The Word of God has authority, it is not mere truth. Jesus’ words had authority for his listeners. He speaks truth with authority to us today just as he spoke then. Because he speaks with the authority of his Father, the Living God, we must take his words seriously. If we do not heed them there are consequences.
Truth goes nowhere if not acted upon, if not followed through. Truth is given freely to Jesus’ disciples for a reason, to produce obedience of faith, turning, action. Truth demands a response from us. God always initiates truth – it is not from man. And we must respond. Jesus actually lived this out and taught his followers to do the same. If he acted in this way, must not we do the same?
Jesus’ first disciples were taught truth from the one who IS truth in human form, the one who is the word of God in human dress. They were able to grasp only so much of this truth as they followed him all around Galilee and Judah, Israel. But it was after the events of the resurrection of Jesus from death and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that they began to appreciate more fully the profound implications of his truth and we have the historical book we call The Acts of the Apostles which records how they actually put it into practice. They obeyed because Jesus’ words continued to have authority.
If we keep on seeking truth, soaking it up, even digesting it, storing it away in our hard disc, keeping it filed and catalogued –how can that be good? Our minds can be full, stimulated even, but our hearts remain cold. Truth can be shelved, put where is does not challenge us, so we live in denial. Cognitive dissonance.
He said to his disciples, freely you have received— freely give. We cannot keep his truth to ourselves. We must share, give, tell. Shout.
The word of God is living, active, extremely sharp, having great power in its effects. God never wants his word to return to him empty. It has a purpose, a telos. It has authority. It must not be hidden away. The world desperately needs to hear.
The Pharisees had much truth to proclaim God’s truth to people in Jesus’ day but Jesus had authority in his “truly, truly” words, his teaching. He spoke not just for people to hear and applaud but for people to obey.
Beloved, we must beware of just storing up God’s wrath for ourselves in grabbing truth, becoming an expert, showing off our knowledge, but not acting on it. Some teachers of truth teach but do not expect hearers to act on it either.
Jesus sternly warned his hearers in the parable of the two house builders and the two different foundations, sand or rock (Mat 7:24-27). Both hear exactly the same words of Jesus but the builders on rock are those who obey Jesus’ words. The builders on sand are those who hear but do not obey Jesus’ words.
Again, in the sheep and goats parable (Mat 25:31-46), the only difference between them was what they did and didn’t do about Jesus’ commands to care for even the least of his humble brothers and sisters, his disciples (see Mat 10:42 and the whole passage).
Jesus even offended his mother and brothers once by declaring that “my true family members are the ones who do my Father’s will.” (Mat 12:46-50)
If we do not act on his words, are we not despising his words?
Worship of the Father must be worship in spirit and truth (John 4:12). He did not say true worship is worship of truth. Truth is a gift from the Giver and we must love the Giver not the gift.
Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—he is very truth personified in human form, pictured in the Gospels as truth totally mobile, walking around among men full of grace and truth … For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. (John 1:14-17)
There’s the difference! Knowledge of the law failed to produce righteousness. But Jesus not only lived the truth, he is the truth. He speaks with authority and people are transformed when they choose him.
We must not stockpile truth like money in a bank. The manna God sent daily, and not eaten on that day, went rotten for the Israelites in the desert wanderings. It was not allowed to be kept and worshipped. Truth is to be shared.
Surely the real issue is to live by every authoritative, dynamic word that proceeds straight from the mouth of God, not out of some memory bank? His mercies are new every day.
Freely you have received, freely give!