If you missed the Intro post in this series, be sure to read it. It will provide more context around this series.
Jesus gives 6 very clear statements about being one of His followers or disciples. These are not requirements for salvation or forgiveness; rather they are conditions or evidences of being His disciple.
The first 3 Marks of Discipleship are seemingly negative – on the surface. They are designed to help us shed the old self (Colossians 3:9) The last 3 have a much more positive bent and are meant to develop the new self (Colossians 3:10). But the goal remains the same – to make us better Followers of Christ; to make us Disciples!
Mark of Discipleship #4: Abide
John 8:31 “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him; ‘If you abide in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” (NASB)
Jesus says to “abide” in His Word! This statement seems to give a sense of desire and longing to be in this location…in His Word. This is not like spending a night in a hotel where we rest for a time and then resume our travels; the idea is to take up residence. There is no more need for travel because as we abide in Him, we have reached Home!
Abide With Me
I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.
Henry F. Lyte
Although I love the song and have many childhood memories of trying to puff its notes on my trumpet, I would part with Mr. Lyte in that his lyrics suggest that God should come to us and dwell when it should be us pursuing Him and seeking to dwell in His presence. But the strength and encouragement that comes from this song is rooted in the fact that we MUST be consumed by the invasive nature of God’s Word.
It is no mistake that John makes a clear connection in his first chapter (John 1) that Jesus IS the WORD and the WORD IS Jesus…so to live and exist in the Word is to BE in Christ. Jesus even demonstrated this during His temptation in Matthew 4:1-11. Satan came to Jesus at least 3 times with “hints” and “suggestions“…he even tried to use Scripture against him and each time Jesus responded with the Word.
- Matthew 4:4 “It is written…”
- Matthew 4:6 “It is written…”
- Matthew 4:7 “It is written…”
- Matthew 4:10 “It is written…”
To “Abide” is to stay…to continue…to dwell. Jesus is inviting His disciples to be present with Him ALWAYS. I think our tendency is to carve out an hour on Sunday and maybe a few seconds before a meal and call it being a Christian. We compartmentalize our entire world to exist in silos. When at work, I am an employee. When at home, I am husband & father. When I am at church or with “churchy” friends, I am Christian. Yes, we are all of these things. But these “titles” define a list of responsibilities; they should not define a person. To abide in Him is to make Christ the center of our choices and responses; our goals and our plans.
As an example of “Abiding”, simply look to Psalm 119. Nearly every verse contains a reference to the Word of God – Law, Testimonies, Ways, Precepts, Statutes, Commandments, Judgments, Word, Path – God’s Word consumed the Psalmist and drove him back to the very Words of Life.
… To let my loving Savior work in me His will, my sanctification, is what I would live for by His grace. Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power… resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin” — this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me… Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy…How then to have our faith increased? Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts. Not a striving to have faith… but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and eternity. …I looked to Jesus, and when I saw — oh, how joy flowed! – From “The Exchanged Life” by Hudson Taylor (missionary to China)
OPEN MIC: SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
- What are some places from God’s Word that give you peace, comfort and encouragement and allow you to abide in Him?
- Is there someone who helps to focus you back to God’s Word through their life or their actions? How has this impacted you walk?