“…abide in my word.” John 8:31
Abiding in Christ’s Teachings
It’s not enough to know about the teaching of Jesus. Those who know and receive intellectually Jesus’s teachings are not his disciples, at least not yet. They are on the right path.
Different Aspects of “Faith”
Jesus attempts to instill in his listeners that it is important to have a full commitment to, and not just intellectually believe in, him. What is the distinction?
Theologians enumerate “three distinctive aspects of biblical faith”:
(1) Receiving the truth intellectually—”intellectual acceptance of the content” (notitia in Latin; I highlight the meaning in English since I am not writing for scholars.).
(2) Agreeing with the truth volitionally—persuasion of the truthfulness of the content (assensus in Latin).
(3) Committing to the truth completely (fiducia in Latin). (For these theological distinctions see “Sproul” below)
Jesus’s followers in the popular sense were those who had heard and had received the content of his teachings. He wanted to compel them to the next level and ultimately to the final level of full reliance upon Him. Let me illustrate this.
An Illustration of Faith at its Fullness
Suppose you were swimming and suddenly got in dire straits. Let’s suppose you were in deep water with a cramp in your leg. You look about for help. You see people in a row boat nearby. You suddenly think, “There is a rowboat!” You have received the information correctly. You are not yet rescued, though.
Then, you think to yourself, “That rowboat is able to rescue me from drowning!” You have information and have assented to the facts as true. Are you safe, yet? No.
You begin to tread water over to that rowboat. When you get close, you receive helping hands from its occupants and are pulled into to boat. You immediately cease flailing your arms about and lie on the bottom of the boat in perfect satisfaction. Only then have you been saved from drowning.
Only when our faith reaches the level of trust will we be safe in the arms of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Let me give a classic definition.
Faith in Jesus Christ is a saving grace, whereby we receive and rest upon him alone for salvation, as he is offered to us in the gospel. (see Westminster Shorter Catechism below; emphasis mine)
If Jesus’s teaching abides in our hearts and minds, we abide in a relationship with Him.
Study Bible. (n.d.) Accessed 22 September 2018 from https://studybible.info/strongs/H7911 N.B. I use this simple dictionary for ease of lay access.
Sproul, R. C. (2016). “What Does It Mean to Believe?” Accessed 5 October 2018 from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/what-faith/
Westminster Shorter Catechism; Question 86. Accessed 5 October 2018 from http://www.shortercatechism.com/resources/wsc/wsc_086.html
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