Recently, I heard a simple, but very profound, statement about the Christian life. It places all of Christians and Christianity in three stages. The first stage is the "come unto me" stage. Secondly, there is the "follow me" stage and last the "abide in me" stage. If analyze that, I think you could agree all of Christianity can be placed in those three stages.
This morning I want to share with you the words of Jesus related to
abiding in Christ. Please leave your Bible open to John 15, and follow
If you could ask a grape vine how the branches bear fruit, how would it respond to you? I think it would say, "I produce the ingredients for the branch to bear fruit. All the branch has to do is stay attached to me." Likewise, if the branch could answer the question it would say, " I don't produce fruit, I just bear it." Further, the information would be shared the branch must depend upon the vine.
Verse five records the Lord saying, "...He that abides in me, and I in Him," How is it to be possible for us to be in Christ and Christ in us? The same way the vine is in the branch and the branch is in the vine. I might further illustrate with the following story.
Several years ago a man heard a blacksmith give the testimony: "I'm glad I'm in Christ and that Christ is in me." The next day this man came by the blacksmith shop and said, "I don't think it's possible for you to be in Christ and Christ in you. At that time the blacksmith has a horseshoe in the fire so he asked the man if the horseshoe was in the fire. The man replied, "Yes, it is." Then the blacksmith took the shoe out of the fire and held it close to the man and asked, "Is the horseshoe in the fire, or is the fire in the horseshoe?" The point was made.
We are instructed to abide in Christ. His life is then produced in us and we can be productive. This is the first "abide command". Jesus said, "Abide in me", but he also said, "...and my words abide in you." We are to abide in Him and in His word. His is the living word and he is the written word. The first verse of this gospel says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God." Abiding in the Word will have an effect on our cleanliness. Notice verse 3, "You are already clean, because of the word which I have spoken to you", as it relates "The words of Jesus make one wise unto salvation. After being saved, they help us to grow and live a life that is more pure. The word of the Lord guides us to believe and then our acts of faith can and will spring from what we believe. Faith is always on action, but its foundation is what we believe. Notice John 6:63b, "...the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life." We are to abide in the word of our Lord.
Thirdly, we are instructed in verses 9 and 10 to "...abide in my love."
What a great privilege for the Christian. This word abide means to "dwell,
remain or continue." We are to continue seeing ourselves in the love of
the Lord. We are told we will abide in His love if we keep His
commandments. The most obedient children have the opportunity of knowing they abide in the Love of the Lord.
As a child, my friends and I would sometimes play in the rain. It was fun to get near a down spout from a big roof. The water would really flow from that spout. A likeness can be in God's commandment being like a down spout and the love of God like the water. If you and I are very close to His commandments we sense His love.
How are we doing as abiders? We are to abide in Him, in His word and
in His love. We are also instructed concerning the results of abiding.
Please notice this emphasis.
The second result of abiding is fruitfulness. The vine can produce more fruit for the branch to bear if it abides most correctly. This fruit is the fruit of the Spirit talked about in Galations 5:22-23. It may be the bringing of a lost person to Christ. It is my opinion that it is the fruit of the Spirit and this fruit results in others coming to Christ. If I am correct, each of us must check the results of fruitfulness. Do they indicate we are abiding? Those who abide are promised "they will bear much fruit."
Thirdly, there is the result of work being spiritually effective. Jesus said, "...apart from me you can do nothing" verse 5b. This does not mean we can not display talent or education or busy ourselves with hours of work. It does not mean we can do all of this to no avail spiritually, God must be involved for His work to be blessed. We can do nothing of spiritual significance without abiding. If we abide we will do works that man can not explain.
Paul had education and abilities. He matched all of that with the Greeks in his Mars Hill sermon. However, in 1Cor. 2:2 He states, "I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified." Perhaps Paul learned to put an added emphasis of being single minded about abiding in the cross of Christ.
A fourth result is a productive prayer life. Look again at verse 7. It emphatically states the prayer result of abiding. If we abide in Christ and His word we can ask whatever we wish and it will be done for us. Of course, the key is abiding in Christ and His word. Also, when you are abiding this way your wishes are in accord with the will of the Lord. Nevertheless, a positive prayer life is a result.
The fifth result is mentioned in verse 11 as the Lord says, "These things have I spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that you joy may be full." So, obviously joy is a result of the abiding life. The Lord wants His joy in us so our joy may be full. I have preached a series of sermons on the "Fruit of the Spirit" listed in Galations 5:22-23. Joy is more than happiness. It is not a happy occasion or an evening of fun or entertainment. It is the quality of the Spirit that causes a deep and abiding sense of joy even in trouble or tragedy. It is something like the still water that runs deep. The deep river is not as noisy as a shallow mountain stream. But, the deep river certainly has more useful characteristics. Joy is more lasting and helpful in the Christian life that is happiness.
Yes, there are benefits and results from a life that abides. The mature
Christian can be observed and their life is worthy of imitation. This is
true because abiders are seeking to be imitators of Christ. Truly, He is
our example. Please follow further as we look at the example of abiding.
Secondly, He is the example of abiding in the Word of the Father. Notice John 12:49 and 50. In verse 50b, Jesus summarizes, "...therefore, the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me...." What an example of abiding in the Word of the Lord! We are challenged to follow His example. Paul tells us we are to be conformed to the image of Christ.
Thirdly, we are given an example of abiding in the Love of Christ. Look at John 15:10. Christ keeps the Father's commandments..." The "just as" emphases Him being our example. We are to be like Him and those who desire to be abiders are more successful in keeping the commands.
I heard a story of a family cleaning their attic. Many old books were found. One book had evidently not been opened for sometime. In the front of the book a picture of the author and a picture of Christ had been printed on opposite pages. The ink of the two pictures stuck together so the face of Christ was imprinted over the authors picture. The two pictures had abided together and the authors had just about become one picture.
Where are you in the stages of Christian development? Have you obeyed
the call of Christ as He said, "...Come unto me..."? That must be the first
step. But, for all who want the most in the Christian life there is the
abiding sage. Where are you this day?