ABIDING IN THE LORD TO BEAR MUCH FRUIT
Many Christians often ask, “What does the Lord want us to do?” The Lord said that if anyone abides in Him, He will also abide in him. The Lord’s meaning is very clear—He wants us to abide in Him. What does it mean to abide in Him? The word abide is easy to comprehend. For example, when you abide in your house, this means you and your house are joined together. When you abide in your house, you and your house become one. Abiding in the Lord refers to our union with the Lord. Once we are joined to the Lord, we will spontaneously bear fruit.
What does it mean to bear fruit? For the branches of the vine to bear fruit means that the vine is expressed through the branches, that the life within the vine is expressed and seen without. When the branches abide in the vine, they bear fruit, and the life of the vine is expressed through the branches. This is the crystal of the vine, the essence of the vine. The fruit a person bears while abiding in the Lord is the overflow of the Lord’s life—the Lord’s life passing through him and flowing out of him. What flows out of him is Christ’s life, Christ’s essence, and Christ Himself.
Based on this principle, we can examine our daily walk to see whether or not it is Christ Himself and whether or not it is the life of Christ passing through us and flowing out of us. In principle, our Christian living and work should issue from our union with Christ; they must be the result of our abiding in Christ and Christ’s abiding in us, a union of the two. The issue of such a union is the overflow of Christ’s life, Christ’s nature, and Christ Himself in our Christian living.
When an electric lamp is joined to the electricity, the electric lamp is abiding in the electricity, and the electricity is also abiding in the electric lamp; the two are united. The issue of such a union is that the electric lamp shows forth and expresses the electricity within it. The showing forth and the expression of the electricity is the “fruit bearing” of the lamp, the effect of the lamp. When the effect of the lamp is shown outwardly, it becomes the function of the lamp. The function of the lamp is to express the electricity that fills the lamp inwardly. The lamp’s bearing fruit and producing an effect before men is its showing forth of all that is within.
This is the best illustration to portray our relationship with Christ. We abide in the Spirit of Christ, and Christ also abides in our spirit. This is communion and union. The issue of such a communion and union is that we have the crystal of Christ’s life in us. This crystal is the fruit that we bear, which is Christ Himself. This is the principle of our living and work.
THE GOAL OF THE GOSPEL BEING FOR CHRIST TO ENTER INTO MAN
We often preach the gospel, give testimonies for the Lord, and exhort people to believe in the Lord, but do we know what the ultimate result of our gospel preaching is? What are the goal, the center, and the reality of the gospel? The issue, the goal, the center, and the reality of the gospel are all for Christ to enter into man, that is, for Christ’s life to enter into those who receive Him as their Savior that they may be produced as “grapes.” If we think that our gospel preaching is for people to “go to heaven” and not to “hell,” then our gospel preaching is too poor. If we have not seen that the preaching of the gospel is for the Christ in us to flow into others, and if we do not take this as the goal, the center, and the reality of the gospel, then our gospel is far off and cannot achieve God’s goal.
How many times do we have a deep sense that in our gospel preaching we have to transmit the Lord’s life into a sinner that he may become a “grape” of Christ the vine and may have the element and the life of Christ within him? How often do we have such a strong feeling in our gospel preaching? I am afraid we only sense that this certain one is our friend, and if he does not believe in Jesus, he will go to hell, which will be very painful. Thus, we may kneel down before God and in tears pray, “O God, please save him because You desire all men to be saved and not one to perish. O God, You see, my friend is still living a sinner’s life; this really grieves my heart.” Many times we think that we can soften the Lord’s heart with our tears so that the Lord will stretch out His hand, pull this person up, and save him from perdition. What is the goal of this kind of gospel preaching? This kind of gospel preaching aims only at saving man from suffering in hell in the future. The Bible shows us, however, that this is not the goal of gospel preaching. To preach the gospel is to dispense Christ from within us into others so that they also may have Christ, His life, His nature, and His element in them. Thus, they will no longer be merely men but Christ-men, even reproductions of Christ. In this way they will become “grapes,” the fruit we bear as branches of the vine.
(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)