Listen to this authoritative command, which the Lord Jesus has issued to every authentic disciple, “ABIDE IN ME and I in you, as a 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 an do nothing.” The Lord Jesus Christ is issuing an emphatic imperative to every authentic branch, who has been implanted into a living connectivity with Him. The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the True Vine, is declaring, ‘Since you have entered into this spiritual union with Me, I am commanding you to walk in a daily, intimate communion with Me!’ Fellow disciples, this is not an option to be debated. This is a mandate from the Master! Furthermore, this divine command to abide in the Vine is in the ‘present imperative tense’. This is an ordinance that is to be personally obeyed in the continual practice of your lifestyle! In other words, the weight of the responsibility to ‘abide in Christ’ is placed squarely at the feet of every authentic branch which is in union with the Vine.
I remind you that, ‘The Lord Jesus had already promised (in John 14) that He was going back to God the Father to prepare an eternal and heavenly dwelling place for every follower of Christ Jesus. However, in John 15:4, the Lord is declaring that, ‘Until you enter into that eternal abiding place in Heaven, I am going to be a ‘spiritual abiding place’, for you to continue dwell in’! Furthermore, the Lord Jesus is declaring that your personal compliance to this divine command to ‘abide in intimate communion with the Vine’ is the essential key for spiritual productivity in your life. For if your life is going to be spiritually fruitful, for the glory of the Lord, then it is your personal responsibility to ‘abide in Jesus’ as your intimate, personal and spiritual habitation. For this is the vital secret that unlocks the door for ‘fruitful living for the magnification of Jesus’. Our Lord and Savior is basically giving us a conditional command with a conditional promise, “If you will ABIDE in ME, then I will reciprocate by abiding in the fire and freshness of ‘first love’ intimacy with you.”
There is a ‘two fold portrait’, which can be painted, as we consider this vital word “ABIDE”. There is one sense in which the concept ‘ABIDE’ portrays the picture of an ‘ENDURING CONTINUATION’ in union with Christ. The word ‘abide’ can be defined as, ‘remaining in the Lord; continuing in Christ; or persevering in Jesus’. This view of the spiritual portrait describes a person who is staying in one place of residence for a full duration of time. This critical issue of ‘remaining’ in union with the Vine is the primary evidence that a person’s faith in the Lord Jesus is ‘saving faith’; and not an artificial, superficial and temporary faith. A genuine conversion experience will always be evidenced by the reality that this bonafide disciple continues in the sphere of a ‘living union with the Vine’, no matter the trials, troubles, tribulations or temptations. On the contrary, those who do not persevere (abide) in Christ are manifesting that they were only externally and artificially attached to Christ. They have never entered into a living and internal connectivity to the Vine! You well recall that the 11 disciples never suspected that Judas was a false branch. However, the Lord Jesus knew all along that Judas had never been immersed into a vital union with Himself. There are many ‘professing branches’, within the pale of Christianity today, who are eventually exposed to be ‘Judas branches’. For they do not continue in Him; they do not persevere in Him; they do not abide in Him. They went out from us, because they were never of us! Oh, but the genuine branch abides; he remains; he perseveres!
However, there is another side of the portrait of this word ‘ABIDE’. For it also pictures a believer who is pursuing a daily, priority and consistent reality of ‘abiding in the fire and freshness of FIRST LOVE COMMUNION with the Vine!’ For beloved, the Lord Jesus Christ is not only a Savior to be trusted in; He is not only a King to be submitted to; He is not only a Teacher to be followed; He is also a HOME for you to dwell in, through daily, intimate communion with Him! The Lord Jesus Christ is an abode, which is richly furnished with everything that you will possibly need, to live a life that ‘bears much fruit for the glory of God’! When the Lord Jesus gives disciples a personal summons to ‘ABIDE IN HIM’, He is commanding every believer to establish their ‘constant and continual abiding place’ in a daily, quality and intimate union with Him. The One who is the all-sufficient Vine is giving a divine dictum to every authentic branch, “to remain in the fire and freshness of a first love intimacy with Him, as the habitual residence of your life”! So that, you live your life at home in Jesus; and the Lord Jesus lives at home in you!
The King of kings is charging each one of us to remain devotedly connected to Him, as our royal residence; and to glory in all of the majesty of His kingly rule in the throne room of our heart and life. Consequently, as we walk in sweet intimacy with the Vine, we will think as He thinks; we will choose as He would choose; we will see believers as He sees them; we will see the lost as He sees them; and we will love others as He loves them. In other words, “He who says that He abides in Jesus, ought himself to walk even in the same manner as Jesus walked.” So that, when it is time for you to pass through the fiery furnace of adversity, the Son of Man will be walking in the midst of the fire with you. When you must battle the flaming missiles of daily temptations, you will already be abiding in sweet intimacy with the Captain of the army of the Lord of hosts. And on that final day, when it is your appointed time to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the Good Shepherd will be with you, guiding you through. And why? Because you have been abiding in a close and conscious communion with the Husband of your soul. Oh dear friend, the Lord did not save your eternal soul so that you would be a ‘distant friend’, who only communes with Him occasionally. He redeemed you so that you would abide in an intimate connectivity and living communion with Him. So that, as a direct consequence, your life and ministry will bear much fruit for the magnification of Jesus and the glory of God!