chains [These message notes are from the Truth or Dare series]

This week we began a 3-week series entitled Truth or Dare.  The series is all about looking at the importance of knowing and growing in the truth of the Gospel and also daring to live out our faith in our daily lives.  While the game Truth or Dare is all about deciding which fate might be less uncomfortable, our Christian faith expects us not to choose one over the other, but instead to not only know the truth but to live it out.

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendantsand have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.- John 8:31-38

Truth is...

When Jesus tells the disciples "then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free," I immediately have two questions.  What is the truth and what does it set us free from?  There are plenty of things in life that are true.  Facebook is filled with true statements every time sometimes likes a status that says "truth is..."  Most American car horns honk in the key of F.  One quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet.  Right-handed people live, on average, nine years longer than left handed  people.  These are all "truth," but I have a feeling that these are not the truths that Jesus is talking about.

When Jesus says "the truth will set you free," he is referring to the truth of all the scriptures that proclaim who we are and who God is.  He is referring to the Gospel.  It is not the useless facts that we can find on the internet, but the truth of the Bible that reveals that we are people enslaved to sin and we have a God that loves us dearly.

You are a slave.

If you are a slave, what can you do?  What options do you have?  If you are a slave and want to be free, what can you do about it?  If you are a slave, do you have any choice in what you get to have for dinner?  Slaves are controlled entirely by their master.  This is how Jesus refers to us in relation to our sin.  Sin is our master; we are slaves to sin.  And because we are slaves we cannot do anything but be controlled by sin.  We can't escape from sin.  And being free from sin is not in our own power, it happens by the death and ressurection of Jesus.

From slaves to sons.

What if a slave wanted to stop being a slave and become part of a family?  He can't.  A slave is stuck being a slave.  Think about the differences between a slave and a son.  A slave isn't free, doesn't have any rights, doesn't get to choose when to eat.  But a son is loved by his parents, he is cared for, he is provided for.   A slave cannot become a son, but that is exactly what happens when Jesus died on the cross.  And when we talk about "the truth," this is exactly the truth that we are talking about.  The gospel is the truth that sets us free; it's the truth that God works through in moving us from being slaves of sin to children of God.

Here's how Paul describes the Gospel:

"Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.  After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed." - 1 Corinthians 15:1-8

The truth is...Jesus died for our sins, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day.  And Paul says in case you don't believe me, here are a few people who saw this happen and if you feel like you are too far outside the reach of God's grace, "I am the least of the apostles."  Paul says, "I killed Christians because I hated the idea of worshipping Jesus, but Jesus showed up and the truth of his Gospel set me free.  And if I can be His child, so can you."

Photo Credit: mknott