Series: For Edification
Message – The Importance of Abiding
The Importance of Abiding
Last week we took a look at John 15 where Jesus was teaching His disciples about living in the New Covenant – by using the Old testament metaphor of the grapevine.
- Jesus revealed Himself as the TRUE vine. – Jeremiah 2:20-22
- His followers / disciples were the true branches.
In chapter 14 He had already told them that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life and the ONLY way to the Father!
He told them of His union with the Father and how the Spirit of Truth Who was with them – would soon be inside of them.
THEN as they were walking towards the Garden of Gethsemane (which itself typifies the entire Christian walk of needing to stay connected with God so as to not fall into temptation) Jesus told them:
- Of their union with Him
- The necessity of bearing fruit
- The means of bearing fruit
- The results of bearing fruit
John 15:1-12, “(1) I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. (2) Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. (3) You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. (4) Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. (5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. (6) If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. (7) If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. (8) My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples. (9) “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. (10) If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love. (11) “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. (12) This is My command: love one another as I have loved you.”
Now remember the importance of this teaching from Jesus to His disciples…
The pivotal issues for being a branch was…
- Being IN HIM (by accepting and believing His word)
- Remaining IN HIM (By watching over His word and not being pulled away from Him by being pulled away from it.)
- If one IN HIM is not being diligent in allowing His word to abide in him – He lifts them up.
Here we played a video but I do not have permissions to include it here, but it is in the audio.
You have to remember that this lesson He was teaching them was the culmination of all He HAD taught them.
Many times in Jesus’ teachings He had told them how the only ones who hear His word are those who belong to the Father, perhaps the clearest example is found in John 8:43-47 HCSB
“(43) Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. (44) You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth IN HIM. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, because he is a liar and the father of liars. (45) Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. (46) Who among you can convict Me of sin? If I tell the truth, why don’t you believe Me? (47) The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God.“
So those who were IN HIM were those who heard & received His words.
According to this chapter, the disciples had been in the vine already, had already born fruit from their union with Christ and had already been pruned that they might bear MORE fruit.
John 17:6-8, NKJV “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You have given Me out of the world. They were Yours, You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. (7) Now they have known that all things which You have given Me are from You. (8) For I have given to them the words which You have given Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came forth from You; and they have believed that You sent Me.”
Now the relationship between the Father, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the believer is this…
- The Father is called the worker of earth or the shaper of hearts.
- John 15:1 & Psalm 33:13-15
- Jesus is the TRUE Vine
- John 15:1
- All who are IN HIM are the branches
- The Father is called the worker of earth or the shaper of hearts.
- John 15:2, 5
- The Holy Spirit is the Vine life – who takes of what is Christ’s and gives it to us – to facilitate growth and the bearing of Fruit.
- John 16:14,15, “(14) He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you.”
We learned that the words “IN ME” & “ABIDE” are VERY important!
The meaning of the words “IN ME” is clear enough and is EXTREMELY intimate. It IS UNION!
THIS IS NOT a “professing” Christian only or they would not be IN HIM.
The word “ABIDE” means – to remain!
This is the pivotal issue…Not every branch IN HIM immediately bears fruit, but if ANYONE REMAINS – they will!
“(4) Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. (5) “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.”
What this is saying is that a young Christian or even a Christian who has backslidden might become unfruitful for a time and still be IN HIM. But this is only a temporary condition – it cannot stay this way indefinitely!
God is merciful, loving and kind and is not willing that ANY should perish, but we need to realize that our relationship with each member of the Godhead is unique!
Those who believe in eternal security do so based upon many scriptures, but they are not seen for what they really say NOR are they completely read in context or in harmony with the rest of the gospel.
- Jesus will NEVER cast anyone away. He said so in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”
- The Holy Spirit will only work towards the reconciliation of any wayward Child of God.
- The Father will not allow ANYONE to snatch them out of His hand.
These are all true and scriptural statements.
But NOWHERE does scripture claim that the Father will not cast an unfruitful branch away – and NOWHERE does it claim that if one denies the Son, that the Son will still claim him.
Consider the next verse, which speaks of betrayal & treason,
John 15:6, NKJV “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”
There is MUCH in this topic which seems contradictory. Believers are said to have “eternal life”, but if they apostate themselves…can it truly be said that the life they had was every honestly “eternal”?
Well, I don’t think this is a difficult thing to answer – but neither do I think it is a question without merit.
Jesus defined eternal life and knowing God. Here one could say the original words, “eternal life” and their meaning “knowing God” were flip-flopped. Life = knowing and eternal = God. It could quite literally be saying that eternal life is intimacy with the Eternal.
The issue NOT being on the duration of the intimacy, but the object of your intimacy.
But to claim that such words guaranteed no opportunity to depart from the faith actually causes MORE scriptural inconsistencies than it is seeking to avoid!
Grandiose statements are used many times in scripture which NO one ever takes completely literally. Such as, in Matthew 8:34,
“And behold, the whole city came out to meet Jesus. And when they saw Him, they begged Him to depart from their region.”
This is an acceptable exaggeration which is only acceptable because it was not designed to deceive, it is understood to represent a LARGE representation of that local population. We do the same thing today. I live in Manatee County, Florida. There are times during the year when we have county wide events like boat racing or the 4th of July fireworks or Seafood Festivals…etc. Concerning any one of these it is not unexpected for a news reporter to say, “Look at all the people…the whole county showed up today for this event today!” Of course no one takes them literally because if everyone had been there their would be no one to report the event to! In fact, the phrase “the whole city is here celebrating” is REGULARLY said every Thanksgiving by the reporters of the famous Macy’s Thanksgiving parade in New York!
Matthew 3:5-6 NKJV “(5) Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him (6) and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.”
If taken literally – then every business owner left their stores, every care giver brought out their dependents, as did every religious leader, civil leader, ALL Roman officials and all the jails were emptied of prisoners who were set free for the day to go listen to and be baptized by John.
No, we understand that it means a lot of people from each of these cities and regions came.
If Adam and Eve had never sinned, their “life” would no doubt have been called “eternal” in nature, but that does not mean that they could not fall into death – and in fact they did!
So I think we have to look at these passages with a little graciousness and weigh them in the balance with other statements which might seem to contradict.
Besides… What are we to do with the statement about eternal life we find in Romans 2?
“(5) But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, (6) who “WILL RENDER TO EACH ONE ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS”: (7) eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality; (8) but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness-indignation and wrath, (9) tribulation and anguish, on every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek; (10) but glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (11) For there is no partiality with God. (12) For as many as have sinned without law will also perish without law, and as many as have sinned in the law will be judged by the law (13) (for not the hearers of the law are just in the sight of God, but the doers of the law will be justified; (14) for when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do the things in the law, these, although not having the law, are a law to themselves, (15) who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and between themselves their thoughts accusing or else excusing them) (16) in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel.”
We just read that if anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast off as a branch.
The actual words are in the negative – “Unless any person remains in Me”.
Realizing that abiding and fruit-bearing ALWAYS go together.
One undeniable fact is this…
One cannot bear fruit without abiding and one cannot abide without bearing fruit!
Also, abiding IN HIM and His words abiding IN YOU are also equated as the same thing!
So, we have to ask ourselves does this agree or disagree with other passages?
Are there passages which say that if someone remains unfruitful or continues to produce ungodly fruit, their intimacy with God comes to an end?
Consider these passages.
2Tim. 2:10-13, NKJV “(10) Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (11) This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. (12) If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. (13) If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.”
Rev. 3:14-19, NKJV “(14) And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: (15) “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. (16) So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (17) Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’–and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked– (18) I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (19) As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.”
Eph. 5:1-7, Weymouth “(1) Therefore be imitators of God, as His dear children. (2) And live and act lovingly, as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up to death on our behalf as an offering and sacrifice to God, yielding a fragrant aroma. (3) But fornication and every kind of impurity, or covetousness, let them not even be mentioned among you, for they ought not to be named among God’s people. (4) Avoid shameful and foolish talk and low jesting–they are all alike discreditable–and in place of these give thanks. (5) For be well assured that NO fornicator or immoral person and no money-grubber–or in other words idol-worshipper-–has any share awaiting him in the Kingdom of Christ and of God. (6) Let no one deceive you with empty words, for it is on account of these very sins that God’s anger is coming upon the disobedient. (7) Therefore do not become sharers with them.”
James 2:15-26, Weymouth “(15) Suppose a Christian brother or sister is poorly clad or lacks daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “I wish you well; keep yourselves warm and well fed,” and yet you do not give them what they need; what is the use of that? (17) So also faith, if it is unaccompanied by obedience, has no life in it– so long as it stands alone. (18) Nay, some one will say, “You have faith, I have actions: prove to me your faith apart from corresponding actions and I will prove mine to you by my actions. (19) You believe that God is one, and you are quite right: evil spirits also believe this, and shudder.” (20) But, idle boaster, are you willing to be taught how it is that faith apart from obedience is worthless? Take the case of Abraham our forefather. (21) Was it, or was it not, because of his actions that he was declared to be righteous as the result of his having offered up his son Isaac upon the altar? (22) You notice that his faith was co-operating with his actions, and that by his actions his faith was perfected; (23) and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND HIS FAITH WAS PLACED TO HIS CREDIT AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he received the name of ‘God’s friend.’ (24) You all see that it is because of actions that a man is pronounced righteous, and not simply because of faith. (25) In the same way also was not the notorious sinner Rahab declared to be righteous because of her actions when she welcomed the spies and hurriedly helped them to escape another way? (26) For just as a human body without a spirit is lifeless, so also faith is lifeless if it is unaccompanied by obedience.”
Now admittedly many would claim that such people were never truly in the faith at all and that it is THAT language of being ‘IN HIM’ and ‘IN THE FAITH’ which should be taken as metaphorical. As I said earlier I acknowledge that there are a few passages which hint at “once saved always saved”, and one in particular is (in my opinion) the strongest, but even it has more than one way that it could be understood given it’s immediate subject and context. It is found in 1 Jn. chapter 2.
1Jn. 2:18-19, HCSB “(18) Children, it is the last hour. And as you have heard, “Antichrist is coming,” even now many antichrists have come. We know from this that it is the last hour. (19) They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.”
It is well withing reason to say that the phrase “one of us” is referring to the true apostles, prophets and teachers of the gospel rather than “us” meaning their specific local assembly of believers.
Next we go to Hebrews which MANY commentators take to be a book to non-completed Jews, meaning those who have never submitted themselves in faith to Jesus as Lord and Messiah. Well, I might could concede to that if it were not for the following passage…
And a passage which is perhaps the closest to the point…
Heb 5:12 – 6:9, Weymouth “(12) For although, considering the long time you have been believers, you ought now to be teachers of others, you really need some one to teach you over again the very rudiments of the truths of God, and you have come to require milk instead of solid food. [this is evidence of regression… Of sliding backwards] 3) By people who live on milk I mean those who are imperfectly acquainted with the teaching concerning righteousness. (14) Such persons are mere babes. But solid food is for adults–that is, for those who through constant practice have their spiritual faculties carefully trained to distinguish good from evil. (1) Therefore leaving elementary instruction about the Christ, let us advance to mature manhood and not be continually re-laying a foundation of repentance from lifeless works and of faith in God, (2) or of teaching about ceremonial washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and the last judgement. (3) And advance we will, if God permits us to do so. (4) For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once for all been enlightened, and have tasted the sweetness of the heavenly gift, and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, (5) and have realized how good the word of God is and how mighty are the powers of the coming Age, and then fell away– (6) it is impossible, I say, to keep bringing them back to a new repentance, for, to their own undoing, they are repeatedly crucifying the Son of God afresh and exposing Him to open shame. (7) For land which has drunk in the rain that often falls upon it, and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sakes, indeed, it is tilled, has a share in God’s blessing. (8) But if it only yields a mass of thorns and briers, it is considered worthless, and is in danger of being cursed, and in the end will be destroyed by fire. (9) But we, even while we speak in this tone, have a happier conviction concerning you, my dearly-loved friends–a conviction of things which point towards salvation.”
Heb. 12:4-29, Weymouth “(4) In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted so as to endanger your lives; (5) and you have quite forgotten the encouraging words which are addressed to you as sons, and which say, “MY SON, DO NOT THINK LIGHTLY OF THE LORD’S DISCIPLINE, AND DO NOT FAINT WHEN HE CORRECTS YOU; (6) FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES: AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE ACKNOWLEDGES.” (7) The sufferings that you are enduring are for your discipline. God is dealing with you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? (8) And if you are left without discipline, of which every true son has had a share, that shows that you are bastards, and not true sons. (9) Besides this, our earthly fathers used to discipline us and we treated them with respect, and shall we not be still more submissive to the Father of our spirits, and live? (10) It is true that they disciplined us for a few years according as they thought fit; but He does it for our certain good, in order that we may become sharers in His own holy character. (11) Now, at the time, discipline seems to be a matter not for joy, but for grief; yet it afterwards yields to those who have passed through its training a result full of peace–namely, righteousness. (12) Therefore strengthen the drooping hands and paralysed knees, (13) and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put entirely out of joint (14) but may rather be restored. Persistently strive for peace with all men, and for that growth in holiness apart from which no one will see the Lord. (15) Be carefully on your guard lest there be any one who falls back from the grace of God; lest any root bearing bitter fruit spring up and cause trouble among you, and through it the whole brotherhood be defiled; (16) lest there be a fornicator, or an ungodly person like Esau, who, in return for a single meal, parted with the birthright which belonged to him. (17) For you know that even afterwards, when he wished to secure the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no opportunity for undoing what he had done, though he sought the blessing earnestly with tears. (18) For you have not come to a material object all ablaze with fire, and to gloom and darkness and storm and trumpet-blast and the sound of words– (19) a sound of such a kind that those who heard it entreated that no more should be added. (20) For they could not endure the order which had been given, “EVEN A WILD BEAST, IF IT TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, SHALL BE STONED TO DEATH;” (21) and so terrible was the scene that Moses said, “I TREMBLE WITH FEAR.” (22) On the contrary you have come to Mount Zion, and to the city of the ever-living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to countless hosts of angels, (23) to the great festal gathering and Church of the first-born, whose names are recorded in Heaven, and to a Judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, (24) and to Jesus the negotiator of a new Covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks in more gracious tones than that of Abel. (25) Be careful not to refuse to listen to Him who is speaking to you. For if they of old did not escape unpunished when they refused to listen to him who spoke on earth, much less shall we escape who turn a deaf ear to Him who now speaks from Heaven. (26) His voice then shook the earth, but now we have His promise, “YET AGAIN I WILL, ONCE FOR ALL, CAUSE NOT ONLY THE EARTH TO TREMBLE, BUT HEAVEN ALSO.” (27) Here the words “Yet again, once for all” denote the removal of the things which can be shaken–created things–in order that the things which cannot be shaken may remain. (28) Therefore, receiving, as we now do, a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us cherish thankfulness so that we may ever offer to God an acceptable service, with godly reverence and awe. (29) For our God is also a consuming fire.”
Now, I take no pleasure in teaching these truths, yet I know in my heart of hearts that FAILURE to teach them has been the cause of many a backslider to feel safe and secure in their backslidden state – allowing them to eventually become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Which Hebrews 3 warns us about,
Heb. 3:13, “but exhort one another daily, while it is called “TODAY,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.”
But even as the writer of Hebrews said in that awful warning in chapter 6 (and 10 I might add),
Heb. 6:9-12, NKJV “(9) But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. (10) For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. (11) And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, (12) that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
So let’s close by re-reading our passage in John 15 and one other in 1Jn 2 in order to set the stage for never coming NEAR this awful place of apostasy – never allowing our hearts to grow cold and indifferent to the grace of God and the fruit which brings Him glory through the Son being revealed IN US!
John 15:1-27, Weymouth “(1) I am the Vine–the True Vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. (2) Every branch in me–if it bears no fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (3) Already you are cleansed–through the teaching which I have given you. (4) Continue in me, and let me continue in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself–that is, if it does not continue in the vine–so neither can you if you do not continue in me. (5) I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who continues in me and in whom I continue bears abundant fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (6) If any one does not continue in me, he is like the unfruitful branch which is at once thrown away and then withers up. Such branches they gather up and throw into the fire and they are burned. (7) “If you continue in me and my sayings continue in you, ask what you will and it shall be done for you. (8) By this is God glorified–by your bearing abundant fruit and thus being true disciples of mine. (9) As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you: continue in my love. (10) If you obey my commands, you will continue in my love, as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and continue in His love. (11) “These things I have spoken to you in order that I may have joy in you, and that your joy may become perfect. (12) This is my commandment to you, to love one another as I have loved you. (13) No one has greater love than this–a man laying down his life for his friends. (14) You are my friends, if you do what I command you. (15) No longer do I call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, because all that I have heard from the Father I have made known to you. (16) It is not you who chose me, but it is I who chose you and appointed you that you might go and be fruitful and that your fruit might remain; so that whatever petition you present to the Father in my name He may give you. (17) “Thus I command you to love one another. (18) If the world hates you, remember that it has first had me as the fixed object of its hatred. (19) If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own property. But because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world–for that reason the world hates you. (20) Bear in mind what I said to you, ‘A servant is not superior to his master.’ If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you: if they have obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. (21) But they will inflict all this suffering upon you on account of your bearing my name–because they do not know Him who sent me. (22) “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have had no sin; but as the case stands they are without excuse for their sin. (23) He who hates me hates my Father also. (24) If I had not done among them, as I have, such miracles as no one else ever did, they would have had no sin; but they have in fact seen and also hated both me and my Father. (25) But this has been so, in order that the saying may be fulfilled which stands written in their Law, ‘THEY HAVE HATED ME WITHOUT ANY REASON.’ (26) “When the Advocate is come whom I will send to you from the Father’s presence–the Spirit of Truth who comes forth from the Father’s presence–He will be a witness concerning me. (27) And you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the first.”
1Jn. 2:25-29, NKJV “(25) And this is the promise that He has promised us–eternal life. (26) These things I have written to you concerning those who try to deceive you. (27) But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. (28) And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming. (29) If you know that He is righteous, you know that everyone who practices righteousness is born of Him.”
I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
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