Secret of Abiding in Christ
by Tom Stewart
October 30, 2001
"I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit:
for without Me ye can do nothing"
Everyone loves a secret. "His
Secret is with the righteous" (Proverbs 3:32). All those who love the LORD, are privileged to be taught by the Holy Spirit
of our blessed position of abiding as a branch in the Vine of the LORD Jesus Christ. "I am the Vine, ye are the branches" (John 15:5). Anything that has any value in the Kingdom
of God, will come as a result of that abiding relationship with Christ, i.e., the
"same bringeth forth much fruit" (15:5). The phrase, "without
Me ye can do nothing" (15:5), is
most telling, because it announces that we are entirely incapable of accomplishing
anything of godly worth, independent of Christ. "Then
answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do
nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do: for what things soever He doeth,
these also doeth the Son likewise" (5:19). And for clarification, Jesus explains that our obedience is necessary
for His abiding relationship with us. "If
ye keep My Commandments, ye shall abide in My Love; even as I have kept My Father's
Commandments, and abide in His Love" (15:10).
In the eternal counsels of God, it was ordained that the Father would manifest His Glory in Creation, the Son would magnify the Father in Redemption, and the Spirit would lift up the Son commencing with the Pentecostal outpouring. "But when the Comforter is come, Whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me" (John 15:26). What we have been shown about God, has been demonstrated to us through the LORD Jesus Christ. "For God, Who commanded the Light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the Light of the Knowledge of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" (2Corinthians 4:6). We are taught that Jesus is the "True Vine" (John 15:1), which means that He is the Source of our life and fruitfulness. "Ye have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain" (15:16).
In the days of the Old Covenant, when the prophets were given the Promise of the future New Covenant, i.e., "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah" (Jeremiah 31:31), they were promised:
(1) an Obedient Heart to receive God's Law, i.e., "But this shall be the Covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put My Law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts... and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:27)-- which is now fulfilled: "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure... For this is the Love of God, that we keep His Commandments: and His Commandments are NOT grievous" (Philippians 2:13; 1John 5:3).
(2) an Intimate Relationship with the Almighty, i.e., "and will be their God, and they shall be My people... And I will put My Spirit within you" (Jeremiah 31:33; Ezekiel 36:27)-- which is now fulfilled: "Even the Spirit of Truth; Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you... Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit" (John 14:17; 1John 4:13), and
(3) an Intrinsic Understanding of the LORD, i.e., "And I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart... And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more" (Jeremiah 24:7; 31:34)-- which is now fulfilled: "20 But ye have an Unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things... 27 But the Anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same Anointing teacheth you of all things, and is Truth, and is no lie, and even as It hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him" (1John 2:20, 27).
The history of God's dealings with man reveals that God provided man with the Promise of the New Covenant to ESTABLISH His Saints with a relationship of obedience that is secured by the Power of His Spirit indwelling the Believer. "But ye shall receive Power [Greek, dunamis, strength, power, ability], after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you" (Acts 1:8). This Dunamis of the Holy Spirit is the Dynamite of God's Ability to mold us, "for whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the Image of His Son" (Romans 8:29). The "Promise of the Spirit" (Galatians 3:14) was a common theme of the Old Testament writers, especially the prophets:
(1) Ezekiel, i.e., "And shall put My Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD" (Ezekiel 37:14),
(2) Solomon, i.e., "Turn you at My reproof: behold, I will pour out My Spirit unto you, I will make known My Words unto you" (Proverbs 1:23),
(3) Isaiah, i.e., "For I will pour Water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My Blessing upon thine offspring" (Isaiah 44:3),
(4) Joel, i.e., "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28), and
(5) Zechariah, i.e., "And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of Grace and of Supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn" (Zechariah 12:10).
It was promised in the Old Testament that the giving of God's Spirit
to His people would cause them to walk in obedience. "And
I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall
keep My Judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:27). What happened? Why are we still seeing a type of Laodicean Professed Christianity
all around us, with inconsistent or nonexistent obedience? [Read our editorial
"Laodicea-- What Happened?" ---New Window, to see how Satan has deceived most of the present
day church.] In these New Testament times of New Covenant fulfillment,
i.e., "And when the day of Pentecost was
fully come... they were all filled with the Holy Ghost"
(Acts 2:1,4), obedience to the Gospel yields the fruit of the
abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. "Then
Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the Name of Jesus
Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost" (2:38). Such obedience is necessary for the giving
of the Spirit. "And we are His witnesses
of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, Whom God hath given to them that
obey Him" (5:32). And, disobedience
grieves the Spirit, i.e., "Grieve not
the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of Redemption" (Ephesians 4:30), robbing us of the Spirit's testimony
of our sonship. "He that saith, I know
Him, and keepeth not His Commandments, is a liar, and the Truth is not in him" (1John 2:4). The "obedience
of faith" (Romans 16:26) introduces
the Repenting Sinner to the wonderful ministry of "Another
Comforter" (John 14:16), Who is
the Holy Spirit, Whose blessed function is to reveal the Son of God to us, revealing
Him in all of His Names, Titles, Relations, and Functions, as the Answer to our every
need in life. "But of Him are ye in Christ
Jesus, Who of God is made unto us Wisdom, and Righteousness, and Sanctification,
and Redemption" (1Corinthians 1:30).
In saying what the Scripture says about Christ, it is not possible to make too much
of the LORD Jesus Christ. "1 For it pleased the Father that in
Him [Jesus] should all
fulness dwell... 3 In
Whom are hid all the treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge... 9
For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the
Godhead bodily" (Colossians 1:19; 2:3,9).
Abiding in Christ is a reciprocal relationship between our abiding in Christ and His abiding in us. "Abide in Me, and I in you" (John 15:4). No more can we neglect our abiding in Him, than we will find ourselves deprived of His abiding in us. "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (5:17). Though it may be objected that we cannot have such importance in such a vital relationship, our cooperation in our own Sanctification must be necessary, or we could be sanctified contrary to our will. "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the LORD" (Hebrews 12:14). The Secret of abiding in Christ is that our agency is necessary, though it is but to claim a Promise; otherwise our Sanctification would be without our cooperation, and could be represented as occurring, whether we like it or not-- which is unscriptural. "Whereby are given unto us Exceeding Great and Precious Promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the Divine Nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2Peter 1:4). [Read our article "Exceeding Great and Precious Promises" ---New Window.] And, this is the very point which the Promise secures for the Believer-- in faith, it is the Holy Spirit that causes us to walk obediently. "And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My Statutes, and ye shall keep My Judgments, and do them" (Ezekiel 36:27). This produces the abundant fruit that the LORD Jesus assured us that we would bring forth. "5 I am the Vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do nothing... 8 Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be My disciples" (John 15:5-8).
With what little time that may remain in our sojourn on this planet, may we glorify the Father by the fruit we produce in Christ through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. "24 Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His Glory with exceeding joy, 25 to the Only Wise God our Saviour, be Glory and Majesty, Dominion and Power, both now and ever. Amen" (Jude 24-25).
The Promise of the Spirit ---New Window
by Tom Stewart
"That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the Promise of the Spirit through faith" (Galatians 3:14).
"The grand design of the Spirit's indwelling is to secure the perfect love, complete obedience, or entire sanctification that has ALWAYS been demanded by the Moral Law. '36 Master, which is the great Commandment in the Law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great Commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two Commandments hang all the Law and the prophets' (Matthew 22:36-40). This Law of Love is understood in the New Testament as the Law of Christ. 'Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the Law of Christ' (Galatians 6:2). Always, it has been man's imperative to understand how to submit to this Law; and, now it is plain that a Covenant as old as Abraham has been fulfilled through the New Covenant's giving of the Holy Spirit-- which, BY FAITH secures for us perfect obedience to God. 'That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the Promise of the Spirit through faith' (Galatians 3:14)."
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