Abiding in Christ

Continuing in Christ doesn't just happen.

The Gospel of John: John 15.1-8

Read and meditate on John 15.3, 4.

Jesus commanded His disciples to abide in Him, reminding them first of the essential precondition for such abiding.

                             3“And you are clean because
of all my words – my judgments and my laws,
which I have spoken to you. 4So remain
in Me, and I in you. As it is plain
no branch can bear fruit of itself, but must
abide within the vine, unless you trust
in Me, abiding in Me, then you too
will bear no fruit.”

- John 15.3, 4

Reflect
1.  Jesus emphasized to the disciples that they were “clean.” This is the precondition for abiding in Christ. Unless we are clean, we can in no way abide in Him. What did Jesus mean by clean? Why were they clean? By what means had then been made clean? Review John 13.10. Is being clean a once-for-all matter? Explain. Complete this prayer: Lord, I know that I need daily cleansing, and even throughout the day, I need to be made clean. Today, as I walk with You…

2.  Meditate on Hebrews 4.12, 2 Timothy 3.15-17, and 2 Corinthians 3.12-18. How does the Word of Christ make us clean? What does it do in us, for us, and through us? How would you explain the cleansing power of the Word to someone who was new in the faith? What should this mean for us with respect to the Word of Christ? Lord, let Your Word show me…

3.  The word abide is literally, continue. It has a double aspect: We are to continue in Christ, and He will continue in us. How does Jesus continue in us? How can we be certain of that? How do we continue in Him? How can we know when we are no longer continuing in Him? What should we do then? Help to be sure today, Lord, that I…

4.  We are branches in the vine which is Christ. As such, our heavenly Vinedresser is looking for us to bear fruit. What are the primary hindrances to a Christian bearing the kind of fruit we considered in the previous lesson? How can we overcome these hindrances, so that we bear the fruit the Lord is looking for from us? I know that today, Lord, I will face temptations, distractions, and other hindrances to bearing fruit. I need You to…

5. Be cleansed, abide, bear fruit. Put these three ideas into a single sentence. Memorize that sentence, and share it with some Christian friends today, either in person or via text or email. Share what this means to you. Bring together into one prayer the prayers you wrote from questions 1-4.

Summary
“He makes his disciples a palpable and convincing demonstration of the art of the purifier of their souls. For already, he says, they are purged not by participating in anything else but merely by the word spoken to them, that is, the divine guidance of the gospel. And this word proceeds from Christ. What man or woman of sense, then, can any longer call into question that the Father has, as it were, a pruning knife and hand through whose instrumentality everything exists, that is, the Son, fulfilling the activity of that husbandry in us which he attributes to the person of the Father, teaching us that all things proceed from the Father by the instrumentality of the Son? For it is the Word of the Savior that purges us; the husbandry of our souls is attributed to God the Father. For this is his living Word, sharp as a sword, ‘piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and quick to discern the thoughts and intents of the heart.’ For, reaching into the depths of each person’s inmost soul and having every person’s hidden purpose revealed before it as God, it brings its keen edge to bear on our vain pursuits by the working of the Spirit. For this is what our purification consists in, I suppose. And all things that are for our profit in the attainment of virtue it increases and multiplies to bear the fruit that is conceived in righteousness.” Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD)

To us is extended the unimaginable privilege of abiding in Jesus Christ. But this doesn’t just happen. We must be daily cleansed. We must fall on the Sword of the Spirit and be equipped by the Word of God. And we must continue in Jesus throughout the day. Faithful practice of the disciplines of the Lord will bring forth fruit in our lives. Why do you suppose so many Christians don’t practice these disciplines more faithfully? How can you make sure that you do?

Closing Prayer
“Hear, O My people, and I will speak,
O Israel, and I will testify against you;
I am God, your God!
I will not rebuke you for your sacrifices
Or your burnt offerings,
Which are continually before Me.
I will not take a bull from your house,
Nor goats out of your folds.
For every beast of the forest is Mine,
And the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know all the birds of the mountains,
And the wild beasts of the field are Mine.
“If I were hungry, I would not tell you;
For the world is Mine, and all its fullness.
Will I eat the flesh of bulls,
Or drink the blood of goats?
Offer to God thanksgiving,
And pay your vows to the Most High.
Call upon Me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.”
But to the wicked God says:
“What right have you to declare My statutes,
Or take My covenant in your mouth,
Seeing you hate instruction
And cast My words behind you?”

Psalm 50.7-17

Psalm 50.5-21 (Austrian Hymn: Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken)
“Gather now My children holy, those bound close to Me by blood.”
Let the heav’ns declare His glory, for the Lord Himself is Judge:
“Hear, My people, I will charge you; I alone am God, your God!
I will bring a solemn charge to gain you to Me for your good.

“Not for rituals I accuse you – let your worship to Me rise.
Naught to Me is any use, Who dwells in glory in the skies.
All is mine throughout creation; I your help do not require.
Offer Me no vain oblation: hear what I from you desire:

“Sacrifice of thanks now render; pay to God your solemn vows;
Let the troubled, each offender, seek Him in the midst of woes.
In the day of strife draw near Him; He will hear, and He will save.
Honor God, rejoice, and fear Him, give to Him your grateful praise.

“All of you My Word despising, who are you to claim My grace?
Praise may from your lips be rising, but you scorn Me to My face.
You approve of all transgressions, scheme against your mother’s son!
I will crush your vain aggressions and destroy what you have done.

T. M. Moore

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We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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