THE KEY FOUND IN THE GOSPEL OF JOHN
Our efforts to abide in Christ seemed always to end in failure. Because of such frustration, we were compelled to spend more time in the Gospel of John. In order to uncover the secret of abiding, which is revealed in the middle of this book, we thought we should follow the principle of studying the whole book thoroughly. This we did.
To abide in Christ, then, begins with the divine birth in chapter one. Chapter three goes on to tell us that this birth from above involves two spirits. The worship in John 4, of the Spirit by the human spirit, also involves the two spirits.
In 6:63 John proceeds from the two spirits to the Word. “It is the Spirit Who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken unto you are spirit and are life.” Abiding is not merely a matter of the Spirit; the Word is also involved. The Greek here is the instant, practical, present word of the Lord.
In chapter fourteen the Lord and His disciples were together when suddenly He told them He was going away. He told them not to be sad, that by His leaving another Comforter could come. He was implying that however wonderful His presence with them was, He could only be among them, not within them. But when the other Comforter came, He “shall be in you” (14:17). This other Comforter would be none other than Himself as the Spirit of reality. That is why He said in the next verse, “I will not leave you orphans; I am coming to you” (v. 18). As the Spirit He could be not only with them but also in them. “In that day you shall know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you” (v. 20).
Notice 14:23. “Jesus answered and said to him, If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word, and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make an abode with him.” This word abode is the noun form of abide. The Father and Son will come to the one who loves Them not only for a visit but to make an abode. This abode is mutual. They will abide in him, and he will abide in Them. The abiding in chapter fifteen comes from the abode, or mutual abiding place, in 14:23.
I trust you are beginning to see that to understand the matter of abiding in Christ, you need the whole Gospel of John.
CHRIST IN ANOTHER FORM
Chapter one tells us that Christ as God took on human form (1:14), but when we meet Him at the end of the Gospel, He has another form, that of the Spirit. In the evening of the day He was resurrected, He came to where the disciples were meeting and stood in their midst (20:19). How did He get into the room when the doors were shut? No one opened the door for Him, but suddenly He was there. He talked to the disciples, showed them His hands and side, and even breathed into them, saying, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (vv. 20-22). In so doing He was breathing Himself into them as the life-giving Spirit. By inhaling the holy breath (spirit and breath are the same word in the Greek), the disciples were receiving Christ as the Spirit into them. After this meeting with the disciples, there is no record in John that the Lord left. From this point on, He was in them, no longer just among them. He had fulfilled His promise to return as the Comforter and abide in them.
How can we be branches in the vine? How can we abide in Him and have Him abide in us? For many years I could not figure this out, until one day I saw that as the life-giving Spirit He had entered into my spirit, just to be one with me. I am one with Him, not in my mind, emotion, or will, but in my spirit.
Today the Lord is no more Jesus in the flesh. He is now the life-giving Spirit. Concerning His exaltation, He is at the Father’s right hand as Lord of all (Acts 2:32-36). But concerning His indwelling, He is within us as the life-giving Spirit. Because He is in our spirit, we are one spirit with Him (1 Cor. 6:17). This one spirit is the vine. These two spirits are one in the divine life and one in the divine nature.
If you see this, there is only one more thing I need to mention, and that is, how to abide in Him. There is no need for you to do anything except abide.
(Life Messages, Vol. 2 (#42-75), Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)