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Grace is About Abiding and Continuing in God's Goodness

I have been pondering what Jesus said about "abiding" in John chapter 15 and what Paul wrote about "continuing in his goodness" in Romans chapter 11 and how they tie in to what Paul wrote in Romans chapter 6 about how grace works in a believer's life experientially.

Jesus said,

"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. 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. If a man abide not in me, and is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."-John 15:4-6

One becomes a branch (believer) in the vine (the Lord Jesus Christ) by grace and one abides, or continues in his word by grace as well.

Grace through faith places one into Christ and grace enables that branch to abide in the vine and bear fruit. It is possible for a branch (a believer) in the vine to NOT avail himself of the grace to abide in the vine and bear the fruit of the vine. This branch becomes withered because it is not partaking of the grace of the vine by abiding. Without that abiding connection, no fruit of the vine is produced by the branches and they begin to wither and finally, spiritually die and are cast into the fire. The grace is free and available to the branches so that they may abide, but the branch that does not obediently abide will wither and be cast forth as a branch into the fire.

Paul wrote of the same concept in Romans chapter 11 where he explained that Gentile believers are grafted into the Tree:

"Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.

Paul, the apostle of grace taught exactly the same thing Jesus taught! What did he mean by "continue in his goodness otherwise thou shalt also be cut off"? Exactly what Jesus told his branches, the believing Jews. Abiding in Christ is what "continuing in his goodness means." If we continue to abide we will continue in his goodness, and remain engrafted into the tree (Vine). But if we, like the natural branches, do not continue in faith that is an abiding faith, then we will be "cut off" from the Tree, or cast forth as a branch into the fire as Jesus said to his natural branches.

One is placed into the Vine or Tree (which is the Lord Jesus Christ) by grace through faith, and one abides the same way, by grace through faith. The abiding, or "continuing in his goodness" is commanded to those branches that are in the Vine or Tree. The grace to abide is given to the branches, but the Vine will not force them to abide in Him, this abiding is a daily living sacrifice of the believer to the Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 12:1 says,

"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

Paul continued in the next verse:

"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." Rom. 12:2

Why would a believer have to go to the trouble to present their bodies as a living sacrifice? One might think, "Holy and acceptable to God? I thought we already are acceptable to God by the blood sacrifice of His dear Son. And why are we commanded to prove what is that good, acceptable and perfect will of God, when Jesus paid for my sins and I'm cleansed from all sin and guilt and reconciled to God?"

Because those reconciled to God are no longer enemies but FRIENDS, and Jesus said in John 15:14 "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you." See that HUGE little word, "if"?

We are commanded to present our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to God because we are commanded to ABIDE in the Vine and this is what abiding is all about! We are commanded to prove that good, and acceptable will of God because that is what ABIDING and "continuing in his goodness" is all about. We can only bear his holy fruit if we are holy and allow his holy life to be lived through us. We have the grace to do this, but this grace is only effective as we are willing to be ". . . crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." Gal. 2:20

Christ living in us! He gives us the grace that reigns through righteousness unto eternal life. For that grace to reign through us we must crucify or put to death our flesh with the affections and lusts:

"And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts". Galatians 5:24

This putting to death the desires and actions of the sin nature is part of what abiding in Jesus Christ means. That is why Paul so strongly exhorted believers concerning this concept of crucifying the flesh. This is not just something that a "good Christian" ought to do, this is essential for every Christian to do so that he may be steadfast in the faith, "continuing in his goodness" so that he may not one day be cut off and "cast forth" by his lack of abiding.

Someone may ask, "Are you saying a person can be saved one day, and lost the next day, and saved the next day? Not at all! The Bible does not teach any such thing, and I can only, as a co-laborer with Christ, report what is written. I'm just reading the facts and posting them as God gives me the grace to write it down.

No, one is not lost and saved, lost and saved. In fact, one has to actively resist the Holy Spirit's convicting work in his life for an indeterminate period of time before he is "cut off" or "cast off". (This is assuming of course that one was a true branch in the first place. Jesus did say, "Every branch in me.") I don't know how long the Holy Spirit works to gently give the believer "ears to hear" what He is commanding them to do in regards to repenting and turning back to their first love, the Lord Jesus Christ in heartfelt obedience. I do know God's grace and patience should not be esteemed lightly. May God help us to heed his voice because his Spirit shall not always strive with us.

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Liberty To The Captives Established in June 2001