Abiding in Christ: What Does it Mean? part 9 of 9: Miscellaneous Notes & Conclusion
The Conclusion: What it Means to Abide in Christ
All believers abide in Christ; they persevere in characteristic obedience to Him and fellowship with Him through His Word (John 17:17; Ephesians 5:26; 1 Peter 2:2). The glorious promise to saints, “ye shall abide in Him” (1 John 2:27), should motivate them to ever closer communion with their Lord. Being confident that He which began that good work of sanctification in them will continue it until they reach glory (Philippians 1:6), and that God will sanctify them, spirit, soul, and body (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24) and preserve them to the end (Jude 1; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 2 Timothy 4:18), they can boldly plead the promises of God concerning their perseverance and sanctification with the Lord who has covenanted to perform those great works in them. Sanctification is their new covenant heritage and certainty (Hebrews 8:10-12)—the certainty of ultimate and absolute victory over sin in glory, and the certainty of God’s working in them now both to will and do of His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13; Ephesians 2:10), provides them with a tremendous encouragement to strive for ever greater conformity to and communion with God (Philippians 2:12) and practical holiness of life.
Note #1: Abiding is not merely a New Testament doctrine. In the Mosaic economy, the saints sang in their inspired songbook, “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place [ma'on] in all generations” (Psalm 90:1). Before the incarnation of the Messiah it was already true that “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1). One could say to an Old Testament saint: “Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; there shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling” (Psalm 91:9-10; cf. 71:3). Jehovah had promised His Old Testament people: “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones” (Isaiah 57:15). However, the analysis in this study is restricted elsewhere to the New Testament doctrine of abiding revealed by the word meno and expounded most fully in John 15.
Note #2: Compare to the verb meno the noun mone, found in John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode [mone] with him.” It is very clear that fellowship with the Father and the Son will take place for the person who loves Them. Nevertheless, the word itself does not require this meaning, as in John 14:2 (the only other NT reference) it is the word for the “mansions” that believers will inhabit in heaven, and, while their abodes will doubtless be glorious dwellings, they will not have fellowship with their dwelling places, although the bliss of heaven will center in communion with He who gave them their mansions. BDAG defines mone as:
1.state of remaining in an area,staying, tarrying
2.a place in which one stays,dwelling(-place), room, abode
Note #3: J. C. Ryle well states:
Sanctification, then, is the invariable result of that vital union with Christ which true faith gives to a Christian. ‘He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit’ (John 15:5). The branch which bears no fruit is no living branch of the vine. The union with Christ which produces no effect on heart and life is a mere formal union, which is worthless before God. The faith which has not a sanctifying influence on the character is no better than the faith of devils. It is a “dead faith, because it is alone.” It is not the gift of God. It is not the faith of God’s elect. In short, where there is no sanctification of life, there is no real faith in Christ. True faith worketh by love. It constrains a man to live unto the Lord from a deep sense of gratitude for redemption. It makes him feel that he can never do too much for Him that died for him. Being much forgiven, he loves much. He whom the blood cleanses, walks in the light. He who has real lively hope in Christ, purifieth himself even as He is pure (James 2:17-20; Titus 1:1; Galatians 5:6; 1 John 1:7; 3:3)” (pg. 15, Holiness: Its Nature, Hinderances, Difficulties, and Roots, J. C. Ryle, part 1. Pensacola, FL: Chapel Library, 2001 (repr. of London, 1879 ed.)).
See the complete study on meno or "abiding," which includes the passages not only in the KJV but also in the Greek NT (not present in this series of blog posts), by clicking here.