“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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.
Andrew Murray Abide in Christ:
“During the life of Jesus on earth the word he chiefly used when speaking of the relations of his disciples to himself was ‘Follow me.’ When he was about to leave for heaven, he gave them a new word, in which their more intimate and spiritual union with himself in glory should be expressed. That chosen word was “Abide in Me.” It is to be feared that there are many earnest followers of Jesus from whom the meaning of this word, with the blessed experience it promises, is very much hidden. While trusting in their Savior for pardon and for help, and seeking to some extent to obey Him, they have hardly realized to what closeness of union, to what intimacy of fellowship, to what wondrous oneness of life and interest, He invited them when He said, “Abide in me.” This is not only an unspeakable loss to themselves, but the Church and the world suffer in what they lose. If, in our orthodox Churches, the abiding in Christ, the living union with Him, the experience of His daily and hourly presence and keeping, were preached with the same distinctness and urgency as His atonement and pardon through His blood, I am confident that many would be found to accept with gladness the invitation to such a life, and that its influence would be manifest in their experience of the purity and the power, the love and the joy, the fruit-bearing, and all the blessedness which the Savior connected with the abiding in Him.”
These are the critical words of our Christian life “Abide in Him!” What closeness of union, what intimate fellowship, what wondrous oneness, what vitality of life is available with Jesus Christ, our true vine! What an awesome invitation from our Lord “Abide in me and I in you” yet how many Christians have failed to realize and claim this magnificent promise. The parable of the vine and the branches is one of the most important truths that we will learn as Christians. It is not talking about salvation, it is talking about fellowship, the vital union of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ after conversion.
The important question we must ask ourselves as Christians is “What do we abide in during the day?” What draws us in and captivates our mind and heart? What do we rest in? What do we go to that determines the image that we have of yourself and what carries our thinking? What are the controlling thoughts or things that moves our emotions? What is our driving passion? It is all related to what we abide in. We all abide in something so we must examine our lives to see what or who we are abiding in.
Do you know what you abide in determines the character that you manifest to the world? What ever we abide in produces the fruit of that abiding into our lives. We are what we abide in. We become one with what we abide in. To have faith we must abide in Him. We cannot fully trust Him if we are not abiding in Him. To love like him we must abide in him. To have joy, peace, assurance and hope, we must abide in him. Our spiritual growth is directly proportional to our abiding in him. We cannot be effective witnesses for Christ if we do not learn to abide in him. This is not just a cute phrase of Christianity as it takes discipline, perseverance, determination and faith to let go our ourselves and abide in Him.
What are some of things we have abided in? Fear, worry, condemnation, unworthiness, guilt, shame, routine of daily living, our perception of reality fed and influenced by the world, our work, our earthly relationships, the business of life, the me world of ourselves? What we abide in affects everything in our lives. We grow into what abide in. What kind of fruit do you think this produces? The fruit in our lives is a direct result of what we abide in. This is a fundamental truth to Christianity that we must abide in Him. This is more than just being saved, cleansed by his blood and redeemed from our sin. This is about what we are feeding on, what we are embracing and what we are living in. Jesus is the “Word” and he went on to say in verse 7 to say that to abide in him is to “abide in his words”
Andrew Murray: “It is only by frequent repetition that a child learns its lessons. It is only by continuously fixing the mind for a time on some one of the lessons of faith, that the believer is gradually helped to take and thoroughly assimilate them. I have the hope that you will realize the precious words, “Abide in me,” with the lessons connected with them in the parable of the Vine. Step by step we shall get to see how truly this promise-precept is meant for us, how surely grace is provided to enable us to obey it, how indispensable the experience of its blessing is to a healthy Christian life, and how unspeakable the blessings are that flow from it. As we listen, and meditate, and pray as we surrender ourselves, and accept in faith the whole Jesus as He offers Himself to us in it.”
The Greek word for “abide” means-to remain, not to depart, not to leave, to continue to be present, to maintain unbroken fellowship, continue to be operative in him by his divine influence and energy, to cleave, to hold fast and to be knit to, to be held or kept continually, and to remain as one. It occurs 118 times in the New Testament, 40 of which are in the Gospel of John. The word borrows a context from the Old Testament where God is portrayed as consistently faithful and steadfast in His commitment to men. This consistency is made evident in sending His Son as the redeemer.
Think about this meaning in our relationship with Christ.
This word abide speaks of a vital union. We do not depart from it, or leave it, but we hold fast and cleave to Christ in fellowship. We truly are one with him.
In our relationship w/God, abiding in Jesus is the screw that holds everything together & makes us useful to Him. In Him we live and move and have our being.
“Abide” is in the aorist active imperative in the Greek which calls for a definitive, decisive and deliberate choice-“Do this now, at once, once and for all!” It conveys a sense of urgency. “Check it off! Get it done!” The verb is describing the result of something that happened in the past and gives rise to the action you are commanded to take in the present. The response is fitting for what happened before. All that Christ has done for me in his death and resurrection, atoning for my sin, making me alive again in Christ, our natural and logical response is to abide in Him.
John 15 indicates the closest possible relationship between God the Father and the Son. This verse extends the same relationship to those who believe in Jesus as the Christ. In other words, the same harmony and fellowship that Jesus experienced with the Father is offered to Jesus’ followers.
Luke 19:5,6: And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.” 6 So he hurried and came down and received him joyfully.
Are we joyfully running to Jesus to abide in Him, to allow him to occupy our house , allowing Him to be our life in everything and the head of our house?
The vine and branches teaching of Jesus is a parable. A parable brings life to truth via illustration. This parable gives us the best and most complete meaning of the Lord’s command “abide in me” and the union to which he invites us. The connection between the vine and the branch is a living one. No external, temporal union will suffice; it is not the work of man or the flesh. It is a divine union created by the work of God.
The first great truth in this parable is Jesus Christ is the true vine. The Greek could read “The Vine; the Genuine” He is the genuine, the one and only true vine. All other vines that we may try to attach ourselves to our counterfeits of the true vine. The world has many vines, but not one of them is the true vine. Not one of these vines produces the fruit of the spirit, but rather the fruit of the flesh. Read Galatians 5:22ff to see the vivid contrast of fruit. Jesus Christ is the vital energy of our lives that produces the fruit of the spirit. What a privilege and honor to be a branch of the true vine.
The Heavenly Father is the vinedresser. The Heavenly Father is actively involved as the vinedresser making sure the branch stays fruitful and tender. It means one who has the care of a vineyard; whose office it is to nurture, trim, and defend the vine, and who of course feels a deep interest in its growth and welfare. The figure means that God gave, or appointed his Son to be, the source of blessings to man; that all grace descends through him; and that God takes care of all the branches of this vine – that is, of all who are by faith united to the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus infused his life into the branches, his strength, his love and everything he is in the world. Both Jesus and the Heavenly Father are actively involved in our life as a branch. Their work is vitally connected to the holy spirit of God that we receive as a gift at the time of the new birth. This threefold connection is essential to the true vine and branches producing fruit.
Branches: A tender and flexible branch; specifically, the shoot or branch if a vine, a vine-sprout. There is an inseparable connection between the branches and the true vine.
Palestine appears to have been a vine-growing country from the earliest historic times. The whole Old Testament witnesses to how greatly Palestine depended upon the vine and its products. The cultivation of the vine requires constant care or the fruit will very soon degenerate. As the grapes ripen they must be watched to keep off jackals and foxes (Song 2:15), and in some districts even wild boars (Ps 80:13). The watchman is stationed in one of the towers and overlooks a considerable area. When the grape season comes, the whole family of the owner frequently take their residence in a booth constructed upon one of the larger towers and remain there until the grapes are practically finished. It is a time of special happiness. To plant vineyards and eat the fruit thereof implied long and settled habitation.
Everyone has a vineyard. We are all branches connected to something. Who is your true vine? Who is the vinedresser? What fruit are you producing? Who is tending to your vineyard? It is a vineyard of a sluggard or a vineyard of the Savior? Does it produce the life of God or the sin of the world?
Proverbs 24:30-34: I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,31 and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down.32 Then I saw and considered it; I looked and received instruction.33 A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest,34 and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.
Is our vineyard overgrown with thorns and broken down by years of neglect rooted in the flesh? This a perfect picture of the sin nature and our vineyard before Christ. No good fruit comes out of this vineyard.
The visual picture of the vine & branches tells us that the central idea is a vital union. A parable teaches one main truth and the main truth here is abiding in Him, in this vital union so we can produce fruit. His thrust is not on becoming a Christian, but on becoming a productive Christian. A branch is good for one thing…bearing fruit.
Christ in his teaching said four basic things to us:  Come to Me (as Savior)  Learn of Me (as Teacher)  Follow Me (as Master)  Abide in Me (as Life). Abide is the highest requirement of Christ & therefore applies to His faithful disciples
- Action: Abiding, Result: Fruit 2. Action: Pruning, Result: More Fruit 3. Action: Continued Abiding. Result: Much Fruit. When we’re abiding, fruit comes naturally.
- The fruit in view here is not produced by the branch but by the Vine itself! a) Without abiding, a branch cannot produce even a bud of real fruit. b) The vital sap comes from Him alone. c) Nothing, yes nothing of genuine or eternal value. It’s only plastic fruit!
- Without Me you can do nothing…Lasting!
- “Nothing, nothing, nothing you do w/your talents, gifts, money, or time, can save one soul, or can bear even one little spiritual grape…w/o Christ!”
“I in You” – That is, “if you abide in me, I am in you, and I will teach, guide, and comfort you.” This he proceeds to illustrate by a reference to the vine. If the branch should be cut off, in an instant, it would die and be fruitless. As long as it is in the vine, “from the nature of the case,” the parent stock imparts its juices, and furnishes a constant circulation of sap adapted to the growth and fruitfulness of the branch.
Apart from me you can do nothing. Apart-separate, without, no use of, no association with, without connection and fellowship.
Nothing: Is an absolute negative in the Greek. Literally “not one thing” Absolutely nothing (not one thing) is produced that is godly, righteous, or just apart from our abiding in Christ. The works produced are worthless, they have no true value, they do not last, they are temporal. Why do we do so many things in our daily lives without Christ? We often do not think about him hours upon hours, days upon days. Our abiding becomes weak and our fruit putrid. Nothing is being produced that is of profit to the kingdom of God unless we are abiding in Him.
We think we can handle some things on our own. “I don’t need you Jesus and the divine energy of the vine for these little things! I will just leave the big things to God.” This word “nothing” shouts out a resounding “No!” We need to be deliberately conscious of the connection before we do anything at all. We need to pray, meditate, reflect, ponder, and trust. We do not jump hastily into anything and seek God’s approval later. For the truth of the Christian life is that connection to Him is the basis of every action that has divine purpose behind it. So even if the rest of the world is unaware of the underlying connection, we as His followers must not be unconscious in our actions. In order to accomplish what He purposes, we must be connected to Him. He connects us to God’s will. To act without acknowledging or employing this connection is to misconstrue our purpose. Not one single thing that matters in God’s great scheme can be accomplished without this deliberate connection. The believer can each day be pleasing to God only in that which he does through the power of Christ dwelling in him. Every sliver of our being, every moment of our life, every thought and feeling belong to Jesus, that from him and for him we may bring forth fruit to bring glory to his name.
All life and strength proceeds from Christ alone. Hence it follows, that the nature of man is unfruitful and destitute of everything good; because no man has the nature of a vine, till he be implanted in him. We are implanted in Him at the new birth. We are a new creation. We have a vital, living union with Christ. The fullness of Christ fills to overflowing every member of the Body of Christ. Christ is in us and by the Spirit of God, our divine seed and connection, we are built by God to be His habitation.
Yet so often we do not experience this union. It is more real than the fingers on our hand, but we fail to walk in it. Andrew Murry addresses this point in Abide in Christ:
“And yet you have had to complain of disappointment: as time went on, your expectations were not realized. The blessings you once enjoyed were lost; the love and joy of your first meeting with your Savior., instead of deepening, have become faint and feeble. And often you have wondered what the reason could be, that with such a Savior., so mighty and so loving, your experience of salvation should not have been a fuller one. The answer is very simple. You wandered from Him. The blessings He bestows are all connected with His “Come to ME,” and are only to be enjoyed in close fellowship with Himself. You either did not fully understand, or did not rightly remember, that the call meant, “Come to me to stay with me.” And yet this was in very deed His object and purpose when first He called you to Himself. It was not to refresh you for a few short hours after your conversion with the joy of His love and deliverance, and then to send you forth to wander in sadness and sin. He had destined you to something better than a short-lived blessedness, to be enjoyed only in times of special earnestness and prayer, and then to pass away, as you had to return to those duties in which far the greater part of life has to be spent. No, indeed; He had prepared for you an abiding dwelling with Himself, where your whole life and every moment of it might be spent, where the work of your daily life might be done, and where all the while you might be enjoying unbroken communion with Himself. It was even this He meant when to that first word, “Come to me,” He added this, “Abide in me.” As earnest and faithful, as loving and tender, as the compassion that breathed in that blessed “Come,” was the grace that added this no less blessed “Abide.” As mighty as the attraction with which that first word drew you, were the bonds with which this second, had you but listened to it, would have kept you. And as great as were the blessings with which that coming was rewarded, so large, yea, and much greater, were the treasures to which that abiding would have given you access. The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened His arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His divine fulness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realize in His words: “Abide IN ME.” And with no less earnestness than He had cried, “Come to me,” did He plead, had you but noticed it, “Abide in me.” By every motive that had induced you to come, did He beseech you to abide. Was it the fear of sin and its curse that first drew you? the pardon you received on first coming could, with all the blessings flowing from it, only be confirmed and fully enjoyed on abiding in Him. Was it the longing to know and enjoy the Infinite Love that was calling you? the first coming gave but single drops to taste ’tis only the abiding that can really satisfy the thirsty soul, and give to drink of the rivers of pleasure that are at His right hand. Was it the weary longing to be made free from the bondage of sin, to become pure and holy, and so to find rest, the rest of God for the soul? this too can only be realized as you abide in Him-only abiding in Jesus gives rest in Him.”
“Come to Him” is only the first step of the gospel. “Abide in Him” is the lifelong commitment with magnificent blessings in this life and the life to come.
Look at the context of this passage of John 14:31b: “Rise, let us go from here.” Jesus was walking toward the Garden of Gethsemane to face his most difficult trial. Jesus told them that the ruler of this world is coming and that he has no claim on me. These words are critical in our walk of sanctification, in our not conforming ourselves to the pattern of this world, in our shining as lights in this dark world. Do you want to endure the pressures and cares of this age? Abide in Him. We cannot shine as lights in opposition to the idolatry all around us unless we are producing fruit from the life of the vine. Unless everything we are is deriving from him. We need to rise up and abide in him now without further delay.
Andrew Murray: “Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us, and through us. It is a work He does for us … Our part is simply to yield, to trust, and to wait for what He has engaged to perform.”
I John 2:6: Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Colossians 2:6,7: Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Amplified: As you have therefore received Christ, even Jesus the Lord, so walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots of your being firmly and deeply planted in Him, fixed and founded in Him, being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.
NLT: And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
How do we abide in Him. By childlike faith. Faith is the foundation of abiding. Without faith we fail to abide in vital union with Him. How do we build our faith? How do we grow our faith? By hearing the Word of God and hiding it in our hearts (Romans 10:17). Studying, meditating, memorizing, pondering on His Word is vital to abiding in Him. We must abide in His words if we are to effectively abide in Him (John 15:7).
Receiving Christ Jesus the Lord is the first step. We must be rooted and built up in him to where we walk like him on the earth. When people see the branch, they see the vine. The same life that is the branch is in the vine. When people see us they see Christ. Our words, our actions and our character reflect Christ because we are in vital union with the true vine.
Andrew Murray: “But, alas! I hear someone say, it is just this abiding in Jesus, always bearing His yoke, to learn of Him, that is so difficult…What a mistake to speak thus, and yet how often the words are heard! Does it weary the traveler to rest in the house or on the bed where he seeks repose from his fatigue? Or is it a labor to a little child to rest in its mother’s arms? Is it not the house that keeps the traveler within its shelter? do not the arms of the mother sustain and keep the little one? And so it is with Jesus. The soul has but to yield itself to Him, to be still and rest in the confidence that His love has undertaken, and that His faithfulness will perform, the work of keeping it safe in the shelter of His bosom. Oh, it is because the blessing is so great that our little hearts cannot rise to apprehend it; it is as if we cannot believe that Christ, the Almighty One, will in very deed teach and keep us all the day. And yet this is just what He has promised, for without this He cannot really give us rest. It is as our heart takes in this truth that, when He says, “Abide in me,” “Learn of me,” He really means it, and that it is His own work to keep us abiding when we yield ourselves to Him, that we shall venture to cast ourselves into the arms of His love, and abandon ourselves to His blessed keeping.”
Who would, after seeking the King’s palace, be content to stand in the door, when he is invited in to dwell in the King’s presence, and share with Him in all the glory of His royal life? Oh, let us enter in and abide, and enjoy to the full all the rich supply His wondrous love hath prepared for us!
One of the great enemies of Abiding in Him is forgetfulness. This is one of the great flaws of the human heart to fall into habitual forgetfulness of God. We have a tendency to not remember God on a daily basis as the heart wallows in this sea of forgetfulness. A parent’s heart would be crushed if their beloved child forgot them. A bride’s heart would be wounded if her groom forgot about her love and devotion to him. There may not be a worse feeling for someone than to feel that you have been forgotten. No one wants to be a distant memory. Yet God is consistently forgotten day after day in the busyness of our hectic lives. We forget the amazing love, mercy and grace of God that has been poured into our lives in countless ways. We forget God’s words of instruction to guide us through the uncertainty and confusion of our times. We forget God’s constant plea for a deeper intimacy and relationship with Him. God easily disappears from our thoughts with a troubling constancy. The heart forgets. The heart does not remember. God fades from our memory with a relentless persistency, and the heart of God is grieved that His very own children have so easily forgotten Him.
Can a virgin forget her ornaments or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number. (Jeremiah 2:32, ESV)
You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you, and you forgot the God who gave you birth. (Deuteronomy 32:18, ESV)
The Hebrew word for “forget” means to ignore, to wither, to cease to care, and to be oblivious of from want of memory and attention. We must not allow God to wither from our hearts by ignoring Him and giving Him little attention. We cannot cease to care about God being at the center of everything we do and everything we are. We must never let God be labeled “the forgotten one” in the depth of our hearts.
It is sad to say, but most of us give more attention to our grocery list than God. We have become consumed with everything else, but God. We are consumed with our television shows, our music, our careers, our schedules, our success, our sports, our families, our education, our politics, our fitness, our comforts and our finances. We remember more about our IPhone apps than we remember about God. We remember the latest sport scores and statistics more than we remember God. God has to be more than just on our mailing list when we send Him a nice card from our hearts twice a year on Christmas and Easter. For a Christian, God should be more alive, important, and thought of, than any earthly thing. God has to be the living and burning passion of our hearts. We cannot follow the ways of this world where God is dead in the hearts of people. God must be more than a fleeting thought or a desperate prayer when we are in trouble. God must become the lifeblood of our heart, and the reason for every breath we take. We must cultivate in the soil of our hearts an expectation and excitement of knowing, experiencing and fellowshipping with God in a deep and meaningful manner. This is what it means to abide in Him.
A.W. Tozer in Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews says:
How many Christians really harbor within their own spirit the daily expectation of God’s presence? How many truly expect a personal encounter with God? It is quite important to cultivate a daily expectation of God’s presence in your day … Each day presents a new opportunity to experience God and fellowship with Him. Nothing should so occupy the mind of the Christian than discovering God in his day … My encounter with God today may be of such a nature as to alter the course of my entire life. With a sacred expectation for me to dwell upon each morning, as I get up, I look for God in all the circumstances of my day. Let me give personal testimony that I never anticipate a day without experiencing the presence of God … Start the day seeking God’s presence and search for Him all through the day and revel in the gracious encounter of God throughout the day.[i]
The Hebrew word for “forget” has even a deeper meaning when we look at its word picture. Remember that Hebrew is a pictographic language, and each letter of the Hebrew alphabet represents a picture. Every word in Hebrew is formed by adding these pictures together to visually illustrate the meaning of a word.
The Hebrew pictograph for the word “forget” is Shin-Kaf-Chet and means what destroys the fence around the open palm or hand. The open hand of God has given us life, blessings, and purpose. The open hand of God has given us instructions for life in His Word. He has also put a fence or protective boundary around our heart that allows us to live separate from the chaos of this broken world. To forget is to tear down and destroy this fence.
Skip Moen in his “Hebrew Word Studies” explains in more detail this pictograph for the Hebrew word “forget”:
To forget is to tear down the fence that provides life … God fences us in on purpose. The broken world is a dangerous and unhealthy place. God protects with His instructions, often in ways that we cannot comprehend. When we forget, we tear down the fence that keeps life and chaos apart. When we forget, we let sin in. When we forget, we open the door (as Paul says) and life tumbles.[ii]
We can never forget the great blessing of the vine and the branches and abiding in Him. It is a commandment of our Lord. Abiding in Him is the security, the fence that protects us from the world and the devices of our enemy. Abiding in Him is the antidote for the chaos of this world. No matter what is raging around us, we can abide in Him. Joy, peace and rest comes from abiding in Him. Fear melts away, anxiety evaporates, and worry disappears when we abide in our vital union with the true vine. Let His life flow through us and into our speech, our love, our touch and our heart. As He is so are we in this world. What will happen to our lives, our growth and our walk if we abide in Him? It is life-changing. The harvest of fruit will be abundant 30, 60, 100 times greater than we could imagine. Just as he commanded us to “Come” in the call of salvation, he now commands us to “Abide” in the call of fellowship. Nothing is more important in our Christian life than to obey this commandment to abide in Him. It is essential in the chaos of this world that we do not allow our hearts to forget this crucial truth-“Abide in Him.”
[i] A.W. Tozer, Experiencing the Presence of God: Teachings from the Book of Hebrews (Bloomington: Bethany House Publishers. 2010), 1842, Kindle Edition.
[ii] Skip Moen, “”For Whom the Bell Tolls (2), Hebrew Word Study, February 25, 2011, http://skipmoen.com/2011/02/25/for-whom-the-bell-tolls-2/