Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Abide in Me: How?



Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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 15:1-4, ESV)

The gospel is the power of God to salvation for all who believe (Romans 1:16). There is good news that leads to life change for all who believe it.

Jesus, who is God, walked this earth, living a perfect life, died an undeserving sinner's death, and rose from the grave three days later. Any sinner who repents of their rebellion against this Savior and trusts in His finished work for their salvation will indeed be saved. God makes His home in the believer and that believer is reckoned a saint. The sinner becomes clothed in the righteousness of Christ and is fully accepted by the Father for all eternity.

Isn't that truly good news?

In the passage quoted above, Jesus speaks of our relationship with Him being one of abiding. The word isn't readily familiar for most people. In fact, it seems kind of ancient. It's a word that belongs in a hymnal somewhere. Or the King James Version. Surely there are better words we can use today with our modern vernacular. Think again!

The word is meno in Greek and it means to "stay put," or "remain." John the Baptizer said that the Holy Spirit had this kind of relationship with Jesus (John 1:32). It's the perpetual state of the word of God in the lives of those God has caused to be born again (1 Peter 1:23). In John 15, we learn that this word also describes the relationship all gospel-believers have with Christ.

That last sentence contains the thesis of this little devotional. All gospel-believers are people who abide in Christ. There are not some gospel-believers who abide in Christ and some who don't. Rather, all who gospel-believers abide in Christ and all who abide in Christ are gospel-believers.

When considering the Christian life, many will assume that abiding is a responsibility of the believer. Perhaps you've been told, "You are to make sure that you keep on abiding so that you can bear fruit for God." Yet what often goes unconsidered is the fact that abiding in and of itself is a fruit. "Abiding" isn't the original fruit that we conjure before getting the power from God to bear other fruit. We are just as reliant on God's power to initially bear fruit as we are to continually bear fruit. Before we go any farther down that road, it's likely that a working definition of "abiding in Christ" would be helpful.

To abide in Christ means to trust in a Sovereign God and a Simple Gospel. It's trusting in the God who is so big that we need not worry about anything in this life or the next because we belong to the One who owns all things. It's trusting in the simplicity of the gospel of our salvation, which does not contain a long, complicated list of dos and don'ts, but rather a call to repent and believe in Someone Else's works. Abiding in Christ is trusting in two SGs: the Sovereign God and the Simple Gospel. This abiding trust is initiated by the Spirit (Galatians 3:3) and it is also perpetuated by Him (Philippians 1:6).

So what exactly is our responsibility in this relationship? First Peter 2 gives us great instruction:
"For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." (vv. 21-25, NASB, emphasis added)
Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith, accomplished all that was required to give us an eternal Sabbath rest by laying down His perfectly righteous life in the stead of ruined sinners. And on His way to that cross, He gave us an example. He rested in His Father's care as He continually entrusted Himself to Him who judges righteously.

You, O saved sinner, are called to quiet your heart before the God of your salvation and trust in His sovereign love at work in your life. Trust in His word and obey His instruction as an overflow of your trust in Him. Gather with His body, the church, that you may receive counsel and encouragement, and that you may serve in the way He has designed you to serve. Continually entrust yourself to Him who judges righteously and you will find that by His grace you will indeed bear much fruit.

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