The Life of a Disciple: Abiding

The dictionary definition of abide is to remain, to continue in a fixed state. We are to abide in Christ, unmoved from our position in Him.

John 15:4-11 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. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I 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. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

What does abiding have to do with the fullness of joy?

Psalm 16:11 …in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

If we are in Him and remain in Him, we get to live in the fullness of the joy and the pleasure of being with Him.

The abiding verses in John talk about bearing fruit. The image is of Jesus as the vine and you as one of many branches. Branches can’t produce fruit. Branches bear fruit; they just hold out their arms. The sap, the life in the vine, produces the fruit that is born on the branch. The fruit itself isn’t for the branch. It is for someone else to come along and pluck for them to receive the blessing of the branch having abided as part of the vine.

The Holy Spirit is the sap in us. The Holy Spirit is how we are connected to Christ Himself and to Christ in each other. It’s what is bearing fruit, the life of Christ in us. He produces the fruits of the Spirit in us to bless others. He puts the gifts of the Spirit in us to bless others.

We just have to remain. Listen to this desire of King David.

Psalm 27:4 One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.

He wants to dwell (we could say remain) in the house of the Lord forever, just gazing on the Lord’s beauty and talking to Him, asking Him questions and learning from Him.

That’s the heart and life of a disciple right there. Our desire should be to want to be with Him and only Him, to keep Him before us, to look to Him, to talk to Him.

Martha ran around busy. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet learning from Him. What did Jesus think of the situation?

Luke 10:42 “But only one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, and it will not be taken away from her.”

How can we look to Him? By faith we believe He is with us. In your mind’s eye, see Him with you. Talk to Him like He’s there. He is if you are in Christ. Talk to Him like you believe it’s true that He is with you! Don’t throw prayers at the ceiling. Talk with God as you would talk to a friend or parent, though don’t forget to show respect.

We will talk more about prayer and being in fellowship with God. This lesson is on abiding. We choose to remain in Christ. We choose to remain in His love. Jesus promises to be with us. Jesus won’t break His promise. God can’t break His covenant relationship with us, but we can break promises. We can choose to walk away from the relationship.

2 Chronicles 15:2b The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you.

What is the choice we’re making? We’re choosing to surrender ourselves to the vine. The vine produces the fruit. We don’t get to determine our lives, our outcome. We submit ourselves to the will of God to produce in us what He desires, when and how He desires. We get to make the choice to belong to God and to be used for His purposes, according to His will, for His glory. That all just means we need to decide that God gets His way in our lives. You make the choice to not fight Him on it or insist on your way. Give yourself to God.

My two pictures of abiding when it comes to determinedly refusing to budge from your faith stance in Christ are of a tree and a stream. I picture standing in a steam and it’s quite idyllic. But the waters rise and the sediment starts shifting around your feet and you have to dig in to not be moved from your position. The tree I see standing tall, branches lifted to the sun. When the storm comes, branches may get snapped off, but the tree with good roots won’t be moved from its position.

Colossians 2:7 (NLT) Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.

Lesson Point: We must remain in Christ, submitted to His life being produced in us.

Challenge Question: Are you abiding in Christ or trying to live your own life?