When we belong to Jesus, we abide in Him just as a branch is connected to a vine. Abiding in Jesus means that we are to believe and obey Him. It is so important for us to remember what it means to abide that John reminds us again in his first epistle. “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him….” (1 John 2:24a). Obedience is the proof that we truly belong to Jesus.
Jesus shows how to be obedient by His own example. He says of Himself: “I always do the things that please the Father.” (John 8:29b) It might be tempting to think that it was easy for Jesus to be obedient to His Father while He was on earth. After all, He was perfect. But consider what the writer of Hebrews says, “…though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8). Even Jesus, who is the Son of God, had to learn obedience to His Father while He was on earth. The writer of Hebrews also says, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) We have Someone who understands our struggles and empathizes with our sufferings. He knows because He has been there. And He is with us still today. What a comforting thought that is!
If we follow our Lord’s example, He says,”… you will be my disciples.” (John 15:8b) Jesus reiterates that our works are a reflection of our relationship with God. The fruit of our lives is the evidence that that we belong to Him. He clarifies what it means to be a disciple when He declares, “If you abide in My word, you are my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31)
Yet as much as we intend to be obedient, even believers fall short. David, the man after God’s own heart knew all too well the consequences of disobedience when he said, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” (Psalm 66:18) Even though we are prone to sin, God promises us that He is quick to forgive if we come to Him with repentant hearts.
It is important to keep our hearts clean and consciences clear in order to live productive Christian lives. Jesus says, “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit…” (John 15:8a) We are God’s representatives on earth. God uses our hands and feet to minister to others. He employs us for one purpose: to bring Him glory. As Jesus tells us, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”(Matthew 5:16) Our good works should be evidence of our salvation. God uses His people to draw others to a saving knowledge of Himself. Isn’t it wonderful that God allows us a part in accomplishing His purposes?
Not only will we be effective witnesses, but listen to else what Jesus says as He continues in the fifteenth chapter of John. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you,” (John 15:7). Now James is careful to give us some parameters for our prayers. He says, “You ask and do not receive because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”(James 3:4) If I pray, “Lord, let me win the lottery,” He probably won’t answer that prayer because He doesn’t approve of the means or the motives. Our requests must always be submitted to the will of God and the Word of God. If they are, we can be confident that He hears and answers our prayers.
Jesus completes this thought by saying, “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you: abide in My love.” (John 15:9) Have you ever stopped to think about how much God loves you? I mean really loves you? You can get a glimpse if you listen to Jesus in His high priestly prayer, “You…have loved them as You have loved Me.”(John 17:23b) Did you hear that? God loves you just as much as He loves Jesus. How incomprehensible! God loves us, the sinful imperfect beings that we are, just as much as He loves His sinless, spotless Son. And Jesus showed us how perfect His love for us was when He went to the cross and died for our sin.
Jesus shows us how we are to remain in that enduring love again by giving us the example of Himself: “If you will keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” (John 15:10a) He testifies further of Himself when He says, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11) Jesus explains to all His disciples that the by-product of obedience is joy—His joy. It is an abiding joy that isn’t determined by the circumstances in life. We have this joy because we know our Savior, listen to His voice, and follow Him.
Jesus concludes, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you….” (John15:16a). It is already wonderful enough to know that God loves us, but He also chose us. He chose us not according to our works but only because of His grace. And for what purpose did He choose us? “[I] appointed you to go and bear fruit, and that fruit shall remain….” (John 15:16b) The fruit that lasts forever is Godly behavior and obedience to the Great Commission. Jesus wants us to “Go and preach the gospel to every creature….” (Mark 16:15) This was our Lord’s final command before returning to heaven. The writer of Proverbs tells us that “He who wins souls is wise” (Proverbs 11:30). Those who sow for souls reap a reward that lasts for eternity. He gives us this promise “…that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16c) If we heed His command, He will answer our call. We have His word on it.
So…Have you inspected your fruit lately?