Read John 8:31-59.
In John 8:31, Jesus begins a fascinating exchange with a group of religious Jews who believed in Him. But how did they believe in Jesus? Apparently only to the point in which they found His claims offensive. Jesus Himself tells these people who believe in Him that they are “following their father (the devil).” How fascinating that Jesus calls a group who believes in Him “children of the devil”! But why? Consider what Jesus exposed in these superficial believers:
- They were still enslaved to their sin, particularly lying.
- They did not fully accept the authority of Jesus’s teaching to direct their lives.
- They were repulsed by the truth once it offended them or challenged their beliefs.
- They loved to do evil but didn’t love Jesus (even though they believed in Him).
- They dishonored Jesus and passionately rejected His most provocative truth claims.
They were believers who wouldn’t become disciples.Jesus challenged these them to fully become children of God as His true disciples. This meant moving beyond a superficial belief in Christ into the following life-changing convictions:
- Christ as our Life Teacher (our Rabbi we follow and with whom we spend time)
- Christ as the focus of Scripture (which He validated as being God’s word)
- Christ as the Truth (meaning all other beliefs that contradict Him are necessarily false)
- Christ as our Rescuer (meaning we have a sin problem and our own goodness can’t fix it)
- Christ as our Ultimate Authority (therefore we submit to Him as King and Lord)
- Christ as the God of Israel (not merely a sinless Man, but the Creator-God of the universe)
Over two billion people on Earth claim to be some kind of Christians - believers in Jesus. However, if we were to filter all believers (including ourselves) through Christ’s challenging statements in John 8, how many confessing Christians mistakenly believe that God is their Father when Christ would call them sons of Satan?
Re-read John 8:31-59 and imagine if we challenged superficial believers as directly as Jesus did. Wouldn’t we consider Christ’s words unloving, condemning, and judgmental if anyone else were to say them? Perhaps this underscores why we are commissioned to BE and to MAKE disciples of Jesus and not merely believers in Jesus? Perhaps we need to go beyond mere belief to genuine conviction.