Abiding In Christ IS Christianity

Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Tonight I want to talk about “abiding in Christ”. Turn with me in your Bibles to John 15.

The Bible makes it clear that the Christian is called to abide in Christ. When Jesus spoke of our abiding in Him, He used the illustration of the grape vine, something all Jews were familiar with. Jesus said:

John 15:4-8 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

The Normal Or Natural State Of The Christian
Is To ABIDE In Christ

Jesus uses the word “ABIDE” seven times in this short text. The Lord God RESTED on the 7th day, the first time 7 is used in Scripture. God RESTED because creation was complete. We find our completion in Christ!

When we come to Jesus in faith, surrendering our lives to Him, we begin to “ABIDE”. But “ABIDE” refers to more than just resting. The Greek Lexicon tells us the word translated “ABIDE” is the Greek μένω ménō, {pronounced men’-o}, which means:

  • To REST on or in
  • To DWELL in or on
  • To WAIT for
  • To ENDURE or CONTINUE with

The branch, the Christian, is spiritually attached to the Vine, Who is Jesus. The branch does not attach itself, but grows out of attachment to the Vine. Before salvation, we were not branches from Jesus – we were detached from Jesus, and under condemnation of sin. The Scripture says:

John 3:18 … He that believeth on {Jesus} is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Before you received Christ as Lord and Savior, you were not attached to Jesus Christ. Once saved by faith, God the Father “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). The Bible says:

Galatians 5:1 Christ has MADE US free
Ephesians 1:6 God has MADE US accepted in the Beloved (in Jesus)
Ephesians 2:6 God has raised us up, and MADE US sit with Him
Revelation 1:6 God has MADE US kings and priests unto the Father

The Christian is not self made, but God made. When we call on Jesus, we are “brought into union with Christ”. Transformed, we are branches, and are attached to the Vine. When Jesus commanded:

John 15:4 Abide in me, and I in you.

This “ABIDING” is mutual. The Christian ABIDES in Christ, and Jesus ABIDES in us. His life essence flows through us. When a person is saved by repenting of their idolatry, and by receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9-13), the Holy Spirit of God acts to cause us to be “born again” (John 3:3, 7). The Apostle said:

1 Peter 1:18-23 forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. 22 Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

You cannot make yourself “born again” no more than you made yourself physically born. You call upon the Lord Jesus, believing and receiving Him, and God causes your new birth. When you are born again, God brings you into union with Christ. The saved person is “in Christ”:

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

The Christian is not as they were before. “In Christ”, we are new creatures. If you are IN CHRIST, attached to Jesus, you are guaranteed eternal life.

John 10:28-29 … I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

The believer is spiritually bound to Christ. He becomes part of us, and we become part of Him. It is the natural state of the branch to abide in the Vine. The Apostle John further clarifies “abiding” this way:

1 John 2:1-6 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 and he is the propitiation {the covering that satisfies God the Father} for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. 3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. 5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 6 He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

If we are “abiding” in Christ, then we are keeping Christ’s commandments. If we are “abiding” in Christ, we are to walk as Jesus walked.

Those IN CHRIST Follow The Same Law Jesus Followed: The Royal Law

Jesus gave His Church – those believers gathered together in His name – a Royal Law that we are to follow. The Royal Law has three parts. We studied this last week when we started our study in James. The first two parts were given by Jesus when He was asked, “Master, what is the GREAT COMMANDMENT in the Law?” Jesus answered:

Matthew 22:37-40 … Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The first part of the Royal Law (Christ our King’s Law) is that we love God with our ALL. God is not a leftover, but we are fully dedicated to live for His smile. The second part of the Royal Law is that we love those near us as WE want to be loved. Jesus said that these two commandments are the PRIMARY PRINCIPLE of the whole of Scripture (called “the Law and the Prophets” by the Jews).

As Jesus prepared to go to the Cross, He gave His disciples a “new commandment”, the third part of the Royal Law:

John 13:34 A new Commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.

Jesus restated this in John 15:12, “This is My commandment, that ye love one another, as I have loved you”. This is a sacrificial love, a love toward even our enemies. This is how Jesus loved. So the Royal Law is:

  1. Love God with your all
  2. Love others the way you want to be loved
  3. Love sacrificially the way Jesus loved

Abiding in Christ is the normal state
all true believers seek.

What We Learn From Judas Iscariot: Those who do not “abide” in Christ are, according to the Apostle John, NOT saved. Pretenders to the faith act as if they are attached to the Vine. But in time, trials and tests will come, and they will fall away. They are like Judas Iscariot. Judas was called by Jesus to be an Apostle. Judas followed Jesus. Judas was loved by Jesus. Judas fellow-shipped regularly with other believers. Judas outwardly kissed Jesus, but deceptively denied Jesus. Jesus was not in his heart. Though Peter and the other disciples also denied Jesus, those who were in Christ, attached to the Vine, returned to Jesus after He resurrected. Judas did not. Judas killed himself! The Bible says:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

The saved person who has indeed been saved will return to walk with Christ, even when sorely tried.

God will COMPLETE His Work in the saved one. He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Please turn with me in your Bibles to Acts 6, where we will see …

Iscariot Teaches Us False Faith,
Stephen Shows Us Abiding Faith

There are a lot of men and women that we can refer to when we talk about ABIDING in Christ. There are Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Deborah, David, Jeremiah, Daniel …. I can name many names. But one of the great ABIDERS was a man called Stephen. Turn in your Bibles to Acts chapter 6.

The early Church took care of “widows” by feeding these poor women daily. The early Church did not sit, soak, and sour – but it SERVED. The Apostles were busy sharing the Word of God and preaching as the Lord led, so they encouraged the Church to find and find from ….

Acts 6:3 … among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy {Spirit} and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business.

Full of the Spirit, not full of OURSELVES. Iscariot was full of himself. Stephen was full of God!

To Jesus Christ was given the Holy Spirit without measure” (John 3:34), and if you are abiding in Christ the same Spirit is in you. Those who are filled with the Spirit will also have wisdom, the wisdom to learn from Scripture (James 1:5). Stephen was FULL!

Acts 6:5 … they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy {Spirit} …

There is no glamour in tending to widows. The mega Church Pastor loves the crowds, not the widow. But God is glorified when the least and the lesser are loved. Stephen abided in Christ. He loved the widows, and loved the Lord!

If you will serve God in the small things first, you will be blessed with the greater gifts later! Stephen …

Acts 6:8 … full of faith and power, did great wonders and miracles among the people.

When you are living for and in Christ, you will often go against the powers the be. Those who were enemies of the Cross “were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke” (Acts 6:10). Stephen stood up for Jesus, even when it went against the thought process of the world he was in. Jesus told us who love Him:

John 15:18-20 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. 20 Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you;

A Christian who is spiritually lazy or passive, turning a blind eye and giving a mute testimony to the darkness, will never be persecuted by the world. It saddens me when “Christian artists” come into the spotlight during a worldly interview, and will not stand up for Christ. Beloved, there is a cost to paid in pleasing God. When Jesus came, the Bible says “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8). Those who are abiding in Christ, attached to Him as a branch is to a Vine, will “love the Lord, and yet hate evil” (Psalm 97:10a). We are to remember that “the Lord loves the souls of His saints; He delivereth them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 97:10b). Jesus loved and forgave, but Jesus NEVER justified sin.

Biblical Illustrations: To the woman taken in adultery Jesus said in John 8:11 … “Neither do I condemn thee: GO and SIN NO MORE”.

To the man Jesus healed at the pool of Bethesda, our Lord told him in John 5:14 .. “Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. ”

When asked about the Galileans who Pilate killed, if they died because of their great sins, Jesus said in Luke 13:3 … “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish”.

Beloved, neither God the Father, God the Son, nor God the Holy Spirit has ever justified sin. Jesus Christ died to make payment for sin – but sinners must REPENT!

Stephen abided in Christ. This world was not his home – he lived his life for Jesus. Back to Stephen’s story. As he stood for Christ, the Bible says:

Acts 6:11-15 … they suborned {literally, bribed} men, which said, We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses, and against God. 12 And they stirred up the people, and the elders, and the scribes, and came upon him, and caught him, and brought him to the council, 13 and set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law: 14 for we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us. 15 And all that sat in the council, looking steadfastly on him, saw his face as it had been the face of an angel.

Those poor, lost souls SUBORNED or bribed liars, willing to violate God’s 9th Commandment (Exodus 20:16). They STIRRED UP the people, for “hatred stirs up strife; but love covers all sins” (Proverbs 10:12). The dark troops SEIZED Stephen, and SET UP false witnesses to SLANDER dear Stephen. The hiss of the serpent was in what they did that day. But as they looked at Stephen, they SAW as it was the face of an angel. Stephen is in union with Christ. God is with Stephen as He is with all His children.

Jeremiah 1:8 Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the LORD.

Stephen saw this moment in front of the Jewish court not as a trial, but as an opportunity to share the Gospel of Christ. Stephen, on trial for his life, did not even attempt to defend himself. In the power of God the Holy Spirit, Stephen preached perhaps one of the finest sermons ever recorded from the early Church. In Acts chapter 17 Stephen recounts the history of Israel. Stephen started with God calling Abraham from Mesopotamia (Acts 7:2), and spoke of Israel’s history as Joseph was sold into Egypt (Acts 7:9), and how God used the great famine and Joseph to bring Jacob and his twelve sons to Egypt. If you do not understand the history of Israel, the founding of that great nation, I highly recommend you read Stephen’s sermon. Oh, what a God honoring text it is! He told of Moses, his calling from the wilderness of mount Sinai, and how God used Moses to redeem Israel from Egypt. Stephen spoke of Israel’s wandering for 40 years, the Tabernacle of God in the wilderness, of the calling of King David, and Solomon building the Temple.

Oh, how I wish you would read all of Stephen’s sermon! It is a perfect Word from God. After Stephen reminded the court – occupied by Pharisees, Sadducees, and Chief Priests who should have known the history of their nation – of Israel’s blessings and failures, Stephen spoke harshly and clearly. Beloved, if a sermon has never REBUKED you, then you are either perfect (which you aren’t), or you have REFUSED to listen. Stephen preached:

Acts 7:51-53 Ye stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy {Spirit}: as your fathers did, so do ye. 52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: 53 who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.

Stephen did not mince words. I inherited high blood pressure and diabetes from my father. Stephen told the court that THEY inherited stiff necks, uncircumcised hearts, a desire to resist God. Stephen called them prophet killers and betrayers. This court should know the Law of God, but instead has conspired against the truth, entertained false witnesses, and is guilty of destroying the nation of Israel. When the leadership of a people begins to compromise the truths of God, it is not long until the nation falls. This court was corrupt. “The Law is slacked, and judgment doth never go forth: for the wicked doth compass about the righteous; therefore wrong judgment proceedeth”. Stephen stood up for Jesus. Stephen was abiding in Jesus.

When the court heard these things, it did as the darkness always does. “They were cut to the HEART, and they GNASHED on Stephen with their teeth” (Acts 7:54). Stephen was surrounded by wild dogs. They literally bit at him, like a rabid dog will bite. But Stephen was abiding in Christ.

Acts 7:55-56 … But {Stephen}, being full of the Holy {Spirit}, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, 56 and said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Jesus told the High Priest at his own trial, “ye shall see the Son of Man SITTING on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven” (Matthew 26:64). The Bible pictures Jesus “SEATED” on the right hand of God, interceding for us (Romans 8:34; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 1:3; Hebrews 8:1). Jesus is “SEATED” at God’s right hand as both Judge and Intercessor. Jesus said:

John 5:22 … the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

When You See Jesus, Will He Be

The High Priest would one day see Jesus “SEATED” as a Judge is “SEATED”. The Judge never judges while he is standing. Even in our courts, when the Judge walks in, you hear “All rise”. This is to honor justice. Then when the Judge is seated, you hear “Be seated”. Judgment has begun. The Judge is ALWAYS SEATED when he sets the sentence.

For the Christian at present, Christ is SEATED at the right hand of God, making intercession for us. He is not our Judge insofar as salvation is concerned. But the unrepentant sinner will see Jesus SEATED one day, and that will not be a wonderful day.

As Stephen prepared to die, he saw JESUS STANDING at the right hand of God. Jesus STOOD as the only True Witness for Stephen on that dark day. Jesus STOOD because Stephen was abiding in Him. Jesus “is the Faithful Witness” (Revelation 1:5), and “the faithful and true Witness” (Revelation 3:14). He stood up for Stephen. As this dark court:

Acts 7:57-58 cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord, 58 and cast him out of the city, and stoned him …

Stephen died … but his legacy lived on. Someone other than Jesus was standing while Stephen was being killed. Saul, who would become the Apostle Paul, stood watching Stephen die. And as Stephen died, branch that he was, connected to the Vine, prayed simply:

Acts 7:59-60 Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. 60 And he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice, Lord, lay not this sin to their charge. And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

What a blessing to abide in Christ! Oh Beloved, look up. Do not be a Laodicean Christian, passive in your faith. Abide in Christ! Jesus expects this of you. Abide! Abide! Abide every day, until the day you head homeward toward yonder Heaven. Abide, and see Jesus standing, ready to receive you into His glory! May God the Holy Spirit write His Word upon your hearts this very day. Amen and Amen!

About bibleteacherorg

A searching Pastor, I am looking for a people who love the Lord and love one another. Daily I pray for the Church. Most of what the world sees today is not the Church, but clubs pretending to be the Church. God is calling to Himself a people willing to be righteous, not self righteous, serving not served. I am called to pastor God's people, those who want to change the world by willingly and willfully following Jesus Christ. Only God is able to change the world, and we must follow His Christ. He is able! Praise His Name! Come quickly Lord Jesus!
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