Today, it is evident that believers have their work cut out for them. The life and times of today’s world present great challenges each day, and it requires everyone who is serious about Jesus Christ to answer the call in the effort to proclaim the gospel to all who need to hear it. Within the midst of Jesus’ command is His assurance that each believer, in facing the world’s challenges, will not be alone in our efforts.
18 Then Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The greatest difficulty in the believer’s ability to carry out Jesus’ command is not in the power of Jesus Christ and His working of the Holy Spirit, but rather in that of the confidence of the believer himself. While the desire to be a testimony of the gospel is there, the world will challenge that testimony at every turn with its own onslaught of opposition. This combination—a lack of confidence, rooted in a lack of faith in God’s abilities coupled with the world’s resistance of the gospel—presents enough obstacles to stop a believer’s efforts right in their tracks.
A believer has to overcome the fears that prevent the effective proclamation of the gospel to those who need to hear it. For many believers, this is an accurate portrayal of where they are in their spiritual life. The good news is that you can move beyond these fears with the help of the Holy Spirit, but the believer must assume the responsibility of taking the initiative to grow and develop in his or her faith in order to be successful. Remember, God enables every believer in Jesus Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit, but the believer must acknowledge the Spirit’s power in order for Him to work.
How does a believer grow and gain confidence in their abilities through the Spirit? Some of this begins in determining what true success is. It is not success according to the world’s standards. A believer should expect setbacks to occur because of the opposition it faces, but true success is in edifying Christ and devoting all accomplishments to His glory. This is where many believers need to camp themselves as they grow in their ministry for Christ. They need to understand what it is to remain in the Lord, which denotes getting to where He is and staying there. This message is about remaining in Him—Jesus Christ, and what a believer must know and understand as they grow in their relationship with Christ.
To remain in Jesus Christ is much more than just believing in who He is. The importance of remaining in Him begins with relying on Him—it is trusting in His Word. He is the living Word.
104 I gain understanding from Your precepts;
therefore I hate every false way.
105 Your word is a lamp for my feet
and a light on my path.
106 I have solemnly sworn
to keep Your righteous judgments.
Remaining in Him means a regular reading and meditation on His Word.
1 How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path of sinners
or join a group of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
When you remain in Jesus, you develop and strengthen your faith as you build your relationship with Him. He becomes more important than those things of the world that, at one time, had a value to you.
16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.
Your growth as you remain in Jesus will enable you to speak boldly for Christ at every waking moment. You are able to speak more effectively for Christ because you have comfort in His presence in your life.
5 Your life should be free from the love of money. Be satisfied with what you have, for He Himself has said, I will never leave you or forsake you. 6 Therefore, we may boldly say:
The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
Remaining in Jesus requires a focus and determination that receives the benefit of growth in Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Let’s examine a passage that encourages the benefits of remaining in Him and also the perils of not doing so:
The Vine and the Branches
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
This passage truthfully portrays how the believer in Christ works within the body of Christ through Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The fruit in the passage is the visible (and flavorful) result of the ministry of the believer abiding in Christ.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
How happy is the man who takes refuge in Him!
The fruit is the gospel message of Christ that is seen as evidence of the believer’s presence in Christ. In addition, a person who remains in Christ (on the vine) is continually molded and shaped (in this case, pruned) to allow for continuing growth and development. This leads to even greater spiritual growth that makes an even greater impact in ministry. If there is no evidence of this fruit, the believer does not have fellowship with God. Look at this next part of the passage in John 15 for additional emphasis as to remaining in Him and what happens when you don’t do so:
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. 6 If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.
Jesus Christ promises that our remaining in Him will produce positive results. Keep in mind that our remaining in Him means that we are in accord with HIS will, which means that there is no conflict in seeing things as how God sees them, and acting in accordance to His will.
A condition of remaining in His will has a fundamental importance of being obedient to His Word:
John 15:9-14, 16-17
9 “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. 10 If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commands and remain in His love.
11 “I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you.
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you. 17 This is what I command you: Love one another.
There is no downside to remaining in Christ, but He does promise the believer that any efforts to follow Him will most certainty face opposition from the enemy. A believer who follows Christ will run into persecution run into difficulty because of Satan’s opposing forces.
18 “If the world hates you, understand that it hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of it, the world hates you. 20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours. 21 But they will do all these things to you on account of My name, because they don’t know the One who sent Me.
Believers must prepare for these attacks by knowing their enemy. The best defense against the attacks of Satan is a good offense, which is to remain in Christ in the midst of the persecution. God is our great defense—we rely upon Him by putting on the full armor of God:
10 Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. 12 For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. 14 Stand, therefore,
with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
15 and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
16 In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
17 Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.
18 Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.
Remaining in Him does indeed require prayer at all times in the Spirit…consistent, persistent, faithful prayer. We have confidence that He hears our appeals and prayers…
1 John 5:14-15
14 Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.
Remaining in Christ is a place of safety for the believer against the world. While Satan does not want to see your successes and triumphs in Christ, it is Jesus who is our ultimate protection.
1 John 5:18-20
18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not sin, but the One who is born of God keeps him, and the evil one does not touch him.
19 We know that we are of God, and the whole world is under the sway of the evil one.
20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding so that we may know the true One. We are in the true One—that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Remaining in Jesus Christ is a consistent and persistent series of actions that develop the believer’s faith in its entirety. It is done with:
- A meticulous study of God’s Word with prayer and meditation for understanding through the teaching of the Holy Spirit
- A desire to obey Jesus’ Word because of a growing relationship with Him through understanding—in this a believer remains in Him with greater consistency
- A boldness to speak and act in a Christ-like manner and with the ability to withstand and endure persecution.
My prayer for you is that you will earnestly seek a growing and faithful relationship with Jesus Christ. To remain in Christ is more than just believing that He is the Messiah. That’s only the starting point of knowing about Christ. Remaining in Christ is a healthy relationship of depth and breadth. Pray for this growth in Christ in your life and make that commitment today for a lifetime of service for Him.
Copyright © Melvin Gaines. All rights reserved.