1) As I am abiding I am depicted as a fruit-bearing branch on a tree.
(NOTE: in the following verses the word "remain" is translated "abide" in other versions.)
John 15:1-6 (Jesus said) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper. Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” (Note: see Lesson 3-10 for a more detailed explanation of John 15)
:7-11 “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples. As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love. If you keep My commands you will remain in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commands and remain in His love. I have spoken these things to you so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete."
:12-16 “This is My command: Love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, that someone would lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father. You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you.”
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.
Does the branch produce the fruit, or is the branch simply a conduit (instrument, vessel) through which the life of the Vine flows?
2) Abiding Illustrations
a) As I am abiding I am depicted as a vessel, an instrument, a conduit.
2 Timothy 2:20-21 Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver bowls, but also those of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. So if anyone purifies himself from anything dishonorable, he will be a special instrument, set apart, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work
A faucet with “living” water can be a useful illustration. Although the water pressure is always constant, the “on-off” feature has to be maintained in the “On” position for the water to freely flow. During the time I am not in abiding fellowship with the Lord the on-off feature is in the “Off” position.
b) As I am abiding, I allow God’s “living water” to flow through me as through a container or a serving vessel.
Jeremiah 2:13 “For My people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.”… (see also Jer. 17:13)
John 4:14 (Jesus said) “But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.”
John 7:37-39 On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
James 3:8-12 But no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. We praise our Lord and Father with it, and we curse men who are made in God’s likeness with it. Praising and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers, these things should not be this way. Does a spring pour out sweet and bitter water from the same opening? Can a fig tree produce olives, my brothers, or a grapevine produce figs? Neither can a saltwater spring yield fresh water.
c) As I am abiding, I am depicted as a conduit or vessel through which God’s light is able to shine.
The electricity represents GOD’S LIFE flowing through me.
The bulb represents ME as a Christian
The light that is given off represents the Fruit of the Holy Spirit
As I remain in harmony (communion) with the Holy Spirit (connected, light switch “On”), I am allowing His life (electricity) to increasingly flow through me (bulb), which He will then use to influence and attract others (light).
Matthew 5:14-16 (Jesus said) “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
2 Corinthians 4:6-7 For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God’s glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us.
Philippians 2:15 …so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.
d) As I am abiding, I am walking in the light of God’s presence.
1 John 1:5-10 Now this is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light, and there is absolutely no darkness in Him. If we say, “We have fellowship with Him,” yet we walk in darkness, we are lying and are not practicing the truth.
But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say, “We have no sin,” we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say, “We don’t have any sin,” we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.
1 John 2:8-11 Yet I am writing you a new command, which is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
The one who says he is in the light but hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother remains in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness, walks in the darkness, and doesn’t know where he’s going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.”
3) God has designed the on-going healthy harmony (communion) between a Christian husband and wife to be a picture of the on-going harmony (communion) between the Lord and a Christian.
One of the purposes of a God-centered Christian marriage is meant to be a demonstration to others of how He can bring about a consistent harmonious relationship between two unique individuals that are surrendered to Him.
If I am in doubt as to how I should relate to the Lord, I can ask myself, "how should I relate to a spouse (or to a close friend)?"
NOTE: "Submit" is NOT about one spouse giving orders and making all the decisions.
"Submit" may be defined in many ways. Here are a couple to consider:
- "Putting the needs and interests of someone else above your own."
- or from dividing the word into it's two parts "sub" and "mission" -- which would indicate "coming under the same mission".
It is our own attitude, NOT an attitude we demand from others. (See also the entire passage Ephesians 5:1-33, where submission is mentioned in context of being "imitators of God" and "walking in love". )
Ephesians 5:21-33 …submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of the body. Now as the church submits to Christ, so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. He did this to present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or anything like that, but holy and blameless. In the same way, husbands are to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hates his own flesh but provides and cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, since we are members of His body.
For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church.
To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.
John 17:21-22 May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You. May they also be one in Us, so the world may believe You sent Me. I have given them the glory You have given Me. May they be one as We are one
Galatians 3:28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Genesis 2:24 This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh.
1 Corinthians 6:17 But anyone joined to the Lord is one spirit with Him.
Colossians 3:18-19 Wives, be submissive to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and don’t be bitter toward them.
1 Peter 2:18 – 3:7 Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God. For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in His steps. He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly.…
In the same way, wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands.… Husbands, in the same way, live with your wives with an understanding of their weaker nature yet showing them honor as coheirs of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
Marriage consists of an event (a ceremony, a covenant), followed by a process. The ceremony represents a relinquishment of my right to make independent decisions, in favor of being joined (yoked together) with another.
The marriage process is designed to be a growing relationship, learning to live and walk in harmony with a spouse. This process represents the manner in which a Christian learns to live and walk in harmony with the Lord.
Malachi 2:14 ... Because the Lord has been a witness between you and the wife of your youth. You have acted treacherously against her, though she was your marriage partner and your wife by covenant.