“Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from Him anything we ask, because we obey His commands and do what pleases Him. And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. Those who obey His commands live in Him and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.”
1 John 3:21-24
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
A number of years ago at the Hope Centre Bible Study an innocent question led to a fruitful discussion on Christian discipleship. We, in the Church, are called to be disciples, not to a program, or of an institution, but of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the great commission at the end of Matthew’s Gospel we are called to “Go into all the world and make disciples.” That calling comes with the promise of the personal promise of the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one to whom has been given the limitless power of the Son of the living God. He will go with us as we obey the calling He has given us.
The issue that we wrestled with at the Bible Study was how this becomes a reality among us. Isn’t it interesting how often it is the interruption which takes us away from our prepared study which leads to the most fruitful of discussions? The Lord always knows what He is doing with us. It seems that John, in his Gospel as well as in his first letter, leads us to an answer to this question. It is through abiding in Him and having His words abiding in us. In this great spiritual transaction we find real life from Him. This life is characterized by love for one another, answered prayer, and real fruitfulness in Christian living. Abiding in Him requires faith, (to quote Geoff Thomas Forsaking All I Trust Him) and an obedience to His commands which are surely to be found in the Word of God. Such spiritual abiding requires the work of the Holy Spirit in us.
With all of this truth given by the Apostle John we are brought to recognise a precious truth. This is that such abiding is a spiritual matter. It is something which God does in us, which we must seek from God Himself. We must ask Him for it. In asking we must turn from our own schemes and plans and fleshly efforts in order to receive the free gift He has purchased for us in the cross of Hi Son. It is always to be Christ centred and therefore it must be focused upon the cross of Christ. Therefore it requires that we begin seeking it by repenting, turning from our own way to Him. There is no other way to fruitfulness. The result is however that it makes us into real disciples of Jesus who then bear fruit by taking the Gospel of His life into our needy world.