Abide in Christ

January 17, 2009 John 15:4

 

Abide in Christ

Introduction

His name was Fleming, and he was a poor Scottish farmer. One day, while trying to make a living for his family, he heard a cry for help coming from a nearby bog. He dropped his tools and ran to the bog. There, mired to his waist in black muck, was a terrified boy, screaming and struggling to free himself. Farmer Fleming saved the lad from what could have been a slow and terrifying death.

The next day, a fancy carriage pulled up to the Scotsman's sparse surroundings An elegantly dressed nobleman stepped out and introduced himself as the father of the boy Farmer Fleming had saved. 'I want to repay you,' said the nobleman. 'You saved my son's life.'

'No, I can't accept payment for what I did,' the Scottish farmer replied waving off the offer. At that moment, the farmer's own son came to the door of the family hovel. 'Is that your son?' the nobleman asked. 'Yes,' the farmer replied proudly. 'I'll make you a deal. Let me provide him with the level of education my own son will enjoy. If the lad is anything like his father, he'll no doubt grow to be a man we both will be proud of.' And that he did.

Farmer Fleming's son attended the very best schools and in time, graduated from St. Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, and went on to become known throughout the world as the noted Sir Alexander Fleming, the  discoverer of Penicillin.

Years afterward, the same nobleman's son who was saved from the bog was stricken with pneumonia. What saved his life this time? Penicillin. The name of the nobleman? Lord Randolph Churchill. His son's name?  Sir Winston Churchill. Someone once said: What goes around comes around.

There is a biblical principle that parallels the story about Churchill.

Proverbs 28:14How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity.

What is it that comes around to the one who fears God?     Blessing

What is it that comes around to the one who hardens his heart?      Calamity

  • Of course this is a proverb and as such is maxim or a general truth not an absolute guarantee.
  • The fear of the Lord is a term used throughout the Bible as a designation of true devotion to God.
  • It is a fear joined with love and hope;  a loving reverence.

So the proverb is clear and contrasts two so-called “faiths”. A valid and authentic faith resulting in blessing as opposed to a coolness towards God yielding tragedy.

As we assess “your” faith during these first weeks of the new year we ask today are you on the road to tragedy or blessing?

The path of blessing requires work! We have all heard the axiom “Discipline is everything”  Kent Hughes in his book titled “The Disciplines of a Godly Man” says that “the Christian life is as sweaty affair.”

It is time we all “man up”.

Jesus tells us how in John 15 using the term “abide”. Here Jesus is using this term to define the person who lives in a constant state of reverential fear. That person will be blessed.

Abiding in Christ

John 15:4“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.

In verse 4, Jesus is saying to men like Judas, "Don't be superficial; be for real. Abide in Me and prove that your faith is real. You superficial branches need to be saved!"

  • It's tragic when men superficially line up with Jesus Christ but never become true Christians.
  • There are some believing wives who bring their unsaved husbands to church.
  • They may appear to be Christians, but they really aren't.
  • Sometimes young people come to church only because they want to be involved in a youth program, but they don't know Jesus Christ as Lord.
  • Jesus calls to all who have made a statement of faith or an apparent identification with Him to be sure they're real believers.

Jesus said in verse 4,

"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."

  • The word "abide" simply means "to remain."
  • Jesus is saying, "Be for real, and give evidence that you're for real by remaining with Me."
  • It's not that remaining in Christ saves you--that would be ridiculous because it would base your salvation on your ability to hang in there.
  • Remaining in Christ is the evidence that you are saved.
  • People often know someone who used to be involved in various church functions, but all of a sudden disappeared and has never returned.
    • That individual proved he was not a true believer because he didn't abide in Christ.
    • He never was real to begin with.
  • If a man really knows Jesus Christ, it is the character of the salvation experience for that man to remain in Christ.
  • The false will always leave sooner or later.

Examples of those who do not abide

Luke 8:14--Jesus said the seed that "fell among thorns are they who, when they have heard [the Word of God], go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection."

  • People who may looklike they have experienced a legitimate conversion show that they were never saved to begin with when they fail to remainin Christ and bear fruit.

 

1 John 2:19--"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

  • If the church attendees John was talking about had been true believers, they would have stayed involvedin Christian fellowship.

 

1 John 2:24--"Let that, therefore, abide in you which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life."

  • John says, "You that are for real will remain and inherit eternal life."
  • The abiding believer is the only legitimate believer. When someone ceases to fellowship with Christians, they give evidence that they never were believers to begin with.
  • Jesus calls to every apparent disciple to show the reality of his faith by remaining in Him. He makes a black and white distinction: The true believer abides; the non-believer--sooner or later--departs.
  • Jesus gives a marvelous promise to the abiding branch: "Abide in me, and I [will remain] in you."
  • Not everyone in the world can claim to experience the constant abiding presence of Jesus Christ; only the one who is constantly abiding in Christ.
  • The New Testament talks about Christians being in Christ and Christ being in them.

Colossians 1:27says, "Christ in you, the hope of glory."

  • We have a relationship with Christ, the Vine.
  • When by real faith we are truly saved, we will always abide and Christ will always abide in us.
  •  John 14:4 is a comfort to Christians who might otherwise live in spiritual sickness, worrying about hanging onto their salvation.

John 14:4“And you know the way where I am going.”

  • It is also a warning to professing Christians that if they aren't true believers, Christ isn't present in their lives.
  • Many people come to church thinking that just because they show up, the Lord is with them.
  • Being in a church doesn't mean the Lord is with you. He lives in the person of the Spirit within the lives of true disciples.
  • An abiding relationship with Jesus Christ comes only with salvation--genuine faith in Christ.
  • It's a permanent, eternal relationship.

Jesus repeats the concept of abiding in different ways in verses 8-10.

John 15:8-10“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.

  1. Fruitfulness

In verse 8, Jesus said, "In this is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples."

  • Jesus is exhorting people to be true disciples, for only they are capable of bearing fruit.
  • He's envisioning fruitless branches that are superficially attached to the vine.
  • Bearing fruit is equivalent to abiding as a true believer.
  • The unbeliever who is superficially connected to Jesus bears no fruit.
  • Love

In verse 9, Jesus said, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love."

  • A true disciple doesn't enter into the love of Christ and then leave it; he continues in it.
  • Obedience

In verse 10, Jesus said, "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."

Jesus is again exhorting people to abide in Him.

Conclusion

  • Abiding, bearing fruit, continuing in Christ's love, and obeying His commandments are different ways of saying the same thing.
  • A true disciple obeys the commandments of Christ and remains in a relationship with Him from the moment of salvation.
  • Since Christ desires true disciples, let's not break His heart like Judas did by failing to abide.

Jesus portrays Himself as the perfect example of abiding. He said,

"Even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in His love" (v. 10).

Jesus wants the kind of relationship with us that He has with God. In His high- priestly prayer in John 17, Christ prayed that His disciples might be one with Him and the Father (v. 21).

He will never depart from His relationship with the Father, and He wants us to abide with Him in the same way.

In the beginning of John 15, Christ is contrasting the true and the false disciple

the real one who is abiding,

and the apparent one who will eventually depart.

Christ is pleading with superficial followers to abide, bear fruit, continue in His love, and keep His commandments.

Those qualities form a perfect portrait of a true Christian. The true Christian obediently remains in a loving and productive relationship with Jesus Christ; he never leaves.

In John 8:31, Jesus said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."

A true disciple abides in Christ.