by Kevin Burton
Your ability to live a triumphant life in Christ depends on your ability to abide in Him.
But what does it mean to abide in Christ? Views on this topic vary greatly. Let’s hear from Jesus Himself on the subject.
“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. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned,” (John 15: 4-6 KJV).
If you are talking about abiding in Iowa or Finland or any place you might be, the Merriam-Webster definition of “to continue in a place” will suffice.
To talk about abiding in Christ you have to look deeper, into the reasons you would choose to abide. There is an element of trust. “All in” is a phrase you hear English speakers use to mean “completely dedicated.”
Check out this passage from the book of Psalms.
“Trust in the Lord and do good; Live in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” (Psalm 37: 3-5 NASB).
Now that’s abiding! You’re not just hanging out. You’re not just a name on a roster. Your devotion to God is not like a uniform you slip into on Sunday morning and slip out of before the roast is served. It’s like a skin that never leaves you.
Abiding includes three interwoven elements, connection, dependence and continuance, according to Brian Hedges, lead pastor for Fulkerson Park Baptist Church in Niles, Michigan.
“Abiding in Jesus means having a life-giving connection to him. A branch is connected to the vine, and a vine to the branch. This is what theologians describe as “union with Christ,” Hedges wrote on www.chrisitianity.com. “Notice that this union is mutual. We abide in Him and He in us. If there is no connection, there is no life, no fruit.”
“Abiding also implies dependence, which unlike connection, is not reciprocal. The branch is dependent on the vine, but the vine is not dependent on the branch,” he writes. “We are completely dependent upon Jesus for everything that counts as spiritual fruit.”
“Abiding also involves continuance.
This means that we go on trusting, keep on depending, never stop believing. To abide in Jesus is to persevere in Jesus and his teaching. This is what Jesus is talking about in John 8: 31-32 when he says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Hedges writes.
Sinclair Ferguson, on the Ligonier ministries website, reminds us that in order to abide in a place you first have to get there. We are in Christ only by the grace of God. He also places an emphasis on obedience.
“Union with Christ means being obedient to Him. Abiding involves our response to the teaching of Jesus,” Ferguson writes.
“We are called as part of the abiding process to submit to the pruning knife of God in the providences by which he cuts away all disloyalty,” Ferguson adds.
“Abiding..is an experience that we grow into by degrees.” Hedges writes. “No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, you can experience the reality of this connection to Jesus more and more.
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15: 8-11 NASB).