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And He Himself gave some to be....evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ...
- Ephesians 4:11-12

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Location: The Hill Country of Texas

Pastor - Providence Reformed Baptist Church
Director - TIME in the Word Ministries

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Overcoming Immaturity - Abide in Christ

TIME in the Word - Daily Devotional
Together for Inspiration, Motivation, and Encouragement

Verse of the Day - John 15:4-5
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "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.

Daily Scripture Reading - John 17

Puritan Catechism
Question #33 - What is adoption?

Answer - Adoption is an act of God's free grace (1 Jn. 3:1), whereby we are received into the number, and have a right to all the privileges of the sons of God (Jn. 1:12; Rom. 8:17).

Confessing Our Faith
A daily reading from The Second London Baptist Confession of Faith, 1689, as amended by Charles Spurgeon.

Chapter 16 – Good Works

Devotional Thoughts
As we continue to learn how to discern and as we are faced with two obstacles that must be overcome if we are to successfully know and apply the difference between good and evil we move now in to a look at the second step in overcoming immaturity. The first step of course was to meditate on the Word of God. As we hide the Word in our hearts we will grow and we will bear fruit - and Jesus said a tree is known by its fruit. While we mature the Spirit works in us patience, hope, joy, peace, and diligence.

The next step if we are to overcome immaturity then is that we must abide in Christ. Jesus tells us that He is the vine and we are the branches. While many aspects of this parable have been discussed and debated today we will focus on verse 4-5. Let us break this down and examine a few of the main statements Jesus makes and see how it is that abiding in Christ will aid us in overcoming immaturity in our pursuit of a discerning heart.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "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.


Abide in Me and I in You

We notice first that this is a mutual relationship. We both have something to give! The truth here is that Jesus desires fellowship with us. Do you ever think about that. The gospel is God's way of reconciling with us through His Son because that is what He wanted to do. God chose to save us because He wanted to redeem us, to reconcile with us, and to fellowship with us. That is why all things work together for our good and His glory.

So Jesus has given to us His life and He asks in return for our life! If we are to be His disciple then we must deny self, take up our cross daily, and follow Him. To deny self is to lay down our will and embrace His. It is to realise that He owns us. He has bought us with His blood. We are not our own.

And to take up our cross daily can only mean one thing - to die! Bearing a cross meant crucifixion was coming and no one ever survived a crucifixion - not even Jesus. Yes, He was raised from the dead - but as a result of the crucifixion He did indeed die. No one in Jesus day would have looked at a cross and thought it was a burden or a trial. No! The trial was over. The judgment rendered and the sentence passed. And this was not a burden - it was a death sentence. So to take up our cross daily does not mean we bear up under bad cirucmstances or put up with difficult people. Taking up our cross never means to try, it means to die.

And following Him means He is Lord and we go where He tells us to go. To follow is not to walk after or in His steps - it is to obey. If we love Jesus, we will obey Him.

As we deny self, die, and obey Jesus we see that He abides is us and we must abide in Him. He is our life. He is our strength. And not to be flippant, but a friend of mine once declared, "Seven days without Jesus makes one weak." Get it?

The Branch cannot Bear Fruit of Itself

Not only do we see the need to abide in Christ and have Him abide in us, but we also see that as a branch, we cannot bear fruit of ourselves. Look at this closely. Some take it to mean that the branch must be attached to the vine in order to bear fruit. True. But it means more than that. He says, "the branch cannot bear fruit of itself."

The fruit does not originate with us! It is not our work originally. It is not something we do for God out of the goodness of our hearts. It is not anything we produce or are even capable of designing. This fruit comes from the vine through the branch. It is not the branch's fruit - it is the vine's fruit!

Let that sink in.

So many people think they have so much to do for God and to offer God but in reality we have nothing, we are nothing, and we can do nothing without Jesus Christ. If we are just a branch, we are dead and fruitless. But if we are IN the vine, connected, drawing life and sustenance from the vine then we have life and we bear fruit.

Consider Ephesians 2:8-10:

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

We are saved by grace - unmerited favor from God. It is not our works that save us. In fact, if we want to talk about works, we are His work! And we are created - given new life - in Christ for good works. But where does this fruit, the good works come from? God prepared them beforehand for us that we should walk in them (ie. do them).

You see, it is the vine's fruit produced through the branches. It is God's work accomplished through us. He prepared the works before we were even saved so that when we were saved we could begin to do them. We cannot manufacture good works on our own. The good that we do does not come from within us - it comes from Christ through us.

Without Me You Can Do Nothing

And here is the bottom line, we must abide in Christ - we must live in Him and find in Him our all in all - because without Him we can do nothing. Nothing to please God. Nothing to save ourselves. Nothing good. Nothing!

If then we abide in Christ we learn that He does hte work, we walk the walk, and He bears fruit through us. Just as without Him we can do nothing, with Him He can do anything! And if we are to mature then we must be growing and bearing fruit. To do this we find it necessary to abide in Christ. To be a part of His life.

To do nothing is to remain immature. To remain immature is to fail to grow or bear fruit. If we are to move upward and onward in this Christian life then we must do so abiding in Christ - depending upon Him for our everything. For grace. For mercy. For strength. For peace. For fruit. For maturity. For everything.

So how do we abide in Christ? We are going to look back at step one for that! We abide in Christ by having His Word abide in us. "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you..." This is meditating on the Word of God. Think of it this way - we are to abide in the written and the Living Word of God as it and He abides in us. Fellowship. Commune. Worship. Live dependent upon Christ and resting in Him.

Links for Further Study
(links to study each daily topic in more detail if you have the desire and the time)

Love at its Utmost by Charles Spurgeon
Matthew Henry's Commentary on John 15

Bible Reading For Further Study

Recommended Songs for Worship

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