I’ll let some of my thoughts roll around a bit and I hope we can follow them on through and find a way out the other end. This idea has fascinated me for some time and I hope to let some folks in on it, because I believe it to be a fruitful area of thought to understand more of our God and His plan for us as His children in Christ. If we believe the basic doctrines and Scriptures of Christianity we have much to ponder; but with some grace from God, I believe we can be closer to Him with greater love and amazement in the end. I would image along the way we may bump into a few paradoxes of life and faith as we go. That seem to be God’s preferred way of get our small minds to catch glimpses of Him and His plan with our new born heavenly eyes.
To start with I’m no ones authority nor do I intend to be. I am a learner and disciple of Christ and am willing to be corrected by the authorities He has set in place. All I hope for is to learn with anyone who wishes to join me in my thinking and will be happy to discuss my failures of thought and be corrected by Scripture and the Church.
So lets start with the authority of the Word,
31 Then Jesus said to those Jews, who believed him: If you continue in my word, you shall be my disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.33 They answered him: We are the seed of Abraham, and we have never been slaves to any man: how sayest thou: you shall be free?
34 Jesus answered them: Amen, amen I say unto you: that whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of sin. 35 Now the servant abideth not in the house for ever; but the son abideth for ever. 36 If therefore the son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. 37 I know that you are the children of Abraham: but you seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. – Gospel of John Chp 8
This scene in the ministry of Christ I believe will give us a good place to start. He has been in the temple area teaching and the religious leaders have just sought to trap Him between His teachings and the Law of Moses by presenting the woman caught in adultery. Of course, the wisdom of Christ prevails and He sends the woman away un-stoned to “sin no more.” Christ continues to teach and many still lack faith in Him, although others believe. That is when Christ speaks the passage above.
To the believing, He gives somewhat of a pattern to freedom. The freedom of which Christ speaks begins by being one who believes, then one continuing in His words, then truly being His disciple, then knowing the truth, and finally by the knowledge of truth being made free.
To begin with we must touch on believing, so we can get the ball rolling. This does bring us to a mystery of our Faith. Do we come to believe? Yes. It was the “Jews who believed in Him,” which He began by talking to. Is it the believing who brought themselves to believe? No, though it clearly is not against them that this believing occurs. I think St. Paul may give us some light here.
He wrote to the Christians in Rome saying,
14How then shall they call on Him, in whom they have not believed? Or how shall they believe Him, of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear, without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach unless they be sent… 16But all do not obey the gospel. For Isaias saith: Lord, who hath believed our report? 17Faith then cometh by hearing; and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans Chp 10
St. Paul points out that believing in the Word comes first by hearing, but also that what is heard must have the backing authority of being sent. This is why the Son was sent by the Father and then the Son sent the Apostles. Christ said to the Apostles “as the Father sent Me so also I have sent you.” And also He said, “He that receives you, receives Me: and he that receives Me, receives Him that sent Me. “
The power to believe comes from the authoritative proclamation of the Word made flesh who dwells among us in Christ. We do not save ourselves; we are saved by the only Son of the Father, Christ. If one is not sent then we do not receive the fully empowered living Word of God which converts the fallen sinner in need of mercy from the Father in heaven. The Spirit of God prepares the a person prior to the sending and coming of the Word of God in Christ. This makes possible the reception of the Good News brought by the Word of God for the salvation of the sinner. This is also why Christ comes “not to save the righteous but the sinner.” The “righteous” have no hole in need of filling for the Son of God to take up residence in. They see themselves without the need of salvation, therefore the Word of God “hath no place in” them. Therefore, the presence of the living Word is a burdening presence to the “righteous,” who have no reborn desire for God kindled in their hearts by the Spirit. Christ and His servants are found rejected for exactly this reason. They are seen purposeless to the world who believes it has no need for a complete and utter salvation from above.
So, here we come to what the freedom Jesus speaks of truly is. It is not freedom to be and do whatever we wish, but it is freedom to be truly who we are; sinners in need of a savior who has come and “will never leave us nor forsake us.” This is the freedom of the will which the Christian recognizes as true freedom. For the believing, being slaves of the truth born of the Spirit of God is to be made“free indeed.” Possibly a paradox? Hmmm? I believe so.
I think this gives us enough to move forward in our thoughts with a Christian vision of our freedom in Christ and how it will pertain to freewill; both, now and in the full heavenly presence of God.
‘Till next time, Blessings and peace through Christ our Lord.