Christians confuse being saved with being Christian. Salvation is God’s business and requires only a repentant heart and a confession. (The heart believes unto righteousness and confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:10) That’s an event. No law or laws apply to this simple transaction – my sins for Jesus’ sacrifice.
However the Christian life is not an event but a process which involves the fulfillment of various conditions, a process which starts with a group of “If” clauses describing the conditions by which we become Christians and live a Christian life through experience, practice and faithfulness.
It starts with the Word. Here is the whole quote and the process in context:
(1) IF you continue in my word, (2) then you are my disciples in deed (not in word) and (3 then) you will know the truth and (4 then) the truth will make (not set) you free.
“Setting free” is an event; you are in prison and someone comes with a key to open a door and you walk out. “Making” you free is a process which continues over a period of time because the Truth is Jesus himself – “I am the way, the truth and the life.”
It is quite possible to halt that process at any time for many reasons. Unfortunately the opposite is often true. You are saved and then sit somewhere, occasionally a pew, and learn virtually nothing about the word, so you skirt discipleship and the truth It might be presented to you but not followed, and whatever freedom you once had wicks away like a much-used plastic air freshener.
Here are some examples from my experience. “I don’t believe that.” I remember hearing this after I got the baptism in the Holy Spirit. These gifts are thoroughly described and recommended in scripture, but then a denomination or well-known teacher says this is not for today and it is easier to let someone else do your Christian walk for you, to sit, soak, and sour in your former theology rather than to move along with the Word. At that point you become a disciple in word but not in deed. The truth, that is Jesus, having been rejected moves on. Hesitate to say what you don’t believe in – maybe God has something new for you.
I told God when I graduated with a MA in missions that I didn’t care what denominations and groups did in the mission field; I wanted to be where He was moving and working. It meant that the majority of my coworkers thought my ideas were off the wall. My superiors said flatly “We are not going into mainland China.” It took 12 years for me to get to China but it was worth the wait and, in spite of my impatience, the timing was perfect. How much more quickly accepted I was!
Writing off China (7 out of 10 earthlings live there) looks so totally foolish today doesn’t it! But that is what Man does – not sinful man, not satanic man, but self-willed and not-God-willed Man. Missions committees are helpful in their way but not the word in which we continue.
Christian life promises freedom at the end, not in the beginning. So let’s paraphrase this verse:
After you have been soaking in the Word of God and have walked out in your life many of its principles, and having proved your discipleship, then Jesus, the Truth will become a part of your personal life and will continue to make you free day-by-day. Enoch did this – so can you.
French: Vous connaîtrez la vérité, et la vérité fera de vous des hommes libres.
Chinese: 你 们 必 晓 得 真 理 ， 真 理 必 叫 你 们 得 以 自 由 。