ABIDE IN ME: The secret to intimacy and fruit
By Mark Anderson
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4).
Jesus spoke these words after ‘the Last Supper’ en route to the garden of Gethsemane. The key words in this text are ‘abide’ and ‘fruit’. Fruit glorifies God and that is what the Christian life is all about – that God may be glorified in His creation, in His church and in His children. It’s not about us, it’s all about Him; God doesn’t exist for us, we exist for Him. At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus declares: “I Am the True Vine.” He used the term ‘I Am’ a number of times (Jn 6:35; 8:12; 9:5; 10:9). In Scripture, the vine was often used to refer to Israel with God as the Husbandman or Vinedresser. By saying that He is the True Vine, He was in effect saying that He was the fulfilment of what Israel symbolized as a vine.
In John’s gospel, Jesus uses the word ‘abide’ in two ways. Firstly it is used to describe our faith for salvation:
“He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth (abides) in me, and I in him” (John 6:56).
Secondly ‘abide’ is used to describe an intimate relationship which all believers should cultivate with the Father.
“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue (abide) in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31).
Notice that Jesus used the word ‘if’. Abiding is conditional and the onus is upon the believer to consciously make the decision to abide. God has called us to intimacy with Him.
“Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:23).
We sometimes have the mentality that “God is way up there in Heaven and we are way down here on earth” creating a sense of detachment. But Christ is in us, the Spirit of God dwells in our mortal bodies and as we draw near to God and love Him, He will make His abode with us. That’s intimate! Our lives are hidden with Christ in God! Not only that, but in Christ are hidden the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. There are treasures awaiting discovery in that secret place of intimacy. The question is: Are we abiding in that secret place? Are we abiding in Christ?
“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
Again the condition is that His words abide in us. His word is truth. Jesus said that if we continue in His word, we will know the truth and the truth will make us free. God’s word liberates. It severs us from bondage by exposing lies which we may believe. With that exposure of lies, comes an illumination of truth which when appropriated brings freedom and victory. God’s word is called the perfect law of liberty. As God’s word abides in us, He at the same time, not only is speaking to us, comforting us, liberating us, but also pruning us. He is cutting away our own fleshly desires while exposing our wrong attitudes and motives. As He prunes us and changes us, His desires become our desires. He works within us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. As God’s desires become our desires, we have this glorious promise:
“ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
It’s important to note that this promise is dependent upon us abiding in Him and submitting to His pruning. It’s not some kind of blanket or selfish prayer. James reminds us that we have not because we ask not, but then cautions us against asking with impure, selfish motives. As we abide in Christ and He abides in us, working within us, moulding and shaping us, we will ask the Father for things with a right motive in accordance with His will for us, and He will grant them so that He may be glorified.
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (John 15:8).
What is fruit? Let me suggest what fruit is not. It’s not success, nor sensationalism. Hype and emotionalism in a Christian setting is not fruit. Fruit is character which is Christ-like. We read of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians five. Fruit is offering up to God a sacrifice of praise which is the fruit of our lips. Giving help to those in need is referred to as fruit by Paul, as are new converts. Fruit is borne as we abide in the vine and as we cultivate intimacy with Christ and abide in Him.
As we abide in Christ and submit to His word, allowing it to convict us, encourage us, correct us and liberate us while the Father prunes us, we will be conformed to the image of His Son. As we pray in accordance with His will and see those prayers answered, it will create a flow of praise from our innermost being which will inevitably cause others to see Christ in us.
 Colossians 3:3.
 Ibid., 2:3.
 John 8:32.
 James 1:25.
 Philippians 2:13.
 James 4:3.
 Hebrews 13:15.
 Philippians 4:17.
 Colossians 1:6.