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It means to live continually in His presence in such a way that there is true reciprocity, worship and strength; purity is maintained and power is attainable for His purposes (Ephesians 3:16). It means much more, but we start with this. But above all, it means FIRST that you are ACCEPTED IN His presence; for you obviously cannot continue in what does not begin.
Q: How do you begin?
A: You ENTER BY THE DOOR. Christ, in John 10, makes it clear that there are of course other ways of attempting entry - such as thieves and robbers prefer. However in a spiritual kingdom this simply does not rate. You might as well enter a cloud without altitude. It simply does not happen.
Q: What is the door then?
A: It IS Jesus Christ.
Q: Metaphor apart, how do you do this?
A: Let's start with the imagery and take it seriously.
It means this: that there is a way into a savoury and spiritual relationship with God, such as entering someone's house WITH PERMISSION implies. How is this done? It is by the good offices, the work and attitude of God's only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who left heaven to enable us to get there, paying the price His perfect and holy faithfulness (John 10:11) required, in the case of sinners such as all of us are. He paid it by coming (Philippians 2), and by living in beautiful holiness (John 17:19), but crucially on the Cross, where penalty imponderable was His, vicariously. What does this mean? It means this: HE took it; WE did it - and this applies to all who are sinners and who receive Him by faith.
Q: Hey! Wait a minute. I thought there were only saints and sinners. Are you a sinner?
A: John in I John 1 says this: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." On the other hand, he also says this: "He who practises sin has neither seen Him nor known Him" (I John 3:6).
Q: How do you put that together?
A: It means quite simply what it says: IF SIN IS A WAY OF LIFE, with you, then you are outside the house, you do not abide. In fact it also says this (I John 3:6): "Whoever abides in Him does not practise sin." You must avoid BOTH errors:
a) THINKING you are perfect (horrible distortion of reality, since perfection is measured in and by the life of Jesus Christ!); or
b) KNOWING you are simply drifting in known sin.
Q: What do I do if, as you put it, I AM simply drifting in known sin?
A: This is where we started. GET IN THAT DOOR. How? By simply knocking, and acknowledging WHO YOU ARE.
Q: Now you are talking in riddles. Who am I? If I knew that I would be something.
A: You ARE something. Tell me this: ARE YOU a sinner?
Q: Yes. And then?
A: Are you created by God, so that you OWE Him acknowledgment? And do you want to live in Him?
Q: Of course. Otherwise I wouldn't be talking with you. What next?
A: Then DO IT. Go to Jesus Christ, who being alive, is approachable, and tell Him you are so glad He is the ONLY Saviour who died for sin, to bear its penalty, and that you realise that without Him you abide in sin; but that you do not wish this to be so any longer, and that you are willing, most willing to come and to follow Him in His word, His ways, which you prefer to yours, and then?
Q: Yes, and then....?
Q: But I do not think I am good enough for THAT house!
A: No. But that is not the point. He came into the world to save sinners, not 'the righteous'! Listen: are you good enough to be a sinner" - let me ask the question!
A: I can answer that simply - yes!
Q: Are you bad enough to need a Saviour?
A: Assuredly - that is the whole point!
Q: Then take Him. HE is for you! What should you do? If you do not want to, it is your fault. If you do, it is HIS grace, and be thankful (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Simply ENTER, go to Him by faith and receive His pardon for your sins, realise that the cost of leaving His physical life abandoned on the Cross till His body rose (Luke 24:39), and of suffering for your sin on the Cross was elemental, primary, inconceivably great: recognise His love and then come through that door to your Father and fall at His feet and say: Thank God, I am saved by grace through faith in your Son.
Q: Well, that is in my heart, thank God. But what of abiding?
A: FIRST DO WHAT WE JUST AGREED.
Q: All right. I'll see you tomorrow then, won't
Q: I am glad I came through the door.
Now as to abiding?
A: First, it means that you live NEAR to Him. That is, you of course do not just say, I think I'll do this, do that. You PRAY in everything, giving thanks (James 4:13-14, Philippians 4:6, Ephesians 6), and you worship God.
Q: And more?
A: You follow what it says - in the Bible, for it is what HE says (John 14:21-23, 14:26, I Corinthians 2:9-13, II Peter 3:16, Isaiah 8:20 and many more). How can you abide in a place if you wander from it? how can two walk together unless they be agreed? (Amos 3). How does He counsel you if you are walking from His voice? And such counsel as HE gives ( James 1) is precious, needs attention and care, a loving heart constantly renewed...
Q: A loving heart. I like that one. It is so easy then?
A: I did not say that. Hebrews 4 tells us to LABOUR TO ENTER INTO YOUR REST! That delightful oxymoron means in context just this: that since we are sinners, and although we have new hearts in the Lord as we enter that door and our sins are shed (Zechariah 3 refers to them as being ETCHED ONTO CHRIST, and says He removes the iniquity in one day, or as Hebrews 8 puts it, Your sins and your iniquities, I will remember no more!): we must not be complacent, as if life was not a thing to LIVE!
Q: What then must we do to abide?
A: You follow the word which holds this cry, from David, Search me and try me and see if there is any wicked way in me! (Psalm 139: 23-24).
Q: Could I have that in full ? is there more ?
A: Yes it says this: "Search me, O God, and know my heart: Try me and know my thoughts, and see if there is any wicked way in me. And lead me in the way everlasting."
Q: Ah! That speaks. What then?
A: Well, this searching and sharing and comparing your heart with His word, and WAITING ON HIM, which takes TIME and involves INTERCHANGE, and maybe counsel, cleans out the garage and fumigates this or that, while fitting out any rotting or sad parts.
Q: I understand all that intuitively. That is the advantage of having a Saviour who became a man. It shows this in Hebrews Chs. 2-4. I studied that last night. See, I am progressing a little! But what else is involved?
A: IF YOU SIN, some quirk, some sudden action, some foolish thing, something you frankly ought not to have said or done, then AT ONCE repent, seek the Lord and with shame acknowledge your fault and ask for forgiveness... (I John 1:7-9).
Q: Wait a minute. I thought He would remember my sins and iniquities no more - isn't that what Hebrews 8:12 has!
A: That is true. He will not hold you to ACCOUNT at the judgment for what He has covered and your WHOLE LIFE IS COVERED (Hebrews10:10,14, 9:12,15,26-28, Romans 5:7-11, John 10:9,27-28). BUT a person who is alive is a living reality, like an aeroplane. However guaranteed it may be, it needs service. If it had a heart, it would WANT yes, and DEMAND service, for its needs servicing in order to fly right; and with GOD, things MUST BE RIGHT.
The righteous Lord, we read, loves righteousness, and it is joy to the just to do judgment! Look those up! You have a Biblical Concordance don't you? If not, visit your book store fast!
Q: Yes, but what happens when you come to him with a sin that is sticking in your throat like a fish-bone!
A: You ask forgiveness for eating so carelessly, and ask Him to get it out! Hosea 14 is particularly beautiful, and I suggest you read that in your morning devotions FIRST THING tomorrow morning, when your mind and spirit are fresh before other things. It says this: Say to Him -
Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
You know what HE says ?:
"I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for my anger has turned away from him. I will be like the dew to Israel, he shall grow like the lily."
Q: Does it have something like that, but more individual ?
A: Yes. But first note that Israel is MADE UP of individuals, and while there are corporate actions, each heart - like the heart of the Lord on earth Himself - is one, and relates as one. A team has members who must do great things together (incidentally that is a prime reason for going to church, and being part of a Bible-believing church); but EACH must be in practice and have his/her whole heart and spirit in readiness, and prime.
To your question more directly: Yes - Look at Zechariah 12, where EACH family comes in contrition, it is not merely a mass phenomenon at all. And notice 12:10 while you are there, for here is the resource for sin. Christ crucified, something now FINISHED, but for all time portraying its viciousness in giving a portrait of its products on HIS OWN PERSON (I Peter 2:22-25).
As you regard this, give up and despise your sins for the trouble they caused and cause, and DUMP them on Him, whose capacity is unlimited to the works of faith in His name (Micah 7:18-20). And while you are in Micah, notice that the God who will cast all our sins into the depth of the sea is intimate and magnificent in MERCY:
"WHO IS A GOD LIKE YOU, PARDONING INIQUITY, AND PASSING OVER THE TRANSGRESSION OF THE REMNANT OF HIS HERITAGE. HE DOES NOT RETAIN HIS ANGER (STAY ANGRY) FOR EVER ..." now listen to this! It tells why He does not stay angry with His people.
Q: I'm listening. Can you continue?
A: THIS is the reason. "HE DOES NOT STAY ANGRY BECAUSE HE DELIGHTS IN MERCY, HE WILL AGAIN HAVE COMPASSION ON US, AND SUBDUE ALL OUR INIQUITIES."
Q: Ah now I see. I do not need to persuade Him to be merciful for He JUST IS, but on the other hand, I have to abandon my sins in His presence so that He SUBDUES them, not I - He does it! How pleasant to come to someone who actually delights in mercy, and who at the same time is more than the President of the Universe: HE IS ITS CREATOR, and MINE! It is delightful to know Him as the basis of myself, and the redeemer who bought me, and the Saviour who died for Me; and THEN to know He delights in mercy.
A: Precisely. You have been very patient. Now to a more individual passage on His forgiving. Take Psalm 51 - you need to study the Psalms, for talking of the individual, David who wrote many of them, IS an individual, and acts and talks as one!.
"Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness: According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only , have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight- that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when you judge." (That's like Romans 3:23-28 - a MUST to ponder.)
Read the rest of that Psalm 51, and rest your case on your Saviour. Read I John 1:7 - 2:2, and notice that the blood of Jesus Christ - that is, His willing sacrificial, vicarious death and atonement, CLEANSES FROM ALL SIN; and that while sin is not the habit of the Christian in the realm of known action, it IS something for which God provides a LAWYER, an advocate, a compassionate activist who takes it upon Himself, literally (Isaiah 53:6).
Q: But what more is in this 'abiding' in Him ?
A: You are nurtured. Christ referred to Himself as the living bread, so that anyone who should eat of that bread would live forever. John 6:51-54 like John 4:14, shows this, that ONCE you so eat, your LIFE is covered and you live for ever, being raised on the last day. IF EVER you were to thirst, then at once the QUENCHING is available, is there, at your hand. If you are near, you know it, you experience it, you find it, you practise it, and ALL THAT is part of ABIDING IN HIM. You are IN HIS HOUSE, you are right next to Him, and your interchange is extraordinary, for it is AS BETWEEN FRIENDS (John 15:14-15). You don't have to be perfect to be a friend, but you do have to be perfectly - that is wholly - committed to Him and His ways.
See what He says in John 14:21-23, and realise that THERE is a consummate depth in abiding. You need to study this alone!
You talk to your friends readily enough, maybe spend some time on the phone. Well, this is the FRIEND ABOVE ALL FRIENDS. THAT is abiding.
A: Well then, you must take time. Sometimes you will need to quieten your heart before God, and to come with awe to His holiness; you WAIT UPON THE LORD (Psalm 62:1-2, 27:14), and in the quietness (Psalm 46:10-11) seek His counsel; and remember, God is love, so love the Lord and draw near to Him who has drawn near for you at such cost, with such discipline, and adore Him who is the First and the Last (Psalm 31:23, 40:16, 70:4, 116:1, John 21:15-18) and have JOY in what He is (Psalm 144:1-3, John 16:22). And HATE evil - you see that in Psalm 97:10.
IF you love the Lord, hate evil. Even if you are feeling romantic, do you not try to relate to the interests of your loved one? How much more to the Lord. To love the Lord and hate His ways, or love the contradiction of them is not love but sentiment. If HE HAS SAVED YOU, however, your delight in Him is profound, well-based and active.
Abiding is not about pretence but reality. As Christ told the woman at the well (John 4): God is a Spirit and those who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth. Jesus Christ is in fact called THE TRUTH. Love the truth and never vary from it; it is infinitely precious. It is at once the rebuttal of and the theoretical grail for many philosophers who, divided in mind and wandering from Him who IS it, fail to find it.
For you, however, this: Having the truth in Christ Jesus, treat it as sacred in word and deed (Colossians 3:15-17). In your deepest utterance and in your smallest word, tell it, live it, love it. It is not some theoretical possibility. It is like a cup: drink it and rejoice in Him who so provides it. Confine yourself to truth, align yourself with truth, do not consider any other way, any other spirit, gospel or word but His only. When it comes to God, there is only ONE. What HE says, is first and final.
Q: That was quite a burst. Is there more?
A: Yes. This... wisdom from Psalm 37.
a) DELIGHT yourself also in the Lord.
b) TRUST in the Lord - don't have a religion, have THE LORD. If HE is yours, what do you have to fear! (Psalm 27:1, Romans 8:31-39 - either now or hereafter!
c) COMMIT your way to the Lord. Don't think of chance and change, think of the CHANGELESS (Hebrew 13:6) Lord Jesus Christ, and His POWER to protect, project, inject strength and hope and wisdom and to provide the way. He is even CALLED, the WAY! (Isaiah 35:8).
d) REST in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Don't either be precipitate, acting in your own feelings and strength merely, like a stray dog without a Master, or become merely resigned. Be active in seeking, restful in waiting, knowing this:
Everyone who seeks, finds, everyone who knocks, to him/her it is opened.
Use hands of faith, and look for His face. Even a cat will often do that! Don't bubble and boil away. Come to Him PERSONALLY, for HE IS PERSONAL and SO ARE YOU!
Oh! and notice this from Psalm 37 too:
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. DO NOT FRET... and what more? this:
"AND HE SHALL GIVE YOU THE DESIRES OF YOUR HEART."
Q: The case rests. I rest - I guess there is no room for being restless in such rest as His is: lively rest, living peace, foundation secure, faith intact and operative. Like aircraft refuelling in the high atmosphere, so we, in the very flight of life, are refuelling and abide in Him. No more questions for now! HE is the answer, and HIS WORD is the guide.
To Abide ?
1. John 9:39-41
...Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they who do not see, might see; and that they who see, might be made blind.
And some of the Pharisees who heard these words said to Him, Are we blind also?
Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin. But now you say, We see. Therefore your sin remains.
2. John 12:26
If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there will also my servant be : if any man serve me, him my Father will honour.
3. John 12:3;6
while you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light.
4. John 8:12
I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
5. Hosea 13:9, 14:8
O Israel, it hurls you to destruction, that you are against me, your help! (Keil) ...
From me is your fruit found.
In between these verses in Hosea, notice Hosea 13:14 - the solemn declaration which is fulfilled and consummated in Ch.14's open invitation, in the face of the price paid, as prescribed in 13:14 -
I will ransom them from the power of hell; I will redeem them from death.
O death, I will be your plagues;
O hell, I will be your destruction; repentance shall be hidden from my eyes.
(Compare with Luke 9:22, 51, and 22:42-44 -
"He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem" where He would "suffer many things", and Gethsemane, where His cries in agony were the prelude to His sacrifice, repentance, or change of mind being hidden in view of the love that drove the quest for sinners and their salvation.
Note too the delectable invitation of Hosea 14:1-7.
Now let us turn to the words of Jesus Christ, the Lord, as He issued His invitations, both direct and figuratively clad.
This is the season and historical session of invitations (Matthew 22:1-14 cf. 23:37, 11:28-30, 25:1-13; Revelation 19:7-9 & 7:14, 4:18 and Isaiah 55:1; Luke 19:42). The missing wedding garment, in this searching parable of Matthew 22, is interpreted in Isaiah 61:10: it is the robe of righteousness, or Christ's divine covering which protects in its purity, and which is wonderfully transferable, since the Cross (Galatians 3:10-13), like a cover for the radioactivity of sin, a protection from judgment by the provision of the purity of Christ to the heart's account before God (Romans 5:15-17).
In Isaiah 61:10, notice the concentration on beauty, in love; and there is no beauty like the beauty of holiness, since it is from the nature of the One who made beauty itself, in the world of the visible. There is always room for growth here; for such beauty, while free, can be costly; but then, when you abide, it is ... natural, the supernatural naturalising of what you were meant to be. For that, see: 1) Colossians 3:10, and 2) Ephesians 4:24:
1) "You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him." (This process is a result of participation, of abiding.)
2) "Put on the new man, which after God has been created in righteousness and true holiness..." (This gift is a result of His purchase of entire righteousness as a gift to cover man, one which he puts on by faith. So covered, a person abides; so abiding, he/she grows.)
"After God" in Ephesians 4:24, means "in accord with God", after His design, following His specifications. It relates closely to what in Colossians 3:10 was:
"after the image of Him who created him."
This brings back the freshness of the original image-bearing status of man, made to be capable of personal company with God Himself!
You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him (Colossians 3:10). This process is a result of participation, of abiding.
Put on the new man, which after God has been created in righteousness and true holiness... (Ephesians 4:24). This gift is a result of His purchase of entire righteousness as a gift to cover man, one which he puts on by faith. So covered, a person abides; so abiding, he/she grows.
these two presentations, one in Ephesians and one in Colossians, really cover
with divine direction to the inspired apostle, different aspects
of the delightfully vital and composite process as the Spirit works and the results accrue.
blessed is it to hear Christ. This
is indeed the season and historical session of invitations (Matthew
22:1-14 cf. 23:37, 11:28-30, Luke 19:42). Never forget that the missing wedding garment, in this searching parable of Matthew 22, is beautifully interpreted in Isaiah 61:10: it is the robe of righteousness, or Christ's divine covering which protects in its purity, and which is transferable since the Cross (Galatians 3:10-13) has provided enough on offer, for the whole world (I John 2:1-2), though in its ignoring of it, it is like someone passing in drought, with blackened lips, a reservoir and despising it.
Do not forget, either, Isaiah 61:10, in its concentration on beauty, in love; and keep like the bit between the teeth in a horse, the awareness that there is no beauty like the beauty of holiness, or that being from the very nature of the One who made beauty itself in the world of the visible, before sin polluted it, and always had the majesty of beauty, it is a thing lovely to contemplate, one permeating His presence to His saints, whether in purging, purifying or completing this or that work of grace in the resilient and repentant heart.
Do not forget likewise: There is always room for growth here; for such beauty, while free, can be costly; but then, when you abide, it is ... natural, the supernatural naturalising of what you were meant to be. For that, remember Colossians 3:10, Ephesians 4:24:
You have put off the old man with his deeds, and have put on the new man, that is being renewed in knowledge after the image of Him who created him.
This process is a result of participation, of abiding.
Put on the new man, which after God has been created in righteousness and true holiness...
This gift is a result of His purchase of entire righteousness as a gift to cover man, one which he puts on by faith. So covered, a person abides; so abiding, he/she grows.
Amid gifts, grow, and in growing, grow like Him who three times asked Peter, Do you love me ? using both the love of a religious character and that of friendship.