“If My words abide in you…”

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:7)

Jesus tells us clearly that our fruitfulness comes out of answered prayers that are rooted in the truth of His word. If we want the Father to do what we ask we need God’s words to “abide” in us, meaning “to continue to be, not to perish, to last, endure”. We are told (1 Corinthians 13) that the things that remain are faith, hope and love. We also know, because Jesus tells us, that even when heaven and earth pass away, “every jot and tittle” of the Law – His Word – will remain (Matthew 5:18). If His words to us are Spirit and Life, then the essential qualities of that remaining life are faith, hope and love, because these, and these only, are the “things that remain”. If we walk in the Spirit, these are the qualities that will manifest in us. We cannot walk in the Spirit unless we walk in the word. If the life of His words abides in us, the life of His words will also come out of us. By THIS – not by anything else – we will be His disciples. The yoke that He calls us to take upon ourselves, the yoke that keeps us close to Him, is formed out of all the words that He speaks into our lives.

On Earth as in Heaven
Psalm 119 is a treasure trove of truths about God’s word. Just to pick two jewels: it is settled in heaven (verse 89); even perfection has its limits, but God’s commands have none (verse 96). A cursory reading of just a few verses makes one truth absolutely clear: God’s word is the perfect expression of heavenly perfection and power. Nothing on earth can even begin to approach it in beauty, truth and majesty. It is imbued with the very atmosphere of heaven; and that is why the Word can only be brought to life by the Emissary of heaven who dwells within us: the Holy Spirit. But once the Holy Spirit has brought God’s word to life in our hearts, there is one thing that does connect this capsule of heaven to the mortal realm of earth, and that is our obedience. As we walk in our yoke, our obedience grounds God’s word on earth. When we do what Jesus says, the creative power of the Word is released into the world. It is our obedience that brings heaven down to earth.

The things that remain
The challenge in all this is, of course, the extent to which we allow His word to have complete authority in our lives. “Oh dear – I let the yoke slip there – good and proper. And there! And there as well! Am I still His disciple? Oh, now I’ve really blown it. May as well give up altogether . . .” How easy it could be to let the devil whisper to us along those lines and lead us away from our commitment to the Lord. Fortunately God knew that. He knew it before the beginning of time when He prepared those works we were created to walk in (Ephesians 2:10), and in His mercy He has told us what to do: quite simply to “be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain” (Revelation 3:2). This message is given as a warning to the church at Sardis, which He says has a reputation for being alive, yet is dead – because the “things that remain”, He says, are “ready to die”. To the Sardis in all of us, He says, “Wake up! Get into My word! Let faith, hope and love arise in you as you do so! Be My disciples!” The promise held out to those who rise to the challenge begins with the words: “They shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy . . . ” (Revelation 3:4).

Jesus longs for us all to walk with Him in white, yoked to Him by the truth and power of His word. If we do, we also walk in the promise that He held out to the church at Philadelphia: “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Revelation 3:8).

(Originally published in Two Seconds to Midnight.”)

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