The DEEP

The Path

The issue.

John 8:31–32

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

This passage would make perfect sense, except that it begins with, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him.” This isn’t addressed to unbelievers.

Jesus goes on to say, “… the truth shall make you free,” but only for those of them who abide in My word. They already believe. What’s up with adding another requirement? Is this works-based salvation?

No. Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, but believed what? Do they believe in His death and resurrection? Do they believe in His deity? Do they have the Holy Spirit?

No, no, and no. Of course not. This isn’t about works versus faith because their belief isn’t that kind of faith. You can believe a lot of things Jesus said, such as the golden rule, without anything remotely approaching saving faith.

But at the same time, this is an important lesson about the journey of faith. No one goes from zero to a hundred in an instant.

Closed minds become open and then things start to change. When you’re on the right path, where or when you crossed the line into saving faith isn’t the issue.

The path is the issue.


Christians nowadays get this wrong in two ways. They think crossing the line is the issue or they think the endpoint is the issue.

No, the path is the issue because Christ is the issue. If the gospel is just about saving me, then crossing the line and getting to heaven are the only things that matter.

But that’s a self-centered view of the gospel, not to mention a boring one.

Still, it’s understandable, especially for new Christians. They’re not expected to have a mature, advanced view. Later, as they grow in Christ, they’ll grow in humility. They’ll get past a child’s understanding of the gospel and discover the full truth.

But notice that this is the path making itself the issue. As we walk the path, we learn that the walk is more than just to get from point A to point B; it’s to grow us in the walk.

This is taught beautifully in the Christian classic, Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.

If you’ve never read it, you’re missing out.


These Monday—Friday DEEPs are written by Mike Slay. The Saturday DEEPs are written by Matt Richardson. To subscribe to all the DEEPs click here:

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The weekly study guides, which include the Monday–Friday devotionals plus related questions for discussion or meditation, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. ESV stands for the English Standard Version. © Copyright 2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. NIV stands for The Holy Bible, New International Version®. © Copyright 1973 by International Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. KJV stands for the King James Version.

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.