Tag Archives: Abiding in Christ

Whereas I Was Blind, Now I See!

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On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.

John 14:20

The secret to living the Christian life is no secret at all, it is the mystery of Christ in you (Col. 1:27). The indwelling Christ is our hope of intimacy with the Father, he is our joy and forgiveness in the Son, and he is our holiness in the Spirit. As we trust Christ by faith, he gives us the power to love the unlovely, the freedom to walk apart from sin, and grace to experience God’s presence moment-by-moment (Gal. 2:20). The indwelling Christ is joy, liberty, and fullness in the Holy Spirit (Eph. 3:20).

J. Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), founder of the China Inland Mission, reads a letter from John McCarthy on September 4, 1869. McCarthy is a fellow missionary in China and a man who hungers for a deeper, more intimate relationship with Christ. Upon reading McCarthy’s letter, Hudson Taylor declares that he has entered into the “exchanged life.”

McCarthy wrote to Taylor:

I do wish I could have a talk with you now about the way of holiness. At the time you were speaking to me about it, it was the subject of all others occupying my thoughts, not from anything I had read . . . so much as from a consciousness of failure—a constant falling short of that which I felt should be aimed at; an unrest; a perpetual striving . . . .

Then, while reading that same letter, the Holy Spirit reveals the truth of the indwelling Christ to J. Hudson Taylor. Taylor describes the experience:

Abiding, not striving or struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power . . . resting in the love of an almighty Saviour, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin”—this is not new, and yet ‘tis new to me. I feel as though the dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust. I seem to have got to the edge only, but of a boundless sea; to have sipped only, but of that which fully satisfies. Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy . . . 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 for eternity.

After reading McCarthy’s letter of September 4, 1869, Taylor tells a Mr. Judd,

Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man! God has made me a new man! Wonderful was the experience that had come in answer to prayer, yet so simple as almost to baffle description. It was just as it was long ago [at his conversion], “Whereas I was blind, now I see!”

Howard Taylor, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret (Chicago: Moody Press, 2009), 156.

What is Abiding in Christ?

 

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 15:5-6 ESV

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacies keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have outcomes that will last for eternity.

To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness from it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne.

C. H. Spurgeon, Cheque Book of the Bank of Faith: Daily Readings (Geanies House, Tain, Ross-Shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1996), 54.

When our Lord says: ‘Abide in me, and I in you,’ He points to something analogous to this. ‘Abide in me’: that refers more to that which we have to do. We have to trust and obey, to detach ourselves from all else, to reach out after Him and cling to Him, to sink ourselves into Him. As we do this, through the grace He gives, a character is formed, and a heart prepared for the fuller experience: ‘I in you,’ God strengthens us with might by the Spirit in the inner man, and Christ dwells in the heart by faith.

Andrew Murray, The True Vine (Chicago: Moody Press, n.d.), 35.

Do We Care About Communing with God?

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.

Eph. 3: 17-18 NLT

Communion with God is sharing in the presence of God: speaking and being spoken to by Him. Communion with God is participating in the life of God: an encounter that is loving, grace-filled, and life-changing. Communion with God is experiencing the constant, conscious presence of the Holy Spirit: we are never alone or forgotten. Communion with God is heaven on earth: a foretaste of the life we will live in heaven. Do we make it our daily goal to pursue communing with God as we go about our daily tasks? Is his presence our heart’s desire?

Whereas to the Puritans communion with God was a great thing, to evangelicals today it is a comparatively small thing.

The Puritans were concerned about communion with God in a way that we are not.

The measure of our unconcern is the little that we say about it.

When Christians meet, they talk to each other about their Christian work and Christian interests, their Christian acquaintances, the state of the churches, and the problems of theology—but rarely of their daily experience of God.

Modern Christian books and magazines contain much about Christian doctrine, Christian standards, problems of Christian conduct, techniques of Christian service—but little about the inner realities of fellowship with God.

Our sermons contain much sound doctrine—but little relating to the converse between the soul and the Saviour.

We do not spend much time, alone or together, in dwelling on the wonder of the fact that God and sinners have communion at all; no, we just take that for granted, and give our minds to other matters.

Thus we make it plain that communion with God is a small thing to us.

But how different were the Puritans! The whole aim of their ‘practical and experimental’ preaching and writing was to explore the reaches of the doctrine and practice of man’s communion with God.

J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (reprint ed., Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 215.

HT: Justin Taylor

 

Are We Enjoying and Experiencing Christ?

Since you have been raised to new life with Christ, set your sights on the realities of heaven, where Christ sits in the place of honor at God’s right hand.

Col 3:1 NLT

The phrase “in Christ” or its corresponding idea is used one hundred and seventy-two times in the New Testament with the Apostle Paul alone utilizing the phrase ninety-seven times in his letters. To be “in Christ” is to receive all the benefits of Christ’s saving work on the Cross, to walk in all the blessings of Christ’s life and resurrection and to enjoy all the favor of Christ’s inheritance from the Father’s favor. To be “in Christ” is to be located in the Divine Person—all that Christ’s has done, received, or achieved is ours to be enjoyed.

Our union in Christ is not just a theological theory, but a reality to be lived and enjoyed moment-by-moment. Christ lives in us by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. As Andrew Murray stated, “It is through the Holy Spirit that we have Christ in our hearts-a mighty force stirring, enlightening, and filling us.” [Daily in His Presence (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2004), Feb. 6th.] Christ encourages us each day to trust him, to love him, and to live through him. As we trust him, all the benefits of Christ’s life, death, burial, and resurrection can be experienced now in us. The Holy Spirit makes these truths known, reveals them to our hearts, and enables us to enjoy and experience them.

‘In Christ’ refers to our status and our position. It is the language of faith.’With Christ’ speaks of our experience and of our enjoyment, and is the language of fellowship. Therefore, the question I think we must ask ourselves is, “How far are we enjoying this fellowship with Christ”?

If you are a Christian you know that you are in Christ. You know that you are accepted in Him, the Beloved. You know that God has forgiven your sins for His sake. But how far are there things real in your experience? How far are you enjoying being ‘with Christ’? How far is it true in your experience that you are living a life that is risen with Christ?

The life which you are discovering day by day is a life that is hid with Christ in God, and you are going to Him and looking to Him constantly to make discovery of the riches of that life. Now that is the dignity of the Christian. To live with Christ, to walk with Christ, to be raised with Christ, and to look forward in hope, and in anticipation to the day when we shall be glorified with Christ.

J. A. Caiger, “The Discipline and Dignity of Life in Christ,” Daily Thoughts from Keswick: A Years’s Daily Readings, ed. Herbert F. Stevenson (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1980), 365.

 

Christ in the Christian

For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory

Col 1:27 NLT

Christ in the Christian is a faith-grounded, Spirit-empowered, Christ-dependent, heart-surrendered, fruit-bearing, trial-overcoming, daily-sustained life (Gal. 2:20). “Christ in You,” is another way of describing the life of abiding in Christ (Col. 1:27), or praying continually (1 Thes. 5:17), or enjoying the life of faith (Heb. 11:6).

Abiding in Christ is daily experiencing the presence of Christ and allowing him to live his life in and through us (1 John 4:9). Christ lives the Christian life in us because by our efforts alone, we cannot produce righteousness, bear fruit, or convince the lost (Gal. 5:22-25).

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacy keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have an outcome that will last for eternity (John 15:1-5).

Abiding in Christ is an on-going conversational relationship with Jesus Christ which is maintained through continual dependence on the Holy Spirit and a constant looking to God’s grace for power in our weakness (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Qualities of abiding in Christ are gratitude in life disappointments, sweetness in God’s presence, and joy in the daily, mundane tasks of life.

To get light from an oil lamp, filling it first with oil is entirely reasonable. To get a car to provide you with transportation, filling the tank with gas is completely logical. In the same way, a divine logic affirms that obtaining righteousness from a man or woman happens only when that person is filled with God. Oil in the lamp, gas in the car . . . and Christ in the Christian. It takes God to be a man, and that is why it takes Christ to be a Christian, because Christ puts God back into man, the only way we can again become functional.

Major W. Ian Thomas, The Indwelling Life of Christ: All of Him in All of Me (Colorado Springs, CO: Multnomah Books, 2006), 21.

 

A Strong Calm Sanity

You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.

Luke 7:45-46 ESV

To be intimate with Jesus is to never abandon him for another love, but to abide in an on-going, loving, conscious union with our living resurrected Lord.

When once we get intimate with Jesus we are never lonely, we never need sympathy, we can pour out all the time without being pathetic. The saint who is intimate with Jesus will never leave impressions of himself, but only the impression that Jesus is having unhindered way, because the last abyss of his nature has been satisfied by Him. The only impression left by such a life is that of the strong calm sanity that Our Lord gives to those who are intimate with Him.

Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for Highest (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1992), January 7.

The Deeper Christian Life

Real Victory

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Romans 8:37

The deeper Christian life is a victorious, holy, faith-centered, Spirit-empowered, Christ-dependent, surrendered, fruit-bearing, broken, overcoming, sustained life. Abiding in Christ is another way of describing the deeper Christian life: a life of an on-going conversational relationship with Christ. This “life abundant” is maintained by faith through gratitude in the midst of life disappointments, dependence on the Spirit, and acknowledgment of our numerous weaknesses and failings. The deeper Christian life is daily experiencing the presence of Christ by allowing him to live his life in and through us. Christ lives the Christian life in us because by our own efforts we cannot imitate Christ’s love and selflessness.

It is by the grace of God that we can be conquerors. To be a conqueror, one must allow God to live His Life in and through us. Again and again he has to break us; that is to say, He breaks the things in us that protect and maintain “self.” We must surrender totally to Him, and let Him do all that is necessary. Thus he gets more and more room in us. He does not want only a part of us, but to fill our whole heart with His power; to fill us more and more with Himself. That means a closer fellowship with Him. That is glory!

Corrie ten Boom quoted in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 240.

 

Striving vs. Abiding

Struggling vs. Receiving

For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Jer. 2:13

Striving is living the Christian life by our own effort: laboring, straining, and sweating to make something happen in our walk with Christ. Striving is our vain attempt to earn Christ’s approval, love, and forgiveness. Striving endeavors to earn God’s good graces, achieve God’s promises, and fulfill God’s vision all in our timing and in strength.

Abiding in Christ is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacy keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have an outcome that will last for eternity.

Abide in Christ: so will you bear much fruit. Not a vine is planted but the owner thinks of the fruit, and the fruit only. Other trees may be planted for ornament, for the shade, for the wood–the vine only for the fruit. And of each vine the husbandman is continually asking how it can bring forth more fruit, much fruit. Believer! Abide in Christ in times of affliction, and you shall bring forth more fruit. The deeper experience of Christ’s tenderness and the Father’s love will urge you to live to His glory.

Andrew Murray, Abiding in Christ, Chapter 19.

The Constant Conscious Presence of God

God’s Presence

For in him we live and move and exist.

Acts 17:28 NLT

The constant conscious presence of the Lord creates a healthy fear of God. The fear of God is a silent wonder, a radical amazement, and an affectionate awe of a God who became incarnate in human flesh, died in our place, and rose again. This fear is not a fear of punishment, but the dread of hurting or breaking God’s heart by disappointing his plans for us. The fear of the Lord is an awareness that God is present always and that we are conscious of the fact that he is watching us (Prov. 1:7, Psa. 33:18).

The fear of the Lord begins with the revelation that God is all-knowing, God is all-powerful, and God is everywhere present. He knows all that we do. Nothing misses his vision. He is powerful and he can affect anything and everything that we do. God is everywhere. He is always involved in our lives. God never sleeps, he is never caught off-guard, and never surprised by our words, choices, and actions. When we recognize that God is constantly present, we become conscious of his power, grace, and love.

Godliness is God-consciousness, an all-pervasive sense of God’s presence. It will mean that never do we think, or speak, or act, without the undergirding sense of God’s presence, of his judgement, of our relation to him and his relation to us, of our responsibility to him and dependence upon him.

John Murray, The Collected Writings of John Murray (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 1976–1982), 1:183.

HT: Miscellanies

The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else. “Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord.”

Oswald Chambers, Run Today’s Race : A Word from Oswald Chambers for Every Day of the Year, electronic ed. (London: Oswald Chambers Publications Association, 1968).

The Right Thing

Communing With God

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 15:5

Abiding in Christ (or communing with God) is holding steady in the presence of Christ trusting his promises by faith irrespective of the challenges, trials, and tribulations of our lives. Remaining in faith and looking to Christ to be our sufficiency in the midst of our inadequacy keeps us in his constant, conscious presence. Only by abiding can our ministry efforts have an outcome that will last for eternity.

Communing [with God] is doing the right thing in the right moment in the right way. Once we get out of communion, we cannot get anything right.

Edward Dennett quoted in His Victorious Indwelling, ed., Nick Harrison (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1998), 364.