“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7(NIV)
The promise is exciting: “ask whatever you wish”. But there are two conditions:
1) Abiding in Christ is involved. The New International Version translates this “remain in Me.” The Amplified Bible phrases it “live in Me (abide vitally united to Me)”. The New Living Bible says, “stay joined with Me”.
2) Along with our abiding in Jesus, His words must abide in us. His words are designed to communicate with us much as our words (prayers) communicate with Him. Our relationship with God is living and growing, based on two-way communication.
In verse 8 Jesus followed up His promise. He gave even more motivation to abide in Him – it will lead to fruitful significance.
The conditions are true, and the disciples who heard him that last night before the crucifixion sensed the truthfulness of what he told them. They had seen him do amazing things in their presence, and they recognized that God would have to be with him to make such things happen. It is no wonder that many stood in awe declaring that God was with this man. The fact is that at that time the disciples did not live (abide, dwell) in Christ Jesus, but after the miraculous happened - that is, after the Spirit came to dwell in them - everything changed. God came to remain in them, and God’s words came through them. Those who witnessed it could not help but to recognize that something happened. They became heroes to the community of fellow-believers and enemies of the powers of the day.
But what happens when we don’t recognize the miraculous work of God operating among us? What happens when we overlook the same simplicity of faith, hope and love that truly defined the miracle of God dwelling in the flesh, as it was in Jesus, which was the real stuff that far surpassed the temporary events? What happens when our eyes become fixed on the sensational, the same sensational that Jesus spoke of as passing away? Don’t we eventually surmise that we must be missing something? Is it any surprise that we would seek the missing pieces of the puzzle contained in the authoritative writings to gain what we think we don’t have? And if we think we don’t have it, won’t we automatically assume they must be read in such a way as to support the lie?
What often strikes me is the strain behind the many attempts to make the common belief about abiding fit in among those who are already in him.
- I mean, why did the NIV translators decide on “remain” - which is not a bad word - when they would have to know that this English word helps to enforce the false beliefs of the Christian community at large? It sure fits nicely with the common belief that one must bring this thing to pass, doesn’t it?
- And what about that phrase, “abide vitally united to Me”, as found in the Amplified Bible? What does that say about the truth of our miraculous union with God through Christ? This reminds me of a scene in the movie, “A Few Good Men”, where Demi Moore’s character makes a failed objection before the judge, only to follow up with, “I strenuously object!”. She is later scolded by her co-counsel, who points out that the objection made its point but the added objection turned the whole thing against them.
- Ahh … “stay joined with Me” (New Living Bible). Okay, this seems to give a nod to the God-created joining but then puts it firmly in our hands to keep ourselves joined.
What if the “lack” in the Christian community - a lack that is generally accepted, by the way - might be better recognized as the fruit of a fleshly perspective? Didn’t James address this very thing among those of his day? While we have misread James just as badly as any other Biblical writing, it cannot be argued that James put everything back to the either/or proposition of what comes from God versus what comes from man. They were apparently asking the same kind of questions that we have asked today, like why doesn’t God answer their prayers, and where has the power gone. Any answering of questions such as these within the perception that creates the illusion will only lead to more of the same. It makes no difference how many Bible verses we use to support our answers, even though we may believe this indicates that his words are abiding in us, the flesh can only produce more of its kind. The only true answer is found in God, for it is from God.