Basic to Abiding

Abiding in Christ is necessary for spiritual life, health, vitality, and fruitfulness.

“Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love” (1 Peter 1:7–8, NKJV) 

One of my favorite prayers in the Bible comes from Jehoshaphat, king of Judah. When confronted by a vast army, his first response was prayer. The heart of his petition goes like this: “O our God, will You not judge them? For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You” (2 Chron. 20:12). 

We can well relate to the powerlessness, being at wit’s end, and desperately crying out to God to intervene. 

But that’s not where Jehoshaphat starts his prayer. He begins with these words: “O LORD God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?” (2 Chron. 20:6) 

Jehoshaphat begins his prayer by rehearsing the glories of God. He is the Sovereign God. No one can stand against Him; certainly not a measly multitude.    

Lifting our eyes to the God who has revealed Himself is a typical feature of the prayer of those earnestly seeking God. Hezekiah prayed: “O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, the One who dwells between the cherubim, You are God, You alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth” (Isaiah 37:16). Both Nehemiah (9:6-7) and Daniel (9:4) begin their prayer likewise. The psalms are replete with names and descriptions in communion with God. 

Such prayers draw us into the arms of our God. They help us make eye contact with Him in His glory and grace and goodness. They fortify our faith. They teach us how to rely upon Him. 

The same is true as we seek to be rooted and built up in Christ. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Abiding is necessary for spiritual life, health, vitality, and fruitfulness. 

Just as we draw near to God through His revelation of Himself in His Word, so we draw near to abide in Christ through the ways He is revealed in the Bible. 

How do we abide? We abide in three primary ways: knowing Christ, letting the word of Christ dwell in us richly, and drawing upon Christ through prayer. 

Basic and central to all these aspects of abiding is fellowship with the living Christ. Peter characterizes our spiritual development as growing in “the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18). We are to grow in intimate acquaintance with our Lord and the grace that is ours in Him for all that pertains to life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:2-3). 

When Jesus says that He is the vine and calls us to abide in Him, we must remember that the vine is not a what but a who. 

We grow to know Jesus through the names, titles, and descriptions laid out for us in the Bible. As we remind ourselves of these expositors, reflect on them in their depth, and rehearse them in communion with Jesus, we abide in Him in particular ways that draw us into deeper, richer, fruitful fellowship with Him. 

Digging Deeper

  1. How do His names and titles revealed in the Bible help you to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ?
  2. Make a list of the names and descriptions of the Son of God from Revelation 1. Use these to commune with Jesus, reflecting on their significance and responding to Him. 

Jesus, image of the invisible God, Man of sorrows, Savior of sinners, Lord of lords, I bow before You in awe and adoration. Show me Your glory, glory as of the only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Draw me near in my weariness and weakness, knowing that a bruised reed You will not break and a smoldering wick You will not snuff out, and knowing I am Yours. Amen. 

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Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Stan Gale

Stanley D. Gale (MDiv Westminster, DMin Covenant) has pastored churches in Maryland and Pennsylvania for over 30 years. He is the author of several books, including A Vine-Ripened Life: Spiritual Fruitfulness through Abiding in Christ and The Christian’s Creed: Embracing the Apostolic Faith. He has been married to his wife, Linda, since 1975. They have four children and nine grandchildren. He lives in West Chester, Pa.

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