Article # seven: Abiding
J E S U S : Abide in Me. (John 15:4)
This is the crux of John 15. Get this and it’s all you have to get. Miss it and you miss everything.
What does it mean to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ?
As stated previously, the optimum example of abiding is Jesus and the Father. Jesus was sent to earth by His Father, and yet the Two were very much together as the words of Jesus so sufficiently express:
J E S U S : My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. (John 4:34)
J E S U S : Whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. (John 5:19)
J E S U S : I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. (John 8:28)
J E S U S : As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father. (John 10:15)
J E S U S : I and My Father are one. (John 10:30)
J E S U S : The Father is in Me, and I in Him. (John 10:38)
J E S U S : The Father who dwells in Me does the works. (John 14:10)
J E S U S : I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. (John 16:32)
J E S U S : I have glorified You on the earth. (John 17:4)
Abiding in means dwelling in or living in. Jesus said, “The Father who dwells in me does the works.” When a branch is relationally attached to the Vine it is the Vine, not the branch, who “does the works.” The sole responsibility of the branch is to be, and remain, relationally attached to the vine.
I will say it again: The sole responsibility of the branch is to be, and remain, relationally attached to the vine.
If the connection between a vine and its branch is healthy there will be a strong flow of sap from the vine into the branch causing fruit to be birthed and to mature. Spiritually, if the connection between “the true vine” and the branch is healthy there will be a continuous flow of grace from the Vine into the branch causing fruit to be birthed and to mature.
You might think, as a branch, this is all very good. But no! Therein lies the problem.
You see, the branch has an ego. The branch wants recognition. The branch has difficulty merely bearing; it wants to produce. It wants something to boast about to fellow branches, to be able to say, “Look what I have done (for the Lord, of course)!”
P a u l : I have been crucified with Christ. (Gal. 2:20)
Paul was a branch who died, mostly, to the old self life, and in so doing became very much alive in Christ. He bore much fruit, and his words still bear fruit worldwide. If every christian could say with Paul, “I have been crucified with Christ” the collective fruit would be immense, the entire world would soon be saved.
The problem is self. Self wants to govern self, quite resistant to surrender its lordship, even to Christ. That’s why the connection to “the true vine” is weak. And that’s why the flow of grace is inadequate. And that’s why fruit is sparse.
Abiding means trusting. Jesus fully trusted the Father, the Father fully trusted the Son. Without trust there is no abiding.
Abiding means focusing. We cannot say we abide in one and consistently focus on another. Newlyweds, still in infatuation, abide in each other. They are quite focused.
Abiding means following and obeying.
Abiding means loving. (It could also mean hating.)
Abiding in Christ means being consistently aware of His presence, realizing He is here.
It must be said that, sadly, you will never relate perfectly with Jesus here on earth. Paul’s relationship was good, as was that of John the Baptist and John the apostle and Stephen and others, but not perfect. The only perfect relationship was between Jesus and His Father.
The most we can hope for, strive for, pray for is increase. Continual increase. To love Him more is always doable. To have more of Him, relationally, should be the ache of our hearts. Think more.
It was because of the seamless relationship with the Father that Jesus accomplished His commission perfectly. Only perfection can do perfection. The few of us who manage to finish our course will do so through much stumbling and setbacks.
We are not ‘altogether’. Everything we accomplish is by tenacity. We fail, dig deeper into Christ, try again. Perhaps our disappointments far outnumber our successes but we keep going, keep leaning and trusting. We gain Christ, and thereby gain power and grace and the Holy Spirit.
Now let’s look at the person who tries to do, to accomplish, to succeed outside of Christ.
J E S U S : Apart from Me (cut off from vital union with Me) you can do nothing. (John 15:5 Amp)
J E S U S : As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. (John 15:4)
Jesus uses language difficult to misconstrue. Yet North American gospel churches are loaded with people (so-called laymen and so-called clergy or ministerial) who attempt to accomplish good works outside of “vital union with” Jesus Christ. This explains, fully, their lack of fruit. The fruit they do bear is consoling evidence there is a degree of abiding. Relationship can be measured by fruit.
Jesus promises those who abide in Him will bear fruit. (It is obvious the fruit we bear will be relative to the quality of that abiding.) And Jesus promises those who do not abide in Him will not bear fruit.
Wisdom cries out: Meditate on, seriously consider what Jesus is saying to you in John 15. If you desire to bear fruit you MUST abide in Him. If you do abide in Him you WILL bear fruit.
We bear fruit, we don’t (cannot) produce fruit. We are fruit-bearers, not fruit-producers. Though we cannot produce, many (most?) spend their christian lives trying.
There are two notable truths about fruit-producers:
1. They do not produce fruit.
2. They do not bear fruit.
Those living to produce do so by self-effort. They are leaning on, trusting in, glorifying, yes, abiding in self.
Jesus said, “Apart from Me you can do nothing.” What does nothing mean? Jesus was not saying, “Without Me you cannot tie your shoelaces” (though that is true). He was telling us in no uncertain language we cannot do any spiritual good unless we are relationally attached to Him. Listen again to our Teacher:
J E S U S : I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
C h a l l e n g e : Jesus cannot abide in you (be relationally attached to you) unless you abide in Him. Relationship necessitates two. The worth of relationship has been determined, not by Jesus, but by you. There is more, dear brother, dear sister! There is always more!
P r a y e r : Jesus! Our heart’s cry is “more”! Increase! More today than yesterday! More tomorrow than today! More next year than this year! More, dear Jesus, more! And my heart’s cry is that You anoint this article. Thank You, Lord. (And hopefully the reader says, “Amen!”)