Abiding in Christ

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. John 15:4-5

The Christian life is not meant to be experienced on human power. Without the power of God within a believer’s life, there would be no growth. The goal of sanctification is to grow in becoming more like Christ each day. Jesus explains the importance of faith that is within the realm of dependence upon our relationship with Him. Abiding in Christ is to simply find rest and relationship intimately with Him. Fruit will begin to grow if faith is grounded in a relationship with Christ. The essence of the passage is to be completely surrendered to Christ in order to become like Christ.

Believers can not grow on their own power just as a tree cannot bear fruit without being rooted in good soil. Good soil is what builds a strong tree. Many times, leaders spend a majority of their time fertilizing bad soil, expecting to receive a good harvest. Warren Wiersbe says, “Hard hearts must be 'plowed up' before they can receive the seed, and this can be a painful experience.” The true believer brings forth the fruit of a new lifestyle, a lifestyle that is pleasing in the sight of God.

God produces in believers the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:22-23), fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8), and fruits of gratitude (Hebrews 13:15). God uses each day to work in and through us in order to build godly character in our lives. Before Christ a person is filled with selfishness but after Christ a person is filled with selflessness. The good soil produces fruit that will remain and multiply.  Obedience is a clear picture of what an authentic believer possesses. I'm thankful for the times in my life that God has pruned me and shaped me. If it wasn't for the times of pain and growth, there would be no change to become like Christ. Good soil is what is needed for true salvation. Many leaders spend time trying to get bad soil (hard hearts) to grow and it leaves many frustrated and feeling hopeless. No longer can leaders try to fertilize bad soil, but pray for the Holy Spirit to till up the hardness of man's heart so that God's voice can be heard and obeyed. We are hopeless apart from Christ and this passage of scripture explains it with clarity. Many people try to show off their branches because they have no fruit. This passage is a tough reminder that unless a person has good soil (Mark 4) and responds with humility to the gospel, they will be in Hell for eternity. The passage on "abiding in Christ" is one of the most important foundations for the Christian life.

The grace of God is with believers every day to empower us to move beyond mediocrity and towards godly character. Abiding in Christ is an ongoing process of releasing the rights of living our own way and obeying God’s way. The importance of relationship with God and others is what gives the strength to bear lasting fruit. The fruit is not for one’s own glory but is to reflect glory to God (Matthew 5:13). People are looking for authentic followers of Christ. Abiding in Christ builds healthy fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self control) that remains and brings glory to God.