THE EXPERIENCE OF ABIDING IN THE LORD
Although I studied the truth of this matter until I became clear, I still did not understand the factual and experiential aspects. How could we be in Christ? I understood these words in the original Greek, but I still did not know what they meant in reality because I lacked the experience. I could only do my best to read spiritual books, hoping to obtain an answer. In the 1930s I purchased Andrew Murray’s book Abide in Christ, but after studying it, I still did not get the explanation. Andrew Murray did not present the matter in a thorough manner. At the end of 1941, because of the world situation, I had an opportunity to buy many Greek dictionaries and spiritual books to study. However, after reading them, I still did not get the answer.
Later I went to Taiwan, and I continued to pay much attention to this subject, but because I lacked the experience, I was not able to speak on this aspect of the truth. From 1935 until today, nearly fifty years, I can say that I have thoroughly studied the commentaries and language of the Bible concerning this matter of “abiding in the Lord,” but I was unable to find a book that clearly and deeply explained this truth. In the beginning the best book I could find concerning this experience was the biography of Hudson Taylor. From what this book describes about his experiences of John 15, we can say that up to that time he had the deepest experience of anyone in the history of Christianity. Regretfully, though, the language in this book is not clear enough, so I myself could not find the way in. Thus, for the whole of thirty-five years I always felt that I had a lack whenever this matter was mentioned.
Finally when I came to America, I touched on this basic and central truth in the Bible yet again, and because I had more experience, I was able to understand it a bit more clearly. Now, nearly twenty more years have passed, and I can say with assurance that it is easy to speak on this matter because I feel that I completely understand it. For example, in the past I did not know that to abide in the Lord is to enjoy the Lord’s life, nor did I know that the real enjoyment of the Lord is to abide in Him. Now, not only do I know this, but I also can speak about it clearly.
For example, when electric wires are connected with the electric power, the lightbulbs and the electrical appliances all “abide” in the electricity. To say “abide” may not be so clear, but if we change the word to “enjoy” or “apply,” then it becomes clearer. Whenever the electrical appliances “enjoy” or “apply” the electricity, they can operate. When the electrical appliances “enjoy” or “apply” the electricity, they “abide” in the electricity. In the same way, we, the saved believers, have not joined a religion but have been “connected” with the Lord. The Lord is the spiritual electricity, the electricity of life. We are the electrical appliances, and the word of the gospel is the electrical wire. When we hear the gospel and by the Lord’s mercy believe and receive the Lord as the electricity, immediately, just like electrical appliances, we are connected with the “electricity,” and we are saved. Therefore, to be saved is to be connected with the “electricity” after the wires have been laid and the appliances have been installed. After the electrical connection has been made, we, the appliances, should take another step to “enjoy” and “apply” the electricity. In other words, Christ has already entered into us, so we should take another step, which is to abide in the Lord.
TO ABIDE IN THE LORD BEING TO LIVE BY THE LORD
We have said that to abide in the Lord is to enjoy the Lord. We can take this one step further by saying that to abide in the Lord is to live by the Lord. When we speak of this, there are not many doctrines involved. We can speak only about the practical experience. Here I would like to ask the young people: You have all been saved, the electrical connection has been made, and you all know that today the Lord is in you; you understand all these doctrines, but do you have the experience? The Lord Jesus said, “He who abides in Me and I in him” (John 15:5). How do you practically abide? Here is an example. Every morning as soon as you rise up, when you enter the bathroom, you should first shut the door and for half a minute pray, “O Lord, thank You for giving me a new day. O Lord, give me the grace to wholly live by You today. Even as I wash, I do not want to wash by myself; I want to wash by You.” Just pray a simple prayer like this. Then when you turn on the water, you can pray, “O Lord, I live by You, and I wash my face by You.”
Some elderly ones have been saved for a longer time, and perhaps they are thinking inwardly, “I am already a person who is successful and famous, and here I have to listen to this preacher teach me how to wash myself.” But this is really practical. I have now passed the age that the Chinese call “ancient,” that is, seventy years of age. I am almost to the age Moses spoke of when he said, “If because of strength, eighty years” (Psa. 90:10), and I have had a rich experience of human life. However, I am here testifying to you that I am like a little child every day. For example, this morning I woke up before six o’clock. Because I had received an inspiration, I immediately rose up and quickly sat down, praying to the Lord silently, “O Lord, it is a new day, and I still would live by You.” It is very difficult to describe my feeling, but it was in such a spirit, such a heart, that I began to write the footnotes to the Gospel of Mark. As I wrote, I looked to the Lord, saying, “O Lord, I am not writing by myself, I am writing by You.” This is the way I practice living by the Lord.
Suppose my wife saw me writing there and said, “A little over a month ago you were so tired that you could not speak. This morning why can’t you stay in bed and rest until 7:00?” How should I react? I could get angry and answer, “What? What are you trying to do?” Or I could follow Confucius’s moral theories and try to hold my temper and keep quiet, saying in my heart, “Forget it, you are always like this.” Or I could neither react nor be annoyed; rather, I could be tolerant, considering myself to be a strong hero, a manly person who should not act like a woman, so I should forgive her and let her go. However, we Christians have the Lord in us, so our reaction should neither be to get angry, nor to behave in a cultured manner, nor to be tolerant. Our reaction should be that “the Lord abides in me.” Not only is the Lord abiding in me, but I also live by Him. When I come to my desk, I do not write footnotes first; instead, I first pray to the Lord, saying, “Lord Jesus, thank You for a new day; I want to live by You.” Then when my wife comes, it is not I but Christ who lives in me. No matter what she says, I do not get angry, nor do I live according to culture or forbearance. This is because it is no longer I who live, but it is the Lord who lives. In this way I live by the Lord.
When I live by the Lord in this way, the result is that I abide in the Lord. If I do not live by the Lord in this way, even though I am a saved person, I am neither in the Lord nor abiding in the Lord, but I am totally in myself. In the end I will react by being polite, by getting angry, by being tolerant, or by arguing until I am red in the face. Whether I am polite or angry, whether I am tolerant or quarrelsome, I am still in myself. If we are in the Lord, then we will not have these kinds of reactions. We are in the Lord, and the Lord is in us, so we can live by Him.
(Abiding in the Lord to Enjoy His Life, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)