In John 15, we see Jesus sharing what he thought was the most important thing his disciples needed to hear at a moment in their lives where everything would be turned upside down. These words are shared to the disciples during the calm, right before the greatest storm they will ever face. And so these words have a greater sense of importance in my opinion although everything Jesus said always has eternal weight.
Do you know anything of living the life of habitual fellowship with Christ?
By ‘fellowship’ I mean the habit of ‘abiding in Christ’ which our Lord tells us is necessary if we are to bear fruit as Christians (John 15:4-8). We must understand clearly that having fellowship with Christ is much more than simply being a Christian. All who have repented and come to Christ are Christians, and below to Him. But too many never get beyond this stage. Because of ignorance, laziness, fear of man, love of the world, or some besetting sin which has never been dealt with, they have only a little faith, a little hope, a little peace and a little holiness. They live all their lives bearing fruit only ‘thirtyfold’ (Matt. 13:8).J.C. Ryle, Walking with God (Abridged and simplified version of Practical Religion)
John 14-17 are pretty much Jesus’ last words to his disciples. Probably the most important things he could say before he dies. The things he needed to say to help his disciples trust in God and continue in the faith. And a message that Jesus prioritizes in this moment is the act of abiding in Christ.
Jesus is very clear through the passage we just read that there are a number of practical and concrete realities of abiding in him. Here are four ways of what Jesus means by “abiding in Christ”
- United in Christ (John 15:4)
- Bearing Fruit in Christ (John 15:8)
- Delighting in Christ (John 15:9)
- Secured in Christ (John 15:16)
We’ll look into the first point today.
Being united in Christ is by the act of salvation. It depends completely on His grace. Yes, it is our faith in Jesus that unites us to him but our faith itself is rooted in what God has done. To say it in another way, we ourselves, having faith did not graft ourselves to the vine. It is God, as the divine Gardener, who has grafted us into Christ.
This is important for our assurance of salvation because just as God alone is the one who connects the branches to the vine, God alone is the one who can separate it. It’s not like one day we choose to abide in Christ and when we don’t feel like it, we disconnect from him. The person who is saved is the person who actually abides in Christ. And only the person who abides in Christ can claim the promise of communion with God.
Only the true believer is united in Christ, bears fruit in Christ, delights in Christ. and is secured in Christ. It all begins when we abide in Him. Read John 15 today and meditate on these last words given to his closest disciples before Jesus is crucified.