One of Christ’s New Commandments is, “Abide in Me, and I in you” (John 15: 4). This is not a polite request. It is a command. It is simply put in plain English, but what does it mean exactly? How does He abide in us, and how do we abide in Him? In order to obey this command, what exactly do we need to do?
First it helps to go to the Greek. “Abide” in the KJV is translated from the Greek word meno 61 times. It is also translated “remain” sixteen times, “dwell” fifteen times, “continue” eleven times, and “tarry” nine times. “Abide, remain, dwell, and continue” gives us a picture of how the word is used.
The Vine and the Branches
The verse “Abide in Me, and I in you” comes in the middle of a metaphor Christ was using to give us a picture of how the abiding of His Spirit takes place. Back in John 15: 1, He likens Himself to a grape vine, “the true vine.” He says that the Father is the husbandman or the vinedresser. Every vine has branches. But He says that if a branch does not bear fruit, the Father purges it or cuts it off and takes it away. He then prunes those branches that are bearing fruit so that they may bear more fruit (v. 2).
We need to pause here a moment. “Purges” the fruitless branch. “Cuts it off? Takes it away? Whoa. This is some serious sentiment here. The Father’s not fooling around. He’s all about bearing more and more fruit by pruning those of us who are supposed to bear fruit.
Then Christ the Great Teacher explains this new commandment. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in Me.” He is the Vine and we are the branches of that Vine. He is saying, Dwell in Me, and let Me dwell in you. Remain there free from false concepts. Continue in my plan and purpose. You can do this by believing Me that the Father, who is the Spirit, dwells first of all in Me. Since He is in Me, He can be in you.
Christ commands us to abide in the vine. How does a branch abide in the vine? It is an extension of the trunk of the vine. It is merely a conduit of the same sap (Spirit) that runs through the vine. Branches of the vine are where the fruit is borne. But they will only bear if they surrender to being a channel for the rising sap of the vine (v. 4).
Christ clears it up. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned” (verses 5-6).
How Do We Abide/Dwell/Remain/Continue in Christ and He in Us?
We abide in Christ when we remain (abide, dwell) in His plan to accomplish His purpose. When it is “no longer I that lives, but Christ that lives in me.” This will take place after our trek to the cross where we surrender to His way and spiritually die with Christ and resurrect with Christ. It is never preached, but it is the only way to the Father. Do this and then He will abide in us. But that won’t happen if we believe that there are two distinct Gods up there, for the Father is the invisible Spirit abiding in the Son of man, which He earnestly desires to be us, too.
It is by believing that the Father dwells in the Son. That’s what the Son said. “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works” (John 14: 10). Christ said that the Father Yahweh dwells in Him, and it is the Father/Spirit that is doing the miracles. You want to be a miracle worker like the early apostles? This is our ticket to enter that spiritual world that they walked in.
Then in the next verse comes another crucial New Commandment. “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves” (v. 11). This one is paramount to obey because if we cannot obey and believe that the Father/Spirit abides/dwells in the Son, then He won’t abide in us either. Not fully, so that we can bear “much fruit” like the early apostles and Christ.
But…If we do obey and believe Christ when He says that the Father abides in Himself, then look what happens. “He who believes in Me [believes His word that the Father dwells and abides in the Son], the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do…” (v. 12). The Father will dwell in us and do the same miracles that the Son of God did—if we believe Christ’s words about the Father/Son relationship.
The Abiding is when the Father, who is the Holy Spirit of Truth, comes into us and walks around in us and performs the works that He has always done.
To be continued…
Kenneth Wayne Hancock