Are you a follower of Christ Jesus… or of the religion built around him?
Religion is the attempt of man to bind himself to God via strict and legalistic observance of his Torah [teachings; law]. It is not the keeping and/or observance of God’s law that makes us right with God, it is our trusting that Jesus is the Son of God and understanding that it is only through his death and resurrection from the dead, that we are made right with God. What we do on top of that determines our heavenly reward, but our salvation has already been secured by Christ’s atoning death upon the cross. Belief in that and that alone is where our salvation lies. All else is religion, and religion has yet to save a single soul. Only faith in Christ can do that. (See 1 Corinthians 2:2, 15:3-4)In the Gospel according to John, Jesus tells His disciples;
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. 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. 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. 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. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 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. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
John 15:4-11, The Holy Bible : English Standard Version
So, what does it mean to abide in Christ?
Jesus uses the illustration of the grape vine to make clear to His disciples what He means, and in this illustration the word abide is used eleven times. Since this word was used so frequently, it would be wise to ensure we fully understand its meaning – especially in this context.
In general, the word abide means to continue on in a permanent state. The Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible gives us a fuller understanding of the Greek word that is translated as “abide”…
μένω [meno /men·o] v. A root word; 120 occurrences; AV translates as “abide” 61 times, “remain” 16 times, “dwell” 15 times, “continue” 11 times, “tarry” nine times, “endure” three times, and is miscellaneously translated five times.
DEFINITION: 1 to remain, abide. 1a in reference to place. 1a1 to sojourn, tarry. 1a2 not to depart. 1a2a to continue to be present. 1a2b to be held, kept, continually. 1b in reference to time. 1b1 to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure. 1b1a of persons, to survive, live. 1c in reference to state or condition. 1c1 to remain as one, not to become another or different. 2 to wait for, await one.Strong, James: The Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
So to abide in Christ is to live in Christ. Now we have an even better understanding of what Christ was telling His disciples and now there is no room for doubt as to what He meant when He said, “Abide in me and I in you.” In fact, if you are at all like me, you are probably realizing some conviction from God’s Spirit of Holiness at this point. For if you are at all like me, you know that you have not been “abiding” in Christ. Instead you have been “abiding” in a lifelong pursuit of what makes you feel good – not what pleases God.
All of the “Greek Text” – that is, the New Testament – makes clear that a life in Christ is a life of commitment to God via our faith in Christ. To live a life of faith in Christ means that every aspect of our life is evidence that we believe and that we cannot help but live a life of loving obedience to God – because of who He is and what He has sacrificed to prove His love for us.
When we “abide” in Christ, our very life bears witness to the fact that God’s Spirit of Holiness lives in us. God desires us to be with Him for ALL eternity, and our life in Christ is the greatest testimony of the greatest love that can ever be. A love that will never disappoint, never falter, and never end.
If you long to experience true love, then what are you waiting for? Have you found it in anything here on earth? No, and you never will. You know that as well as I do. There is nothing and no one on earth that can truly satisfy the longing in our heart for all eternity. Things wear-out, people change, and our heart gets broken into a million pieces more times than we care to recall. Without the love of God in your heart, I can guarantee that you will go to your grave lonely, miserable, and unfulfilled. You will die full of regret, sorrow, and disappointment. What kind of a life is that?
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32, The Holy Bible : English Standard Version.