Abiding In Christ

I was planning to post about this last night but the message just wasn’t complete, God wanted me to wait.  So I waited not knowing why, tonight as I sit down to write I understand why.  All day there have been little occurrences that have added to my understanding of this passage.  Last night I was struggling with how to put it together so I prayed, God answered.  Rest, listen, ponder.  That’s what I did and all day I heard him in my heart, saw proof of him all around me, and I understood more deeply what it means to abide in Him.

Let’s start with a brief definition of the word abide.

Abide – bear patiently, to be steadfast, unmovable; to stay in a given place, state, or expectancy.

Just keep that in mind as we delve into John 15:1-11.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  John 15:1

This passage is the very words of Christ to his disciples and I find it so beautiful.  Right off he reassures them that he is the true vine and that his Father is the vinedresser.  We see already that there is a connection between the two that is inseparable.  It also shows that both have an active role in the vine’s health and well being.

True Vine

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  John 15:2 

God, as the vinedresser, watches for the vine to bear fruit, carefully examining each branch, waiting for it to bear, knowing that any branch that is truly of the true vine will bear.  If a branch does not bear fruit it is taken away, pruned that the vine may grow in health and not be harmed by the false branch.

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Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.  John 15:3

When we hear the words of Jesus and believe with our hearts and souls we are made clean, we enter into relationship with him, a special relationship further explained in verse 4.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  John 15:4

Now we see why a branch may fail to bear fruit.  It doesn’t truly abide in the vine.  For when we are true believers in Christ we abide in him and he in us.  That is a glorious, astounding thing really,  Christ abides in us!  We are one with him and the result of that relationship is fruit.

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I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

As the true branches of the true vine we will bear fruit.  Granted not all in the same amounts, some bear more than others but all who abide in the vine will bear.  We do not bear fruit of ourselves though or through our own will but entirely through our relationship with the true vine, Christ do we bear, for apart from him we are barren, we can do nothing.  But through him all things are possible.

John-15&5

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If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.  John 15:6

Here we get further information about what happens to the branches the vinedresser must remove, and it’s not a pleasant thought.  Those who do not abide in Christ will be removed, gathered and thrown into the fire, burned.  I pray I always bear good fruit for my Lord, being separated from my sweet Lord for eternity is the most terrifying thought I can imagine.

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If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  John 15:7

Jesus softens the bleak, sorrowful truth of the barren branches by moving on to reminding those who do abide in him that his words are in them, strengthening them in their daily walk as the follow him.  All we need to do is call out to him, ask in his name and he will hear us and answer the call of his own.  We actually see Jesus praying for his disciples (followers) to be one with him in the following verse.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.”  John 17:20-23

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By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  John 15:8

For when the branches of the vine bear much fruit the Father is glorified and we are proven true in our faith in the Lord.

John 15

Abiding in Christ involves three key things.  It involves dependence upon Him as our rock, as the source of our strength.  When we depend upon Him then our hearts seek to please him, this is one reason we find it easier to follow his commandments than when we were sinners.  Because of this dependence upon the one in whom we place our trust, our Vine, we are assured that we are one not only with Christ but also with the Father through our oneness with the Son.

Second, it involves obedience.  This brings us back to the commandments for a good example of how we are obedient to Jesus, when we abide in him we begin to take on his nature as he resides in us as we do in him.  Those commandments that seemed so silly, so hard when we were yet dead in our sin now make so much perfect sense.  They aren’t to bind and restrain us, NO, they free us for they are God’s laws established to help us live a good life, freed from the strife, angst, torment that comes from a life lived rejecting God’s laws for man’s.  God’s laws are perfect, they ensure a life lived at peace with God and our fellow man, on our own part, we can not control what unbelievers do but we can control our own actions, choices and responses.

Third is continuance.  We must continue to abide in Christ eternally.  Once we are his nothing can change that save our own denial of Him, rejection of him.  No other man can remove us or separate us from our Lord and Savior.  Our continuance in Christ, our willingness to persevere even when times get tough, to never give up no matter what we may face here on earth is our strength, our hope, it is how we can face anything this world and even the adversary may throw at us.  When God is for us who can be against us – no one!

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  John 15:9

Jesus loves us as the Father loves him, we are called as his branches to abide in that love.  Folks, that is a beautiful place to abide, secure in the love of Christ.  There is no place I would rather be, no other place for me to abide other than with my Lord, my Savior, my Light, my Life.

Galatians 2-20

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  John 15:10

So often I hear those who say they are believers also say that they don’t have to follow the commandments of the Father.  Here, Jesus’ own words prove that thinking to be erroneous.  He explicitly says that because he kept his Father’s commandments and he abides in his love then we too should keep, and thus want to keep, Jesus’ commandments.  Just for the record Jesus verbally confirmed all of the Big 10 during his ministry and preaching directly except the Sabbath which he confirmed by keeping.  So we are still to uphold the Big 10, we should desire to do so because by doing so we are ensuring we are abiding in Christ.  The Big 10 are not just ten random commandments, they’re not guidelines, no they are commandments that when followed they ensure a life lived with God in the proper place and with a right attitude towards others.  Basically Jesus just summed the ten up succinctly when he gave us the two great commandments.  First, love the Lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul.  Second, Love your neighbor as yourself.  Considering that everyone on earth is our neighbor in a sense, when we love them as much as ourselves and thus follow the golden rule of do unto others as we’d have done to us then we will be showing the love and light of the vine to the world.  His love will abide in us and be poured out onto the darkness of this world through us.

abiding fruits

These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.  John 15:11

This line speaks for itself, when we abide in Christ, when we love Him and live our lives for him our joy will be full.  We will truly have joy unspeakable and be full of glory.  Glory which is just a hint of reflection from the love that abides in us, in our hearts and souls as we abide in Christ.  That love, that joy , that glory brings great honor, greatly glorifies the Father in heaven and that’s really what it’s all about.  As the Creator, God, the maker of heaven and earth, he deserves all the glory and praise.  Joy, love, peace it’s all ours when we choose to abide in Christ, to welcome him in to abide in us, when we are branches of the true vine.

Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:8-11

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