Abiding in Christ

1 John 2:28-29

Concept of abiding becoming more and more foreign to American people. See it in all kinds of places: constant need for new maps for GPS, turnpike widening projects, people moving -> small house-bigger house-big house, getting together for family reunions, commercials “where the fun never stops”, etc. etc.

See it among Christians, too – Josh Harris, Stop Dating the Church!: Fall in Love with the Family of God. People treating church like buffet – pick and choose, go where you get the best deal or flavor or hours of operation or feeling. All of this: symptoms of underlying discontent or lack of understanding or fear of commitment.

John has radically different approach, one especially counter-cultural today: abide, put down roots. Make commitment, focus attention, seek satisfaction and sustenance and stability and security in Christ. John gives profound reason for doing so, one that is immeasurably more significant today than 2000 years ago.

A. what it means v.28a

uses short-hand or understatement to make the point: abide in Him

as if he expects audience to know what that means

almost certainly did – from his personal teaching, from more elaborate explanation in Gospel

“abide” used by Jesus more than dozen times on night he was betrayed, plus other uses

John 6:56; 15:4-7

“John uses μένω frequently to describe the perseverance of believers in their relation to Christ, that is, to remain or abide in him.” Mounce

John 6:56

He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.

He must be to our souls what daily food is to our bodies

John 15:4-7

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.

dependent and directed existence

Vine is source of nourishment, support, meaning for the branch

Branch goes nowhere w/o the vine, moves only & always at bidding of the vine

“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.

great productivity

Vine not only provides required supplies, it mandates production

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.

obvious life

vinedresser removes only useless, dead, unproductive branches

If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you,

you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

unity of purpose

intimate knowledge of Christ: word, ways, will – evident in answered prayer; matching desires he is pleased to grant

“The Holy Spirit is indeed the mighty power of God. And He comes to us from the heart of Christ, the bearer of Christ’s life, the revealer and communicator of Christ Himself within us. …He is the bond of fellowship between Christ and believers; He is the life-sap through which Vine and branch grow into real and living oneness: by Him we are one. …He makes us know the truth – not as mere thought-truth, but as the truth which is in Christ Jesus, the reflection into the mind of the light of what He has already made a reality in the life.

And the secret of a life of close abiding will be seen to be simply this: As I give myself wholly to Christ, I find the power to take Him wholly for myself; and as I lose myself and all I have for Him, He takes me wholly for Himself, and gives Himself wholly to me.” Andrew Murray, Abide in Christ

B. why it’s important v.28b

not left to wonder why John thought abiding was essential for readers

one giveaway: little children, τεκνια; tender address of father/teacher to student

second: so that, ἵνα; purpose clause – do this for the purpose of, do this in order that

John says: abide in Christ in order that when he appears this will be the result

prepared for his coming

need for preparedness not a new idea with John

implied in many of more than 300 NT references to Jesus’ return – sudden, without warning

outright declared by Jesus in teaching and parable:

“be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” Matt. 24:44; Luke 12:40

parable of wise and foolish virgins

being prepared whether he comes immediately or after long delay

not just any coming – it’s φανερόω

“when he is manifested” – clear to all who He is

“at his coming” – his παρουσια, his arrival in an official capacity

in this case, coming as King and Judge to bring this age to an end

confidence – theme occurs again in 1 John 3:21; 4:17

opposite of fear/dread

the fearless trust with which the faithful soul meets God

openness in the relationship – freedom and readiness to speak

confidence to stand before the Judge without fear of condemnation

not because we are without sin

because he is without sin and we are abiding in him

think: if we are abiding in him faithfully now, won’t we desire/pursue greater closeness at every opportunity??

not be ashamed – not shrink away from him in shame

those who have misjudged who Jesus is

believed him to be other than as represented in Bible

denied essential truths about his person and work

lived according to their beliefs

will shrink back from him in shame when he is made fully known to them

C. what it looks like v.29

not “if He is righteous”, “…if you have figured out/come to realize He is righteous”

righteousness of Christ never in question for John; his readers’ understanding of that wasn’t either

clear very early on in letter: only a righteous God can cleanse his people from all unrighteousness

practices righteousness

living rightly toward God

loving and obeying him

“if you love me, keep my commandments”

living rightly toward others

loving neighbor – behaving toward others as God would have us

Matt. 5:44 “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you”

living rightly toward self

put off the old ways of doing things: “Be killing sin or sin will be killing you.” John Owen

put on the new man – righteousness and true holiness (Eph. 4:24)

both doing right and not doing wrong

shows family heritage

“conduct is the clue to paternity: how one behaves provides a reliable indicator of who one’s father is.” W Hall Harris

So how can you have confidence at his coming? By doing your part to abide in him more faithfully each day, relying on Christ for the strength to do so. Live so that your loyalty to Christ is obvious to all. Make him the focus of your thoughts and desires. Speak with him often, listen to him always. Endeavor to know him more intimately and grow in his grace. Be sure you are standing firmly on the Rock and not sinking sand. May God grant grace and strength to do so.


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