In John 15 when Christ says ” abide in me…” should we see that as Law or Gospel? Answered by Jon Moffitt
Hi, this is Jon, and today I’m answering Aaron’s question. He asked, “In John 15, when Christ says ‘abide in me’, should we see this as law or gospel?” That’s a great question.
I think we can feel like it’s law because it sounds like a command to do something, to abide, and when we’ve heard some people interpret this passage, they mean to say that abiding is two particular actions, which is reading your Bible and praying, and that those lead to abiding.
Abide literally means to rest in, to reside, or to live within, so we abide in a home. In this context, Jesus is dealing with his disciples in the upper room. It’s the last words he’s giving them before he goes to the garden and he’s going to be crucified. There he’s completing all of his teaching. He’s told them that he is the door, meaning that entry into the relationship with the Father comes through Jesus Christ, and that he is the good shepherd. He’s the one that leads them. In his entire ministry, he’s been teaching all of his followers and those who are listening to him that faith in him is the way in which we enter into this relationship and have our sins forgiven.
I’ve come to seek and to save that which is lost. I’ve not come to the righteous but the unrighteous. I’ve not come to the healthy but the sick, to restore them. In this verse, in this context of John 15, Jesus says that if we abide in him, he will produce in us good works. Abiding in that context has to be seen in light of everything that Christ has said, that being, to trust Christ to be sufficient, not only to be our savior, but also our sustainer and the one who will produce in us the good works. This is the promise of the new covenant, that our heart of stone will be pulled out and a heart of flesh will be put in us. Paul uses the same language when he says that if we walk by the Spirit, we will not fulfill the lust of the flesh. I think that is the same picture. It’s a different way of saying abiding in Christ.
We are to live every day trusting in the promises of Christ, that we have been adopted, we have been set free, we have been cleansed, and that there’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ, meaning that we are trusting in Christ to be the sufficient substitute in our place. That I think is what he’s meaning. It’s not so much a command of action as it is a command of faith, to trust in Christ and not in our righteousness. It’s not trusting in the law or our obedience to the law, but we are trusting in Christ’s righteousness. We’re trusting in his obedience. We’re trusting in him being our substitute on the cross, instead of us paying for our sins, and we are resting in that, trusting in that, and living in that reality. That’s what it means to abide.
So I would say it’s good news. It’s gospel. It’s come unto me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Come abide. Come rest in me, my works, and my accomplishments. I think that’s what he means.
It’s a great question. That passage should lead us to comfort knowing that it is God who’s doing the work, and we rest in that, and God works through us through the power of the Spirit as we rest and abide in Christ. Hopefully that was helpful. Keeps sending us your questions.