ABIDING IN THE LORD BEING THE SUBJECT OF JOHN’S WRITINGS
The second passage is 1 John 2:27-28. Verse 27a says, “The anointing which you have received from Him abides in you.” The word for abide here and the word for abide in John 15:4 are the same Greek word. The emphasis of these two verses is that we must abide in the Lord by the teaching of the anointing so that when the Lord is manifested we may have boldness and not be put to shame.
The third passage is John 15:4-5. These two verses contain two main points, which are really two sides of one important point: the believers need to abide in the Lord, and the Lord will also abide in the believers. This is our general subject: “Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life,” and it is also the subject of John’s writings. John wrote the Gospel of John, the Epistles of John, and the book of Revelation. In his Gospel and Epistles, he particularly used the word abide. The Chinese Union Version of the Bible is one of the best translations, but regretfully the word abide is not properly translated in the Gospel of John, and it is correct in only a few places in 1 John. Due to this kind of carelessness in translation, it is unavoidable that much of the true meaning of this word is lost. For example, in John 15, by rendering “abiding in the Lord” as “always being in the Lord,” the translators altered the meaning of the entire verse. We thank the Lord that by His mercy and by our own experience we were gradually enlightened by Him to see that this is not a matter of “always being in” but a matter of actually “abiding in.”
We were not the first ones to see the truth concerning abiding in the Lord; there have been many saints who pursued the Lord throughout the ages who all saw this truth and wrote many books about it, the most famous of which is Andrew Murray’s Abide in Christ. Although many saints throughout the ages have seen the matter of abiding in the Lord, according to what we have read and to our knowledge of the truth in the Bible, we can say that there has not yet been a book written which covers the matter of “abiding in the Lord and enjoying His life.” Even the word enjoy is seldom used in the spiritual books that have been written throughout the ages.
EATING, DRINKING, AND ENJOYING THE LORD
Some people may say that the New Testament does not use the word enjoy. But the Bible does speak of eating and drinking. Anything related to eating and drinking must be a matter of enjoyment. The Lord Himself said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall by no means hunger, and he who believes into Me shall by no means ever thirst” (John 6:35). He also said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes into Me,…out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water” (7:37-38). In addition, the apostle Paul said that the Israelites who followed Moses in the wilderness, “all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink” (1 Cor. 10:3-4). Then in the book of Revelation written by John, the Lord Jesus promised, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give to eat of the tree of life” (2:7). He also said, “To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna” (v. 17). These verses cover the matters of eating and drinking, which are certainly matters for enjoyment.
The whole Bible ends with a promise concerning eating: “Blessed are those who wash their robes”—that is, those who wash their conduct in the precious blood of the Lord Jesus— “that they may have right to the tree of life” (22:14). The entire Bible also ends with a call concerning drinking: “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come!….And let him who is thirsty come; let him who wills take the water of life freely” (v. 17). Therefore, although the New Testament does not use the word enjoy, the fact of enjoyment is there. Likewise, the Bible does not use the expression the Triune God, but the fact of the Triune God is there. When we baptize people into the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, we immerse them into the Triune God. Likewise, when we eat and drink the Lord, we enjoy Him.
Sorry to say, the natural human mind does not have the concept of eating the Lord as the tree of life and drinking Him as the water of life. Even we ourselves had to pass through many years of experience and needed the Lord’s leading before we could have the boldness to speak this kind of truth. Before 1958 we rarely used the terms enjoying the Lord and eating and drinking the Lord. It was not until the spring of 1958 when we had a series of more than forty conference meetings over a period of a little more than a month that we spoke of eating, drinking, and enjoying the Lord. From that time onward we have been speaking about enjoyment. The more we spoke, the more the Bible was opened to us on this point, until we saw that the entire Bible is about eating the Lord, drinking the Lord, and enjoying the Lord.
Genesis tells us from the outset that after God created man, the first thing He did was not to give man the Ten Commandments or to say to man, “Adam, you must worship Me and not forget your source. In addition, I am a proper God who is righteous, moral, holy, and full of light, so you must also behave accordingly and not disobey.” This kind of concept is a product that evolved from human culture; it was not God’s revelation to man. After God created man, the first thing He did was to bring man to the tree of life and say to him, “Of every tree of the garden you may eat freely, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of it you shall not eat; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” (Gen. 2:16-17). Here God made a covenant with man, and this covenant was about the matter of eating. In other words, eating is the most important matter related to man’s existence; if man eats the right things, he will live longer, but if he eats the wrong things, he will jeopardize his health and invite death. For this reason, after God finished creating man, He immediately spoke to man about the matter of eating. However, because Eve saw that the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was good for food, she was tempted and ate wrongfully. This resulted in the fall of man.
After man fell, God came to save him and again brought in the matter of eating. Exodus shows us that the children of Israel not only received God’s redemption through the blood of the lamb, but they were also strengthened to leave Egypt by eating the flesh of the lamb and the unleavened bread. Then after they were delivered, they went into the wilderness and ate manna every day until they entered the land of Canaan. After entering Canaan, there was still the matter of eating. God wanted them to go up to Jerusalem three times a year for the feasts, bringing the best tenth of their produce from the land to eat, drink, and enjoy before God (Deut. 14:22-23). Thus, we see that the entire Bible speaks of the matter of eating, but regrettably most Christians overlook this point.
(Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)