Editor’s note: This article series is about experiencing abundant life in Christ. If you want to experience spiritual growth by the power of the Holy Spirit, check out our study, Abundant: A Bible Study on the Fruit of the Spirit. Read the other articles in the series here:
- “A Guide to Good Fruit” by Maggie Combs
- “Abundant: A Bible Study on the Fruit of the Spirit”
- "Famine and Fruitfulness" by Taylor Cage
Abide in the True Vine
Another new year is here and I find myself wondering, How long until I give up on my resolutions this time? I once joked that my goals for each year should be the opposite of the things that I want. This year, I want to keep my house as messy as possible. I want to eat out more than I cook at home. I hope to gain at least twenty pounds. Then, if I fail at my goals (yet again), I’m achieving my anti-goals.
My goals end up dead on the vine because my own strengths and abilities fail me. On my own, I lack the resources and power to accomplish what I want to, especially when I strive to better my spiritual life. My ability to grow spiritually is rooted in abiding in Christ, the true Vine.
Speaking to his disciples in John 15, Jesus explains, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser … I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (vv. 1, 5). Abiding in Christ is made possible because he has set the example. We abide in Christ as he abides in the Father, the Vinedresser, following his commandments and abiding in his love (John 15:9–10). When we follow Jesus’ direction to abide, we bear fruit and experience abundant life.
Abide through the Word
Jesus explains that abiding includes being immersed in God’s Word: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you…” (John 15:7a). Studying the Bible helps us know and love God more. As we grow in our love for the Lord, we grow more like him because we become like what we admire. The Bible was written not only to remember the great things that the Lord has done (Ps. 78) but also for our benefit and growth (2 Tim. 3:16–17). We can’t grow and mature in our faith without actively engaging with the Word of God.
Abide through Prayer
It’s one thing to know about someone, but it’s another to know them personally and intimately through fellowship. In John 15:7, Jesus says, “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” Jesus encourages his followers to ask things of him after they know his words. The order here is important because knowing Jesus’ words reorients our hearts and prayers from self-focus to a desire to exalt Christ.
God desires for his people to speak with him, casting their cares upon him (1 Pet. 5:7). Because he is the Giver of good gifts (James 1:17), he asks his children to request things of him in prayer and thanksgiving. We do not inconvenience God when we speak to him. We do not inconvenience God when we ask things of him. Rather, we act upon his good grace to ask for the things that we need. Because we can’t bear fruit or grow spiritually in our own strength (John 15:5), we must come boldly before the throne of grace to ask for help in our need (Heb. 4:16).
Abide through Obedience
Jesus reminds his disciples that if they keep his commandments, they will abide in his love (John 15:10). To obey his commandments, we must first acknowledge that we do not follow him perfectly, as all have sinned and fallen short (Rom. 3:23). To acknowledge that we are disobedient to the Lord, we must face our own shortcomings head-on.
One common test for understanding where you can grow spiritually is to consider the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). Growing in bearing spiritual fruit is an opportunity to lean on Christ to sanctify you. Spiritual fruit is the result of abiding in Jesus Christ.
Abiding in the True Vine Leads to Ultimate Joy
Jesus concludes his explanation of abiding in Christ with these words: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11). The result of abiding in the true Vine isn’t a feeling of accomplishment or being able to check off a goal at the end of the year but experiencing the joy of abundant life in Christ. When we abide in his love through the Word, prayer, and obedience, we experience the fullness of joy available in intimate relationship with our Savior.
Meet the Author
Sarah Valentour is the Fulfillment Specialist for Well-Watered Women, shipping out gospel-driven happy mail daily. Living in the metro-Atlanta area with her husband, she is passionate about writing on the Lord’s immense faithfulness, snuggles with her nieces and nephew, and discovering those unique intricacies that make certain words tick.