Abiding in Christ Alone
by Marlin Caddell
March 9, 2016
John 15:1-11: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 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. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
As you are reading the verses above, take note of how many times Jesus uses the word “abide” as he is talking about our relationship with Him. (Note: The answer is 10 different times.)
So, what does it mean to “abide” in Christ?
Think about the analogy Jesus uses to describe our relationship to Him and the Father. We are the branches, and Jesus is the True Vine. This means that Jesus is our very source of life. Abiding in Christ has to involve us seeing Him as the very source of everything we need and everything we hold dear. He is our water and bread. As Daryl Mims taught on Sunday, Jesus isn’t just IN. our lives, He IS our life.
Even as we see our purpose in verse 8 — to bring glory to God by bearing fruit— we see in verse 5 that we are completely incapable of doing this — or anything — without Christ Himself empowering us.
Since Jesus talks about abiding multiple times in this passage, He’s not just repeating Himself. This means that we are prone to NOT abiding in Christ. We are prone to turn away and try to bear fruit without Him, which is impossible.
Abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds (John 15:7), direct our wills and transform our affections (John 15:9-10). — Sinclair Ferguson
Allowing His Word to fill our minds
Pastor John Piper writes, ““The abiding of Jesus’ word in us means that his words find a home in us. They fit. They belong. In John 8:37, Jesus says, ‘I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you.’ That’s the opposite of the word ‘abiding’ in us. When the word abides in us, it finds a place, a home. It’s not foreign. It belongs. You move other things around and even get rid of some things so that the word has room and ‘feels at home.’”
For His Word to have a home in our hearts, we have to be reading it, studying it, and knowing it.
Direct our wills and transform our affections
Jesus directly connects obedience with abiding in verse 10. But before he talks about keeping commandments, he talks about abiding in love with God in verse 9. That’s the key. We don’t ultimately obey God because we have such strong willpower against sin or because we white-knuckle our way through temptation. We are able to obey God because He has given us a greater affection. The love we have for God — that stems from His love for us (1 John 4:19) — is what empowers us to say that Jesus is better than anything the world has to offer.
God gives us this greater affection by pruning us. “Pruning” means cutting out anything in our lives that keeps us from bearing fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). This is the language of discipline, not meant to hurt but meant to cause more growth.
Hebrews 12:5-6 says, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’”
In verse 11, Jesus says that when we abide, our joy is full in Him and we bear much fruit!