To abide in Christ is a key biblical concept. Understanding what it means to abide in Christ makes a significant difference in the way a Christian experiences life. The word "abide" means to live, continue or remain. The Bible describes saved people as "in Christ" (Romans 8:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17). This does not mean we are in Christ as a person might be in a house or a building. It simply means we belong to Him; it denotes connectedness.
What is it to abide in Christ? What does it mean to abide in Christ?
This connectedness is crucial to the life of a Christian. The Bible uses metaphors to help us see the reality of our relationship to the Lord. We are like trees that flourish because they are growing by the side of a stream, drinking up the life-giving water (Psalm 1; John 1:1-3). We are like the branches of a grape vine, heavy with fruit (John 15:1-5). We depend on the Spirit of God to produce good things in us, as we walk with Him (Galatians 5:16-17, 22-25). He is the author of our faith and our good works (Ephesians 2:10; Hebrews 12:2). We are like a body, controlled and nourished by its head (Colossians 1:18). We are vessels from which flows living water, which is the Spirit of God (John 7:38). We are weaker than the power within us, like clay pots containing gold treasure (2 Corinthians 4:7). This is why Jesus said "Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5). A branch cannot bear fruit by itself—it needs the vine (John 15:4).
This is the reality for every believer. It is not a special level that is attained after a certain amount of time walking with God, or as a result of special blessing or as a reward for good deeds. All believers are in Christ (Romans 8:1) and that relationship is unchanging (John 10:28-29). However, we can become very ineffective if we believe that we must bear good fruit in our own strength, in an effort to appease God or to grow the church, or to save other people. God did the work of justification, and He is also responsible for our sanctification, or our growth in Him (Galatians 3:2-3; Hebrews 10:10). He will build His church (Matthew 16:18). We are His servants, and are responsible to teach His word correctly, to be kind and patient, but it is God who grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:24-26). We are to let our light shine, but the glory for that light goes to God (Matthew 5:16). The gospel is not the cleverness of man, or the evidence of his goodness, but the power of God for the salvation of all who believe (Romans 1:16-17).
To abide in Christ means to depend on Him for that power, not only for the salvation of others but for one's own salvation and spiritual growth. Like branches that do not bear fruit without the vine, without Him we can do nothing (John 15:4).
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