During the ministry of Jesus, many believed on Him because of His Word and works. A period of popularity continued in which people were embracing Jesus’ ministry and leadership.
Jesus says, “If you continue in My Word, you are really My disciples and you shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set you free.”
Now, this sets the tone for our discussion of freedom. The center piece upon which this promise turns is the word “continue.” Jesus is not talking about exposure to His Word as an instantaneous download of Truth. He is talking about a process of progress through which experiencing Truth produces greater freedom.
There is not magic wand of freedom, and the freedom you have come from experiencing truth that comes from continuing in His Word.
Jesus doesn’t say, “You will be exposed to truth and be free.” Or, “You will know about truth and be free.” He doesn’t even say, “You will be convinced of truth and be free.”
He says, “You will be real disciples if you continue in My word, and you will know the truth by experiencing truth. Experiencing truth as disciples will set you free.”
Take care not to quote this section of Scripture in a manner that suggests magic-wand transformation when Jesus is specific about continuing, discipling, and experiencing as a basis for freedom.
More Than Decade of FreedomMinistry
After ministering freedom to tens of thousands of people for more than a decade, I am more convinced than ever that the healthiest ministry of the ecclesia requires strong discipling leadership, that the way Jesus taught salvation, redemption, freedom, and leadership presumed relationships in which accountability was primary and pervasive.
Hear His voice: “You believe in Me? Great! True disciples continue in My word in a way that makes them accountable to live out the consequences of what they believe. In this way, you experience truth that sets you free.”
Of course, I am quick to say that there are many styles of ministering freedom that are valid and successful. Deliverance, inner healing, breaking curse, restoring wounded hearts, and reclaiming the spirit, soul, and body of people from darkness can be done in more than one way. Successfully. People are really free from demonization through power ministries, prayer, authority, in an instant!
However, remember that Jesus isn’t talking about that in this passage. He is talking about living free through discipling. Discipling makes us accountable for revelation that arrives from outside us and for which we are accountable. Leaders make us accountable.
By definition, ecclesia includes discipling. By definition, discipling includes leadership. By definition, leadership includes accountability. By definition, leadership includes submission.
Many people who do not continue in His Word refuse to be accountable for the very issues in their lives that keep them in bondage. The prescription of Jesus for freedom involves discipling, and discipling involves accountability. How free do you want to be?
hell attempts to convince people that leadership is bondage! Wow! Blatantly unBiblical, yet effective strategy to separate people from the leadership and accountability necessary to experience freedom! Jesus doesn’t say, “No man can serve no master.” He says, “No man can serve two masters.” This issue isn’t to not have any leadership! Just the opposite: to have the leadership that disciples truth into your life so you can experience truth in a liberating way.
Are we satisfied with people coming to know Jesus then live decades without the radical life-change knowing Jesus through discipling leadership produces? Are we happy to accumulate believers instead of maturing believers into leaders? Are we lowering the bar to include nearly every lifestyle and behavior, dumbing down the Message to accomplish a goal inconsistent with the goals of Jesus?
If our definition of church doesn’t include the development of leadership, we miss the meaning of the word “ecclesia,” and we fail to cooperate with what Jesus is building. Ecclesia is a legislative assembly of kingdom people; so, we should be producing people who can function with maturity, integrity, and freedom to establish kingdom justice and judgment in the earth. We are not called to find novel ways to tease people into showing up for a religious show once or twice a month.
Strength of Will
Do you really want to be free of addictions? Then, strengthen your will. Fast. Clean your house of the things to which you are addicted. Change the behavior in which you are comfortable returning to that activity. Change the relationships that encourage that addiction. Unplug the technology that opens the door. Throw away the reading materials that tell you it is normal. Stop living by the flesh and surrender to the power of the Spirit!
Do you really want to be free of shame? Then, stop watching displays of shame produced by a trillion-dollar industry bent upon making shame the bondage of choice. Stop listening to jokes, reading books, watching TV shows, and having fellowship with darkness that diminishes your inhibitions! Stop feeding your lust!
Do you really want to be free from the confusion of gossip, murmuring, and division? Then, stop opening your life to evil by listening or conversing with people who exhibit this behavior. Stop opening your mind through your cell phone, email, social network, and conversations to people who bring questions to everything God, your leaders, and you are doing in obedience to God.
Do you really want to be free? Make yourself accountable to leaders who know His word and have the courage and compassion to bring correction to your life. The strength of will that comes from them is what you need while you build the same strength of will yourself. There are few things more fundamental to freedom than accountability.
People who really want to be free don’t continue behaviors, associations, and information processing that contributes to bondage. They change to be changed – the discipline of repentance that activates and appropriates the power of the Cross.
People who really want to be free submit to leaders, make themselves accountable, confess their faults to be healed, cease covering what needs to be confronted. “If you are really My disciples, continue in My word.”
Discipling is not being followed. We “follow” someone’s Tweets. Jesus was talking about leaving something and following Him in a way that made the person’s life available and accountable for discipling. We follow so we can be discipled.
At a very fundamental level, this settles the question of whether or not we should “attend church” by redefining both terms. “Attend” should mean “accountable to leadership to continue,” and “church” should mean “the kingdom assembly Jesus calls together to accomplish kingdom assignments.”
Discipling that is more “learning about the Truth” than “experiencing the truth through accountability to live the Truth” will not set you free. There is nothing more obvious than the reality that just because people know to do right doesn’t mean they will do right. Truth must be experienced to be liberating. Truth must be experienced within a discipling context, leadership accountability and submissive following, to be liberating. We cannot separate freedom from discipling, discipling from leadership, leadership from accountability, accountability from submission without undermining the foundations of kingdom established by Jesus.