ABIDING IN HIM
Every disciple will pass through three levels of relationship with Jesus Christ,
1. "Come unto me" ( Matt. 11:28 .) This is Christ's simple invitation to find rest and relief from the awesome burden of sin. There is at least a twofold rest that is taught in the Bible. First, there is the salvation rest. This is clearly taught in Hebrews chapter 4. There is a warning there for the professing Christian who has not mixed faith with the gospel. I’m afraid there are thousands of professing Christians sitting in gospel preaching churches who know absolutely nothing about the faith-rest of salvation. I cannot ultimately judge them. That is not my job. But it is hard not to try to analyze for the purpose of discernment why our churches are so powerless and so difficult to lead when it comes to the application of the Scriptures in matters that are essential, like discipline for instance. The Word of God says that when sin is tolerated in the church “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” This can mean nothing but that if you do not deal with the kinds of sin that the Scriptures call attention too as matters of discipline, it will corrupt the whole church (1Cor 5:6). It has been my observation that most churches refuse to deal with disciplinary matters when it involves friends. Of course Jesus is supposed to be our best friend and He says do it. Just remember this. The pain of obedience is not nearly as great as the pain of disobedience.
Then there is the “rest” in His sovereign purpose. This is Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This is rest of soul. I no longer worry about the circumstances that surround me. I have come to realize that He is in charge of providence. He works daily miracles that I know nothing about. There is nothing man can do to me that will alter His ultimate plan for me. This is truly a “rest.” He can be trusted in my present circumstance as well as my future destination.
2. " Follow me" ( Matt. 4:19.) That is the invitation to a closer relationship, a relationship of master and servant. For the original twelve it was a call to service. Their service was under His close scrutiny and direction. He taught them. He rebuked them when they were wrong and they took it. Jesus is still calling us to follow Him in the matter of service. To answer this call the apostles had to quit their regular work. To others it meant a change of their actions and reactions in the home and work place. They became witnesses everywhere they went. They assembled to worship and study the Word of God they had at that time. They did not even take a business journey without consulting Him (James 4:15). They were servants and acknowledged it. One of the things that brought persecution to the early church was their refusal to worship Caesar or bow to idols. They had given their allegiance to another king. It was not a light thing. They actually gave their lives because they said in substance Jesus comes first.
3. "Abide in me" (John 15:4-5). This refers to the deepest relationship any human can have with Jesus. It is the key to victorious Christian living. The illustration is taken from the vine and the branches. Jesus said “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
The word “abide” (meno) means “to remain, to abide.” First, remember this is not a passage on how to be saved. That is not even under consideration. But it does mean for me to remain where God put me when He saved me. Where did He put me? 1 Cor. 12:13 says, “For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.” The body into which we are put by the Holy Spirit is Christ (2Cor 5:17). If I am not in Christ, I am not saved.
Does the word “abide” suggest the possibility of coming and going as we please? No it doesn’t. This is where any Bible illustration will break down. For instance John 10:9 says, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” We preach that Jesus is the Door and entering that Door saves. Does going back out that Door mean one loses his salvation? No. Remember it was Jesus who said, “And shall go in and out and find pasture.” Most heresy is based on the misapplication of Bible illustrations like the Parables for instance.
The word “abide” is an aorist active imperative verb. This aorist tense is a once-for-all act at a point of time. That once-for-all act was where I was saved. The active voice is the voice of volition. The subject (I) must make a choice. In this case it means to stay with the choice. The imperative mood is also the mood of choice and expresses a command and stresses urgency. Why is this so important that it is urgent? Because Jesus says, “...for without me ye can do nothing.” I do absolutely nothing from the Lord’s viewpoint if I act apart from Him. One might say, “Well, a Christian can do nothing apart from Him. It is not possible.” If it were not possible for me to do something apart from Him then why does He give this parable and appeal to my choice to abide?
To “abide” means to grow in the Soil of His life. Eph 4:15 “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:”See also Heb. 3:14. “Abiding” means to submit to the pruning process of the Father (John 15:1-2). It means to patiently endure and not grow cold toward Him because of trials and disappointments.
To “abide” in Him results in fruit bearing. Fruit bearing is the natural effortless product of a healthy plant. Lets abide in Him and stay healthy.
May God bless these words to our hearts.