The Light of Life Magazine
A ministry of Christian writing

Light of Life: March 2012

Editorial: POPULATION - P. Abraham

THE CHALLENGE OF THE CROSS - P. Samuel Manoharam

THE CROSS, THE MISSION OF RECONCILIATION - Peter S. C. Pothan

ABIDE IN ME - K. V. Varghese

PROMISES OF GOD AND PRAYER - Mathew Paul

Bob's Banter - THE WHITE CASSOCK..! - Robert Clements

Jesus Asks... "IS THAT YOUR OWN IDEA, OR DID OTHERS TALK TO YOU ABOUT ME?" (JN. 18:34) - Vijay Thangiah

Your letters

Contents page

March 2012

ABIDE IN ME


K. V. Varghese

"Abide in me and I in you" (Jn.15:4 NIV).

The word ‘abide’ is used in the Bible with different meanings, though the inner meaning of all of them is somewhat similar. In Genesis 22:5 the word ‘abide’ is used meaning ‘to stay’ whereas in Genesis 29:19 the word is used to mean ‘to dwell’ or ‘live.’ In Jeremiah 10:10 and Joel 2:1, the meaning is ‘to bear or endure’; In Ecclesiastes 8:15 and John 14:16, the meaning is ‘to continue.’ In Acts 20:23, the meaning is ‘to wait for.’ In Proverbs 19:23 it is ‘to rest.’ In Psalm 119:90 and 125:1, the meaning of ‘abide’ is ‘to stand firm.’ Jesus used this word to mean ‘remain’ or ‘abide’ in Him.

The Lord Jesus exhorts His disciples to abide in Him. This follows the call, "Follow Me." Once you hear and obey the call to follow Jesus, He wants you to abide in Him. The need for remaining or abiding is very well explained by Jesus in the illustration of the vine and branches, recorded in John 15:1-8. In this passage, the word ‘abide’ is mentioned eight times which shows its importance.

The Vine And The Branch
Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches." The vine is a sophisticated and complicated conveyer of the nutrients absorbed by the roots to the branches and then transformed into life and fruit. The vine is the main part of the plant. And the branches are the fruit bearers. The branch cannot produce fruit by itself because it cannot generate the nutrients needed to develop the fruit, while the vine is the whole plant which exists on its own; the branches are dependent on the vine. The branches can be trimmed or pruned, but the vine remains and may bear new branches every year.

The process of fruit bearing and the responsibility of fruit bearing rest only on the branches, while the responsibility of producing the nutrients necessary for producing the fruit rests with the vine. So, unless the branch remains in the vine, no fruit can be produced.

Our Lord expands this metaphor to emphasise the need for believers to remain or abide in Jesus Christ to produce fruit worthy of our calling. The Lord is very clear in His mind in choosing the vine and the branches as an illustration of our dependence on our Lord Jesus Christ. As we begin our God-given task of producing fruit, the resources of supply are all available in Jesus. We need nothing other than what Christ provides to bring forth fruit that satisfy the desires of the vine-dresser, God.

Abiding In Christ
The special responsibility of the believer is to abide in the vine which is Jesus Christ. The danger is in seeking nutrients for fruit production from other sources, or even trying to produce fruit by oneself. Some think that they can produce the fruit by their physical strength, by their money power or by their worldly wisdom. But Jesus says, through these one cannot produce fruit such as lasting peace and eternal life. All these things cannot bring you real happiness or peace. It is not possible to bear fruit outside the vine. The Father (the Vine dresser), the Son Jesus (the Vine) have made a marvellous provision for the believers to bear fruit. God the Vine dresser deals with anything outward that would inhibit full production of fruit. The Son Jesus, the Vine, is a source of all necessary supply for lasting fruit which glorifies the Father. The believers’ (branches) task is to obey Christ’s counsel "Abide in Me." A continuous production of fruit will take place because of the believer’s submission and remaining in Christ.

‘Abide in Me’ also means to ‘abide in My love.’ God is love and His love abides in Christ Jesus. So Jesus said, "Abide in My love." If we abide in His love, we will love our neighbours. That love is patient, kind, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things. That love is not arrogant, not jealous or boastful, it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices with the right (1Cor.13:47). When we abide in Jesus and His love, we produce fruit which will glorify God the Father. The fruit one produces when abiding in Him are love, joy, kindness, peace, patience, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control and so on (Gal.5:22-24). Jesus Christ is the link that nurtures and sustains life with God. This is what it means when Jesus said, "I am the true vine and My Father is the husbandman" (Jn.15:1). To know and follow Him is to be kept alive. To reject and ignore Him is to reject the vital vine which supplies life to the body. Those who accept Christ’s vital link are fed by that hand and grow in God. Jesus said, "Father, just as You are in Me, I am in You" (Jn.17:21). This is the essence of abiding in each other. So, when Jesus exhorted His disciples to abide in Him, that meant becoming one as the Father and Son are one. The followers are expected to have the same kind of loving committed relationship with each other. In fact, the creation of human beings was God’s crowning work. He bestowed upon them the unique characteristics of God by creating them in His own image and likeness. God desires man to remain with Him and in Him always. Similarly, believers should have a committed relationship with one another.

To abide in Christ means to be one with Christ, one in mind, thought and deed. When one becomes in Christ, he becomes a new creation. He gets the image or likeness of God, his Creator. To abide in another is like a baby in the mother’s womb. The baby and the mother are one. The baby is fully dependent on the mother for the necessary nutrients. The baby cannot exist on his/her own, but is entirely dependent on the mother, as the branch and vine. This is what Jesus calls remaining or abiding in Him. It is a marvellous mystery and to understand it fully we need His grace.

Jesus, while expounding the mystery of heaven and that of the Holy Ghost, said, "I will pray the Father and He shall give you another comforter that He may abide with you forever; even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him, for He dwelleth with you and shall be in you" (Jn.14:16-17). This is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the believer to protect, guide and sustain, to lead him in His ways, to teach him the words of God till the end. If a man abides not in Jesus, he is cast forth as a branch and is withered and burnt. Jesus also said, "If you abide in Jesus and obey His word, whatever you ask shall be given to you." This is a precious promise of Jesus to those who abide in Him.

Bearing Fruit
God wants His children to bear fruit and thus to glorify His name; the most important fruit is to lead others to Christ. This fruit bearing is possible only for believers who live in constant prayerful relation to Jesus Christ. We can find a few principles of fruit bearing in the story of the vine and the branches.

1. Jesus Christ is the source of all life. He said, "I am the resurrection and the life and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die" (Jn.7:25).
2. Failing to bear fruit has serious consequences; such branches will be cut down and burnt. Jesus said, "The Son of man will send His angels and they will gather out of His kingdom all causes of sin and all evil doers and throw them into the furnace of fire. There, men will weep and gnash their teeth."
3. To bear fruit we must allow the Father to prune us to make us holy, as the vinedresser does to the branch. We must cut wrong practices and habits out of our lives. And practise love, truth and righteousness to bear fruit.
4. Fruit bearing depends on our remaining in Christ and drawing on His sustaining grace. Jesus said, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me and in him it is that bears much fruit for apart from Me you can do nothing" (Jn.15:5).
5. We cannot do anything that really matters unless we abide in Christ. What is impossible to man is possible with God. It was God who went out to battle with Gideon, with David, and with other men of God. The Bible says unless you arm yourself with the armour of God, namely truth, righteousness, the Gospel of peace, faith, salvation and the Word of God, you cannot stand against the wiles of evil and the rulers of darkness (Eph.5:10-20). We can be victorious in our fight against the worldly powers, if we abide in Christ.
6. Bearing fruit glorifies God. The believers are chosen people to bear fruit. Those who live in Christ are pruned to be more productive. Sufferings, pain, various problems of life etc., are the process of pruning. The believers have to face all things with thanksgiving and glorifying God.
7. Those who bear fruit, their prayers are answered. There are a number of examples in the Bible of those whose prayers were answered. David, Samuel, Elijah, Elisha and other prophets, Peter, Paul and so on were all fruit bearers of God and their prayers were answered by God.

The word became flesh. The words of Jesus Christ abiding in His believers implies that the mind of Christ is in them. To abide in Christ is living in Christ and to be Christ-like. To be Christ-like means to live as Christ lived on earth. He lived a holy life; He was humble, sinless and obedient to God the Father. Jesus challenged, "Can any of you prove Me guilty of sin?" (Jn.8:46). So those who abide in Jesus are holy, humble. If you abide in Christ, His love will abide in you and your attitude will be the same as that of Christ Jesus, "who being in the very nature of God did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing--emptied Himself taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and He became obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Phil.2:5-8). That is abiding with Christ, being in the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind (Phil.2:2). Finally brethren, if we remain or abide in Jesus, His love will abide in us. The Word will abide in us. When we abide in the Son, we abide in the Father and we will have eternal life.

Are we abiding in Christ? Do we have the same spirit of Jesus in us? Pause for a moment and answer these questions and decide whether you abide in Christ. If not, today is the day of salvation.




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