The Privilege of Abiding in Christ
By Lois J. Stucky
"Abide" has long been a comforting word to me, and perhaps to many of you, too. I consider it in a class with the word "home." It warms the heart with thoughts of belonging, and of sharing dear relationships, although this may be embellishing the word with more than the dictionary would sanction.
Words from a hymn of over one hundred years ago help justify fond thoughts about the word "abide": "In heavenly love abiding, no change my heart shall fear; and safe is such confiding, for nothing changes here; the storms may roar without me, my heart may low be laid, but God is round about me, and can I be dismayed?" – Anna L. Waring, 1850.
Some of you will recall with me the words of another hymn, "Abide With Me." Read it on page seven if you haven’t already. It is rarely sung nowadays. But I wonder if it doesn’t express an unuttered longing that is reverberating in the lonely hearts of many in days like these. How sweet and strengthened is the life of one privileged to live in the blessed assurance of an abiding Saviour, guide and friend leading him or her safely, surely through until "Heaven’s morning breaks"!
The word "abide" takes on special meaning from Psalm 91:1: "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." There is safety there, and there is more. Under the cover of His wings brings one close to His heart. We nestle down in a precious abiding place from which we never want to stray.
Abide in Me, Jesus Said
Walking life’s pathway hand in hand with Jesus is a precious thought and reality to the trusting soul. And Jesus goes farther: "Abide in Me," He says. Some of you, like myself, when earnestly seeking for more of the Lord, have pondered with deep longing the words of John 15: "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…If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you….If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love."
To abide in the Lord Jesus is obviously precious and to be coveted. But burdened with our inherent weaknesses and failures, we wondered how we could abide in so elevated a position. How could we even get to be in Christ? We yearned for this depth of relationship with the Lord. We urgently needed it. We prayed; we yielded our lives; we sought to fully repent and to be cleansed. Our hunger kept building. And then through God’s Word, light and peace began to come: "God hath chosen the foolish…the weak…and base things…things which are despised… things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification and redemption: that, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord" (1 Cor. 1:27-31).
As part of the wonderful salvation God has provided for us through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God Himself places us in Christ Jesus, and He is in us, however unworthy and lowly we are. He chooses us and we choose Him. By faith we take our place, crucified with Him and raised with Him, that the life of Jesus – the resurrected Jesus – may be in us, and we in Him. It is wrought by Him as we believe. It is not something we achieve. Then all the glory – for fruit, for effective service, for holiness – goes to Him! Our part is to humble ourselves, to believe and to live in obedience to His Word all the days of our life. Remember the chorus we used to sing: "It’s all in Thee, Lord; it’s all in Thee…" God the Father, Christ the Son, and the blessed Holy Spirit – all have their part in this blessed life of abiding.
This is the life of which A. B. Simpson writes in the article on page five. "Heavenly Fellowship…." Beautiful words and blessed life! Not only Christ by our side, but Christ within our hearts and we "hid with Christ in God" (Col. 3:3). If He abides in us and we abide in Him, we should "walk, even as He walked" (1 John 2:6). There will be no "…occasion of stumbling" in us (1 John 2:10). You dear young servants of the Lord, especially from Africa, who write us of your struggles toward a holy life of fruitful service, know that "in Christ" is your answer.
Even the most advanced and mature saints of God are pressing on as did the Apostle Paul to know God better and to more fully lay hold of this for which He has apprehended us. God is inexhaustible! Might our aspirations to know Him better soar to the heights, keeping in mind that our supreme desire should ever be to glorify God and to fulfill His purpose in our lives.
As we reach up, we remember that in issuing His call to those who would learn of Him, Jesus said, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whosoever will save His life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose His life for My sake, the same shall save it" (Luke 9:23-24). There must be willingness to walk the humble way of the cross as Christ did.
As we pay the price to abide in Christ, then "…when He shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before Him at His coming" (1 John 2:28). Oh, glorious, coming day – the crowning day to a life of the unmerited privilege and blessings of abiding in Christ!
To All People
The marvelous message of the Gospel with its proclamation of the wonderful, sufficient Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, must be shared! The very day the Saviour of mankind was born into this dark and sin-cursed world, God sent His angel from heaven to proclaim this glorious news to a cluster of shepherds in the field: "Behold," the angel announced, "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day…a Saviour which is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:10-11). Suddenly a heavenly host appeared and the angels filled the night sky with praises to God for this unspeakably good news. They gave Him glory for so great a salvation. Then, their mission accomplished, as quietly as they had come, they went back into heaven.
From henceforth it was not to be angels but human beings of each succeeding generation – such as you and me – who are to proclaim this message which is for all people. The shepherds began their proclamation without delay, going to visit the Saviour, and then making the news "known abroad." Today God is counting on us, His people, to do our part to share this glorious news with our generation. Are we making it known?