Thank For the Joy is Abiding in Christ
What Does It Mean to ‘Abide in Christ’?
Happy Friday to everyone. Today’s question comes from Kasey in Oregon. “Dear Pastor John, I have been a Christian, a Bible student, and a Bible teacher for many years. But I sometimes find myself a little puzzled and — if I’m honest — a bit disquieted by John’s teaching on ‘abiding.
’ In particular, I think of the opening of John 15 and much of the material in the letter of 1 John. It provokes many questions for me.
For example: How does this relate to the doctrine of perseverance? And does this mean that, in some sense, it is up to ME to keep me in God’s family? Could you give a brief, APJ-length overview of John’s theology of abiding in Christ?”
This is huge. I mean the challenge to give a theology of abiding in ten minutes. Let’s see what we can do. I’m going to sum it up from John 15. Let’s just go there with six points.
“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)
First, I think the essential meaning of our active abiding is the act of receiving and trusting all that God is for us in Christ.
If a branch remains or abides attached to the vine in such a way that it is receiving all that the branch has to give, then that is a picture of what John means by believing or trusting Jesus.
He says in John 1:12, “To all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”Believing is a receiving of Christ into the soul, welcoming him, trusting him, as it were, drinking and eating and savoring him. This is what he says in John 6:35: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
Believing is an attachment to — a coming to — Jesus, and a receiving from Jesus. It is trusting in Jesus, remaining in fellowship with Jesus, connecting to Jesus so that all that God is for us in him is flowing a life-giving sap into our lives. That’s number one: abiding is believing, trusting, savoring, resting, receiving.
Cherishing His Words
Second, Jesus gets very specific about what is flowing between the vine and the branch. He mentions words — his words — his love, and his joy.
John 15:7 says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” And John 15:9 states, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.
” Also, John 15:11 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
“If we are not united to the vine, nothing of any lasting value will come from us.”
Abiding in the vine means receiving and believing and trusting in the words of Jesus. It means receiving the love of Jesus for the Father and for his people and the joy that Jesus has in the Father and in us.
It means sharing the joy, the love, the words with Jesus.
This is very similar to Paul in Galatians 3 and 5 saying the fruit of the Spirit is love and joy as we hear and trust the promises of Christ (Galatians 3:2; 5:22–23).
Third, nothing of any spiritual, eternal significance is possible apart from this abiding in the vine. John says, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
In other words, we are not dealing here with something marginal or optional. If we are not united to the vine so that Christ’s life is flowing into us, then his words, his love, his joy will be utterly and totally barren. Nothing of any lasting value will come from us.
Our Fruit Confirms Us
Fouth, abiding proves whether the attachment to the vine is coursing with life or is merely artificial and external.
Here’s John 15:8: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
” Fruitfully abiding with life, love, and joy coursing into us through the connection between us and the vine proves we are disciples (John 15:7–8). That is, abiding and fruit-bearing confirm us.
The negative is also true. John 15:6 says, “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” Earlier (in John 15:1–2), John says if anyone doesn’t bear fruit, he’s taken away.
Can We Lose Our Salvation?
Now this is what provokes Casey’s question about perseverance or eternal security. Can we be born of God — can we be authentically, in a living way, united to Christ and truly Christian — and lose our salvation? Now, In John’s understanding of abiding, the answer is no. No we can’t. I say this for two reasons.
“The essential meaning of our active abiding is receiving and trusting all that God is for us in Christ.”
First, in John 10:28–29, he says, quoting Jesus, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them the Father’s hand.
” He is bending over backwards to say, “When I choose someone for myself and they hear my voice and I take them to be my sheep and my children, that never changes.”Here’s the second reason I think John means this, and it’s the answer to what in the world is going on with broken-off branches.
I think 1 John 2:19 is a description in the church of what it means that certain branches are broken off.
It says, “But they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued” — that is, remained or abided — “with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
I think John provides us with the category for understanding a kind of superficial, external attachment to Jesus that is not a saving attachment. This can result in a fruitless, empty life where there’s no sap coursing, and they are broken off — that is, fall away from the church — but they never were of us.
Fifth, the branches are being cared for both internally by the life of Christ flowing into us and externally by the vinedresser who prunes us. This is amazing.
I didn’t see this until just a few years ago, when I preached on this at one of the conferences. Jesus says in John 15:1–2, “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.”
“When God chooses someone and they hear his voice and he takes them to be his children, that never changes.”
Now pruning means cut. The branches are being cared for (to make them maximally fruitful) both by internal life flowing to us from the vine and by a vinedresser, who with his very painful scissors or saw cuts us and hurts us, so that by these painful providences in life we experience the fullest possible impact of the inner life of Christ.
We are being cared for both internally by Christ’s life coursing into us by the Spirit and externally by the providences of a loving Father who knows how to discipline his children to make them very, very holy.
The Glory of God
Finally, the goal of abiding is the glory of God. John 15:8 says, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” The whole design of our not being the vine, but being utterly dependent branches grafted into the vine, is to give glory to God.
The whole design of depending on a vinedresser to manage the outward shape of our vine structure and our branch structure is so that God gets the glory for bringing it all about. The bottom line is, hour by hour, let us receive and rest in and trust and savor and enjoy Christ’s word and love and joy while we submit externally to the merciful providences of God.
Find other recent and popular Ask Pastor John episodes.
Top 7 Bible Verses About Answered Prayer
Here are my top seven Bible verses about prayer or praying.
John 15:7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
What does Jesus mean by saying we must abide in Him and only then may we ask whatever we wish? We know enough of the Bible to understand that we must pray according to the will of God. The Greek word used for “abide” is “menō” and this means “to remain” or stay with.
The Apostle John wrote that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) or “tabernacled with us” (Greek “skēnoō”) which reminds me of the tent in the wilderness where God dwelt among His people in the tabernacle.It’s where we get the word “adobe” or “home” or “dwelling” from and the word adobe means “a brick of mud and stray.” These materials closely resemble those used by the Israelites under their Egyptian bondage where they made bricks, but later without straw provided.
The major point is if we abide in Jesus’ words, and that means in the gospels where His words are recorded, but no less than the whole Word of God, from Genesis to Revelation, we can ask whatever we wish that is also according to God’s will.
First John 5:14-15 “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.”
The Apostle John seemed confident that God would answer our prayers but he added that “if we ask anything according to his will he hears us,” meaning that we can pray for things but if they’re not a part of God’s will, He won’t answer that. In the strictest sense, He will answer it with a “No” or “not yet” or “that’s not my will” so finding out God’s will can help us to receive answered prayer and God’s will is revealed in the Bible. To know God’s will we must know God’s Word.
Psalm 66:19 “But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.”
The psalmist was completely sure that not only did God listen to his prayer but that He attended to the voice of his prayer, meaning that God answered it. How can we be the psalmist and believe that “truly God has listened?” Again, we must know the will of God in order to pray for His will to be done and to find the will of God you must find a Bible.
1st Samuel 1:27 “I prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him.”
Hannah was so desperate for a child that she would often go to “the doorpost of the temple of the Lord” (1st Sam 1:9b) for she “was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.
And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head” (1st Sam 1:10-11).
Hannah was childless and that was a sign of shame in Israel so imagine Hannah’s joy when she could finally say “prayed for this child, and the LORD has granted me what I asked of him” (1st Sam 1:27).
Psalm 118:21 “I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation.”
I heard of a man several years ago who was giving thanks for his prayers being answered but the interesting thing was, he gave thanks to God for the answered prayer for the ones that he had just prayed! I thought, how could he know that God had answered them already? Didn’t he have to wait to see how it turned out first? No, because even though this man’s answer was answered immediately received, even with no evidence of it, he understood it could be “No,” “Not yet,” or “I’ve got something better for you.” He trusted the Lord enough to know that God’s “No” is always best for us and it usually so we won’t hurt ourselves or others. No good father would give their child whatever they wanted; a knife for example.
Mark 11:24 “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
Jesus taught us to be the man I just wrote about, as far as having believed that he received an answer already.
Jesus doesn’t tell us how long it will take to receive whatever we were praying for but that you simply have to believe it’s been answered.
This is assuming, as we have written before, that this prayer is according to the perfect will of God. Prayer must be for the will of God which means it must for the glory of God.
Psalm 116:1 “I love the LORD, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.”
Whether you are in great need or in great suffering, cry out to Him. The psalmist would have believed what Jesus taught in Mark 11. He must have had the confidence of the Apostle John (1st John 4:5).
And the psalmist must have believed my friend did (in the second paragraph above). They all knew that God heard them.
They all knew that God had already answered them, so that kind of attentiveness and benevolence that the Father displayed caused them “love the Lord” a child his father and so it should make us do the same.
Jesus tells all of us to “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matt 7:7). A lot of Christians are not that different from the psalmist because they can both say, “The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9).
The Apostle John was completely confident about answered prayer (1st John 5:14-15) so do “not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil 4:6).
Today, many nations are in trouble but God’s promise to Solomon is the same to any nation or people that “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2nd Chron 7:1) however if you aren’t abiding in Jesus’ words on a daily basis, His Word is not abiding in you every day (John 15:1-11).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.
For the Joy that Lay before Him
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is said to be God’s “hall of faith.” Thrillingly, it chronicles a variety of marvelous examples of Old Testament faithful obedience, which are intended to encourage us in our Christian lives. With reference to this matter, the author declares:
“Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the author and finisher of the faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (12:1-2).
There are so many rich truths here tucked away that it is scarcely possible to consider them all in a brief article. Let us, though, mention a few matters.
We Are Compassed About
The heroes of the Old Testament are said to represent a great cloud of “witnesses” which, almost stadium-, surrounds us.
This does not affirm, as some surmise (Coffman, 309), that our deceased spiritual kinsmen literally are looking down, observing our present activity (cf. Eccl. 9:5-6).
Rather, it merely suggests that their abiding examples of faithful endurance are a cheering crowd, urging us toward victory.
Lay Aside Every Weight
the ancient runner who was compelled to shed every hindrance, the child of God is to lay aside every distraction, especially “the sin” which so easily besets (encompasses). The definite article seems to suggest a certain sin.
While some would see this “besetting sin” as any weakness to which one might be especially vulnerable (e.g., drunkenness or temper), more ly — consistent with contextual considerations — the expression denotes the sin of unbelief.
Earlier the writer had emphasized: “Take heed, brothers, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God” (3:12).
A.T. Robertson says that “the sin” was “apostasy from Christ” (433) — quite a concession from a Baptist. Charles Stanley, the popular television preacher, has argued that a Christian can completely abandon his faith, but God still will not allow him to be lost (84ff)! Such a notion is wholly foreign to the Bible.
Let Us Run
The inspired writer urges that we are to keep running (the verb is a present tense form, denoting continuous activity) the race that is before us. As we run, we are to be “looking unto Jesus.
” “Looking” reflects a present tense participle form, and the original term suggests turning “the eyes away from other things” and fixing them on something else (Thayer, 90).
Obtaining the goal of heaven requires the utmost concentration; a haphazard disposition is not conducive to eternal salvation.
The Author and Finisher of the Faith
Christ is said to be the “author and finisher of the faith.” The common versions have “our faith,” but “the faith” is more precise (see Milligan, 343; Vine, 56).
Here the expression denotes the fact that Jesus is the source (the originator) and consummator of “the faith,” i.e., the gospel system (cf. Gal. 1:23; 1 Tim. 5:8; Jude 3).
No person has a right, therefore, to add to, subtract from, or to modify the New Testament body of doctrine. Let innovators who repudiate what they call “pattern theology” be admonished.
For the Joy that Was Set before Him
The most enigmatic portion of this verse is the affirmation that Christ endured the cross “for the joy” that lay before him. A key word is the preposition “for.” The Greek word is anti, which has several possible meanings. It commonly connotes “instead of” (see “in the stead of,” Gen. 22:13, LXX; cf. also Mk. 10:45).
This would suggest that Jesus chose to come to earth and endure the agonies of Calvary instead of continuing in his preincarnate heavenly state. It would emphasize the great sacrifice he made (cf. 2 Cor. 8:9).
Harris tends toward the meaning that Jesus came to earth “‘instead of’ the joy of continued fellowship in God’s immediate presence” (1180).On the other hand, anti can mean “in exchange for,” in the sense of “to obtain” (Thayer, 49).
If this is the significance of the term here, then the meaning would be that the Lord willingly endured the shame of the cross in anticipation of the joy of effecting redemption for Adam’s fallen family.
Morris says: “He looked right through the Cross to the coming joy, the joy of bringing salvation to those he loves” (134). This view is probably more consistent with the context inasmuch as Jesus is portrayed as the model for the saints who long for the prize which is yet in their future.
Can we fathom the depth of love that Jesus Christ had for lost humanity? The horrors of Golgotha paled into insignificance when the Savior contemplated the refreshing salvation that would be available for all who choose to obey him (Heb. 5:9). This is absolutely astounding. How utterly selfish our own level of dedication appears by comparison.
He Endured the Cross
On account of his incomparable love, Christ “endured” the cross. The word is interesting. It derives from hupomeno.
Meno basically means to “abide, remain,” while hupo (under) is a preposition attached as a prefix to strengthen the term. The idea suggested is to “bear up under.
” It hints of the magnificent courage of the Lord as he hung suspended from the cross for six hours. For a consideration of what was involved in a crucifixion, see Edwards, et al. (1986).
Additionally, the inspired writer affirms that the Savior “despised” the “shame” connected with the cross. It was not merely the prospect of physical death that so repelled the Lord. Rather, it was the association of the cross with sin. His holy soul recoiled at the idea of being involved with the shame of man’s rebellion against God.
In Galatians 3:10-13 Paul discusses the “curse” that was associated with Jesus’ death on the cross. “Curse” hints of the fitting doom of which sin is deserving. The disgrace of the cross is clearly stressed by Paul in Philippians 2:8. Filthy human beings can hardly appreciate the magnitude of this matter; we can only express our profound gratitude and humbly submit to his holy will.
Hath Sat Down
Finally, as Christ won the victory (having sat down on the throne — the perfect tense emphasizing the permanence of his accomplishment), so also shall the faithful. Too, observe that Jesus has achieved the “throne” already; it is not a future hope, as alleged by millennialists.
This passage thus sets forth the wonderful example of Christ. May we ever follow in his path.
Study 6 THE SECRET OF ABIDING JOY — Words of Life Ministries
Key Verse: “…that my joy might be in you and that your joy may be complete” (John 15 :11)
These words were spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ, and it is most important for us to notice when He uttered them.
It was a very strange time to talk of joy and gladness, for in a little while He would be in dark Gethsemane, and shortly after that He would be facing His accusers and hearing the taunts and mockings of those who hated Him.
Yes, it was just prior to facing the agonies of Calvary that He spoke of “My joy…”, and it is very significant that, so far as the scripture records are concerned, this is the only time He did speak of His joy.
How unique the Lord’s joy must have been if it still remained with Him in the time of such great trial and testing! – and His desire and provision for us (that is, for every believer), is that His joy, which is so different from that of the world, should be our joy – “…that my joy might be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
1. CHRISTIAN JOY SHOULD BE THE PREVAILING CHARACTERISTIC OF THE LIFE OF EVERY CHRISTIAN
Too often we are sad, gloomy and dejected; but as Christians we ought to be joyful in everything – look up Philippians 4:4 and 1 Thessalonians 5:16.
The A-to-Z of our Christian experience should be marked by joy: joy at conversion (Acts 8:39); joy when reading God’s Holy Word (Jeremiah 15:16); joy in prayer (John 16:24); joy in the midst of trials (James 1:2); joy when suffering (Acts 5:41); joy when serving (2 Corinthians 1:24); and joy at the journey’s end (Hebrews 12:22). If we love and belong to the Lord we should always be rejoicing.
2.WHAT, THEN, IS CHRISTIAN JOY, THE JOY WHICH WE AS CHRISTIANS SHOULD EXPERIENCE?
- It is Christ’s Joy: “…that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11). “My joy…in you…” The Christian life is the life of the Lord Jesus Christ in a man or a woman – look up Galatians 2:20 and Colossians 3:4. Christian joy is Christ’s joy in a Christian, and this means that this deep-down, abiding joy is not found anywhere else except in Him. There are other kinds of joy found in other places, but His joy is found in Him alone.
- It is Fulness of Joy: “…that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). There is a great difference between joy and fulness of joy. The vessel may be partly filled or completely filled. Our Lord’s desire for us is that we should experience fulness of joy continually – look up Psalm 16:11; John 17:13 and 1 Peter 1:8.
- It is Abiding Joy: “…that My joy may be in you” (John 15:11). Notice the word “remain” in these verses – 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10. By “remaining” in Him and His “remaining” in us means that His joy will always be in us. Our joy is not an intermittent experience, but a permanent one. It is a joy which is unaffected by circumstances – see what the Lord said to His disciples in John 16:22. These first followers of our Lord were to pass through many trials and testings, but He told them that nothing could rob them of their joy – His joy in them. Consider the following three illustrations of the abiding nature of Christian joy, and of the fact that Christ’s joy in us is unaffected by outward circumstances and conditions:
- John 15:11 – as we have seen, our Lord experienced this joy in the shadow of the cross – compare John 17:13.
- Luke 10:20 – surely our Lord meant by this: “Do not let your joy depend upon anything earthly or temporal, but let it depend upon that which abides…in Heaven.”
- Acts 16:25 – Paul and Silas, though in great trouble, were filled with Christ’s own joy which enabled them to sing praises at midnight – compare Isaiah 61:3; 2 Corinthians 8:2 and Hebrews 10:34.
It is a remarkable and a wonderful thing that true Christian joy is not only unaffected by adverse circumstances, but it is actually promoted by such trials and testings – look up James 1:2.
3. HOW MAY WE HAVE THIS JOY?
- By having Him. If this deep-down, abiding joy is Christ’s joy, we can only have it by having Him. In Acts 8:8, we read that – “There was great joy in that city.” Why was this? Verse 5 tells us! Verse 35 tells us! If we would possess His joy we must possess Him – look up John 17:13.
- By reading His Word. When we read the Bible and receive the truth, we experience great joy – look up 1 John 1:4. This is akin to having a “burning heart” as the result of fellowship with the Lord as He speaks to us – look up Luke 24:32.
- By submission to Him. Notice in Luke 10:21 that we are told two things: first, that “Jesus was full of joy…”; and second, that He was completely submissive to His Father’s will. His joy was the joy of complete and continual submission to the will of His Father in Heaven.
It was Madame Guyon who said, “Oh, the blessedness of an accepted sorrow!” When we accept suffering from His hand, sorrows as well as pleasures, then our joy will be full indeed.
- By the Holy Spirit. The literal rendering of Luke 10:21 is: “Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit”, and one translation reads: “In that hour Jesus was filled by the Holy Spirit with rapturous joy” – look up and compare Romans 15:13.
At this very moment the Lord Jesus is exalted, the perfect Man in a perfect human body, in Heaven.
His desire is that His joy should be complete in us. How can this be, for He is there and we are here? He is in Heaven and we are on earth! The answer is – by the Holy Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is…joy…” – look up Galatians 5:22, and compare Acts 13:52 and Ephesians 5:18!
6 Ways to Abide in God
To abide in God, to take Him as our dwelling, is one of the highest truths in the Bible. Many know that it is revealed by Christ in John 17, but did you know that Moses spoke of it as well? Yes, in his last prayer in Deuteronomy 33:27, repeated in Psalm 90:1, he says “O Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.”
Isn’t it amazing that an Old Testament saint could see this high truth? He even saw that it is a corporate matter, a matter for a body of saints, not just for one individual, as indicated by his use of the plural “our.” And it is a present perfect continuous tense, “You have been,” indicating an action in the past continuing up to now, such that during our entire life here on earth, we should be those continually living in God.
In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus used the word “abide” (John 15:4-5)—“abide in Me.” Other words in the New Testament point to this truth: the preposition “in” (John 14:20 and many places), the word dwell (Gk. oikeo, taken from the noun for house) (1 Cor.
3:16), and to deeply dwell (Gk. katoikeo, with a prefix meaning to an excessive degree) (Eph. 3:17).
May we all progress from merely occasionally being in God, to more often abiding in God, to dwelling in God for longer periods, to deeply dwelling in God for our whole life!
How can we practice this? The following are six ways:
The first way to abide in God is to eat Christ as the hidden manna. The hidden manna is first mentioned in Exodus 16:32-34, which according to Hebrews 9:4 was placed in a golden pot, which was placed in the ark, which was in the Holy of Holies within the tabernacle of God.
This special portion of manna, the children of Israel’s daily food, was kept aside as a memorial, and lasts forever. In Revelation 2:17 it is mentioned as the promise to the overcomers.
Only those who overcome have such a special, hidden enjoyment of God, not the common kind that all people enjoyed together.
How can we have such a hidden enjoyment of Christ as our food? By spending personal, intimate, private time with Him every day. Our enjoyment of God must be more than in the meetings of the church. It is the private prayer and fellowship with God that cements the word we have heard into an eternal memorial within our being, and even more as a treasure within the house of God.
Second, abide in His word
The second way to abide in God is to abide in His Word (John 8:31). We have His constant word in the Scriptures, and His present word from the Spirit in our spirit. We must not come to the Bible without also coming to Christ (John 5:39-40). The more we come to His word, the more the Word should become His instant speaking to us day by day, guiding us to live in Him.
The best way to learn to abide in His Word is to pray-read the Word of God, that is, to use the Bible as the inspiration and source of our prayer (Eph. 6:17-18). This practice helps us to use our spirit to touch the Spirit in the word. Don’t live a day without pray-reading the Word, even just two verses.
Third, speak in Him
If we allow His word to abide in us, we will have something to speak to others unto the building of His house (1 Cor. 14:4). The apostle Paul declared in 2 Cor. 2:17 that “we speak in Christ.” In my experience, the more I speak for Him, in Him, the deeper I myself move into God.
Fourth, always rejoice, unceasingly pray, and in everything give thanks
This fourth practice to abide in God is from 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18:
“Always rejoice, Unceasingly pray, In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
It’s one thing for God to say His will for us is to rejoice, pray, and give thanks; it’s so much more for Him to say always rejoice, unceasingly pray, and in everything give thanks. It’s easy to rejoice, pray, and give thanks once a week at a church meeting, but the modifiers in these verses refer to a practice that involves our entire human living, all day, every day.[A good way to remember to do this is to sing these verses. You can find one tune at Hymnal.net and click the link: Tune (Midi)]
This is the most practical way, I’ve found, to remind me to abide in God.
It means even to rejoice when things seem bleak (for we always have God with us), to pray at all times, even while we are driving or studying a textbook, and to give thanks for everything, even when we are poor, hungry, or imprisoned (cf. Acts 16:23-25).
We should look at all circumstances, environments, and even all persons as set by God for us to learn to dwell in Him. This is the “good” that all things work for as mentioned in Romans 8:28.
Fifth, bear much fruit
This fifth way to abide in God is both a method and a result. The more we bear spiritual fruit (John 15:8), the deeper is our abiding in God; the more we abide in God, the more we bear fruit.
This fruit is both the virtues and characteristics of God expressed by us (see Gal 5:22 and note) and also those whom we bring to salvation and offer to God (see John 15:16 and note).
Helping those whom we bring to the Lord to remain is a long-lasting labor that requires that we abide in God.
Sixth, care for His presence
The last way to abide in God that I’ll present here is to care for His presence.
After the Lord’s death, when he appeared and disappeared to His disciples, He was training them to care for His invisible presence, the presence of His Spirit within them (John 20:26; Acts 1:3, 26 and notes).
Since He breathed the Spirit into us when we believed in Him (John 20:22), He is with us all the time. It’s just that we too often forget He is within us, and live as if God is far away.
Sometimes we want Him to go away; other times we just live by our habits and not by His guiding from within. What He wants is that we would not ignore Him, but rather, consult Him in everything, caring for the One who is inside of us. By doing so, we deepen our dwelling in Him, from just paying attention to Him during meetings to all the time, in everything.You may have noticed that most of these practices on how to abide in God have to do with His abiding in us. That’s right, for the abiding is a mutual abiding: “Abide in Me and I in you” (John 15:4). We need to allow Christ’s abiding in us to move from a fact that we know to our practice of allowing Him to live us, which is our abiding in Him.
“Lord, teach me to abide in You. I want to progress from having You in me, to having me live in You. To do this, Lord, keep me contacting You. Don’t let me slip away from spending private time with You. Keep me in Your Word every day, even pray-reading it.
Lord, increase my speaking for You; may I say as Paul did, ‘I speak in Christ.’ Lord, I want to bear much fruit, and I want to care for Your presence, even for the smiling of Your face. Lastly Lord, remind me to call on Your name, to always rejoice, to unceasingly pray, and to give thanks in everything.
May everything remind me to abide in You.”
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References and Recommended Reading:
Three Keys to Abide in Christ
“Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4)
Christianity is about far more than holding right beliefs or adopting right behaviors. At salvation, we enter into a union with God that changes our legal status. We have right standing with God now. We have a righteousness that comes by faith, and that faith justifies us (Philippians 3:7-9; Romans 3:21-26, 5:1).
But we have more. We also have communion with God. We have access to a life-giving, soul-thrilling, joy-producing communion with God through Christ (1 John 1:3; John 15:11). The Christian faith is about union and communion with Jesus.
Union with Christ without communion with Christ is joyless Christianity.
Our hearts should desire this intimate relationship. We should long for this fellowship with God.
David reflects this posture when he prays, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
David earnestly seeks God. His soul thirsts for God. There is desperation. There is urgency. Oh, to have a heart that echoes his!
Do we seek God this? Do we desire God in this manner? Is there any part of David’s cry that you recognize in your heart?
Jesus Invites You to Abide
In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples about this communion. He informs them that he has already made them clean (John 15:3), and has pronounced them clean during the upper room foot washing (John 13:10-11).
This ceremony wasn’t pointing to Jesus’ hyper-aversion to dirty feet; it was a symbolic display of his incarnation, atoning sacrifice, resurrection, and ascension.
This is why he declared them clean, with the exception of Judas (a clear indication dirty feet was not the idea).
Jesus says this hours before going to the cross to bear their sins and make them clean. So Jesus’ declaration in John 15:3 is a statement of legal status.
He follows this with the command “abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4). To “abide” is a verb. It is active. Abiding in Christ is not a feeling or a belief, but something we do. It means to “remain” or “stay” and entails far more than the idea of continued belief in the Savior.
John 15:5 further illustrates this abiding relationship with a parallel relationship of a vine and a branch. We (the branches) are to be connected to him (the Vine) for our life and sustenance. Only in him can we bear fruit.
What the Saints Say
But how? What does it look to abide in Christ daily? A few descriptions from other godly saints help us get a picture:
John Piper says, “Hour-by-hour abiding in Jesus means hour-by-hour trusting him to meet all your needs and be all our treasure.”
Ryle explains, “To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him–to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief Companion and best Friend. To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior.”
John Owen exhorts, “Would a soul continually eye His everlasting tenderness and compassion, His thoughts of kindness that have been from of old, His present gracious acceptance, it could not bear an hour’s absence from Him; whereas now, perhaps, it cannot watch with Him one hour.”
Three Keys to Abiding
Abiding has a continual, hour-by-hour nature to it, a constant looking to Jesus through the Scriptures. If we could avoid gospel-amnesia and remember his grace, we could barely stand an hour’s absence from him. These saints give incredible definitions to help us grasp abiding in Christ. Here’s mine:
To abide in Christ daily requires dependence upon the Holy Spirit in which we do three things:
- Walk by faith
- Spend focused time
- Engage in intentional actions
We daily preach the gospel to ourselves (walk by faith); plan to abide throughout our days (focused time); and read Scripture, pray, live in community with others, and fight sin (intentional actions). We do this as we live dependent upon the Holy Spirit to bring us closer to Christ.
To be “in Christ” means to have a new legal standing and a new relational orientation. We do not solely want to be made right with God—we want to be with God. We are new creations in Christ, freed from sin and worldly pursuits to abide in him. And he gives us what we need to pursue this by giving us himself.
Are you eager to say with David, “Earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you?” May the Holy Spirit spark in us a want for more of Christ. May we yearn with holy urgency to know the depths and riches of the love of Christ, grasped through abiding.