“Stay!”: On John 15 and Abiding in Christ

PAULA MILES|GUEST

“Stay, Paula, stay!” This is what my Savior calls me and all of us as Christians to do in John 15 as He urges us to abide in Him. “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” (John 15:5). The Greek word for abide means “stay, to remain where you have been placed.” This means we must remain vitally connected to the Vine.

In eternity past, the Father chose us to be united with His Son who redeemed us for His glory and set us apart for His purposes. By abiding in Him, we grow and  bear lasting fruit as the Spirit empowers and enables us. Rankin Wilbourne [1]says in his book, Union with Christ, “Like a dog commanded to stay we must exert ourselves not to become distracted or move away from our Master.”

The Vine

John 15 teaches us a great deal about our Master, Jesus, the One who calls us to abide. We learn that He is the Vine and we are the branches. As His people, we are vitally connected to Him and apart from Him we can’t do anything. Apart from Him, we can’t bear fruit, not lasting fruit that brings glory to God. The fruit that we bear in our life proves that we are His disciples and that we have been united to Him.

We also learn that He loves us as the Father loved Him. We see the the ultimate expression of His love for us when he laid down His life for us.  Jesus has called us His friends and tells us His secrets. He chose us and appointed us to bear lasting fruit. We are reminded in this passage that the world hated Him and our union with Him will oftentimes result in our being persecuted and hated as well. But we are encouraged that He hasn’t left us alone but has sent the Holy Spirit, our Helper, to testify and bear witness to us about Jesus and to empower us to also bear witness of the truth of the gospel in our own lives.

These truths about our relationship with Him were on our Savior’s heart right before He was arrested and went to the cross. These were truths He wanted us to hear and impress upon our hearts. These are powerful truths that can speak into our lives on a daily basis.

What it Means to Abide

Coming face-to-face with Jesus demands a response. In this passage, Christ calls us to abide. When we think about this concept, it is kind of like a coin with two sides. One side is saying this is who we are: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” It’s who we are! When we put our faith and hope in Christ, we are united to Him. We see that all over Scripture. He is our very life! This union with Him is fixed and unalterable.

On the other side of the coin, Jesus gives us a command. “Abide in me.” He tells us to do something. We’ve been united to the Savior in a living relationship; invest in it, make it a priority. Christ is calling us to lean into and rest on Him. He wants us to acknowledge that He is our only source of life and strength. He’s our companion. He’s our friend. This is more about our communion with Him. We know that though our union with Christ is secure, our communion can vary.

And so, we hear our Master calling us to stay. He is calling us to not be easily distracted or to move away, but to keep coming back to Him in repentance and faith. There are two ways He calls us to do this. The first way is through His words abiding in us. Jesus said in Luke 4:4 “man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” His word nourishes and sustains us. It gives us the nutrients we need to function spiritually. Jesus is telling us to keep his promises and precepts continually before us. To keep them in our mind. To stay there. We need to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our life. This compels us to feast on His Word so we will know His promises and the will of our Father.

The second way He calls us near is to abide in His love. This compels us to preach the gospel to ourselves every day. He loves us so much that He laid down His life for us. We need to bask in that love, to stay there, and to dwell in it. As we meditate on His life, death, and resurrection, we will long to self-sacrificially give our life back to Him. This empowers us to die to ourselves, live for His glory, and selflessly love others.

“Greater love has no man than this, that He laid down His life for His friends.” John 15 reminds us of our Savior’s deep love for us. He chose us and appointed us to bear fruit. Lovingly, He calls us to abide, to stay close to Him. As we abide, our prayers will be answered. We will experience joy, and will bear fruit that brings honor and glory to Him. What an abundant life!

May the Spirit give me the grace to “Stay, Paula, stay!” And may He do the same for you.

[1] Wilbourne, Rankin. Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God (Colorado Springs: David C Cook, 2016), p. 214.

 

Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

About the Author:

Paula Miles

Paula Miles is wife to Kevin, a ruling elder at Clemson Presbyterian Church, and mother of Wimberly Johnson (married to Charlie), Janie, Clary, and Judy. She has experienced the joy of being both a full time homemaker and a public school teacher. Studying and teaching God’s Word is her passion, as well as coming alongside women to encourage them to understand their unique design and fulfill their individual callings. Paula is on staff at Clemson Presbyterian as women’s ministry coordinator since 2014, is a conference speaker, and serves on the national women’s ministry team for the PCA as a women’s ministry trainer.

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