John 15:5-8 NIV
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Remaining in Christ
What does it mean to remain in Christ? Well, actually the Greek verb tense renders the word “remaining,” which shows something that is continuous and ongoing and present tense, not just in the past. And “remaining” also means “abiding,” “staying,” and “continuing.”
So, what this is saying is IF we are continuing with Christ, we are enduring with him, and we are remaining in him, in his word, in his ways, in obedience to his commands, in fellowship with him, and in doing what he has called us to do, and we don’t desert, run away, and abandon him and our faith, we will bear much fruit for his eternal kingdom.
And our fruit are our deeds (our works) which reveal whether or not our faith in Christ is genuine faith. Are we living for ourselves, doing what we want to do most of the time, while we give God a cursory nod here and there, or are we committed to walking in obedience to our Lord, doing what he commands, following him in his ways and in his truth 24/7?
What this is saying is that if our lives are invested in Christ from here to eternity, and we are committed to following him wherever he leads us, we are going to make a difference in this world of ours in other people’s lives for the glory and praise of God and for the salvation of lives for eternity.
Anyone can be a “good deed doer.” Many unsaved people in this world are charitable people who give of their time and their resources to help others less fortunate than them. In fact, many times the unsaved world puts the saved world to shame by the kindness they show to other people.
So, this isn’t talking just about doing “good deeds.” This is talking about total surrender to Jesus Christ to impact other people’s lives for Christ and for salvation from bondage to sin and for eternal life with God. Are we laying up treasures in heaven, or are we laying up treasures on the earth?
If We Don’t Remain
There are many people today who are teaching that once we are “saved” that we are good to go and no matter how we live it won’t impact our eternal security. But the Scriptures just don’t teach that. They teach the opposite of that.
For, there are many “IF” verses all throughout the New Testament with conditions for salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
We are reconciled to God IF we continue in our faith, firm and steadfast, not moved from the hope of the gospel (as Jesus taught it). IF we disown him, he will disown us. We are His house IF we hold on to the hope of which we boast. We have come to share in Christ IF we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first, etc. (Jn. 8:31-32; Rom. 11:17-24; I Co. 15:2; Col. 1:21-23; II Tim 2:10-13; Heb. 3:6, 14-15; I Jn. 2:24-25).
But that’s not all. Jesus said if we hold on to our old lives we will lose them for eternity, but if we lose our lives (die with him to sin), we will have eternal life. Paul said if we walk according to the Spirit, we have eternal life, but if we walk according to the flesh, we will die in our sins (Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Gal 5:16-21; Eph 5:3-6; Gal 6:7-8; Rom 2:6-8).
For, faith in Jesus Christ means we are crucified with Christ in death to sin, and we are resurrected with Christ to newness of life in him, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. First we die with Christ to sin, then we are reborn of the Spirit of God to live to Christ and to his righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9).
His Word Remains in Us
For his word to remain in us we need to be in his word daily, not just reading a Scripture a day as part of a routine “quiet time with God,” but we need to be drinking in the Scriptures into our hearts and minds and doing what they say as a matter of life course, as the way we conduct our lives day by day.
Yet, Scriptures taken out of context are a big issue. Many people are teaching the Scriptures out of their context and are leading many people astray.
Unavoidable, to a certain extent, for we can’t quote the whole Bible at once, but we should be sensitive to that when we quote Scriptures, and we should add the biblical context to the Scriptures so that we don’t lead people astray. Is Scripture true? Yes! Taken out of context, though, it can be false and/or misleading.
For example, a popular one is Eph 2:8-9. Is it true? Absolutely? Out of context is it being used to mislead people? It absolutely is! V. 10 adds a lot to the message as does the entire book of Ephesians, esp. Eph 4:17-24. Read the whole book! Then you will get the true meaning of vv. 8-9.
Another example is John 10:28-30. Is it true? Yes, but it is misapplied often when v. 27 is removed, which it often is, on purpose, too. In v. 27 Jesus says, my sheep “listen” to my voice, I know them, and they “follow” (obey) me. Then read the rest. It only applies to those who listen and who obey.
Another example is Rom 10:9-10. Is it true? Yes! Is it being applied out of context and misinterpreted? It absolutely is! Confession of Jesus is not just lip service. If he is Lord, he’s the boss of your life. And belief in Jesus is dying to sin and living to righteousness (Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Lu 9:23-26; Eph 4:17-24).
And obedience to our Lord is the mark of us not only being disciples of Christ, but of being in relationship with God, of knowing God, and him knowing us, and of us being saved from our sins and having eternal life with God (1 Jn 2:3-6; Rom 6:16; Jn 14:23-24; Heb 5:9, etc.).
Footprints of Jesus
Lyrics by Mary B. Slade, pub. 1871
Music by Asa B. Everett
Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling,
Come, follow Me!
And we see where Thy footprints falling
Lead us to Thee.
Though they lead o’er the cold, dark mountains,
Seeking His sheep;
Or along by Siloam’s fountains,
Helping the weak.
If they lead through the temple holy,
Preaching the Word;
Or in homes of the poor and lowly,
Serving the Lord.
If Thy way and its sorrows bearing,
We go again,
Up the slope of the hillside, bearing
Our cross of pain.
Then, at last, when on high He sees us,
Our journey done,
We will rest where the steps of Jesus
End at His throne.
Footprints of Jesus,
That make the pathway glow;
We will follow the steps of Jesus
Where’er they go.
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