IT IS to you who have heard and hearkened to the call, "Come unto me," that this new invitation comes, "Abide in me." The message comes from the same loving Saviour. You doubtless have never repented having come at His call. You experienced that His word was truth; all His promises He fulfilled; He made you partakers of the blessings and the joy of His love. Was not His welcome most hearty, His pardon full and free, His love most sweet and precious? You more than once, at your first coming to Him, had reason to say, "The half was not told me." And yet you have had to complain of disappointment: as time went on, your expectations were not realized. The blessings you once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your first meeting with your Saviour, instead of deepening, have become faint and feeble. And often you have wondered what the reason could be, that with such a Saviour, so mighty and so loving, your experience of salvation should not have been a fuller one. The answer is very simple. You wandered from Him. The blessings He bestows are all connected with His "Come to ME," and are only to be enjoyed in close fellowship with Himself. You either did not fully understand, or did not rightly remember, that the call meant, "Come to me to stay with me." And yet this was in very deed His object and purpose when first He called you to Himself. It was not to refresh you for a few short hours after your conversion with the joy of His love and deliverance, and then to send you forth to wander in sadness and sin. He had destined you to something better than a short-lived blessedness, to be enjoyed only in times of special earnestness and prayer, and then to pass away, as you had to return to those duties in which far the greater part of life has to be spent. No, indeed; He had prepared for you an abiding dwelling with Himself, where your whole life and every moment of it might be spent, where the work of your daily life might be done, and where all the while you might be enjoying unbroken communion with Himself. It was even this He meant when to that first word, "Come to me," He added this, "Abide in me." As earnest and faithful, as loving and tender, as the compassion that breathed in that blessed "Come," was the grace that added this no less blessed "Abide." As mighty as the attraction with which that first word drew you, were the bonds with which this second, had you but listened to it, would have kept you. And as great as were the blessings with which that coming was rewarded, so large, yea, and much greater, were thetreasures to which that abiding would have given you access.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Abide in Christ
And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.
1 John 2:28
The Bible here gives warning that some Christians will be ashamed at Jesus’ coming. The very event that has transfixed our hope, that encourages us to continue faithful, that calms us in the midst of difficult circumstances—that great hope of Jesus’ return, His second coming—is an event that will cause some folks shame.
It certainly won’t be a day of joy for people who have lived their lives apart from Jesus. They will say “to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). Clearly, non-Christians meet Jesus’ return with fear and dread. And rightly so, because His second coming is very unlike is first coming. When He first came to earth, it was to seek and to save. When He comes again, it will be to search and destroy.
But surprisingly, even Christians meet the day with “shame”. Certainly, many of Jesus’ followers will probably understand at His coming, wasted opportunities, squandered time, misplaced priorities, but I think the Bible here is ultimately saying that genuine Christians are to abide in Christ until His coming. If they don’t, they will prove themselves un-geniune and be ashamed, much like the lost, unbelieving world that tries to hide from Him.
So it's John's way of saying to those in His congregation, stay true to Christ. Don't abandon the faith you once embraced. Or to state the converse, those who once went to church, believed its teachings and embraced her Savior but who no longer do so, are not "abiding in Christ" and will be "ashamed" (damned) at His appearing.
The key to understanding the verse, I think, lies in that phrase “abide in Him”. Many try to make that into something mystical and ethereal.
Listen to what one teacher has stated: To abide has to do with the concept of 'being' instead of 'doing'. Abiding in Christ is a process. We don't get there over night. So don't get discouraged if it seems hard to just 'rest in Him'. Enjoy the mountains, the ocean, the blue skies (even the thunder and lightning), the green pastures (even the hot desert). As you enjoy God's creation, you will sense His presence. Abiding will come. Stop and 'smell the roses'.
There seems to be a lot of that kind of giberrish on this matter of “abiding in Christ”. It seems that we should be taking up yoga, or at least be sitting by the beach in the lotus position, palms upward, eyes close and perhaps a long, deep hum…is this seriously what they think “abiding in Christ” is all about? The word itself, “meno”, in the Greek, isn’t very mystical. It simply conveys the idea of remaining, or staying, or enduring. And it fits well with one of the major reasons John writes this brief letter—assurance of salvation.
The Jews didn’t want Jesus’ body to “remain” on the cross (John 19:31) and asked Pilate to take it down; Paul wanted Timothy to “continue” in the things he had learned (2 Timothy 3:14); Jesus asked the disciples to “tarry” with Him at Gethsamene the night of His arrest (Matthew 26:38); and Peter said it was the Word of the Lord that “endureth” forever (1 Peter 1:25). In each case, it is the same Greek root as our word in 1 John: "abide".
And in those other verse where the word is typical translated with a different word than "abide", we don’t suggest anything mystical at all, because it is very clear as to the writer's intent. And so with "abiding in Christ". It means staying with Him, enduring in the faith you began, tarrying and continuing with Him.
And contrary to the writer I previously quoted, “abiding in Christ” has more to do with “DOING” than “BEING”. Consider Jesus’ own words on the matter from John 15:4-5 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 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."
Also, John 15:10 “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.” And John 14:23, "Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will KEEP My words: and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him."
Abide is very much an active, doing-oriented matter. Far from sitting by the ocean and smelling the flowers, abiding with Christ comes through intentional action.
John 15:7 gives perhaps the biggest clue to what it means to “abide in Christ”. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jesus puts the spotlight on His words as the factor of “abiding”. Reading, memorizing, meditating, engrafting the Word into your being is essentially what it means to abide with/in Christ.
Andrew Murray, in his book Abide in Christ, writes:
We wander from Him when we disobey His Word. So to “abide in Christ” means to stay faithful to you, to continue with Him. Neither the forest wind nor the sea breeze will teach me about Jesus. Only the Bible can do that. So ingest it into your soul. Consume it, learn it, live it. Obey it. If you do that, you will make it to the end with no shame.