail it.. What would you think about that? If you were teaching schoo l and told a student, "Sit right over here." What would you think if he said, "No, you sit over here." I sincerely hope that you can see that kind of response simply will not be acceptable. I know most of you in the listening audience this morning are honest. You are just as honest as I am or as anyone else. But Jesus said for you to come and many of you have said No, Lord, you come. You are in essence saying "Lord, you come into my heart through some special miraculous way and then I will know that I have been chosen. Please Lord, come to me. Friends, the Lord has already come, suffered, died, and has been raised again. The next time He comes it will be too late for you to live in eternity with Him if you have not obeyed His voice which as said "Come unto me." I have no doubt that many of you wanted to respect the Son of God but you have been just as disrespectful as you possibly could be. Yes, all of us can come to the truth. It is a gift of God to all who will accept it.
But now a final question regarding this freedom by the truth. How does the truth make us free? I believe that if we can intelligently answer that question we will have the lesson pretty well in hand. The truth will make us free. The truth is the word of God. It has the power to make us free. And we can all obey the truth that we might be free. Now how can it or how does it make us free? Well first, the truth had to be made known here on earth. God chose to reveal the truth of His word through the Apostles and other inspired writers of the New Testament. The apostle Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:19-21: "And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit." The apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:3-5: "how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ), which in other ages was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets"
Now, somebody might say, "That's it, God reveals it to us in a mystery." Ah! but you are wrong, my friend. He didn't say God revealed it in a mystery. He said revealed to me the mystery. And besides, he didn't reveal it to you like he did to Paul anyway. Paul continued in that connection, "which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ" You see, we are to receive the knowledge through reading and not through revelations. When John added the last amen to the book of Revelation, that closed up God's talking with men and not since that day has a single syllable come from God to man. That is the reason the gospel must now be preached. Preaching is the next step in making people free. First, God revealed it to the Apostles. Then, "It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe". (1 Cor 1:21) You might say, "Preacher, aren't we saved by faith?" Yes, but "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God." (Rom. 10: 17) So the gospel or word must be preached. It must, of course be heard, or else the preaching would do no good and there could be no faith. After it is heard, it must be believe. The Hebrew writer wrote: "But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." You see, when we diligently seek the Lord, we are looking for the truth, the very truth that will make us free. We are not looking for a way of religion that will be best suited for our pre-conceived ideas, but rather for a religion of spiritual service to God, serving Him the way He has directed for us to. And finally, when the word is preached, heard and believed, it must of necessity be obeyed in order to make the people free. What did Paul say? "You have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine--being then made free from sin." (Rom. 6:17) Friends, there's no way around it. We are right. The denominations are wrong. Think about that also, there's the Lord's church and then there are all kinds of denominations. Of which do you want to take your chances of being saved, the Lord's church, or a denomination. Are you really willing to take that kind of gamble with your very soul? The Bible says you must obey the truth, Romans. 2:8. The Bible says you must obey the faith, Romans 1:5. The Bible says you must obey that form of doctrine. Romans 6:17. The denominations deny that you have to obey the truth, faith, or that form of doctrine. And ironically they use the book of Romans to prove their position. Isn't that remarkable? Rom. 1:5 says obey the faith. Rom. 2:8 says obey the truth. And Rom. 6:17 says obey that form of doctrine. And the denominations say that Romans teaches you don't have to do anything. Friends, I say again, the Bible is right and we are trying very hard to teach and do only that which is authorized by the Bible. There is no doubt about it, you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free! And now, may God help you to see the truth, to know the truth to obey the truth and be made free from sin.
This is Richard Thetford, evangelist for the Clarksville church of Christ thanking each of you for listening to this morning's broadcast and invite you to listen again next Sunday morning at 8:30 A.M. for another presentation of "What Is Truth?"