20 Oct 2000

The Concept of Abiding

Submitted by theshovel
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Response from the Shoveletter, The Reality of Abiding

I’m a bit confused - are you doing a word study and disputing the meaning of a word? Just curious - do you read an Amplified Bible at all? It is worded differently here - and I’m thankful that you have drawn my attention to these verses, because I have, of late been feeling kind of disconnected, without guidance or feedback - kind of “out there” , if you know what I mean. But…. the Amplified Bible words those two verses this way: 1 John 2:27” But as for you, (the sacred appointment, the unction) the anointing which your received from Him, abides (permanently) in you; [so] then you have no need that any one should instruct you. But just as His anointing teaches you concerning everything, and is true, and is no falsehood, so you must abide - live, never to depart [rooted in Him, knit to Him] just as [His anointing] has taught you [to do]. v.28 And now, little children, abide (live, remain permanently) in Him, so that when He is made visible, we may have and enjoy perfect confidence (boldness, assurance) and not be ashamed and shrink from Him at His coming.” Just as when Christ Himself says - if ye abide in Me, you will bear much fruit……we have a choice in the department of where we abide. (not where He abides - He’ll stay with us even when we’re not staying with Him.) I’m sorry if this doesn’t make much sense - just a thought. (from October 19th shoveletter) J. Oettgen

Hello J. Oettgen, Thanks for writing, it is good to hear from you. When you wrote “I’m a bit confused - are you doing a word study and disputing the meaning of a word?” I had to go back and reread my own letter to see what you might have been referring to. Now I’m confused. :) What did you read that made you think I did a word study and which word did you see me disputing? There is much to do with context and syntax, but I couldn’t find what you were asking about. I haven’t received too many responses on this one, but there were a few that loved it and a few that thought I was way off. Of course, most don’t write so I never really know what that “silent majority” think about it. I have no doubt about what I have written, but I am not bothered to find that someone disagrees with me … nor am I swayed by those who do since “agreement” on doctrine is far over-rated. :) To be confident in Christ who has bestowed such riches upon us and has brought us into union with God is more desirable. I would rather have people to be confident in the SPIRIT of what I’m sharing from scripture than with my viewpoint of a particular letter or book. I hope that made sense. :) About the Amplified Bible. I don’t have one, but I have read some of it before. It can give some fuller meanings as well as leaning toward the interpretive (as in the passage you quoted in 1 John - for it pretty much follows the popular current viewpoint). I realize you can say the same about what I’m suggesting, but so far I haven’t had anybody even try to take the whole context of the letter, or the points I offered about sentence structure into consideration when they dismiss it.

Hi Jim, As far as the Amplified Bible goes - I guess it depends on what you consider “popular current viewpoint”. My mother gave me hers about a year ago, but it’s printing date is 1983, and copyright date for New Testament is 1962…. I find it very helpful, although I wouldn’t for the life of me give up my King James or other study bibles. The part of your letter that I was referring to is this:

Now, take another look at the word “abide” in 1 John 2:28. It is used in a sense that implies the “imperative” (a command) as in, “YOU, do this.”, doesn’t it? Now, I find this rather interesting since the exact same Greek word in the previous verse (27) was translated NOT as an imperative, but instead as being a reality. “the anointing … has taught you, you abide in Him.” The thing that caused me to look this up in the first place was a marginal note in my NASB suggesting an alternate rendering of “abide in Him” instead of the one they used, “you abide in Him”. The difference? One says that we SHOULD abide in Him, while the other says that we DO! The KJV translates it, “the anointing hath taught you, ye shall abide in him”. The KJV translators not only saw that “abiding” was a reality that God has taught us, but that this reality CONTINUES. But somehow, six Greek words later, the EXACT SAME word is translated as an imperative. Why? Does the Greek demand it? Obviously not. Here’s what I’m asking: Does the Spirit of God teach us that we DO abide in Christ and then tell us that it is up to us whether or not we REALLY do?

It confused me, because the Amplified states that the anointing abides in us, ….. so we must abide in Him. (that would be unamplified, by me) That sounds like a completely different meaning than the KJ version - gotta hate when that happens! I know that the Holy Spirit abides in us - but I also know that if we are not doing our own abiding in Christ, we are more susceptible to being led astray by those “deceivers”. I’m assuming that was the whole reason for the letter in the first place. Now you’ve got me kind of wondering what the translation for ‘abide’ is in the reference to the vine and the branches??
Anyway - I’m not debating - just identifying for you where I became confused. Thanks for replying - wasn’t really expecting that! Just saw something I thought worth pointing out. Overall - I was grateful that you drew my attention to that particular scripture……He has a way of doing things like that for us, doesn’t He?! And His timing is impeccable! God Bless, J. Oettgen

Hi J, What I mean by “current, popular viewpoint” is the concept that “abiding in Christ” is “what we do” as opposed to “where we are”. In other words, as you also said that Christ’s abiding in us is permanent, so is “us in Him” by virtue of the fact that we have been put into union with Him. Believe me, I am aware of the discrepancies that we sense in our everyday lives where we find it almost thrust upon us to insist that the fellowship has ceased and that we are to blame.

My question is, Is it valid to call this discrepancy a lack of “abiding” and to say that that is what John was saying? I say that neither the context of John 15 nor the context of 1 John validates that point of view. I do see many things in what John (and Paul) says to have more to do with that discrepancy between who we are and what we find ourselves many times thinking and doing in this world.

As a matter of fact, Paul has much to say about it in many of his letters. I’m thinking right now especially in reference to his letter to the Galatians as he discussed the effects of trying to live by the law and how it was causing them to tear each other apart. But his argument to them was based upon the reality of knowing that they were in union with Christ. Though Christ remained in them and they remained in Christ, Christ was becoming of “no effect” to them because they were seeking life by means of what they did. They were trying to get more “connected” to God by means of a very “godly” sounding ritual (it was, after all, written in the Word). Circumcision was to them the “key” that would bring them up to the “level” of the “truly spiritual Children of Abraham”.

The contemporary concept of “Abiding” is used by many in a similar sense as the “key” to true spirituality which ends up forcing the believer to focus upon some kind of performance or striving instead of on Christ. Do I believe it is important to stand firm in Christ and in the freedom by which he freed us? You bet! For we are being hit from all sides to justify ourselves and to find our approval in what we do. Do I believe that it is harmful to seek after law. Yep, it is the destroyer of communication and relations between us, and it leads us to think that God views us after our performance, or lack of it, and we will continue on with that legal mindset and adjust our actions accordingly. But it can come to no good, no matter how “worthy” the attempt.

My comments about “abiding” on the Shoveletter were not about disputing the meaning of the word, but HOW the word was used in the construction of the sentence and HOW it was translated in different versions in different places. My suggestion is that we keep its meaning more consistent according to the context as opposed to altering it when used toward us. I really do appreciate your communication with me, and I have no aversion to discussing points … even if it was called “debating” (the word doesn’t have to have a negative connotation). If we stimulate one another to consider things that we wouldn’t have otherwise it is worthwhile as you have mentioned a couple times already. So, I thank YOU for writing back because I didn’t expect that. :) Jim

Thanks again, Jim. One more comment…..it’s kind of nice to have someone to talk to (who talks back) This statement from your letter: “Though Christ remained in them and they remained in Christ, Christ was becoming of “no effect” to them because they were seeking life by means of what they did.” My understanding of “Abiding” (which I honestly only recently developed any understanding at all of) is that once we are seeking life by means of what we DO, we are no longer abiding. Simple as that…..makes all your other comments fall into line perfectly. Except it isn’t as easy to do as it sounds - especially for those of us who are accustomed to fighting our own battles and solving our own (and everyone else’s) problems. To let go of that…..stop performing, and just “abide” is tuff stuff! We all seem to have to be “in control” of our circumstances in one way or another! And……although we are hearing the terms “Abiding Life” and “Abundant Life” much more frequently these days, which is a good thing, the concept isn’t new. It is just unfortunately few Christians seem to have grasped it - and let go of performance and law. These intricately designed computers seem to get stuck in holding patterns so easily - and it’s really difficult to get out of them! I was really amazed to recently read The Christian’s Secret to a Happy Life (and look at the date on it!) as well as another one called “Victory in Christ” (can’t remember the author’s name). And to get a hold of it left me first wondering how and why more Christians had not grasped this, why wasn’t I taught this as a child??? I do recall hearing often “Let go and let God”, but I didn’t see anyone else doing so, nor did I understand the full meaning of that phrase. God has His reasons and His timing, though. God Bless! I’ll try not to pester you again, but I thank you for your responsiveness! J.

Hello J, I want you to know that you are NOT pestering me in any way. Okay? I also enjoy the back and forth of a good discussion. I understand what you mean by “abiding” and though I see John using it in a different sense I agree with what you describe as that attitude of giving up on performance and law. Religious self-righteousness wants us to strengthen ourselves and fight those battles on sheer will-power, huh? It is good to know the futility of the whole thing! :) Jim

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