“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4). The Lord Jesus Christ portrays Himself as the root of the vine that supplies all the nourishment and strength the vine branches need. “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Christ causes the believer to be fruitful; without His blessed grace the believer’s efforts are merely busy work. “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered” (John 15:6). In a careful vineyard, workers gather such branches to burn them lest they spread disease. “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Ps. 91:1).
Abide in Me.
“Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand” (Rom. 14:4). Paul was sure that God’s Word “is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32). God is able to change people. Paul himself went from being a persecutor to a proclaimer. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you” (II Cor. 9:8). God’s purpose is that believers abound in good works. He himself is our all-sufficiency. Paul assured Timothy, “From a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (II Tim. 3:15). Although Paul was imprisoned for his faith, he was sure that God would accomplish His purpose through him anyway. “I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day” (II Tim. 1:12).
God is able.
“For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many” (Rom. 5:15b). Sin entered the world through one man’s sin (Gen. 3), but God’s grace abounded through Jesus Christ. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (II Cor. 9:8). God’s grace can enable us to accomplish every good work in spite of opposition. “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent” (Phil. 1:9–10). God’s love can increase in us so that our spiritual discernment abounds as well. Paul exhorted believers, “Be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (I Cor. 15:58).
God’s grace abounds.
“We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand” (Rom. 5:1–2). Access into the presence of a king is a high privilege. It is by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ that we have peace and access into the gracious presence of God. “For through him we both [Jew and Gentile] have access by one Spirit unto the Father” (Eph. 2:18). Because of the Lord Jesus, God is not a forbidding Sovereign but a loving heavenly Father. “In Christ Jesus our Lord . . . we have . . . access with confidence by the faith of him” (Eph. 3:11–12). We may come into the presence of God anytime, day or night, with the full confidence that He hears us because of the sacrifice of His dear Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. What a gracious King!
We have access to the King of heaven.
“Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?” (Ps. 85:6). We need God’s grace and mercy, not just once, but over and over again. God has to train us to go in the right pathway. Jeremiah tells of the potter, “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jer. 18:4). So God must shape our character again and again to mold us into the image of our Lord. The Lord said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). A second birth is necessary to give us spiritual life and make us children of God. The Lord warned, “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again” (John 3:7). We must be born again if we are to walk with God here and share that celestial city in the world to come.
To be born again is to become a child of God.
“When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13). “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God” (II Cor. 1:4). God is with His people to extend comfort in every trouble they may encounter. “But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). God does not treat His children as orphans. God has a bountiful supply of blessings for every believer. The believer should heed Peter’s exhortation, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Pet. 5:7). God cares vastly more for the believer than any parent could for his child. “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).
God shall supply all your need.
“I have set the Lord always before me” (Ps. 16:8). “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36). “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound” (II Cor. 9:8). We continually stand in need of God’s grace and help. “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). We must not be ungrateful children of God, forgetting to thank Him for His many blessings. The phrase Thank you, Lord, must be in our minds continually. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Eph. 6:18).
Pray and give thanks always.
“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7). The present tense imperatives imply a continued asking, seeking, and knocking. God expects us to keep coming to Him for help. “For every one that asketh receiveth” (v. 8). The Lord assures us that every believer who continues asking will receive an answer. The Lord adds, “Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone” (v. 9). Obviously, a normal father would not put a stone on his son’s plate; he would give him wholesome food. God has much greater compassion for His children than any human father could have. All that God brings into the life of the believer is intended to help, improve, and sustain him. All God’s children should continue asking for God’s provision for their life and service.
Ask and it shall be given you.
“They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Ps. 91:12). God’s angels watch over His people, to bear them up in difficult or dangerous situations. The person who loves God can call upon Him for help, and God promises, “I will deliver him” (Ps. 91:15). The Lord Jesus died to redeem and rescue His people. “Surely he hath borne our griefs and carried our sorrows” (Isa. 53:4). He is our great redeemer and deliverer. “He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). The apostle Paul reminds believers, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (I Cor. 10:13).
Angels shall bear you up.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life” (John 6:47). Trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior gives the believer eternal life in heaven. The Lord Jesus exhorted His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me” (John 14:1). Good works, pilgrimages, self-discipline, meditation techniques, all count for nothing in the eyes of God. Christ is the all-sufficient Savior of all those who trust in Him. “But these [things] are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). It is trust in the person of Jesus Christ that makes one a child of God. “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (I John 5:5).
He that believes on Jesus Christ has eternal life.
“Do not err, my beloved brethren” (James 1:16). “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is” (I John 3:2). John can address believers as Beloved because they are now children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. When He shall come again, we shall have glorified resurrection bodies as all the redeemed saints will have. John also warns, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1). We are to test every preacher’s words against the clear teaching of Scripture. “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God” (I John 4:7).
Beloved, now are we the sons of God.
“The Lord will bless his people with peace” (Ps. 29:11). “Blessed is the man that maketh the Lord his trust” (Ps. 40:4). “Blessed are they that keep his testimonies, and that seek him with the whole heart” (Ps. 119:2). The person who obeys God’s holy Word and sincerely seeks God with all his being shall surely find Him. The Lord Jesus taught, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). The people who know that they are merely beggars in the sight of God, with no virtue of their own, have correctly perceived their standing before God. Now God can help them. The Lord Jesus promises, “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book” (Rev. 22:7).
Blessed are those who keep His testimonies.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). The blood of Christ was the atoning sacrifice that provided forgiveness of sins to all who will believe. God forgives believers on the basis of the sacrifice of Christ upon the cross. “How much more shall the blood of Christ . . . purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:14). “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). The present tense verb cleanseth promises constant cleansing through the blood of Christ. John refers to Jesus Christ the faithful witness, and prays, “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, . . . to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 1:5–6).
The blood of Christ cleanses us.
“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3). A person cannot enter God’s kingdom except by being born into it. The new birth is a spiritual impartation of new life into the believer. When a person receives the truth of God’s Word into his heart, he is born into the kingdom of God. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (I Pet. 1:23). The holy Word of God has divine power when it is received into the heart, to create life in the believer. “Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him” (I John 5:1). “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world” (I John 5:4).
Being born again . . . by the Word of God.
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker” (Ps. 95:6). It is good for man to worship and praise the God Who made him and redeemed him. The apostle Paul wrote, “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . that he would grant you . . . to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:14, 16). The worship of the one true God, the Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, is the goal of all redeemed mankind. The Son, Jesus Christ, sacrificed Himself to save us, so it is right “that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11).
Let us worship and bow down before God.
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6:11). “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Bread is the staff of life; in the ancient world it was the daily meal. The Lord claimed to be the One Who sustained life. “The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:41). But the Lord Himself is the person Who sustains our lives. He went on to say, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:51). The death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross imparts life to all who believe in Him.
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.”
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God” (Rom. 12:1). “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (I Cor. 1:26). The average congregation is made up largely of “ordinary” people. Not many of the rich and powerful seek help from God. Paul urges, “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might” (Eph. 6:10). Believers must seek their help from God, not from people. God’s strength sustains His people. The arm of flesh will fail. Paul writes again, “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord” (Phil. 3:1). God’s people can still rejoice together, even in the midst of trials. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!” (Ps. 133:1).
Brethren, rejoice in the Lord.
“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Ps. 55:22). The believer should not struggle along, trying to carry burdens too great for him. The Lord is ready to sustain him. The Lord Jesus invites believers to come to Him and take up His burden. He promises, “Ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:29–30). His grace enables us to lift His burdens. The apostle Paul urges believers, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2). If fellow believers have heavier burdens than they can carry, believers ought to be prepared to help them lift such burdens. But believers are not supposed to do other peoples’ work for them. “For every man shall bear his own burden” (Gal. 6:5).
Jesus says, “My burden is light.”
“He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him” (Ps. 91:15). Dwelling in the secret place of the most High (Ps. 91:1) brings great blessing to believers. Answered prayer is a great privilege for believers. Paul notes a special promise, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13). If you ask the Lord Jesus to save you, He promises to do it. There must be genuine faith in the Lord Jesus (v. 14). Peter writes to believers, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [special] people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet. 2:9).
Christ called you into His marvelous light.
“That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another” (I Cor. 12:25). Paul warns against divisions and urges believers in the body of Christ to help and encourage one another. On the other hand, he urges the Philippians, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Phil. 4:6). No believer should worry about his own circumstances; he should pray and trust God for help. The apostle Peter also urges trust in God’s mighty power. “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you” (I Pet. 5:7). Peter knew by experience that God can deliver from the worst circumstances (Acts 12:5–11).
God cares for you.
“And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said to the sick of the palsy: Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee” (Matt. 9:2). The Lord Jesus was in full control. He delivered the man from his sickness and his sins as well. The man had grounds for cheer. Paul exhorts believers to show mercy with cheerfulness (Rom. 12:8). A grudging spirit would spoil their deeds. Paul exhorts believers, “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (II Cor. 9:7). The cheerfulness is more important than the size of the gift. God always gives His gifts with graciousness (John 3:16).
Be of good cheer!
“Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him” (Ps. 103:13). “Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord” (Ps. 127:3). God has compassionate love for His children, but He chastens them when they need it. “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). The believer used to be part of the darkness of this world, but now through the grace of the Lord Jesus, he is light in the Lord. Now we must live our lives as children of God, in reverential fear of God. The apostle John wrote, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth” (III John 4). He rejoiced to hear that his converts were living their lives according to the truth of God’s Word. All believers should have that humble walk of obedient children of God.
Walk as children of light.
“I have chosen the way of truth” (Ps. 119:30). “For I have chosen thy precepts” (Ps. 119:173). “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). The gospel invitation goes out to all who will listen, but all do not believe. Among those who hear are those who respond in genuine faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are the people referred to by Peter, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar [special] people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (I Pet. 2:9). True believers are a very special people for God. John refers to them when he writes of the Lamb, “For he is Lord of lords, and King of kings: and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful” (Rev. 17:14).
True believers are chosen by God.
“And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16). Christ is the Messiah, the Anointed One, Who is to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies (John 4:25). Paul declared, “We preach Christ crucified, . . . but unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:23–24). To believers Christ is the almighty Savior, the source of life itself. Paul wrote, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). John wrote, “And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (I John 2:1). The writer to the Hebrews wrote, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Heb. 13:8).
Christ is the Savior of all who call upon Him.
The Lord Jesus promised to build His church (Matt. 16:18). Paul explained, “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body” (Eph. 5:23). Paul went on to exhort, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). Christ’s infinite love for the church is the supreme example for all husbands. In writing to Timothy, Paul referred to “the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Tim. 3:15). The churches’ proclamation of God’s Word is the principal means of getting the gospel out. The writer to the Hebrews referred to “the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven” (Heb. 12:23).
Christ loved the church.
“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse thou me from secret faults” (Ps. 19:12). “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word” (Ps. 119:9). The sinner needs to forsake his sin and seek God instead. “Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. . . . Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (II Cor. 6:17; 7:1). The Word of God and the presence of God are protections for the believer. “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7).
The blood of Jesus cleanses from all sin.
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker” (Ps. 95:6). All men need to worship God in reverence. Believers need to sing praise to Him. “O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation” (Ps. 95:1). The Lord Jesus gave a universal invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls” (Matt. 11:28–29). Only the Lord Jesus can give rest to the soul. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger” (John 6:35). “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17).
Jesus says, “Come unto me.”
“Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Ps. 23:4). “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15:4). The Scriptures provide great comfort to believers. “This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me” (Ps. 119:50). “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation” (II Cor. 1:3–4). The path of the believer through this wicked world is filled with dangers and trials, but God is the comfort for His people. The apostle Paul describes the future rapture of the saints into the presence of God (I Thess. 4:13–17) and then writes, “Wherefore comfort one another with these words” (I Thess. 4:18).
Our heavenly Father is the God of all comfort.
Compassion is one of the great attributes of God. “The Lord is gracious and full of compassion” (Ps. 111:4). David adds again, “The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy” (Ps. 145:8). Our great High Priest “can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way” (Heb. 5:2). Compassion should also be an attribute of Christians. The apostle Peter exhorts believers, “Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous” (I Pet. 3:8). This is excellent advice for believers to remember in their relationships with one another. Jude also gives wise counsel to believers, “But ye, beloved . . . keep yourselves in the love of God, . . . and of some have compassion, making a difference: and others save with fear” (Jude 20–23).
The Lord is full of compassion.
“Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 15:5). God is rich in the consolation that He provides for His people. “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (II Cor. 1:5). All believers should remember to let that consolation flow into the lives of those around them. Paul continued, “And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation” (II Cor. 1:7). He also exhorted, “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind” (Phil. 2:1–2).
Our consolation abounds through Christ.
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (Ps. 1:1). A good man must avoid the thinking processes and habits of the wicked. Instead he should be delighting in God’s Word (v. 2). “The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever” (Ps. 33:11). “Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory” (Ps. 73:24). The inspired description of Messiah shows His wisdom. “And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord” (Isa. 11:2). The Lord Jesus promised the guidance of the Holy Spirit for believers. “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
The Spirit will guide us into all truth.