Abiding In Christ
By Pastor Michael Olawore
New Wine Church, London
Foundation Scripture: Genesis 17:1-3, John 10:10, John 15:1-8;
Sunday 17th April 2016
Today’s message titled ‘Abiding In Christ’ is the third of the series – Living a Super Abundant Life. Here is John 15:1-8: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing’. 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. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
From this passage, Jesus used the word, “abide” seven times. In Jewish culture, the emphasis on a word or phrase is often articulated by repeating that word or phrase twice or thrice. In biblical terminology, seven often denotes perfection or completion. Verse 6 needs to be explained a bit further, as it has been interpreted controversially. A better rendition of verse 6 says: Anyone who does not remain in me is like a useless branch, thrown away and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned (NLT Paraphrased). All Jesus was saying is that, a non-abiding believer is like a withering branch that eventually gets thrown away and used as dead wood.
Having understood that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing from the message last week, Christ’s invitation in today’s message is simple – “partake of this blessing, by abiding in me”. Besides, Christ encourages us to remain permanently connected to him for unbroken intimacy.
So how can we abide in Christ? Let’s define the word ‘abide’ in order to understand it fully. It is the Greek word menoo – and it means “to remain, not to depart, not to leave, to continue to be present, to last, to endure, to remain faithful”. Jesus in other words is saying that our relationship with him must be unwavering.
Let’s examine 5 areas in our relationship with Christ in which we can abide in Him:
(a) A call to depend on Christ for provision: In the same way that a branch depends on the vine for sustenance, we are also called to depend on Christ. Everything the branch requires to survive is in the vine, and cannot be obtained elsewhere. Conspicuously, the branch cannot provide for itself, without the vine. Conversely, in Christ we can enjoy the blessings of God’s grace, already made available by the finished work of Jesus on the cross. Once the vine and the branch are connected, the result is limitless. As God’s children, our dependence ought to be on God and not on any other source – man, riches, employment, parents or a government. Christ is all we need. (See Philippians 4:19-20)
(b) A call to trust in Christ totally: In the same way that the branch depends on the vine to hold it up against the wind and other environmental elements, Christ desires that we rely on Him, through the vicissitudes of life. Psalm 18:2 reads: ‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my saviour; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me and my place of safety’. Just like Abraham trusted God against all hopes, we are called to do the same.
(c) A call to enter His rest: It is in Christ that we can find rest. He is our refuge and fortress. Abiding in Him is synonymous to embracing His security and protection from the challenges of life. Hebrews 4:8-11 put it this way: ‘Now if Joshua had succeeded in giving them this rest, God would not have spoken about another day of rest still to come. So there is a special rest still waiting for the people of God. For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world. So let us do our best to enter that rest’ (NLT).
(d) A call into intimacy with Christ: It is a privilege to fellowship with Christ. John 15:7-10 highlights three levels of fellowship with Christ: ‘But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love’.
-Fellowship in the word: Abiding in Christ involves having a deep connection with Him through his words. Having deep revelation knowledge of what He has spoken and written, having His words residing within us as we spend time studying His word (See Psalm 119: 11,102,105,133; 138:2).
-Fellowship in prayer: Prayer is the second level of fellowship we are called to in Christ. Very often, Christ separated himself to God in prayer. All he did and said was as a result of what His father had instructed him to do. Mark 1:35-37 reads: ‘Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you” (NLT).
-Fellowship in His love: In the same way that Jesus obeyed His Father’s command, we are also called to obey His word and His will for our lives. His love for us should constrain our mind-set, irrespective of our natural circumstances. Ephesians 3:17-18 reads: ‘that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height of his love’(Paraphrased).
(e) A call to bear fruit unto Christ: This is a call to be one with him, and letting go of all distractions. Here is the place of intimacy as you are filled with Christ’s fullness, as his power, glory and beauty flows through you. Christ is formed within us, including His values and attributes. His character and nature becomes a part of us and we begin to manifest the fruit of the Spirit as highlighted in Galatians 5:22-23, which reads: ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.’
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