Abiding In Christ
John 15:4 – “Abide in Me (look to Him exclusively, and what He has done for us at the Cross), and I in you (if we properly abide in Him, which we can only do by ever making the Cross the Object of our Faith, then He will abide in us without fail). As the branch (Believer) cannot bear fruit of itself (one cannot Sanctify one’s self! it is impossible!), except it abide in the Vine (abiding in Him refers to the fact that we understand that every solution we seek, for whatever the need might be, is found only in Christ and the Cross; we must never separate Christ from the Cross [I Cor. 1:23; 2:2]); no more can you, except you abide in Me.”
In the setting of John 15:1-15, Jesus speaks to His Disciples of the need to produce Fruit. This term reveals the need, even the requirement, in regard to the Christian exhibiting the attributes of true Christianity. True fruit is produced by the flow of life-giving nutrients through the “vine” into the “branch.” Jesus makes it clear that He is the Vine and we are the branches. Without, Him, we can do nothing! Fruit-bearing can also be looked at in the sense of progressive Sanctification. The Believer is sanctified for God the very moment that he or she accepts Christ as their Saviour. We become the legal “Children” of God and we are “set apart” or “separated out” from all the other peoples of the world and set aside especially for Him. This is instant Sanctification. This Work is carried out by the Holy Spirit at the moment of Conversion. I Corinthians 6:11 says, “And such were some of you: but you are washed, but you are sanctified, but you are justified in the Name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” With this done, the process of “fruit-bearing” can begin. Once we are connected to the Vine, God is expecting us to bring forth Fruit, to bear the resemblance of the source of our life, that is, to look like, act like, think like Christ by letting His Life flow through us.
THE DEFINITION OF “ABIDING”
In the Greek Text, the term “abide” is an imperative, meaning that this word is given as a command presented by one in authority. So “abiding in Christ” is not an option. It is the responsibility of each and every Believer. However, before we can attempt to keep this commandment, before we endeavor to carry out this word, we must understand what it means. First let’s look at what it is not. To abide doesn’t indicate an action. It does not indicate a labor or some work carried out by the Believer. We have a role to play in all this, but the role does not surround the idea of works. It doesn’t apply to the practice of true Christian disciplines such as prayer, Bible reading, Church attendance, or a dozen of other needful and helpful activities that a Christian who loves God should be actively pursuing. To abide in something indicates the following:
1. To stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy) or
2. To remain, abide, dwell, live.
Therefore, if a Believer is to truly abide he must stay in a place already arrived at. He is to dwell in a state or a location already achieved. This does not require a “labor for payment” mentality, which most Christians (those with carnal or unrenewed minds) hold to. We abide by maintaining the relationship with Christ, which has already been granted. We abide by watching over the relationship with Christ, which was given at the moment of Salvation. For it was in that moment that we were granted the immense privilege of being united with Christ, baptized into the Person of Christ, by the Person and Power of the Holy Spirit, solely through the agency of Faith.
Colossians 2:6 says, “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk you in Him.” The simplicity of this statement reveals the true responsibility of the Believer when it comes to “abiding.” The same way in which we entered our relationship with Christ, is the same way by which we carry on our relationship with Christ. The Believer’s role is the role of Faith. Our simple Faith in Christ, who He is and what He did for us is what granted us access to God’s Grace in the first place. Therefore, to abide in Christ one should be exhorted to maintain and mature in the Faith that was present the moment you got Saved. The Object of Faith was and is the key. When you came to Christ Jesus you had to stop trusting in anything you did and had to rely totally upon His Finished Work in order to be acceptable to God. You had to relinquish all faith in self (deny self) and rely exclusively upon Christ. That’s how the supernatural event of Salvation occurred. Now, as a Believer, you must maintain that simple Faith in Christ. As you do, the maturing process begins and is carried out. For the “branch” to stay connected to the “vine” the branch is required to believe that the vine already has in it everything the branch needs to be fruitful. We are to abide in the vine by Faith. As we apply our Faith to this truth, the evidence of this action being correct is clearly seen in our lives.
The results of abiding is Fruit. As we continually believe in Who Christ is and what He has done for us (Christ and Him Crucified) our lives begin to change. The life-giving nutrients that reside in the vine find an open pathway by which the branch is nourished. The Father, seeing Fruit evidenced, aids in the process by “purging” the branch. He cuts away the things unwanted so that the things desired are far more prevalent and obvious. So, where is your faith today? Is it in Christ Crucified as it was on the day you received Salvation? Or have you misunderstood the command to abide and made it a work, an effort, a labor? Repent of trusting in yourself and turn holistically to Faith in Christ and His Cross. Remember that our responsibility is one of Faith. It won’t be easy, and some “fruit” will take a long time to develop. Just remember what abiding truly means and how it is accomplished. For Jesus said in John 15:5, “I Am the Vine, you are the branches: he who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without Me you can do nothing.”