And, Now to Abide

Walk with Him. Walk in the Light. Abide in Him.

Writing the blog the last 2 weeks, we unintentionally created a 3-part series. First, we wrote about the definition of…

Walking with Him. Walking before/with God must be a way of life. The term walking means “to conduct oneself in a particular manner” or to “pursue a particular course of life.” In other words, instead of physically walking with God by their side, those who are said to have walked with God lived in such a way as if God really was walking with them, by their side – they lived openly and transparently to God, trying to please him with how they lived. They also just spend time with God through prayer.

The more you grasp the truth about who God is, about what God has decreed, about what God has done, and what God will do, the more your desire for a daily walk where you simply share your gratitude, your burdens, your insecurities and your heart with your Father.

Walking in the Light. Second, we explored to “walk in the light,” meaning we consider Jesus as “the light” in this world, and we “walk” in that light by following His precepts, living in His power, and growing in His grace. If you strive to live in such a way that nothing is hidden in the shadows, then you walk in the light. This in turn gives you the opportunity to live a life worthy of question. The question being, “Why is your life different?”

The third area to unpack is Abide in Him

Walk with Him. Walk in the Light. Abide in Him.

In a nutshell, abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. In other words, our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles! To “abide” is a verb. It is active. Abiding in Christ is not a feeling or a belief, but something we do.

Each week, we’ve checked in with to see their thoughts on each precept, so once again let’s see what they have to say.

To “abide” is to live, continue, or remain; so, to abide in Christ is to live in Him or remain in Him. When a person is saved, he or she is described as being “in Christ” (Romans 8:12 Corinthians 5:17), held secure in a permanent relationship (John 10:28–29). Therefore, abiding in Christ is not a special level of Christian experience, rather, it is the position of all true believers. The difference between those abiding in Christ and those not abiding in Christ is the difference between the saved and the unsaved.

Abiding in Christ is taught in 1 John 2:5–6, where it is synonymous with “knowing” Christ (verses 2 and 3). Later in the same chapter, John equates “remaining” in the Father and the Son with having the promise of eternal life (verses 24 and 25). Biblically, “abiding in,” “remaining in,” and “knowing” Christ are references to the same thing: salvation.

The phrase abiding in Christ pictures an intimate, close relationship, and not just a superficial acquaintance. In John 15:4–7, Jesus tells His disciples that drawing life from Him is essential, using the picture of branches united to a vine: “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 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. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Without that vital union with Christ that salvation provides, there can be no life and no productivity. Elsewhere, the Bible likens our relationship with Christ to that of a body with a head (Colossians 1:18)—another essential union.

Some people take the warning of John 15:6 (branches that do not abide in the vine are thrown away and burned) to mean that Christians are always in danger of losing their salvation. In other words, they say it’s possible to be saved but not “abide,” in which case we would be cast away. But this could only be true if “abiding” were separate from salvation, referring to a state of intimacy with Christ we must strive to attain post-salvation. The Bible is clear that salvation comes by grace and is maintained by grace (Galatians 3:2–3). Also, if a branch could somehow fall away from the vine, resulting in the loss of salvation, then other, very clear passages of Scripture would be contradicted (see John 10:27–30).

It is best to interpret the True Vine metaphor this way: Jesus is the True Vine, obviously. The branches who “abide” in Him are the truly saved—they have a real and vital connection to the Savior. The withered branches who do not “abide” in Him are the unsaved pretenders who feigned an attachment to the Vine but drew no life from Him. In the end, the pretenders will be seen for what they were: hangers-on who had no authentic attachment to Jesus. For a while, both Peter and Judas seemed identical in their walk with Christ. But Peter was attached to the Vine; Judas was not.

John restates the withered-branch principle this way: “They [people now opposed to Christ] went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19).

One of the proofs of salvation is perseverance, or sustained abiding in Christ. The saved will continue in their walk with Christ (see Revelation 2:26). That is, they will “abide” or remain in Him. God will complete His work in them (Philippians 1:6), and they will bring forth much fruit to the glory of God (John 15:5). Those who fall away, turn their backs on Christ, or fail to abide simply show their lack of saving faith. Abiding is not what saves us, but it is one of the signs of salvation.

Proofs of abiding in Christ (i.e., proofs that one is truly saved and not just pretending) include obedience to Christ’s commands (John 15:101 John 3:24); following Jesus’ example (1 John 2:6); living free from habitual sin (1 John 3:6); and the awareness of a divine presence within one’s life (1 John 4:13).

The word “abide” is used ten times in the first ten verses of John 15. Looking at the Greek roots of the word, we discover helpful definitions. To abide is to “dwell,” “remain,” “be present,” and to “be held and kept.” Abiding addresses our posture and place. Where are we in proximity to Christ? That’s an interesting thought. Proximity. Are you next to Him? Ten feet away? Twenty feet? What image do you have in your mind?

The imagery of abiding extends further to the concept of rest. When we dwell in God’s presence and remain in His Word, we experience His power and peace. Abiding is just not about our efforts; it also draws our attention to Christ’s accomplishments on our behalf. We are held and kept in His peace and promises so we can enjoy His deep rest.

Circling back a minute to the visual of the branch and the vine, John 15:2 shows us God’s active work in our hearts, “every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

We often think of pruning as an act of cutting away. But looking closer at the original language, we’re given the image of cleansing. God purges us of anything not from Him. Like a tree pruned of dying or excess branches, the process makes us healthier to bear more fruit. But how does this cleansing or pruning take place? Jesus explains in John 15:3, “Already you are clean because of the Word that I have spoken to you.” We read that abiding means to dwell in God’s presence, and one essential way of doing this is by hiding His Word in our hearts. Hebrews 4:12 offers a vivid image of the power of God’s Word in our lives, “For the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The power of His truth uproots misconceptions and confusion as we hide God’s Word in our hearts. He prunes any wayward or distracted thoughts and prepares the soil of our hearts and lives to produce good fruit.

When We Abide in Christ, We Produce Good and Lasting Fruit

After the initial ten mentions in John 15:1-10, we see the word “abide” once more in verse 16. But in this instance, it is not tied to our abiding. Instead, it is our fruit itself that abides. Jesus said, “…I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide….”

What a beautiful picture of lasting fruit! As we abide in Christ and as Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly…” the fruit we produce will be lasting. It will not fade this side of eternity but extend into heaven. Our fruit will not spoil but instead dwell in the lives of those around us.

Abide in Him.

For God and You,
Deb Bostwick