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How to abide in christ

To “abide” is to live, continue, or remain; so, to abide in Christ is to live in Him or remain in Him. When a person is saved, he or she is described as being “in Christ” (Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17), held secure in a permanent relationship (John 10:28–29). Therefore, abiding in Christ is not a special level of Christian experience, available only to a few; rather, it is the position of all true believers. The difference between those abiding in Christ and those not abiding in Christ is the difference between the saved and the unsaved.

Abiding in Christ is taught in 1 John 2:5–6, where it is synonymous with “knowing” Christ (verses 2 and 3). Later in the same chapter, John equates “remaining” in the Father and the Son with having the promise of eternal life (verses 24 and 25). Biblically, “abiding in,” “remaining in,” and “knowing” Christ are references to the same thing: salvation.

The phrase abiding in Christ pictures an intimate, close relationship, and not just a superficial acquaintance. In John 15:4–7, Jesus tells His disciples that drawing life from Him is essential, using the picture of branches united to a vine: “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. 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. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Without that vital union with Christ that salvation provides, there can be no life and no productivity. Elsewhere, the Bible likens our relationship with Christ to that of a body with a head (Colossians 1:18)—another essential union.

Some people take the warning of John 15:6 (branches that do not abide in the vine are thrown away and burned) to mean that Christians are always in danger of losing their salvation. In other words, they say it’s possible to be saved but not “abide,” in which case we would be cast away. But this could only be true if “abiding” were separate from salvation, referring to a state of intimacy with Christ we must strive to attain post-salvation. The Bible is clear that salvation comes by grace and is maintained by grace (Galatians 3:2–3). Also, if a branch could somehow fall away from the vine, resulting in the loss of salvation, then other, very clear passages of Scripture would be contradicted (see John 10:27–30).

It is best to interpret the True Vine metaphor this way: Jesus is the True Vine, obviously. The branches who “abide” in Him are the truly saved—they have a real and vital connection to the Savior. The withered branches who do not “abide” in Him are the unsaved pretenders who feigned an attachment to the Vine but drew no life from Him. In the end, the pretenders will be seen for what they were: hangers-on who had no authentic attachment to Jesus. For a while, both Peter and Judas seemed identical in their walk with Christ. But Peter was attached to the Vine; Judas was not.

John restates the withered-branch principle this way: “They [people now opposed to Christ] went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19).

One of the proofs of salvation is perseverance, or sustained abiding in Christ. The saved will continue in their walk with Christ (see Revelation 2:26). That is, they will “abide” or remain in Him. God will complete His work in them (Philippians 1:6), and they will bring forth much fruit to the glory of God (John 15:5). Those who fall away, turn their backs on Christ, or fail to abide simply show their lack of saving faith. Abiding is not what saves us, but it is one of the signs of salvation.

How to abide in christ

I hear the words “abide in Christ” mentioned a lot by women as a way to express rest. At least I think that’s what they mean. The truth is, I’ve never had it defined for me clearly, even though I’ve heard it shared often.

In order to gain more understanding, I started digging into God’s word to see what he says about abiding in Christ.

The True Vine

Beginning in John 13, Jesus gives a series of farewell addresses that continue until chapter 17. He knows that he will soon be lifeless on a tree — the crucified King. And in the middle of it all, he graciously reminds us that to be his means to bear fruit and we bear fruit by abiding in him.

In John 15, Jesus describes himself as the true vine and his Father as the vinedresser. The true vine was a way to contrast Jesus with Old Testament Israel. The hearers would understand that he was saying that he was the Messiah and the fulfillment of the covenant because of the Old Testament references to a vineyard (Isaiah 5:1–7; 27:2–6).

Jesus explains that the branches that do not bear fruit are taken away, but the branches that bear fruit are pruned to bear more fruit. To bear fruit simply means to grow in character — to become more like Christ and reflect the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22–23). And this is where we come to his command to abide: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).

Not Abiding

The dictionary defines abiding as to accept or act in accordance with a rule, decision, or recommendation. Synonyms include obey, observe, follow, uphold, heed, and accept. This definition isn’t far off from what Jesus is telling us to do here in John 15. But before he gets to the meaning, he gives us a picture of what it looks like not to abide in him. “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers, and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6).

I guess I am what you would call a plant killer. I purchase plants and try to care for them, but I often fail miserably. I forget to water the plant, choking it from its needed nourishment. And then one day, I turn around and there it is, withered away. This didn’t happen overnight. It happened after a series of neglect. So one by one, the branches fall off from the vine.

This, I think, is what Jesus is explaining to us in John 15:4–6. He explains that by not abiding in him we are like my pitiful plants — we will soon fall off the vine — our roots where we receive nourishment were never truly planted. The fruit of the vine is proof of our faith. Not perfection — but fruit, even if a small bud.

Abiding

It really isn’t until John 15:10 that we get a picture of what it looks like to abide in Jesus. “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.”

To abide in Jesus means to keep his commandments and to keep his commandments means to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds and to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:37–39). One way that we display our love for God is through our trust, prayer, and devotion to him. We abide through relationship. We pursue in love. We pray in love. We obey in love.

And here is the good news: We love Jesus because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). We didn’t choose him; he chose us and he chose us to walk out our faith in obedience to him (John 15:16). Apart from Christ, we cannot do anything (John 15:5). This is also good news to the weary person who thinks he must muster up strength to pursue and know Christ (and to love his neighbor — a fruit Jesus emphasizes). He provides the grace and the strength.

The fruit that Jesus speaks of is simply evidence of a relationship with him. It is a relationship that he initiates through and by his sovereign love. In this chapter, Jesus reminds us that there is no greater love than someone laying down his life for his friends. He then says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (John 15:13).

Jesus tells us that we are his friends (let that soak in for a minute) if we obey his command to love, and that command is fulfilled through abiding. As we abide in him we will bear the fruit of righteousness. This does not add to our salvation by grace alone through faith alone, yet it confirms our transformed heart. And the offer to be Jesus’s friend — the author and perfecter of our faith, the Alpha and Omega, the Beautiful One, the one who bore our sins and transgression — the offer to be his friend is irresistible for the Christian.

Abide in him, and he will abide in you. He who began a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6). He who called you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).

Christianity is about far more than holding right beliefs or adopting right behaviors. At salvation, we enter into a union with God that changes our legal status. We have right standing with God now. We have a righteousness that comes by faith, and that faith justifies us (Philippians 3:7-9; Romans 3:21-26, 5:1).

But we have more. We also have communion with God. We have access to a life-giving, soul-thrilling, joy-producing communion with God through Christ (1 John 1:3; John 15:11). The Christian faith is about union and communion with Jesus.

Union with Christ without communion with Christ is joyless Christianity.

Our hearts should desire this intimate relationship. We should long for this fellowship with God. David reflects this posture when he prays, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). David earnestly seeks God. His soul thirsts for God. There is desperation. There is urgency. Oh, to have a heart that echoes his!

Do we seek God like this? Do we desire God in this manner? Is there any part of David’s cry that you recognize in your heart?

Jesus Invites You to Abide

In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples about this communion. He informs them that he has already made them clean (John 15:3), and has pronounced them clean during the upper room foot washing (John 13:10-11). This ceremony wasn’t pointing to Jesus’ hyper-aversion to dirty feet; it was a symbolic display of his incarnation, atoning sacrifice, resurrection, and ascension. This is why he declared them clean, with the exception of Judas (a clear indication dirty feet was not the idea).

Jesus says this hours before going to the cross to bear their sins and make them clean. So Jesus’ declaration in John 15:3 is a statement of legal status.

He follows this with the command “abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4). To “abide” is a verb. It is active. Abiding in Christ is not a feeling or a belief, but something we do. It means to “remain” or “stay” and entails far more than the idea of continued belief in the Savior.

John 15:5 further illustrates this abiding relationship with a parallel relationship of a vine and a branch. We (the branches) are to be connected to him (the Vine) for our life and sustenance. Only in him can we bear fruit.

What the Saints Say

But how? What does it look like to abide in Christ daily? A few descriptions from other godly saints help us get a picture:

John Piper

John Piper says, “Hour-by-hour abiding in Jesus means hour-by-hour trusting him to meet all your needs and be all our treasure.” [1]

J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle explains, “To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him–to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief Companion and best Friend. To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior.” [2]

John Owen

John Owen exhorts, “Would a soul continually eye His everlasting tenderness and compassion, His thoughts of kindness that have been from of old, His present gracious acceptance, it could not bear an hour’s absence from Him; whereas now, perhaps, it cannot watch with Him one hour.” [3]

Three Keys to Abiding

Abiding has a continual, hour-by-hour nature to it, a constant looking to Jesus through the Scriptures. If we could avoid gospel-amnesia and remember his grace, we could barely stand an hour’s absence from him. These saints give incredible definitions to help us grasp abiding in Christ. Here’s mine:

To abide in Christ daily requires dependence upon the Holy Spirit in which we do three things:

  • Walk by faith
  • Spend focused time
  • Engage in intentional actions

We daily preach the gospel to ourselves (walk by faith); plan to abide throughout our days (focused time); and read Scripture, pray, live in community with others, and fight sin (intentional actions). We do this as we live dependent upon the Holy Spirit to bring us closer to Christ.

To be “in Christ” means to have a new legal standing and a new relational orientation. We do not solely want to be made right with God—we want to be with God. We are new creations in Christ, freed from sin and worldly pursuits to abide in him. And he gives us what we need to pursue this by giving us himself.

Are you eager to say with David, “Earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you?” May the Holy Spirit spark in us a want for more of Christ. May we yearn with holy urgency to know the depths and riches of the love of Christ, grasped through abiding.

Americans are addicted to caffeine. How else do you explain a Starbucks on every corner. Before we face the day we need to get our cup of personality and drink it down.

Now, while I like the aroma of coffee, I don’t like the taste. I prefer Dr. Pepper. When I do drink coffee, I have to cover the coffee taste with sugar and a bunch of creamer (French Vanilla or Italian Sweet Crème).

Caffeine, though, isn’t good for our bodies.

Ever tried to quit caffeine, or just reduce your levels? It makes life miserable. You get horrible headaches and you can become irritable. That’s called withdrawal. Your body is craving that drug. So, to counter the agony, we reach for Excedrin, Advil, or we give in and grab that beautiful liquid central nervous system stimulant.

As Christians, though, we should be more addicted to Jesus than to caffeine. Where one can cause harm, the other gives life (Jesus, not the coffee).

The other day I read a passage that emphasized our need to get hooked on Jesus. Of course, it didn’t use the drug or addiction reference, but the sentiment was the same. Here’s the passage:

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

As I read that passage, one theme stood out: “abide.” Throughout this text, Jesus is telling us to abide in him. Whatever we want to do, we need to abide in him.

Want to produce fruit? Abide in Jesus.

Want to love more? Abide in Jesus.

Want to improve your character? Abide in Jesus.

Want to grow and help others grow? Abide in Jesus.

There are two questions, though:

  • What does it mean to abide?
  • How do we abide in Jesus?

Those are the questions I hope to answer here.

What it Means to Abide

The dictionary defines abide as “to remain; continue; stay” and “to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.” Although this is an English dictionary, these definitions capture the meaning of the Greek word used here, μένω (menō).

To abide in Christ means to intentionally remain in an ever-growing relationship with him that transforms our character to be more like his.

Abiding in Christ means not giving up, but continuing on despite our doubts or hardships. Abiding in Christ means allowing God to work through us to transform us so that he can transform others through us.

So, how do we abide in him? Here are some tips that will help.

How to Abide in Christ

Pray regularly. Spend time with God in prayer, both telling him your concerns, dreams, hopes, and fears. Prayer also means staying quiet and listening to God’s voice.

Read and meditate on God’s word. I try to read the Bible every day. When reading, though, don’t just read quickly. Rather, ask God to teach you, challenge you, and change you based on his word.

Glorify God in everything you do. Find opportunities to praise and glorify God through your actions, even the small things you do.

Participate in church. Many people attend church, fewer intentionally participate. As we worship and serve alongside other believers, we’ll be growing in Christ and thus abiding in him.

Bringing It Home

If we want to produce fruit, grow spiritually, and be more usable by God, we need to abide in Christ. That means, to borrow from my previous church, we need to maintain a life-changing, ever-growing relationship with Jesus.

We accomplish this by spending time with him in prayer and in his word. We also live a life of worship, bringing glory to God in all we do. It also means we actively participate in serving God together with fellow believers.

What do you do abide in Christ? What helps you maintain a growing, personal relationship with Jesus? Share and comment below.

Americans are addicted to caffeine. How else do you explain a Starbucks on every corner. Before we face the day we need to get our cup of personality and drink it down.

Now, while I like the aroma of coffee, I don’t like the taste. I prefer Dr. Pepper. When I do drink coffee, I have to cover the coffee taste with sugar and a bunch of creamer (French Vanilla or Italian Sweet Crème).

Caffeine, though, isn’t good for our bodies.

Ever tried to quit caffeine, or just reduce your levels? It makes life miserable. You get horrible headaches and you can become irritable. That’s called withdrawal. Your body is craving that drug. So, to counter the agony, we reach for Excedrin, Advil, or we give in and grab that beautiful liquid central nervous system stimulant.

As Christians, though, we should be more addicted to Jesus than to caffeine. Where one can cause harm, the other gives life (Jesus, not the coffee).

The other day I read a passage that emphasized our need to get hooked on Jesus. Of course, it didn’t use the drug or addiction reference, but the sentiment was the same. Here’s the passage:

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

As I read that passage, one theme stood out: “abide.” Throughout this text, Jesus is telling us to abide in him. Whatever we want to do, we need to abide in him.

Want to produce fruit? Abide in Jesus.

Want to love more? Abide in Jesus.

Want to improve your character? Abide in Jesus.

Want to grow and help others grow? Abide in Jesus.

There are two questions, though:

  • What does it mean to abide?
  • How do we abide in Jesus?

Those are the questions I hope to answer here.

What it Means to Abide

The dictionary defines abide as “to remain; continue; stay” and “to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship, etc.” Although this is an English dictionary, these definitions capture the meaning of the Greek word used here, μένω (menō).

To abide in Christ means to intentionally remain in an ever-growing relationship with him that transforms our character to be more like his.

Abiding in Christ means not giving up, but continuing on despite our doubts or hardships. Abiding in Christ means allowing God to work through us to transform us so that he can transform others through us.

So, how do we abide in him? Here are some tips that will help.

How to Abide in Christ

Pray regularly. Spend time with God in prayer, both telling him your concerns, dreams, hopes, and fears. Prayer also means staying quiet and listening to God’s voice.

Read and meditate on God’s word. I try to read the Bible every day. When reading, though, don’t just read quickly. Rather, ask God to teach you, challenge you, and change you based on his word.

Glorify God in everything you do. Find opportunities to praise and glorify God through your actions, even the small things you do.

Participate in church. Many people attend church, fewer intentionally participate. As we worship and serve alongside other believers, we’ll be growing in Christ and thus abiding in him.

Bringing It Home

If we want to produce fruit, grow spiritually, and be more usable by God, we need to abide in Christ. That means, to borrow from my previous church, we need to maintain a life-changing, ever-growing relationship with Jesus.

We accomplish this by spending time with him in prayer and in his word. We also live a life of worship, bringing glory to God in all we do. It also means we actively participate in serving God together with fellow believers.

What do you do abide in Christ? What helps you maintain a growing, personal relationship with Jesus? Share and comment below.

How to abide in christ

Fear is so prevalent in the world today that it may even seem normal to be full of worry and anxiety. But that should not be the norm for Christians. That is why I chose “Faith over Fear” to be the theme for the monthly Delight in the Word Challenge this month. I believe that if we are going to live free from bondage to fear, that we must act offensively, not just defensively. One of the most powerful things we can do to combat fear is to learn how to abide in Christ.

We can find the word “abide” in both the Old and New Testaments. This Bible verse from Psalm 91 is one of my favorite:

He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord , He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.- Psalm 91:1-2 KJV

How to abide in christ

Abide is not a word that is used much in our everyday conversations. So I did a word study on it to find out what abide really means.

I share what I learned, and what I discovered about how to abide in Christ in THIS GUEST POST that I wrote for InstaEncouragements for the ABC’s of God’s Love series. Please go read it first, because it will make the rest of this post make more sense.

Now that you have learned what the Bible says about abiding in Christ, I’d like to share with you some practical application.

Using these strategies has made a huge difference in my life. I went from wallowing in self-pity to being filled with joy; from being paralyzed by fear to rising up with boldness; from drowning in defeat to walking in victory. I went from just having a little knowledge about God’s Word to experiencing its power working in me.

How to abide in christ

I am still learning how to abide in Christ, but I wanted to share with you a few strategies that are helping me.

Many of these strategies involve Scriptures and that is because, according to John chapter 1, Jesus actually is the Word of God. This revelation changed my life, and is why I created my very first Bible journaling page on this truth.

Also, remember that John chapter 15 talks about Jesus’ words abiding in us, as a prerequisite to us bearing fruit.

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. – John 15:7-8

Strategy #1 – Selah Moments

How to abide in christ

‘Selah’ is a Hebrew word found many times in the Psalms. It’s a beautiful, if not somewhat mysterious, word. referring to a voluntary and intentional pause for reflection. It’s a word that beckons and invites us to slow down; to linger and pause in God’s presence and to pay attention to Him. Often in times of pausing, God gives us a revelation that transforms our perspective, bringing us closer to Him. Selah moments position us to hear His voice and become more aware of His presence.

Selah moments can be an extended amount of time, which some people refer to as their “quiet time”. But they can also be very small snippets of time scattered throughout your day.

For instance, one strategy I have found helpful, especially during really busy seasons, is to set daily alarms on my smartphone. When the alarm goes off, I stop whatever I am doing and pause for just a few moments to simply thank Jesus for being present with me right now. (I’m simply agreeing with what Jesus said in Matthew 28:20.)

“…And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20 ESV

If you are new to the concept of abiding in Christ, start with this simple strategy. I think you will be surprised at what a difference it can make in your life.

For a deeper study on this topic, check out SELAH MOMENTS | Sacred Pauses for your Soul by Aimee Walker.

How to abide in christ

Strategy #2 – Unavoidable Visuals

Your subconscious mind (what the Bible refers to as the heart) thinks in pictures, images and symbols. That’s why during dreams (which are nothing but thoughts of the subconscious mind) all we see are pictures and symbols.

It also controls our habits. Habits govern most of our daily life activities. Habits are nothing but behavioural patterns stored in our subconscious mind.

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it. – Proverbs 4:23

How to abide in christ

This is why I want to be intentional about what I see every day, and make sure that I am filling my subconscious mind (heart) with the Word of God, on autopilot.

Here are a couple of ways I do that…

I set a Scripture picture or Bible verse graphic as my wallpaper on my smartphone so that I see it every time I open my phone, which is usually a dozen or more times a day. And I try to not just look at it, but to also talk to God about that verse and/or pray it out loud.

I change the Scripture picture to a new one about every week. Although, sometimes I will keep the same one longer if I feel I am still really needing to feed on that particular truth of scripture.

“I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw:” – Proverbs 24:32 NIV

How to abide in christ

Are you a visual learner too? Do you open your smartphone more than a few times a day? If so, you might benefit from using this strategy as well. You can download a FREE Scripture Picture HERE.

I also place Scripture art in strategic places in my house, like on the inside of the mirrored cabinet in my bathroom, and on the inside of cabinet doors in the kitchen, and taped to the inside of my laundry basket, etc., so that every time I go to put on my makeup or throw the trash away or put away clean dishes, or do the laundy, etc. I see beautiful Scripture art and am reminded of Gods promises so I can meditate on them.

And, like my smartphone wallpaper, I like to change them up every week or two. Otherwise I quit noticing them.

I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure. – Psalm 119:162 NJKV

I talk more about the power of visuals to change our life in THIS POST on How to Choose Faith Over Fear.

How to abide in christ

As I have studied the scriptures, I’ve come to believe Jesus’s instruction to abide in Him was so foundational to the early Christians that it even became Paul’s chief defining phrase.

In all, he used the phrase “in Christ” 73 times in his writings!

We can get so hung up on what it means to “abide” that we forget the focus is the remainder of the phrase, “in Me.”

The WHERE (in Christ) is just as important as the WHAT (abide).

The ABIDE mini course is my signature mentoring resource that takes a fresh look at the instruction to abide in Christ.

The lessons are streamlined into bite sized, digestible pieces that pack a punch. Plus they are extremely practical so that over the course of 5 days you’ll receive hands on tools for abiding and bearing godly fruit.

How to abide in christ

The ABIDE 5 day mini course will help you:

> understand the key that unlocks the instruction to “abiding in Christ”

> discover practical tools for abiding in Christ (includes one of my favorites, the “Naming Ceremony!’)

> deepen your intimacy with Jesus as you learn to remain in Him

> bear fruit and life transformation from abiding in Christ

> employ tools and develop life-long habits for letting the word of Christ richly dwell in the heart and mind (see Colossians 3:16).

How to abide in christ

I invite you to take a fresh look at what it means to abide in Christ and join me for this mini-course. Just click the image below to sign up and it will be sent directly to your inbox.

How to abide in christ

I recently spent some time meditating on John 15 verses 1-7. Not long after, I came across an excerpt from Sinclair Ferguson’s book In Christ Alone. Ferguson gives 4 tenants for what it really means to “abide” in Christ. I mingled his points with my own thoughts, and added some practical application.

Union with our Lord depends on His grace

Don’t overthink a relationship with God. By all means, think about it; it’s eternally important. Think it over, but don’t over think it. God is gracious and He gives life to those who seek Him. Ferguson says, “It is the Father who, as the divine Gardener, has grafted us into Christ.” So our being a branch has nothing to do with our branchy-ness, but everything to do with the divine Gardener giving life to dead, withering twigs.

How to Depend: Thank God

Don’t try to earn His favor. Don’t worry about if He’s pleased with you. If you’ve trusted in Christ, He’s infinitely pleased with you. He’s invited you into His family. He’s made you His child. Take some time today and just thank Him.

Union with Christ means being obedient to Him

We’re most united to something when we’re most aligned with it; in a word, when we’re obedient. It’s simple, really: union with someone is tough when you turn from them through disobedience.

And God has addressed us in His word. Thus, Ferguson suggests “our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles!”

How to Obey: Memorize Scripture

There’s nothing more practical in the battle for obedience than having God’s word stored in your heart. It’s said by a handful of spiritual giants that no Spiritual Discipline is more important than Bible memorization; it fills the mind with the thoughts of God.

Five minutes a day is all you need. Here are some tips: Read the verse ten times. Cover it up. Then recite it ten times. Most people will have it memorized. Review it everyday. A verse recited once a day for 100 days is better than a verse recited 100 times in one day. Read, recite, review.

Rest your life on the love of Christ

Think about a young couple deeply in love with one another. They float through life in a smiley daze. Silly, yes, but I think there’s something to their constant reflection on one another. They gain a sense of rest in the contemplation of the other’s continued love.

The connection is in Ferguson’s words: “We must never allow ourselves to drift from daily contemplation of the cross.”

How to Rest: Preach the Gospel to Yourself

Preach it to your soul’s longings. Satisfy your heart with it when you cry out for other loves like approval and popularity or shrink in fear or anxiety.

Literally preach it to yourself… first thing in the morning. Look in the mirror and address the lies you believe and the desires you’re tempted to feed. This is where Scripture memory becomes deadly. Pierce the sword of Colossians 2:13-14 into your doubting heart.

Submit to the pruning knife of God

Embrace, even invite, God’s discipline. This paradox flies in the face of a culture of ease and comfort, but it’s profoundly transformative. Like any good father, God disciplines His children. And like any good vinedresser, God prunes His branches. Why? So they will produce more fruit.

This is – ironically – where I think we see the love of God most clearly. It was His willingness to sacrifice His Son that made us new. And it’s His willingness to prune that makes us like Jesus.

Ferguson concludes with God’s Fatherly love: “He cuts away all disloyalty and sometimes all that is unimportant, in order that we might remain in Christ all the more wholeheartedly.”

How to Submit: Read the Psalms

This bit of advice may seem detached and even impractical for some. But I think it’s the most helpful thing we can do to prepare for (or endure) the pruning knife of God. The Psalms contain every human emotion imaginable. They are full of people being pruned, even people angry with God. The Psalms give us the language to suffer well.

How to abide in christ

Recognize your need of Christ: He said, “I am the vine and you are the branches. No branch can bear fruit of itself.” In order for Jesus to help, you need to be “willing to be made willing”. Humble yourself to do God’s good and perfect will so that Jesus can work through you. “How To Be Like the Publican (in the Bible)” has some suggestions on humbling yourself.

How to abide in christ

Repent and change your mi n d towards Jesus in faith. Believe that Jesus died on the cross for the forgiveness of sins so that those who trust in him may have true life and be free from the present evil age — accept His free gift of salvation. Confess your sins/wrongdoings to God, asking for God to transform your inner being and life. Turning away from sin, and towards the great love of God in Jesus is how to daily have a relationship with your Heavenly Father.

How to abide in christ

Pray. This is not only a major opportunity but a need. We need to be constantly connected with our Lord. Jesus prayed while he was on earth, and taught us to pray. If Jesus felt the need of prayer, how much more do we need to pray as well? God cares about you and everything that happens — from the smallest plea to the biggest need; what an opportunity. He is always listening and knows your needs, even if it sometimes feels like He isn’t. Psalm 55:22 says, that if you “cast your burden on the Lord,” then “He will sustain you.” Prayer is both telling God about your goals in life, and asking for him to make you more like Jesus. That is why you would do well to ask for God’s blessing before you read Scripture.

How to abide in christ

Read the Bible. Psalm 119:9 says, “How can a young man [or woman] cleanse his [her] way? By taking heed according to Your word.” Setting aside time every day for the Bible is extremely important. Keep your mind fixed on it, and allow your heart to be grafted to Christ and molded by it. The Bible is God’s word, and in it the story of God’s redeeming work in this world is told! As you begin to see your place within God’s story, you’ll see why your life matters, and where it is going. By reading the Bible, you open your ear to listen to God. John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them by your word, your word is Truth.”

How to abide in christ

Give thanks and rejoice! God tells us in James 1:17 that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father.” That means we have hundreds of reasons to thank God! For breathing, for food, for jobs, friends, the family of God, forgiveness of sins, power to overcome evil, and more! The greatest reason to constantly rejoice and thank God is that, if you are trusting in Jesus, then you will be resurrected in the last day to enjoy an eternal life in the New Heavens and Earth, where God will dwell with us. There is no better hope.

How to abide in christ

God delights to satisfy his children in Jesus! We may call out to God and say, “We are hungry to know you, to be full of your Spirit, to be free from the penalty of our sin! We want Jesus who satisfies more than even food!” Fasting is a way of putting your trust in God instead of in physical comfort. Christians are expected to fast, not out of any obligation, but because knowing Jesus means that we need to find satisfaction in him more every hour.

How to abide in christ

Ask God to give you the strength to keep His commands. John 15:10 says, “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.” No one is able to do anything for God by his own strength: God is our strength. Without him, we can’t do anything of importance! It can be hard to not sin, but with God’s help through His grace, we can do our best. Be confident in Him.

Realize that there is liberty in Christ Jesus, to live in the Spirit, to not be tempted more than you can bear, no longer being a slave to self, as pride of life — putting away habitual deeds of the flesh, as lust of the eye, envy, greed, judging others, prejudice and hatred.

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If the goal of our journey is to make disciples of Jesus, we must first learn how to abide in Christ. That is, before we can make healthy disciples, we must first be a healthy disciple. This truth became clear to me one night when Amber and I were with a group of friends who felt called to plant a church with us. While we talked about how to reach certain people groups and discussed strategies for bringing the gospel to them, one of our group members named Protus spoke up. He’s a great friend of mine from Kenya and he made a powerful statement during that discussion: “If we are not first in prayer and in close relationship with Jesus, then we have nothing to bring our neighbors.”

Oh, how true that is! The church must first press into Jesus Christ. Before we can effectively minister to anyone around us, we must be in close relationship with Jesus who will fill us with his grace and mercy as we extend grace and mercy to others.

How to abide in christ

The first protective guardrail is to abide in Christ. This skill is not always easy to understand, even after years in ministry. When I hear “abide in Christ” I still sometimes think of a pristine park where I am supposed to be sitting in some deep, meditative state. Although there is nothing wrong with a practice like this, it doesn’t give us the whole picture. We can understand abiding more completely by looking at the agricultural concept of grafting branches.

Grafting branches from one grape vine to another is common practice in developing a thriving vineyard. Winemakers use this process to cultivate healthier plants by removing a branch from a vine that is susceptible to disease, and joining it to a disease resistant vine. They also use grafting to protect branches from insects that may damage the root system of one vine but will avoid another. The grafting process produces more abundant and higher quality fruit.

Jesus gives us an incredible metaphor of a vine and branches to represent our relationship with him in John 15. Much like branches that are grafted to a vibrant vine in order to produce better grapes, we are grafted to Christ who is our life-giving vine. A branch flourishes and produces fruit when it remains connected to a healthy vine. We too will flourish and become fruitful when we remain in close relationship with Christ, our source of spiritual health and life.

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A branch cut from an unhealthy vine will not produce any fruit at all unless it is connected to a healthy vine. Likewise, Jesus says that if we do not remain connected to Him we can do nothing (John 15:4). Andrew Murray, a 19 th century pastor, wrote in his book Abide in Christ, “The great secret of abiding in Christ is the deep conviction that we are nothing, and he is everything.”

Abiding is essential for making disciples. That’s our calling as the branches. In fact, it encompasses all we are called to do. We must spend time with Jesus in prayer, learn to love and apply his Word, and listen to the Holy Spirit who flows through us as we remain connected to Christ and his word. When we abide in these ways, God will produce fruit in us (John 15:5).

It is not the job of the branch to produce fruit. The vine provides everything the branch needs. In The True Vine, Murray assures us, “You are the branch. You need be nothing more. You need not for one single moment of the day take upon you the responsibility of the Vine. You need not leave the place of entire dependence and unbounded confidence.”

Abiding in Jesus will, of course, always lead to action, but the abiding must come first. When we abide, the Holy Spirit will fill us and prompt us to act. Likewise, we must also prioritize this with the church, calling them to abide in Jesus. This is vital because the abundant fruit Jesus produces when we remain close to him is becoming healthy disciples ourselves and then making healthy disciples of others.

I’ve had many discussions with various church staff members over the years, and I have often asked the question, “How do you and your team discuss your personal walk with Jesus?” The most common reply is, “We don’t.” I do not think it is by chance that many of us leaders falter in our ability to make healthy disciples or to lead a healthy disciple making church. The reason is we do not discuss or put priority on the most important essential of all—abiding in Christ. How can we truly walk in relationship with each other and with God without sharing personal victories and struggles?

Before Jesus sends us to save a group of hurting people, he first teaches us to walk intimately with him and to be in close relationship with those on our own team. Maybe you have not established this as an intentional guardrail and you find yourself off-course or in the ditch. Have you taken the different path, one called “Do Things For Christ” rather than “Abide in Christ”? It’s time to accept the truth that all you must do is stay connected to Jesus. He is responsible for all the outcomes!

Written by Brandon Guindon

*Stay tuned by coming back to our blog for more in this blog series about staying the course from Brandon Guindon.

This blog is part of the free eBook, Stay the Course: Seven Essential Practices for Disciple Making Churches. You can down it by clicking here.

Brandon Guindon has over 15 years experience leading churches to become disciple-making bodies of Christ. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Linfield College and a Master of Arts Church Leadership and New Testament Theology from Hope International University. He was ordained at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, ID. He is a published author and a member of the Board of Directors for the Relational Discipleship Network. The Guindons (Brandon and Amber, Emma, Olivia, Grady, and Garrett) moved to Houston in 2013 from their home state of Idaho.