So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” John 8:31
Christ preaches about true and false followers of God’s Word. He is saying, “Many hear the gospel and stick with it because it’s useful to them. They gain money, possessions, and honor from it. Yes, dear friends, who wouldn’t want that? This is why I teach that if you live by what I say, you are truly my disciples. For I have two kinds of disciples. The first kind believes in me. They praise and listen to the gospel and say, ‘This is the real truth.’ I consider these people excellent disciples. They continue to believe. Then there are others who hear the gospel. But when the battle heats up, they say, ‘Oh my, I don’t know whether I should give up this or that thing for the sake of the gospel.’ There are only a few who hold tightly to the gospel when there’s a cross to carry. Where can I find those who will stand firm? Therefore, I say, ‘If you hold my teaching, you are really my disciples.’”
People would gladly believe in Christ if it meant becoming rich and acquiring a kingdom. But if it involves suffering, then their faith is finished. So Christ knows many of them won’t keep on following his teaching. Remaining true to his teaching is rare, especially when evil winds begin to blow. Many become Christian and hold to the gospel in the beginning. Afterward, they fall way just as the believers in this passage did. It’s similar to the parable about the seed that fell on the rock. When the heat of the sun beat down on it, it withered and dried up (Luke 8:6). But those who stick with the gospel are true disciples of Christ.
The Ninety-Five Theses is a text that everyone knows, most refer to, but few actually read, writes Stephen Nichols. Nevertheless, it is such a crucial text that it deserves to be read widely. Toward that end, Nichols has prepared this edition with an illuminating introduction, explanatory notes, and several illustrations. Martin Luther has left a legacy that continues to enrich the church through his writings. . ., writes Nichols. All of this may be traced back to the last day in October 1517 and the nailing of the Ninety-Five Theses to the church door.