January 21, 2021 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
One of the most important commands in the Gospel of John is “abide.” It comes in John 15:4, where Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you,” where he speaks about our relationship with him as branches to a vine. But John 15 is not the first time Jesus speaks about this all-important activity for his followers.
In John 6:56, Jesus says, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” Jesus is speaking about the spiritual reality of utterly depending on his sacrifice on the cross for our salvation. When we “feed” on his sacrifice, we abide in him. This reveals the spiritual significance of communion. Eating and drinking the symbolic bread and cup is an act of faith feeding on the sacrifice of Christ. Communion is a means of abiding in Christ.
In John 8:31, Jesus says, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” Jesus is providing a litmus test of true faith for the crowd of Jews listening to his teaching. The true disciples of Christ abide in his word.
This brief survey reveals how important the command “abide” is for the follower of Christ. If it’s so important, we should know clearly what abide means. There are two dynamics behind this word, which often does not get used in daily conversation.
First, there is a temporal dynamic to abide. This speaks about longevity. In this sense, abide can mean to endure or persevere or wait or rest. This implies that we would be satisfied in Christ and look no more for salvation; he is sufficient.
This temporal dynamic of abiding is both past and future oriented. We remember his great sacrifice in our stead, and we rest in the fact that our sin and guilt are finished. God’s grace is not merely completed in the past, however. There are promises for blessings and grace in the time of need for every day of our lives. So we continue to abide in his grace to sustain us today, tomorrow, and into the future.
Second, there is a spatial dynamic to abide. This speaks about our abode, where we set up home. In this sense, abide can mean remain or live in or dwell. This implies that we prioritize time and energy in our lives to dwell in Christ, in his word.
Let’s apply this understanding of “abide” to John 8:31, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples.” Jesus invites us to persevere in his word, to wait upon his word, to dwell and live in his word. These are the things true disciples of Jesus do. In this activity we grow in holiness as faithful followers of Jesus. In this activity our hope and joy and peace deepen in Christ. In this activity we are fully equipped for every good work, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. There is no fruitful ministry or joy or holiness in our lives apart from the essential activity of abiding.