Abide With Me

Icebreakers

Use one of the following questions to open up discussion.  (If you have first-time guests, be sure to have people give their names as they answer the icebreaker question.)

  1. What did you think of the service on Sunday? 
  2. How do you maintain a relationship with Jesus?

Our Study:  Abide With Me

“The Christian movement at its inception was not just a way of life in the modern sense, but a way of life founded upon a message. It was based, not upon mere feeling, not upon a mere program of work, but upon an account of facts.”

– J. Gresham Machen in Christianity and Liberalism

“Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him… Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?”

– Oswald Chambers in My Utmost For His Highest

Objectives

Small group members and guests will:

  1. Know the Father’s love for us in sending His son (John 3:16)
  2. Dedicate to remain in Christ (John 15:4)
  3. Bear the fruit of the Spirit (John 15:8; Gal 5:22-23)

Study: Read John 15:1-8

This Sunday Walker talked about the historical objective “facts” of the Gospel – the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  

“Our Christian faith is not based on anything within us but on these facts. This is why they used the word Gospel.  It means ‘good news.’ No matter what is going on in our lives, it doesn’t change these facts.  This is where joy is made full.”  

Just as we did nothing for our initial acceptance and forgiveness, we will do nothing for our continued relationship with God – no list of rules or procedures will ever replace or supplement that relationship.  Ephesians 2:13 says that “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” and Hebrews 10:19 says “we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus” – that is, both our initial “being brought near” to God and our continued “confidence to enter the most holy place” are by the same means: the blood of Christ.  We are called to abide or remain in that truth.

“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:2Why? Just like the Farmer in the Parable of the Sower, the Gardner here is not primarily concerned with plants that merely survive but is looking for fruitfulness

What does it mean to prune the branches that bear fruit? Some translations will have “clean” instead of prune, but both refer to the same action.  To ensure the largest possible fruit, a gardner will constantly clean and prune the branches of a flower or vine.  If the gardner does not do this, the vine will grow wild with long branches, but because the branches are so far from the roots the fruit will be small.

Who are we? We are the branches – this means that we are not the source but rather the receiver of life.  Implicit in this passage is that it is the Spirit that is given that empowers the believers to bear fruit.  Compare this with Galatians 5:22-25: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Who are we? “Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

How are we satisfied? “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.”  Compare with Matthew 6:31-33 “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” By seeking Christ first and foremost our other desires will be met because He is sufficient for all.

Application

Abide in Christ! That means remain there.  Notice 15:3 – “You are already clean…” Ephesians 2:6 says that “God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.” We did nothing for our position in Christ – we were passively placed in Christ and have been asked to actively remain there.  We are secure in God’s hands – that is why the Psalmist describes God like a “rock”, a “shield”, a “strong tower”.  We are only in danger if we leave our place; the Enemy only has access if we let him in.

Bear fruit! I am not asking you to earn your salvation through good works, but to demonstrate the salvation you have obtained through the death and resurrection of Christ.  “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. ” (John 15:8)  We glorify God by living Christ-like lives of self-sacrifical love: “This is my command: Love each other.” (John 15:17)

Both of these involve constantly getting back to basics.  All of this is rooted in the death and resurrection of Christ.  You may say that this is the ABCs of the Gospel – and it certainly is! – but Christ promises that those who bear some fruit will be constantly pruned and brought closer to the root so that they might bear even more fruit.  While the pruning process certainly involves getting rid of the bad, it may involve getting rid of the good or even Godly disciplines and activities.  Oswald Chambers asks “Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?”  This is why no list, no procedure, no 40-day or 12-step program can fully encompass or replace our relationship with Christ – because we are devoted to the living person of Jesus Christ .

Consider the fruitless branches! We must be mindful and wary of the possibility of being fruitless.  The destination of those who are fruitless is clear: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit” (v. 2) and “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” (v. 6) Remember that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov 1:7)

Apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

Prayer  (Abide With Me, Text: Henry F. Lyte, Music: William H. Monk)

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide; 

the darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. 

When other helpers fail and comforts flee, 

Help of the helpless, O abide with me. 

 

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day; 

earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away; 

change and decay in all around I see; 

O thou who changest not, abide with me. 

 

I need thy presence every passing hour. 

What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power? 

Who, like thyself, my guide and stay can be? 

Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me. 

 

I fear no foe, with thee at hand to bless; 

ills have no weight, and tears not bitterness.

Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? 

I triumph still, if thou abide with me. 

 

Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes; 

shine through the gloom and point me to the skies. 

Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; 

in life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

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