“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.” ~ John 15:4-8
When we take time to reflect on how salvation (a one time act) and sanctification (the process of our spiritual growth) occur, we see clearly that these are miraculous works. When we consider how eyes are opened to a fresh understanding of the Word or a stronger cherishing of Jesus, we know something beyond us is happening. All these things require the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Period. In our own capacity, we can do nothing that glorifies God. The Church is experiencing the supernatural all the time; unfortunately, our lack of appreciating the full gospel can make us unaware of what is happening in and around us.
All these things require the intervention of the Holy Spirit. Period. In our own capacity, we can do nothing that glorifies God.
Without God’s living Word, we have no wisdom or truth to offer another, nothing of eternal value. Without the Holy Spirit causing someone to see Christ’s beauty, we have no ability to breathe life into a spiritually dead soul. Apart from God’s mercy and grace, our battles with sin would just make us untrustworthy. Therefore, mentoring has to be done out of a place of weakness - knowing “that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Romans 7:18).
This recognition of our weakness is a gift from God. It creates in us a fierce dependence on Him, a hunger for more of Him (Matthew 5:6). Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” If we understood how helpless we really are, we would desperately hold fast to Him (Deut 30:20, Hebrews 4:14-16). Throughout the Bible, God tells His children to cling - for “apart from Christ, we can do nothing” (John 15:5).
In the John passage above, Judas had just betrayed Jesus and in a few short hours, Jesus was going to agonize in prayer and be crucified. He decides that this is the perfect time to instruct His disciples on the importance of abiding in Him. Many who followed and appeared to be true disciples, had already walked away and now Judas was joining the deserters. John 6:66-69 says, “After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. So Jesus said to the twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God’.”
Abiding was going to be necessary to the remaining disciples' spiritual survival (and ours). Christ would no longer be with them physically but He would instead be sending the Holy Spirit to permanently dwell in them. No longer would they be walking by sight but faith (2 Corinthians 5:7). Abide simply means to “stay, continue, dwell, endure, don’t go, remain”. Christ is telling us to keep constant intimacy with Him. He alone is who we trust and rely on for all of life - not family, success, money, works or experiences.
In one sense, Christians need to endure in the faith and in another sense, God completely holds His children. Both are true. In fact, the passage says that God will prune us (give us trials) to get us to that place of unbroken communion - to make us extremely aware of our complete, all-encompassing need for Him. He will press us until we depend. It may not feel like a gift at first, but as confidence in Christ builds, we begin to see this as pure love. We will one day be able to give thanks and say with Paul that we are “content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Abiding is soaking in Scripture, pondering His promises, pushing truth into our heart, praying for His direction in all circumstances, worshiping with fellow believers, remembering the gospel, pointing others to Christ. So that begs the question, when life gets busy or easy, what is usually the first thing we neglect? If it’s time alone with the Lord in prayer and the Word, if it’s fellowship, if it’s serving - are we functionally living as if we don’t believe Jesus when He says, “whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit: for apart from Me you can do nothing”? Do we really trust Him?
Abiding is soaking in Scripture, pondering His promises, pushing truth into our heart, praying for His direction in all circumstances, worshiping with fellow believers, remembering the gospel, pointing others to Christ.
When we mentor out of weakness, it puts up a lot of safeguards in our relationships. We abide and teach others to abide. We pray on our behalf and theirs for the Spirit to move in ways only He can (1 Corinthians 3:5-6). We know lasting change comes from our good Father who made us and knows exactly what we need. This dependence exalts Christ instead of ourselves, it will make us faithful instead of fearful, it will give us rest instead of burnout. There is no other way. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” ~ John 15:8
We know lasting change comes from our good Father who made us and knows exactly what we need. This dependence exalts Christ instead of ourselves, it will make us faithful instead of fearful, it will give us rest instead of burnout. There is no other way.
(A prayer from the Puritan book, “The Valley of Vision”)
Resting On God
Revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear His voice, know its tones, follow its calls. Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.
Give me intenser faith in the eternal verities (truths), burning into me by experience the things I know; let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit. Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget Thee.
Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to Thee, that all else is trifling. Thy presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy. Abide in me, gracious God.