Bible Reading: 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." (John 15:4)
Abide in me. Three simple words, yet these words often leave me stumped. What does it mean to abide in Christ? This truth is so profound that there is no way I have a full grasp of this truth. But, the little that has been revealed to me, I’d like to share.
First and foremost, to abide in Christ means to put our full trust in what has Christ done for us. It means to abide and to rest assured in Christ’s work of salvation. The thing is, Christ dying on the cross almost seems so cliche to us. But, do we truly understand what Christ did on that cross?
Let’s go back to the basics. Why must we be saved? Why do we need Christ? It is because of our sin. We are rebels against God having turned against His way to our ways. In His Holiness, our sin is punishable by eternal death (Romans 6:23). A Holy God cannot mix with sinful man. That is the story of humanity, and God could have called a conclusion here. We could have all been eternally punished, and God would be just and righteous in doing so.
Yet in God’s love and grace, God chooses to save some to be redeemed as His people through the only way. The Father sent the Son to earth as the Saviour. As 100% God and 100% man, Christ is the only way God’s wrath is appeased, and our sins are forgiven.
1 Peter 2:24 says “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” On that cross, all our sins were placed on Christ. Christ’s blood became a propitiation (Romans 3:25), meaning His sacrifice in our place appeased God’s wrath that we should have received.
Yet, what Christ did for His elect did not stop there. Not only did Christ appease God’s wrath for us, but His perfect and righteous life has been given to us. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Pay attention here. God’s righteousness is imputed on us. Our sinful self is crucified upon the cross, and in its place, God gives us a life that is righteous by His standard, which is Christ’s perfect life He lived in obedience on this earth. We have become “the righteousness of God”, righteous by God’s standard! This does not mean that we do not sin anymore on this earth; there is still a process of sanctification. But, it does mean that God who before looked at us with wrath now looks at us with approval because He sees us clean, covered in the perfect righteousness of Christ which has been given unto us.
What does this mean? 2 Corinthians 5:18 summarises it well, “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself”. We have been reconciled with God! We can have a relationship with the living God, and the living God is pleased with us! He loves us and wants to be our friend!
So what does it mean to abide in Christ? It means to live a life as one who has been reconciled with God. Talk to Him and get to know Him through His Word. Strive to love Him and keep His commandments (v. 9-10). A sign of genuine trust is obedience. Turn away from our old lives and live now as we ought to live, as people reconciled with God. Seek what He wills in His Word and obey it. Stand in awe at what God has done for us and commit our whole lives to live this new life He has bought for us.
There is no other way. v. 6 reveals, those who reject abiding in Christ are those who ignore God, continue to live in sin, and ultimately end up thrown into the eternal fire. But, on the other end, those who abide in Christ will discover, that such life in Christ is filled with God’s ultimate joy and indeed the fullest joy one could ever experience (v. 11).
Lord, teach us to abide in You. Thank You that You have reconciled us with Yourself. Thank You that we who are sinners are able to approach Your throne in confidence and have fellowship with You. Have mercy on us and draw us closer in relationship with Yourself. Bring us to know You more, love Your more, and serve Your more with all our lives. In Jesus' name, amen.