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Abide in Me

In John 15:4, the Lord said to His disciples, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”  This is the first of ten uses of the word “abide” in John 15:1-11.  The principle message in this passage is found in verse 5 – “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  The Lord’s teaching here is rich in applications, so let us glean a harvest of useful truth from the Scripture.

Let us first understand the figures used by the Lord in this passage.  In verse 1, we learn that Christ is the true vine, which depicts Him as the singular source of life and sustenance for the branches that abide in Him.  In that same verse, Jesus said that His Father is the vinedresser (or husbandman).  This means that God the Father is the one who tends the vineyard, cutting off useless branches and pruning fruitful branches (v. 2).  The branches in the Lord’s teaching are His individual disciples (v. 5 – “you are the branches”).  With the support of the vine (Christ), the branches are expected to bear much fruit.  The fruit in this scenario is understood to be the good works of Christians keeping and teaching the words of Christ.

With this understanding, let us consider how we may abide in Christ and He may abide in us.  We will begin by comparing verse 4 to verse 7.  These two verses begin with equivalent expressions – “Abide in Me, and I in you” (v. 4), and, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you…” (v. 7).  By comparing these, we see that our abiding in Christ and His abiding in us are truly matters of His words abiding in us.  The Lord gave further insight into this in verse 10, saying, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love.”  Comparing all three of these verses (4, 7, 10) we see that to keep Christ’s commandments is to have His words abiding in us, and to have the words of Christ abiding in us is to abide in Christ and in His love.

Throughout the Lord’s teaching regarding the vine and the branches, the emphasis is upon the importance of the branches bearing fruit.  Branches that do not bear fruit are taken away from the vine by the vinedresser, after which they are gathered and burned (vv. 2, 6).  This symbolizes how fruitless Christians will be cut off from Christ, and apart from Christ they can do nothing (v. 5).  Branches that bear fruit are pruned so that they may bear more fruit.  Notice that the branches are expected to bear fruit continuously and increasingly for as long as they are in the vine.  Also notice that pruning in verse 2 literally means “cleansing,” which is accomplished by means of Christ’s word (v. 3).  Those disciples that abide in Christ and are cleansed by His word can accomplish anything in Christ, for He says, “ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (v. 7).  This is not Christ’s permission for Christians to make selfish requests of God, but it is His guarantee that He will equip the branches that abide in Him to be successful according to His will (see 1John 5:14-15).

Putting this all together, we can see a simple progression that leads to us fulfilling our purpose in this world.  First, we see that Christ loves us and gives us His words (the gospel) for our cleansing.  Next, we see that we abide in His love by keeping His words.  Then, through keeping His word, we bear fruit.  When we bear fruit, God cleanses us in His words in order for us to bear more fruit.  Whenever we bear fruit, we glorify the Father (v. 8), which is our purpose for being in this world (Matt. 5:16).

Therefore, abiding in Christ is the key to life in this world and life in eternity.  He is the true vine, the source of life, and our connection to God the Father.  In Him, we are equipped to do anything that God wants us to do.  Apart from Him, we are incapable of doing anything of any spiritual value whatsoever.  To abide in Him, His words must abide in us, and we must keep His commandments.  Anything less than this renders us as dry branches, good for nothing but to be gathered up and burned in the fire.  Thank God for the wonderful, life-giving vine of Jesus Christ!

Stacey E. Durham




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