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~ Deepening our Relationship with Christ ~
Paul J. Bucknell
Deepening Intimacy | Obedience | Assumptions
Means of Intimacy #1 The Vinedresser | #2 True Vine | #3 Success |
#4 Means of Success | #5 Promise of Abiding | #6 Purpose of Abiding |
#7 Need of Obedience | #8 Need of Love | Friendship John 15:16-17 | Applying the Principles John 15:16 | Summary Principles |
Study Questions | Small Group Questions
Purpose: Success from Abiding in Jesus exposits John 15:4 reveals the important place abiding in Jesus plays in a fulfilling Christian life. This is step #4 of eight taught in the Abiding in Jesus series.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me” (John 15:4).
So what does 'abiding in Christ' (NASB) or 'remaining in Him' (NIV) mean? Here are some definitions one class provided:
Stay true to
Marinated with, soaked
Draw your life from
John 15:4 makes a bold statement against the world’s advice for finding fulfillment. The world says, “You can do it yourself,” but Christ clearly states, “You can do it through abiding in Me.”
True success comes not from self-reliance but Christ-reliance. Whereas secularism says that the best life is without God, Christ says that the best life comes from being intimate with Him. Now we might have questions how to be intimate with Him, but surely we should not misunderstand intimacy with Christ is the key to success.
Intimacy is necessary for fruit. It is true with plants, animals and humans. The same is true with God. If we are not closely living in union with Christ, then we will not have the life-giving sap that flows through the vine into the branches to bear fruit. The vine does not have fruit of its own. The fruit is born through the branches. Christ emphasizes this, “So neither can you (bear fruit), unless you abide in Me.”
Intimacy with God is not very well understood. Perhaps I should say intimacy is not a very well understood concept anywhere it is used. Many people think a husband and wife are intimate merely by sharing a house. It takes more than this! Many a Christian thinks that going to church is the closeness that God desires.
I suppose it is hard for a person to understand some things before he or she has experienced it. We will explain this concept more clearly later on. For now let us remember that we will need to be purposely seeking to develop our relationship with God.
“Abide in Me” is a command. Christ commands you to stay attached. He commands you to remain closely united to Him. The reason there is a command is because there is a need for the command. If merely coming to belief in Christ brought us in constant communion with our Lord, then we would not need a command to keep us there.
Many of us have listened to philosophies of the world. We have connected ourselves to the false vines of the world. What books do you read?
If someone would ask you what you want for Christmas, what is it that you desire? What Libraries would you buy? What would you do with your time?
Can you say with the Psalmist?
“O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1).
“But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).
A special spirit possesses them. They love God and His Word. They meditate on His Word so that it shapes their lives. They deliberately pursue God because of a desire to know and love Him. We see this in Jesus; it ought to be in all of His children. If we do not have this inward desire, we are in fact not His at all. If you go through a great bout of doubting, go back to this genuine love for God that has been born in your soul upon salvation.
Why do we need deliberateness? Well sometimes God’s ministry is difficult. You might be a wife to a stubborn husband, a child of uncaring parents, a worker with demanding boss, a cell leader with wandering sheep. Satan will come by and try to cause you to doubt God’s faithfulness to you.
Remember Christians will face difficulties. Some are due to our own fault but others simply because God wants to produce a sweeter Christian in us (think sweet and juicy grape). We persist in staying close to God and trusting Him for those experiences. Don’t doubt Him. If you abide in Christ, then you will bear much fruit (same as great success)!
If you find there is no attraction to Christ and His Word, then you really are not His no matter what religious feeling or decision you have made in the past. Jesus speaks of them in verse 6.
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.”
Listen to Oswald Chambers.
“We are apt to imagine that if Jesus Christ constrains us, and we obey Him, He will lead us to great success. We must never put our dreams of success as God’s purpose for us; His purpose may be exactly the opposite. We have an idea that God is leading us to a particular end, a desired goal; He is not. The question of getting to a particular end is a mere incident. What we call the process, God calls the end.
What is my dream of God’s purpose? His purpose is that I depend on Him and on His power now. If I can stay in the middle of the turmoil calm and unperplexed, that is the end of the purpose of God. God is not working towards a particular finish; His end is the process - that I see Him walking on the waves, no shore in sight, no success, no goal, just the absolute certainty that it is all right because I see Him walking on the sea. It is the process, not the end, which is glorifying to God.
God’s training is for now, not presently. His purpose is for this minute, not for something in the future. We have nothing to do with the afterwards of obedience; we get wrong when we think of the afterwards. What men call training and preparation, God calls the end.
God’s end is to enable me to see that He can walk on the chaos of my life just now. If we have a further end in view, we do not pay sufficient attention to the immediate present: if we realize that obedience is the end, then each moment as it comes is precious.” (Oswald Chambers, July 28, http://www.myutmost.org/07/0728.html)
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:7-11).
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