We talked about the joy of the Lord last week, and learned that it comes from knowing God, abiding in Jesus Christ, and being filled with the Holy Spirit. We will never come to a complete understanding of God, but when we read His truth and apply it to our own lives, our knowledge grows. Faith alone filled us with the Holy Spirit; it is not something we ask for. That leaves abiding in Christ. What does it mean to abide in Christ? How do we abide in Christ?
When you read the phrase “abiding in Christ”, what picture comes to your mind? Sitting at His feet? A loving relationship? Walking with Him? Obeying Him?
What Does Abide Mean?
Merriam Webster defines it as “to remain stable or fixed in a state.” Hmmm, not that helpful.
The Greek word for abide “meno” and abide in Hebrew “yasab” both mean to remain, stay. In Aramaic, the language Jesus used, the word “qewa” meant to remain, but to remain until the end or conclusion.¹
We’re getting closer… to abide in Him means to stay or remain with Him forever.
Jesus helps us out by giving us a beautiful illustration in His teaching on the Vine and the Branches in John’s Gospel. (John 15:1-8) This analogy of a vine (Jesus) and its branches (believers) explains the vital union between Jesus and those who want to be his followers.
Abide in Me Verse
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so that it will be even more fruitful. Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you an do nothing.” John 15:1,2, 4,5.
To abide in Christ is not a one-sided relationship.
Jesus uses this metaphor to emphasize a close, mutual, and ever-growing relationship. It is a continual and eternal connection with God’s presence.
What does the Bible mean by bearing fruit? When we surrender our lives to Christ, our Christian life will show it by the power of the Holy Spirit within us.
A genuine and living faith shows itself by our actions and “keeps in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 6:25)
The apostle Paul spells out what Christian characteristics the indwelling Holy Spirit produces. It is the spiritual fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.
And what happens to the unfruitful branches? Jesus warns those who only profess to be Christians.
They will be like a branch that is thrown away and burned. (John 15:6) Failing to abide in Christ Jesus is something only He knows- our hearts.
Just as a branch disconnected from the vine withers and dies, so it is for the branch disconnected from Jesus.
Abide in the Vine
Branches cannot bear fruit on their own, they need to be attached to the vine. Jesus is the true vine that brings out the fruit from our lives as we stay dependent on and abiding in Him. We can live out the fruits of the Spirit and witness to others by staying connected to the vine.
Farther down in this chapter, Jesus tells us “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last.” V16.
He chose us first. With great love, He suffered and died for us so that we could live together forever. Had He not made that choice, we would not have one either.
When we choose to accept His sacrifice, we are “in Christ.”
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” 2 Corinthians 5:17.
We are new creations, living in union with Jesus- experiencing a new life. It requires action on our part, though. We must choose to abide in Him; to welcome Him into our lives with open arms.
How to Abide in Christ
As in all relationships, we must nurture it to be beneficial. We are all made in His image, but with distinct personalities, gifts, and weaknesses.
There is no special formula for all to follow. Your path to abiding in Christ will be your own. It is your Christian faith, belief, trust, and abilities; just as God planned.
As you read through these guidelines, search your heart to see where you excel and fall short. The world works hard to drown out Jesus’ voice and guidance.
James warns us about having a divided heart-
“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts you double-minded.” James 4:8.
As we come nearer to God, we become more aware of the sin in our life. But the love of God and His immeasurable grace restore our relationship.
What’s important to know are what steps to take to and how to get back on the path He intended when we go astray.
•Just as the branch must stay connected to the vine for life giving nutrients, we must stay connected and rooted in Jesus’ constant presence. We depend on Him, soaking up His nutrients.
Likewise, He promises to always abide in us when we abide in Him. He is our strong, life-giving vine, helping us to live fruitful lives for Him.
We believe He will remain with us in a real and active way as part of our reciprocal relationship and ongoing connection.
Abide in My Word
•To abide or remain in Jesus means we trust in Him and His promises. We study, rely on, and depend on God’s Word.
It is our source of life, the most powerful nutrient we can ingest. It is like the life-giving sap of the vine that spreads throughout the branches and provides growth, blossoms, and fruit.
Drink deeply of His life-giving nourishment!
“If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.” John 8:31-32. NKJV.
Jesus remains our source of truth, strengthening us to be all God meant us to be.
•Abiding in Christ involves a daily wholehearted surrender to Him. We let the word of God soak into our hearts and minds to remind us how to live for Him.
We accept Christ’s love is higher, wider, deeper, and longer than any other love we can experience. Our love for Him is above all others and we show His love to others we meet. (Matthew 22:37-39)
•Prayer becomes our lifeline to Him and is a 2-way street. Every relationship needs communication to thrive.
Jesus stressed the importance of prayer when He gave us the Parable of the Persistent Widow; telling us we should always pray and never give up.
Take the time to include worship and praise in your prayers. Pour out your heart to Him, and then quiet your mind to listen to what He wants to say. Find time to pray every day!
•Take comfort knowing that from the moment we believed, the Holy Spirit came to live within us. Our new life in the Spirit comes with a lifelong process of transformation.
“Do not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” ESV.
He helps us transform our daily life and abide in Christ. He is our spiritual guide- “guiding us into all truth.” (John 16:13)
The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin and sparks a fire of spiritual passion to use our gifts and talents for God’s glory!
“We know that we live in him, and he is us, because he has given us of his Spirit.” 1 John 4:13.
To abide in Christ means to keep in close, daily contact, show Him our love and obedience, and to praise and honor Him.
Abiding in Christ
Our personal relationship with Jesus, abiding in Him, means we live for Him every day. We turn every part of our lives over to Him- staying close to Him in all situations.
Whether we are sitting quietly with Him or seething with anger and hurt, we are to abide in Him. In all our conversations, decisions, and emotions, we are to abide in Him.
He showers us with grace and forgiveness when we come up short and encourages us when we need it the most.
We are His representatives here on earth, showing others what a life lived for Christ looks like. We show the love of Jesus and His grace and mercy even when we don’t want to.
Jesus showed us all how to do this when He chose to abide in His Father. Even the cross did not keep Jesus from doing His Father’s will or forgiving His executioners.
Benefits of Abiding in the Lord
This continual and mutual relationship means we never have to be lonely. Jesus is by our side 24/7, in good times and through the bad.
He becomes our mentor, teacher, and a dependable lifeline that rescues us from stormy waters.
We live in His protection and rest, comfort, and joy. This world may be topsy-turvy and upheaval seems to be everywhere.
But abiding in Him brings a peace that the world cannot comprehend. For us, it is real and attainable.
The longer we abide in Christ, the more we become like Him. We become transformed, made new, and our character shows the fruit of the Spirit. We show our world what abiding in Christ looks like.
He gifts us with His power and strength when we spend time in His presence. We can stand strong and confident in any situation or trial.
Abide in Me and I in You
If you believe in Jesus, you are in Him, and He in you. We become fused to the life-giving vine with an eternal security.
Our abiding life in Christ matures as our faith itself does. We sometimes take baby steps or grow in leaps and bounds.
Other times, we will sink down into stagnation. No matter where we are on our journey with Jesus, we can always strengthen our connection.
We can become more fruitful, have more joy, enjoy the deep connection He provides, and rest in His presence in full contentment.
Persevere in trusting, believing, and depending on Jesus each day!
How has His word revived or renewed you this week?
Has the Holy Spirit convicted you of something?
In what ways have you experienced His infinite love?
When did you last rest in His presence?
How much time do you spend in intentional and focused Bible reading/study?
What aspects of remaining in Christ should you focus on?
What fruit has come from your branch this week?
All Scripture is taken from the NIV version unless stated otherwise.