Friday, January 23, 2009

THE ABIDING LIFE
...by Jim Elliff

The abiding life is the true Christian life. Jesus said, "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:6)

John 15 gives us the pattern for spiritual growth and effectiveness as believers. In the passage, we are called branches, Christ is the vine, and the Father is the vinedresser.

What are the characteristics of authentic branches?

They bear the fruit of Christ's character and power.
Fruit is the life of Christ through the believer. It is excess life. The life of the Christian is to be one of daily dependence on Christ, rather than himself.

Do people see Christ in you?

Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away...
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so 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, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing. (vv.2a,4-5)

They are pruned by God.
God cuts off the diseased and the nonessential aspects of the believer's life. It is up to the vinedresser to determine what is and is not useful. Pruning is painful but necessary. Is this your experience?

Every branch that bears fruit, He primes it, that it may bear more fruit. (v. 2b)

They know the joy of living by God's Word and prayer.
God will entrust much in prayer to those whose minds are being renewed through His Word, for they pray according to His will. Have you learned to live by God's Word and prayer?

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. (v. 7)

They keep God's commandments.
Do you obey Him?

If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments, and abide in His love. (v. 10)

They love those who are in Christ.
Christ taught us love by sacrifice. While loving all men, abiding Christians have a special affection for believers and eagerly express this love in the local church. Is love the prominent feature of your life?

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (vv. 12-13)

They are often misunderstood.
Does the world love you or hate you?

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. (vv. 18-20)

They speak openly of Christ and what He has done.
That which is in the heart comes out of the mouth. Do you speak of Christ?

When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness of Me, and you will bear witness also, because you have been with me from the beginning. (vv. 26-27)

The abiding life is the ONLY true Christian life. Is it the life you lead?

By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit,
and so prove to be My disciples.
(v. 8)



Copyright © 1993 Jim Elliff.
Permission granted to photocopy for not-for-sale reproduction in exact form, including copyright. 
All other uses require written permission.

Write Christian Communicators Worldwide, 201 Main, Parkville, MO 64152.
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10 comments:

littlegal_66 said...

Thanks for this. Not really up for much blogging/computing; but wanted to let you know that this was very good for me today. :-i

Bhedr said...

To meditate on this passage daily would do us much good. I am glad you posted on this passage. It teaches us that service is not the source of devotion, but rather the result of a life that remains in the vine.

Mike Ratliff said...

Thanks for posting this Steve. I think this passage is one of the clearest teachings on the contrast between genuine or authentic Christians and the spurious ones. Genuine Christians abide in the vine and produce fruit. The disingenuious Christians don't produce fruit and are taken away and burned.

However, I do like the focus of Jim Elliff's article. We grow or mature as God prunes us as we remain. Any professing believer that is fruitless and never pruned is not genuine.

In Christ

Mike Ratliff

theoldadam said...

How do you know if you are producing enough fruit to qualify to not be taken away and burned?

I know that I am derelict in my obedience and I don't know of any Christian who keeps His Commandments.

Darrin said...

Steve: the text of this post matches well with the beauty of the photo. Thank you for providing this.
theoldadam: I can also say that
"I know that I am derelict in my obedience" and sadly too often find myself in this rut. But thanks be to God, our concern need not be if we are producing "enough fruit to qualify"; Christ alone is our qualification. Thus the beauty of a focus on abiding - He then does the producing. Surely if we observe no evidences of real faith in our lives, we should be greatly concerned. But if, aware of our own failures, He moves us to sorrow leading to repentance, praise to Him! I guess I'm just advocating a firm reliance on His grace and power; though we've failed Him at times, the evidences of grace may still be there.

SJ Camp said...

theoldadam
Great question!

Fruit is something that the Lord through His Spirit produces in us. Fruit is not something we can produce on our own by our own abilities or human ingenuity.

And remember my brother, spiritual fruit is not the root of our salvation but the result of it. A true Christian will always have the evidence of spiritual fruit in their lives of varying degrees and at throughout all of our lives.

None of us have arrived at this - it is ALL a work of grace.

So take heart, if you know Him as your Lord and Savior - the fruit will be there for He is working in you through His Spirit. He who began a good work in you will complete it...

He is not finished with us nor will He ever abandon us. Nothing can separate you from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord! Amen?

No condemnation,
Steve

theoldadam said...

SJ,

That was a great answer!

I do believe you are right on!

I have found that God produces fruit in so many different ways. In ways that I would not have thought right. Like the cross, for instance.

That did not look like something good to us (at the time) but god used that travesty of justice for His purposes.

My pastor says that God even uses our sin to accomplish His purposes.

Thank you, Steve!

Bill said...

I echo oldadam's amen too. I have had those same thoughts as well.

Good answer Steve.

Darrin said...

PS - I didn't mean the color of the text font, but the beauty of the concise biblical content.
Guess my ambiguity can be expected when an engineer tries to wax poetic.

Reform said...

"The things I want to do I don't do; and the very thing I don't want to do I do. O wretched man am I."

The Apostle Paul understood this tension very well didn't he?

Thanks for this timely word from Jim Elliff. Really strong!