Abide

Introduction

Paul near the end of his life made this proclamation, that I might know Him. In addition, at the beginning of His calling and ministry he made this claim, that it pleased God to reveal Christ in me. The sum and total of our walk on this planet is contained in those two statements by Paul and If we move from the context and intent of these two statements then we move away from all that God has pre-ordained and provided for all of us in His only begotten Son. Therefore, our given path is into Christ for the sole purpose of abiding in Him which should always be our primary aspiration in this life, for apart from Him, Jesus, we can do nothing, that is, nothing of any spiritual value. The Holy Spirit works to this end, as directed by the Father and the Son, to move us out from the sins of the flesh, and out from the self and natural life, into Christ’s life, and what is meant is to know a level of personal maturity that is only known in the Son. Especially is the Holy Spirits effectively engaged in this work on a daily basis, in us, that we might abide in Christ and know Him as Paul explained. T. Austin-Sparks explains this work of the Spirit in this way,

the Holy Spirit’s first object is to acquaint us with what is in view in our spiritual education; namely, that He is to reveal Christ in us and then afterward to get to work to conform us to Christ. To learn Christ we must first see Christ.

What needs to be made most clear in the Christians mind is that our Christian life began and ends in Christ. In other words, we have to see and understand that not only was Jesus redemptive work Gods purpose and will for each of us, but it is also Gods work to continue His work onto our personal sanctification to bring about in us His intent in Christ, which basically can be defined as personal holiness of life in accordance with His Sons; which is not through much effort on our part, but through Christ life in us, by faith. However, we do have many personal sacrifices to face as God deals with both our self-life, and our life in the flesh, because any attempt on our part to save what God has put to death, through Jesus cross, is an exercise in futility.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit…

Therefore, we need to petition our God and allow Him to draw us into Him via His Son, who is our means and resource to live according to Gods will, and as Austin-Sparks explained it, that the Spirit in us works to conform us to Christ. Therefore, we begin in the place God has already placed us, that is, in Christ, and where our effort is concerned, it is by faith to remain in Him until we are partaking of His divine life, and with this life God is most satisfied.

Consequently, we cannot abide in Christ unless we can see Him who is in us, and we cannot see Him unless our God, through the Spirit reveals Him, we are much dependent upon our God for His continual help. Jesus explained to Nicodemus, a Jewish leader, that he must begin at a new point based upon a new spiritual and kingdom paradigm, and that is, to see, to possess spiritual sight initiated by Gods Spirit…you must be born again to See…We do not see unless God gives us sight and insight, enlightening the eyes of our understanding as Paul explains it, otherwise any other knowledge, and understanding based upon this knowledge we are dependent upon is both lifeless and powerless in us. We receive Spirit given understanding of things above, where the emphasis is upon given, those things according to Christ, and according to Gods redemptive purposes, through seeing. When we see we begin to understand those things formally hidden from us, for example, how is it that because of a powerful interaction with Gods Spirit that our eyes had been opened to Gods means to our salvation whereas it is closed to those who cannot see, i.e. to those the god of this age has blinded and as Paul mentions.

God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into.

Our given faith is exercised in this manner, toward our God in Christ, i.e. we exercise it in the spiritual direction it was meant to be exercised, into Christ, and is our means of abiding in Him. Christian misuse their faith for every other thing than what it is meant for, and that is to remain in Christ, the author and finisher of our faith; recognizing that all that God does and accomplishes is in His Son, and completed in Him, therefore we must remain in Him.

May Christ through your faith [actually] dwell (settle down, abide, make His permanent home) in your hearts! May you be rooted deep in love and founded securely on love.

When I was a lot younger, a new Christian, I had a dream that disturbed me. In the dream I was inside a church and the doors were closed and those outside were ferociously pounding on the door to enter, however, the doors were irreversibly shut. Over the years I have understood this dream to be our place In Christ, that is, not only in the Fathers initial providential placement or position in His Son, through the Spirit (were born of the Spirit), but also our enduring and continual abiding or dwelling place In Christ by faith.

And a man (that is, Jesus Christ) shall be as an hiding-place from the wind, and a covert from the tempest, as rivers of water in a dry place, as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Isaiah 32: 2

We abide in Christ until His life becomes the distinguishing characteristic of our life; the realization that when the Father had raised Jesus from the dead, He also raised us up with Him, into the newness of life. It is this new life, in Christ, we are meant to pursue, discover, dwell and walk in, until we are established in Christ holiness.

The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways.

If we are to know Gods heart as we should, and to understand where he is directing us by His Spirit, whether through the Spirits gifts and administrations, or in His granting His power or fruits to the Church, it is to establish the Church as a holy people to God Himself. There is a lot of other direction proposed by many today however, we have to return to scripture to know what is Gods will for His people.

Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Abide – Our means to heavens resources 

Jesus explained to His disciples that He was going away and would be returning to the Father and there, where the Father is, His dwelling place, Jesus would prepare a “place” for them; the “place” is above and where God is, in His kingdom, which no one has seen, nor knows its location, nor can anyone imagine what it is like, and if anyone ventures to an attempt to imagine what it might be like they fall short however, and as Jesus describes it as a “place”; a word we all can relate to and understand its meaning. Yet, howbeit, through Jesus efforts, His preparatory work, His redeeming sacrifice, and own blood He entered this “place”, Gods dwelling place.  Now, through Him, Jesus Christ, we also have a “place”, in Gods kingdom, i.e. the place Jesus said He prepared for His disciples we can see and enter through the new birth as communicated by the Holy Spirit, in us, and as stated by Paul, God raised us up with His Son and made us sit down with Him in heavenly “places” where all spiritual blessings, in Christ, In Gods kingdom, the “place” made available to those who have a second birth….who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ… Our call from the Lord is one into the place He is. It is in Him, in a new position that we have access to power for service, warfare, and living a holy life. Most Churches teach regarding available power for warfare and service but leave out living a holy life. What is supplemented for this holy life is one that is taken up by attempting to change the soul life which is not possible and is not pleasing to God. All spiritual blessings are in Christ from above.

The Fathers redemptive work in and through His Son, i.e., Jesus sacrificial life, death, burial, resurrection, and entering into heaven with His own blood paved or prepared the way for us in our entrance and access to the Father, His grace, and kingdom.

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear

In addition, after explaining He would prepare a “place”, Jesus also told His disciples He would be returning, and in returning, He would take the disciples to Himself. It is this taking the disciples to Himself which becomes to all of us a journey, a spiritual journey into Jesus Christ we all find ourselves in. Consequently, after Jesus had prepared a “place”, that is, appeasing the Fathers legal and righteous requirements for them, the Holy Spirit was sent and would enter their lives and begin the work of sanctification.

Through the Holy Spirit, man can make himself available to God, and through the Holy Spirit, God is prepared to make Himself available to man. The Spirit becomes the agent of a mutual inter availability: All there is of God is available to every human being who is available to all there is of God, and the Holy Spirit brings this into our reality. Ian Thomas.

Jesus explained later that He would abide in the disciples, and challenged them to abide in Him, where He is, and the “place”, that they might remain in Him. Where, in their abiding union with Christ they would come to know Him in a manner that they could not have imagined, nor had known in their following Him physically and visually. Therefore in their new dwelling place (in my Father’s house are many dwelling places) that is, in Christ, in heavenly “places”, the disciples would come to know this new life, or newness of life, Christ life, through an unbroken fellowship and relationship in Christ, as a consequence of abiding in Him until they all would bear the fruit of this new relationship with Him partaking of His resurrected life that they would and could live differently in this world.

God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

Jesus coming, spiritually speaking, and taking us to Himself, take you to Myself, are meant as a unique divine union and communion with Him, through the Holy Spirit in us; therefore we begin this relationship with Him, that is, possessing a newness of life. If we are to put on this new life in Christ and bear the fruit of it we must remain in Him, remaining in Christ through thick and thin, until His life is manifest in ours, until we are established in it.

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, because I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and I will take you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also. 

Abide – remain in me and I in you

I’m the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me

We no longer follow Christ but we abide in Him. Proof that we abide and remain in Him is the evidence of spiritual fruit and answered prayer in our life. We are no longer following Jesus as the disciples had but we are abiding. Jesus has gone into Gods kingdom above and sits at the Fathers right hand, He is not going from location to location but remains in the kingdom. It is in Christ, in union with Him that now we receive from Him heavenly resources we daily living as we move upon this planet.

The challenge then goes out to each of us, and that is, to remain in Christ as He remains in us, recognizing that our remaining is evidence of our faith. Remaining depends heavily upon our relationship with the Vine and speaks to the manner we continue with Christ. Certainly we all have been cleaned because of Jesus words, that is, His word regarding our redemption based upon His sacrifice, however, and as Jesus explained, there still is work to be done by pruning, that is, if we are to bear fruit. Therefore, how can one be pruned if they do not remain in the Vine, and especially remain during the required pruning periods or seasons.  What this means to each us is during times we find most difficult in our life we must remain by faith in Christ, that is, continue to listen, hear, press on, pray etc. Although in all of these things we have failed, the pruning still goes on. Where the not remaining comes in is in our turning away or aside for a time from Christ, or our neglecting Him, and at times even sinful, and most regrettable, during times of our being self-righteous, self-confident, and religious, i.e. those times we believe we can live the Christian life apart from abiding in Christ and in your listening and hearing you receive light from heaven in terms of the importance of pruning.

In addition, remaining steadfast recognizes by faith that you are clean, and because you are clean you can continue to remain no matter how much you feel you have failed or have come short. Remember Peter returned to Jesus even after He denounced that he knew Him. Therefore, though we fail or grieve the Spirit, we  must go again and again back to Him, mending our wrong doing, restoring our relationship, and continuing on in communion with Him, to hear Him until the roots of our faith, as a branch, grow deep into the Vine unto its sustenance (life) flows and fruit begins to form and grow on the branch. This process can take many years, however our faith sustains us in that it sees that God has placed us in His Son, in spite of how we might feel at times, or to the degree we think we have come short of the position God has graciously placed us in; in other words we continue on, we remain by faith.

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

We all need to know what is at stake here and it is the Fathers glorification, His work in Christ, His sacrifice in getting you and I in Him. We understand through what Jesus told His disciples that in their bearing fruit the Father would be glorified and certainly we all look for this, and if not, we need to go to God and ask for His help. The Father was glorified in Jesus life, so He, Jesus is meant to be glorified through ours, that is, as we abide in Him unto bearing much fruit. It is important that we recognize what Jesus explained to His disciples for what is contained in those very few verses is a process that speaks loudly to the normal Christian life and our means to be spiritually mature. One important aspect of this divine purpose is in what manner the Father is involved in each of our lives for His purposes and not necessarily our own. If ever we are going to bear the fruit Jesus speaks of it is not something that we can do on our own but is left in the hands of our God who is the Vinedresser. The objective here is that what God has put in us becomes manifest and as it does this if fruit, the fruit of Jesus life in us.

Jesus had explained if you have seen me you have seen the Father so it is that individually and collectively we are to bear the fruit of the Spirit until all can say if you have seen me you have seen Christ, that is, His life in us. It is in this manner God is revealing His invisible nature to the world, through the Church; when you meet the Church you should meet the Father, in Christ. It is in this manner that the world really comes to know what the Father is truly like, and because the Church is to demonstrate the Fathers nature, we recognize that our personal demonstration is only realized and maintained because we have, and collectively have, come to know the Father in the Son only, as we abide in the Son. Until the world sees Christ in this manner, that is, His character and divine nature in the Church, it will continue to challenge our faith. In what manner are these fruits manifested to the world, it is primarily in how the Church behaves and interacts with one another. If we continue to fight, and are divisive how is it that the world can take us seriously and respect our claims to know a God who is love and commands us to love one another? When we can say it is I no longer who live, but Christ lives in me our world will take notice.

I recognize and understand from years of experience that discovering and understanding our place In Christ, that is, abiding in Him is not instantaneous, nor easily understood, however, it is known only in degrees and in proportions (measures) that one desires and needs Christ do we make progress, thus Jesus tells us to remain In Him until He becomes our only treasure and focus.

Our union with Jesus Christ is not a thing of the intellect or sentiment, but a real vital union in heart and life. The holy life of Jesus, with His feelings and disposition, is breathed into us by the Holy Spirit. The believer’s calling is to think and feel and will just what Jesus thought and felt and willed. He desires to be partaker not only of the grace but also of the holiness of His Lord; or rather, he sees that holiness is the chief beauty of grace. To live the life of Christ means to him to be delivered from the life of self; the will of Christ is to him the only path of liberty from the slavery of his own evil self-will. Andrew Murray.

Abide – is relational

Those knocking at the door in my dream, I believe, are many who at the midnight hour (which speaks of the latter parts of ones most ordinary life, or speaks of those dark hours that come into the world) who have certainly run out of oil, yet had not made provisions for extra. Provisioning is our means by the Spirit, in cooperation with Him, taught, and given Spiritual wisdom and understanding; an understanding that opens and prepares the heart to receive. The greater your understanding and need the more you seek to find your true place in Christ. However, usually the only way to know your need is to fail, and fail again. Understanding comes when our need drives us to the Father and He is gracious to give it.

We recognize the parable given by Jesus, that is, the ten virgins, as a relational one, interpersonal, one that is above and beyond what is religious, routine, traditional, conventional and is likened to a bride and grooms relationship, i.e. it is a personal communicative one, which is understood only in terms of our abiding In Christ, that is our union with Him, receiving that which comes from His life into our own. However, in the parable some fell short and did not make the necessary provisions to continue with Him, to abide no matter how difficult it might seem unto knowing Him, not only in words, but to know Him personally, in a mystery, until that which was hidden enters their heart and becomes the living word.

…and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut and locked. Later the others also came, and said, Lord, Lord, open [the door] for us. But He replied, I assure you and most solemnly say to you, I do not know you [we have no relationship].

I do not know you, is a relational statement and speaks to the root of the fellowship we were meant to have with the Lord, given that we have been placed In Him and possess a unique union likened to a marriage with Him through the Spirit. Jesus used similar words I never knew you in one other place in scripture, where He explained to those who called Him Lord yet did not have a relationship with Him where He ruled in their inner life. These were in fact ministering and serving yet were not in subjection to Him as Lord but in word only. This is a stern message to all those who are self-sufficient and independent in all their work and tasks they do in the name of Jesus, yet have not taken the time nor have responded to the Spirit in knowing Jesus relationally, did these end up in hell, no I don’t believe so. Ministry and works of any kind were meant to be in subjection to the Lord, the head of His body, proceeding from His life within, yet by many had gone on unheeded, His voice bidding them to abide, to come near so that where He is there they might be also. I believe the cause of so much confusion in the body today is due to the lawlessness of many, who call themselves ministers, yet they remain self-governing and self-sufficient, who explain they have cast out demons and performed miracles yet Jesus response and judgement is I never knew you.

Many will say to Me on that day [when I judge them], Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, and driven out demons in Your name, and done many miracles in Your name? And then I will declare to them publicly, I never knew you…

Therefore, we are to discover and maintain, via our relationship and fellowship with the Lord, in what manner and the means in which we are to dwell In Him and in subjection to Him as our Lord. If we are not, or have not been giving ourselves to those things attributed to our place In Christ the Groomsmen, relationally, howbeit over many years of waiting we fall into complacency, indifferent, or neglect, and consequently drift from our relationship with Christ and His words (we are not drifting from doctrine we are drifting from Christ) as the Hebrew author exhorted, we ought to pay much closer attention than ever to the truths that we have heard, lest in any way we drift past [them] and slip away. We remain empirically outside of our God given position In Christ, and the evidence is within us, that is, we are justified, but continue in our fallen state, alienated from the life of God, having an understanding that is darkened.

This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.

Yes, God has placed us In Christ; however the typical Christian has made little to no progress to know their God given place In Him, and therefore many remain outside, comfortable in their legal position In Christ yet without any true experience or evidence that they are In Him in heavenly places. However, we are now at the threshold of those difficult times in this world we all knew were coming, and the time needed to get in is coming to an abrupt end for some. The inner peace and the deep sense of true security and rest that will sustain us remain in some in word only, and is not their personal testimony. Even though many might say they have peace and security however these are mere Christian platitudes and are not based in any true daily spiritual experience.

Our faith should have taken us past mere information, intellectual knowledge, hearsay, or the preacher preaching unto experience, that is, the realities of all those scripture we had memorize when we were young and learned when the preacher preached them, yet their hidden evidence, their actualities to the condition of our heart, mind, and spirit continued to escape our grasp in our daily lives even though God attempted to school us in them. Therefore, during the later parts of our life, or during the dark hours that might be coming upon our world, quoting from Isaiah is not going to be enough, and provides little consolation to many, however, Isaiah prophecy should have taken root in our hearts and its certainties should have been rising each day in our spirit, becoming living words, from a living Savior, proceeding from Him who sits in glory full of power, radiance, love and peace who would have shared His life with us, unto knowing Him in both quiet and difficult times those things Isaiah spoke of,

… but those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint.

Abide In Christ – God’s provision for living a new life

Can we desire that God should more clearly teach us that all the fullness of the new man is In Christ, and all that spiritual nature and life by which we live to God in holiness, and that they are fixed In Him so inseparably, that we cannot have them except we be joined to Him, and have Him abiding in us? Walter Marshall

As Marshall explained that all the provisions to live to our God in holiness is inseparable from His Son, that is, His nature and subsequent resurrection life are intimately associated with our being joined with Him. We get an explanation of this unique joining or union Jesus is speaking of from an important statement that He makes regarding His own mutual indwelling of the Father,

After a little while the world will no longer see Me, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also.  On that day [when that time comes] you will know for yourselves that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you.

That day has come, the Spirit has been given from above both to individual Christians and to the collective Church, and through Him, the Spirit, we are mysteriously joined to the Son, one with Him, and in the Son we have access to the Father in heavenly places. Therefore, because of and in terms of this unique union we know and experience eternal life in that we are In Christ….And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Consequently, we no longer recognize Jesus after the flesh, the world sees Him no more, however, we see Him, that is, the Spirit is in us is enlightening the eyes of our heart, i.e. our spiritual eyes, and is continuously communicating Life to, in, and through us, that is, resurrection life, manifested in us and in such a distinguishable manner that our only possible response is one of worship and giving of thanks; thanks and worship because compared to the death that had previously been working in us, now Christ life is working in a more excellent, grand, and glorious manner, quickening our spirit in us that we might live in Him and by Him. Ian Thomas explains,

…detaching your Christianity from Christ is to reduce it to the impotence of a dead religion, impersonal to Him and impersonal to you, just an intellectual exercise or a sentimental formula— and Christianity is neither. Christianity is Christ. It involves a principle of life which pulsates with divine energy and cannot be explained apart from God Himself.

The Father by placing us in His Son has not only made Jesus available to us in eternity, He has also made Him available to each of us every day of our natural life, which Jesus describes as our being In Him. Now, In Him, we have the privilege of fellowship which is the distinguishing mark of each Christian. One can begin a religion, or an religious organization, they can erect a large religious facility where thousands might assemble, however, no matter how grandeur these things are they can never be the evidence that Jesus lives. Jesus life In Christians is the only divine indicator that He is risen.

What we have seen and [ourselves] heard, we are also telling you, so that you too may realize and enjoy fellowship as partners and partakers with us. And [this] fellowship that we have [which is a distinguishing mark of Christians] is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ (the Messiah).

We recognize that, through the Holy Spirit who is omnipresent, that is, present both on earth, in heaven, and in us at the same moment and time, and certainly this is a mystery to all of us, however it is in this manner, through His Spirit, that Jesus is always with us and in us, every minute, hour, and day…I am in my Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. If we are ever tempted to feel or say we have no help from our God, asking Him to send revival, to reveal Himself, feeling He is distant from us because we feel distant from Him, we are mistaken because Christ is in us and the Father is in the Son. What we need to sort out is that His presence can be uniquely manifested both in our assemblies, or in us, that is, He makes Himself known in a inimitable manner where He communicates His essence in us or among us, e.g. His grace, peace, divine virtues and strength, love. It is in this manner we are to live our daily lives sharing in those things that are In Christ.

In addition, Jesus is in us to daily instruct, comfort, giving insight, strengthening, and is graciously communicating His mind and heart to each of us that we might learn from Him as both Jesus and Paul explain, Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me…. Ye did not so learn Christ…we are not to objectively to imitate Christ, imitate Him based solely on our reading of and personal learning and interpreting scripture, as if that were even possible, but we are too subjectively learn from Jesus, to be His disciple, which is both personal and goes to the heart of our ability and willingness to learn and mature from Him who is Lord. Jesus words are both powerful and full of grace and wisdom. Discipleship in not from men, something external, but is internal, subjective, and on our part we are to maintain a posture of humility, possessing a desire to learn from above, to come under the discipline of the Spirit who instructs us as directed by the Lord.

Before ever we can be apostles, that is, sent ones, we have to come under discipline, to be disciples, to be taught ones, and that in an inward way. It is into this school that everyone who is born from above is brought, and it is very important that we should know the nature of it, what it is that we are going to learn, and the principles of our spiritual education. T. Austin-Sparks

If we remain independent in our personal reading and interpreting of scriptures rather than humbling our own ability to reason, judge, and discern, relinquishing our own opinions, we will continue to reason to our own hurt subject to many errors and miss interpretations of the text. Change and maturity comes from above and is based in an education we receive, and is not independently acquired. If we are to obey Jesus commands we need to know His heart and mind regarding those commands so we can wisely apply these same commands in our own lives. Without the words of light from above we only embrace our own narrow and single understanding of these commands.

The person who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who [really] loves Me; and whoever [really] loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and reveal Myself to him [I will make Myself real to him].

Jesus has sacrificially and selflessly made Himself available to all of us, in like manner that a branch is joined to its vine, and through Jesus Spirit He makes each of us feel as though we are individually cared for and known distinctively by Him that we might make progress in our walking upright and obedient in this world, as did Jesus walk upright and holy unto pleasing the Father. If we are truly making progress in abiding the evidence of this mysterious union, working in us, will be self-evident in that Jesus mind, heart, and love toward His Father will begin to arise in our own hearts. If you feel cold and distant in your most inner parts it is because of your ignorance of the fact that Christ is in you, and wants to reveal Himself to you. If what you are doing, preaching, learning and hearing in all your religious practices and events, is not drawing you closer to the Father, in the Son, in the manner presented you need to turn and go in a different direction, no, don’t turn, run. The collective church should all be moving in one single direction, in their teaching, fellowship, worship, and working should all be moving toward the fullness of Christ.

…until we all reach oneness in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God, [growing spiritually] to become a mature believer, reaching to the measure of the fullness of Christ… 

Therefore, if we are going to know daily what God has already provided to us In Christ, we need to petition Him regarding the mysteries of abiding. We understand abiding as something mysterious and difficult to understand where Jesus attempted to explain this mystery to His disciples in terms of a vine having many branches, where fruit is produced as the branch draws its nourishment from the hidden life in the vine. In like manner, as we abide in the Lord, we draw life from Him, not unlike a branch on a vine. To bear fruit, that is, good fruit, we need the efforts of the Husbandmen in pruning each branch. If we are going to exchange our life for Christ we have to be convinced of the futility of attempting to live the Christian life as revealed in scripture in our own strength and abilities. We realize the purpose of pruning in our life primary in this manner, as explained succinctly by Andrew Murray,

The great secret of abiding In Christ is the deep conviction that we are nothing, and He is everything…

Abide – and the collective Church

…during the life of Jesus on earth, the word He chiefly used when speaking of the relations of the disciples to Himself was: “Follow me.” When 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. Andrew Murray.

We all have heard the statement that someone had made about the devil, that is, one of the devils greatest deceptions had been to convince the world he does not exist. I add another statement to this, a derived one, and that is another great deception perpetrated upon the Church is how the devil has convinced the church that they can live the Christian life apart from Christ, which is seriously being propagated in the Church today.

There is a current need for both topical and inspirational instructions regarding abiding In Christ, and it is very important today that Christians and the Church are taken to task regarding their God given position In Christ, that is, if we intend to walk as God has instructed us to. Therefore, we must petition our God that He would grant to each of us knowledge from above which is given in terms of our ability to focus, listen, and receive from the Holy Spirit, receiving wisdom, understanding, and insight into the mystery of abiding unto having knowledge of the newness of His life in us. It is Spirit given knowledge and illumination that affords us insight into what God has already accomplished and given us In Christ, which is, our unique union with Him and our privilege of communion and fellowship.

In addition, it is through God given wisdom that will enable us to live in and through Christ in the manner that He expects from His saints, that is, in terms of our personal behaviors and conversations which are according to the new life and nature in us. Revelation, illumination, understanding, and wisdom are among the spiritual blessings that are given to each of us In Christ Paul writes in his letter to Ephesus and these blessings have a unique dwelling place, they reside In Christ in heavenly places through the Spirit. Consequently, these blessings are not known, nor are they apprehended via worldly and carnal means, that is, through someone’s mental abilities or intellectual acuities however, they are spiritual, of the Spirit, and must be granted and given from above, otherwise they are subject to error.

Truth unquicken by God’s Spirit deadens as much as, or more than, error. It may be the truth without admixture; but without the Spirit its shade and touch are deadly, its truth error, and its light darkness. E.M. Bounds

Certainly, any exegesis given by many preachers today is contrary to what is given, or quicken from above, and falls short. What is this falling short, and how do you recognize it, it is empty of any true and genuine power or value, that is, it is lifeless and of little use in our making progress with communion and fellowship with the Lord, unto knowing Him, His resurrection life, and the fruits of His righteousness, i.e. His manifestation in ones most inner man. Why is this, because the written word apart from the Spirit is powerless to enter your heart. Today, preachers do much harm to the Church when they chose to use all types of gimmicks in their preaching rather than a dependence upon the power of the Spirit. Why is this true? It is because they do not understand, nor do they know, that it is Gods power that can only penetrate the human spirit and heart. These self confident, self appointed preachers pontificate things they know little about, and the word that they preach has not become in them, their personal source of life, therefore, they cannot lead others to the bread of life.

The road to life is difficult, many pass through the gate however few make progress along the path because of what it will cost them. Making progress in any fruits of righteousness is not on our terms, nor by our ways and means, but its fruit is according to and by the Lord, i.e. By Jesus Christ.

…being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God…[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son].

Many in the Church seek God for various things other than what I believe to be at the heart of His will, and that is mature sons In Christ. One problem in our seeking to know God, we seek to simply possess more information about Him rather than knowing Him personally, to know Him personally will cost you. Information is neither relational nor is it personal, it is abstract, and can change at the pace of the vacillating mind. Yet God is personal in His communication, that is, because He communicates Himself. In addition, He is a Father, we are to call Him Father as Jesus instructed us to, and because He is a Father He treats us as one, that is, as His children, and as each Father on this planet expects a level of maturity from a growing son so does our heavenly Father, therefore, He gives wisdom and understanding of things above us so that we might know what behaviors please Him and what behaviors do not please Him, we recognize that anything associated with His being pleased has to do with what had pleased Him regarding His begotten Son, therefore if you are pleasing God the Father it is because you are making progress in accordance with His Spirit into His Son as you abide where God is seeing more and more of His Sons life in you. Our life, led by the Holy Spirit, is one where our Lords life should always be ever expanding in us and one where our life is ever losing ground, and if not, we are beginning to stagnate in our knowledge of Christ, and not hearing, or being led by the Spirit any longer, which is the case of many in the Church today.

If ever you and I should come to a place where we think we know, we have it all, we have attained, and from that point things become static, we may take it that the Holy Spirit has ceased operations and that life has become stultified. Austin-Sparks, Theodore.

We can know God personally, only as He reveals Himself in His Son, according to His will, and not according to how much personal information we have gained though our own efforts about Him, i.e. we are solely dependent upon God given insight.

(God) shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

One who only has knowledge about God, that is, someone who can quote all the right scriptures does not necessarily possess an interpersonal knowledge of God, i.e. the word that someone knows and has , has not impacted their inner life as it should. To know the heavenly Father we have to draw up close to Him, In Christ, and to do so, will require a level of self-sacrifice on our part because relationships take time and are costly because there is pain, joy, love, and learning. We all approach God on His terms and not ours; He grants us access as He communicates His will to us. If Jesus had explained to the Jews that they are to be perfect as their Father in heaven is perfect, in saying so, He put this perfection out of the reach of any of our human abilities, consequently, the one who spoke of this level of realization is the only one who is capable of such a thing… this is my beloved “son” in whom I’m well pleased.

Jesus had quickly pointed out the spiritual insufficiency of the Jewish sect the Pharisee by explaining to them that although they searched and examined the scriptures however were absent of the life and love of God. They knew of God, could speak of Him intelligently and even adhered to His laws and commands yet they remained distant from God, spiritually blind and steeped in error; error to the point where others were acceptable to them, even receiving them, however Gods Son was not.

You search and keep on searching and examining the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and yet it is those [very Scriptures] that testify about Me; and still you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. I do not receive glory and approval from men; but I know you and recognize that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father’s name and with His power, and you do not receive Me [because your minds are closed]; but if another comes in his own name and with no authority or power except his own, you will receive him and give your approval to an impostor.

However, and in my opinion, the Church certainly understands that it is In Christ via Gods mercies, grace, power, according to His word, yet the fruit of a divine union and relationship, leading us to life and the love of God, has not yet fully been realized, or developed in the manners and ways according to the Fathers. Because the Father has great expectations and confidence in His Son, in whom He was and is well pleased, and in whom is eternal life and His love, more than sufficient life for all branches, In the Vine, there is an abundance to produce plentiful fruit, and through much bearing of fruit, the Father is glorified.

Unfortunately, today, what we see are many wild branches growing off of the Vine, branches in grave need of cultivation and pruning that these scraggly branches might bear fruit. Consequently, there are many men calling themselves Prophets, Apostles, or Teachers who stand up as the Churches representatives simply because they  are on our TV’s or are Pastors of mega assemblies all explaining to us what is Gods will, yet, what many are missing in their messages is what is inevitable, and that is the pruning that needs to come. The pruning to be accomplished is by the Husbandman, He will accomplish it in accordance with His Will, and in His manners and time periods, and not ours. Therefore, what the future holds for the Church can only be understood in terms of the pruning that is still to be accomplished, because the Father intends to have an abundance of good fruit and not sour grapes in His vineyard. How this pruning is coming about I don’t know but something is coming, we all know it, and certainly the vineyards care, in the hands of the Church, has suffered loss.

One of Jesus disappointments with the Ephesian assembly had to do with their leaving their first love. Leaving this love they became overly preoccupied with works. Any good work that we might accomplish in life has to find its source in the Lord, and especially His love, one that is based in a relationship of love for Him. We hear Jesus saying to Peter three times do you love me, feed my sheep. Jesus did not say go and feed my sheep but instead first said do you love me. What had Jesus told the disciples regarding His own relationship He had with His Father and you can bet all good works came out from this love relationship with His Father.

I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [continue in His love with Me]. If you keep My commandments [if you continue to obey My instructions], you will abide in My love and live on in it, just as I have obeyed My Father’s commandments and live on in His love.

You cannot separate good works, either individually or collectively, from a meaningful relationship with the Lord; work apart from Jesus that is not according to His heart and mind is lawless and will meet with Jesus disapproval which presses against our heart with these words, I never knew you, which I believe to be a relational statement. All work must have a single source, and if not, you are simply a hireling, or you have ulterior motives in your heart. This source as you have already guessed is Jesus. Good works are a consequence of the fruit of the Spirit working in us. In Galatians 5 Paul identifies nine different fruit that are to be working and existing in us, which speaks more to the character of the individual than their works (service), that is, if genuine work is to be accomplished, which brings glory to God and Christ. Why glory, because the good works source is not man but God In Christ in us. Many can do work that looks religious and charitable yet its source is not the Vine, however its source is man’s nature and not Christ, the carnal Christian can do all kinds of religious things that look good on the surface, reasoning this is what Christ is like and would do. Every religious thing can be accomplished by ambitious self-motivated men. Many religions, religious organizations, and churches have been built by well-meaning men yet without an ounce of God’s grace In Christ as the source for such working. These churches look good, feel good, taste good, and are even very successful, but in terms of any relationship with the Lord they fall short.

Not only do we think of work from the perspective of ministry or service but in terms of walking a sinless life before God, good works. We are solely dependent upon God’s grace working in us, that is, that which proceeds from Him In Christ which is all sufficient toward us that we might work in our walking holy and upright.

 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.

Additionally, the fruits I’m speaking of are personal in nature, i.e. they characterize the person who possesses them. Love, joy, peace, patience, longsuffering, self-control, patience etc. all speak of the character of the one whom knows these. I say know because they are spiritually produced and have much more to do with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirits than it does with us. What is in us is antithesis to these fruits and there is no person who can know these apart from Jesus Christ and their subsequent abiding In Him, that is if you want to know what is genuine. The fruit is known by the tree that produces it. In other words, as branches there is never a shortage of life that flows from the source where we can begin to characterize this life by the fruit that begins to form on the branch. An apple tree is known by the fruit it produces. The life of Christ in us is understood in terms of the fruit it produces where Paul had identified nine for us in Galatians. One particular fruit I would make mention of is self-control where if Christians truly had this fruit working in their lives they would have control over all sorts of negative things that control them, e.g. the tongue, eating,  and various habits that are difficult to break.

Abide – Final Thoughts

The moment you come to realize that only God can make a person righteous and godly, you are left with no option but to find God, and to know Him, and to let God be God in and through you, whatever that will mean. Ian Thomas

Righteousness must be fruit, the organic product of the life and character, exponential of what is within, Matt. 7:16, 20; 21:43. Geerhardus Vos.

How can anyone expect to have continual communion and fellowship with the Son and the Father until they learn to come into an alignment with Gods Will. The sum total of His will is understood in terms of Christ moral life, His righteousness and holiness, and heart of passion to obey the Father in all behaviors that are of the mind, will, and emotion. Once an individual comes into a personal synchronization with Gods royal moral law, In Christ, then he or she will realize His continual communion, where we recognize that this communal blessing is God Himself; there is no greater possibly blessing than to know the living God in Christ.

…that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.

God, in Christ through the Spirit, works to this end that we might know the Father and the Son in true fellowship and to do so we have to come into alignment with their holiness. Setting our minds upon the instruction in righteousness of the Spirit puts us on solid ground for continual communion with God thus in this communion we will know peace, grace, and mercy unto bearing the fruit of this divine relationship. The first thing that Moses encounter regarding knowing God had been His holiness. At the burning bush God had told him to take off his shoes for the ground he was standing upon was holy. In like manner, we are meant to be holy or our God is holy and as we make progress in this manner we will make progress in knowing our God and Father.

However, we must understand that God does the work, work that you nor I can accomplish on our own. God has placed us in Christ for our forgiveness and also our  sanctification. The work of sanctification is Gods alone. God by night walked before Israel  in a pillar of fire and by day a cloud of glory. He destroyed their enemies and lead them into the land of His promise, according to Israel’s faith, faith that God had attempted to painstakingly work in them in the desert, unto understanding His way. His way, is the way of meekness, poverty of spirit, mourning, purity of heart and the understanding that man does not live on bread alone. If the Church is to see Gods hand in establishing His kingdom it is certainly not through those normal means men avail themselves of in this world, that is, through self-ambition, assertiveness, personal success, intellect, independence etc.. However, God has chosen other disposition of heart and spirit to bless and give the earth to, where these divine characteristics speak to the level of dependence  upon Him in all matters of internal and external dispositions, both personal and for the Church.

For example, the meek shall inherit the earth; not the organized, nor the ambitious, nor the religious lawless, but it is Gods mighty hand that accomplishes all those things that the Church aspires to in this life. Instead, and contrary to Christ Lordship many individuals, leaders, and ministries are doing what they believe is right in their own eyes; rather than possessing the collective mind of Christ and the rule of His love. Until one sees their true position in the Son apprehends His Lordship in their life they remain distant from where the Lord would have them.

Therefore, abiding is important because it is only through an abiding relationship can the Church know His law and the rule of His love. It is only through abiding can one know an abiding in God’s love in Christ which becomes the rule of each man’s heart; that essence whereby the kingdom of God is governed. Many speak of love as being charitable, doing something good for their neighbor or brother in the Lord, and these things are right however the scripture speak to the character of love, that is God’s love in us. God’s love in us works in us and is manifests in this manner that it does not act unbecomingly, it does not envy, it is not arrogant, it suffers long with others, it is kind, does not seek its own, it is not easily provoked and does not rejoice in iniquity. You can see that if these things rule your inner most life then you love your neighbor and your brother in a manner that is consistent with what rule is in Gods kingdom where there is no offense to either man or God. Paul’s vision for the Church, Gods people, had been that they might know Gods fullness and to know and possess this fullness in Christ as one abides. Abiding by faith in Christ we begin to realize Gods fullness and specifically His love, in all its divine characteristics, which we are meant to walk in, that we do not offend His holiness.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,  that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—  to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God

What does it mean to offend Gods holiness? It can be illustrated this way. If you are a parent and have children and have taken the time to instruct and discipline them in the way they should go, that is, to behave according to your instruction, and when they have grown they conduct themselves counter to what your will had been for them. In watching them you find their behavior offensive to you and are embarrassed, ashamed, and very disappointed. God as a holy God, our creator, sees His creation in Christ Jesus doing all kinds of behaviors counter to His holiness, that is, His righteousness, commands and judgments that He painstakingly communicated via His word and through hours of work He attempted to write on your heart all are offensive to His holiness. Because God is Holy so should His creation be. When it is not and from what we read in the Old Testament regarding His anger toward Israel we can conclude in like manner God is not pleased with us in all of our offenses against His own holiness, for we remain carnal and subject to the flesh.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

However, in that the flesh is weak and nothing good dwells in it God has made an escape for us in Christ and has given to us His Spirit and now we can fulfill the righteous requirements of the law as we walk according to the Spirit.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find…

For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, 

…that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

God has given us in the power of Christ resurrection a means to walk upright so that we no longer are an offence to His holiness. God is holy so we ought to be holy. We now have the capability to no longer be the slave of sin, however, In Christ we have strength and wisdom for the mortification of the flesh and picking up our  cross in self-denial. In Christ the flesh is mortified, and In Him our life can now bear spiritual fruit via the Spirit, and this fruit is far and above the fallen human condition and is realized contrary to our self-efforts, for it is the work of the Spirit, in us. The sooner we recognize Him who God placed in us the sooner we can cooperate with His instructions in holiness of life. If we can both hear and see, and according to the given wisdom and understanding know that our God is holy, and that His will is that His children walk in a manner that is fully pleasing to Him, that in His pleasure we will know His many blessings.

And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled

Therefore we also pray always for you that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of His goodness and the work of faith with power…

It is the nature and characteristics of our God given faith to compel us into the heart of God as an obedient son. What is our work; it is the work of faith in cooperation with the Spirit in our life. That is, we consent to the work to be done in us by the Lord, recognizing that this work is that we are holy. Where this consent is rooted In Christs work of grace, grace that touches our heart and our heart respond according to a heavenly calling. God the Father has created a place for us in heavenly places in Christ Jesus where by His Spirit we are made to sit/abide with Him that we might be His sons who walk in holiness of life unto pleasing our God.

Those that know their natural deadness under the power of sin and Satan are fully convinced that, if God leave them to their own hearts, they can do nothing but sin; and that they can do no good work, except it please God, of His great love and mercy, to work it in them. Walter Marshall

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