"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you." - John 15:1-12 KJV

Right before Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, He taught His disciples one of the most profound principles found in the Word of God, the secret of abiding in Christ Jesus. He likened Himself to a Vine, and we are the branches. And He clearly stated that we are to remain in Him in order for our life to bear His fruit. He was saying that He is the Source of all Life, and we must stay connected to the Source in order to be fruitful. 

The key to the abundant life in Jesus Christ is to learn to abide in Him. This word abide in the Greek means to stay, to continue, to dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, and to tarry. The secret is learning to stay connected to the Vine. If a branch disconnects, then it dries up and withers away, and it cannot possibly bear any fruit. If we could only stay, dwell, remain, or stand in Christ, then we would be abiding in the Vine.

The branch that is not connected to the Vine and is drying up and withering away is a picture of so many professing Christians who do not bear any fruit, because they don’t know how or don’t desire to stay connected to Jesus. Jesus once cursed a fig tree because it was not bearing any fruit. Every farmer knows that success only comes when his crop bears fruit. No farmer has ever been satisfied with just the planting of the seed, for there is a lot of work that has to be done in order for his crop to bear fruit.

You are not some ignorant twig, grasping, striving, and struggling to stay connected. Instead, you are a one of a kind, a valuable, priceless branch that God highly treasures and for whom Jesus died. All you have to do is stay connected to the Vine, the Source of all love, light, and life. And through this connection to Jesus your life will produce the fruit of God’s Spirit, which is His love, joy, and peace.

To ask the question, “How does one connect to the Vine?” is to ask the question: “How does a person remain, stay, or abide in Christ Jesus?” That is a profound question with a simple answer. We connect to Jesus and stay connected to Jesus by grace, through faith. 

Jesus Christ coming to live and grow in a believer’s heart is so amazing that it seems almost too good to be true. I guess the Gospel is called the Good News because the news is so good that it seems to some, simply too good to be true. The simplicity of the grace of God causes many a person to stumble because they feel they must add to what God has already done for them. But we should take God at His Word whether it seems right to the natural mind or not. The Bible says there is a way that seems right to a man, but the end of that kind of thinking is death. 

Every believer gets saved the same way, by the grace of God through faith. When this happens, a miracle takes place as Jesus comes to live in their hearts. This is Jesus Christ now living in you, but this matter of you being in Christ is an entirely different matter, even though it is received the same way, by grace through faith. For us to live in Christ is much more than our salvation experience, for this is not just a one-time experience; it is a shift in our relationship with God. It is a shift from me living from my old identity, to a new life of living in and with the Identity of Christ Himself. 

To dwell in the cleft of the Rock, or in the wounds of Jesus Christ, is the safest place to be in for all of time and eternity. Inside of the Rock of Ages is standing in Christ or abiding in the Vine. We go into Christ through faith. It is like stepping through a door, as we step from the natural world into the spiritual world or step from the terrestrial into the celestial. 

"O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."  - Song of Solomon 2:14

Just as Christ Jesus comes into our hearts by faith, as we receive Him into our lives, so do we step into Christ by faith. We need to understand that abiding in the Vine means so much more than just studying our Bibles or spending time in prayer. Yes, those are things that will help us greatly, but as we abide in the Vine, we are connected to the very Source of life, love, and light. In our text of John 15, we see that the fruits mentioned here are love and joy. This is the surest way to know if you are abiding in the Vine or not, by how much love and joy you are experiencing right now. People full of hate, unforgiveness, bitterness, strife, envy, resentment, sadness, and despair are simply not connected to the Source of all love and happiness. As we abide in the Vine, the love, joy, and peace of God’s Nature will flow from Him into us and then out of our hearts to others. So we could say that abiding in the Vine is abiding in His Nature. When we choose to disconnect from the Vine, we feel and experience hate, sadness, and strife. 

As we abide in His Nature, we also abide, remain, stay, and stand in His Identity when we abide in the Vine. 

"For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God." - Colossians 3:3

To realize that our old man is crucified with Christ on the cross and we are buried with Him in baptism and then raised with Him to walk in newness of life is a life-changing transformation in our thinking. This can only be accomplished as we understand that we are hidden with Christ in God. This means that we learn to actually see ourselves the way that God sees us. When God looks at us who are covered in the Blood of Jesus, He sees a saint, a holy person, a righteous person as He sees our New Man. This is why there is no condemnation to those of us who are in Christ Jesus. Sin can’t condemn us anymore because we are in Christ, and Christ is sinless. 

"There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit." - Romans 8:1

When we are in Christ, old things are passed away and all things are become new. This happens when we get saved, but sometimes it takes years to learn the secret of abiding or remaining in Christ, as most Christians connect and then disconnect, connect and then disconnect, over and over again. 

"Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." - II Corinthians 5:17

Also when we abide in the Vine, we are living by the faith of Jesus Christ and not our own human faith. As the branch stays connected to the Vine, we draw His love and joy from the Vine, the Source of God’s Nature, so do we also draw His faith from God to us. We have an immeasurable amount of faith from which to draw, as we stay connected to Jesus Christ. 

"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." - Galatians 2:20-21

So as we abide in the Vine, we remain or continue in Christ's Nature, in Christ's Identity, in Christ's Faith and also in His Victory. The secret to spiritual warfare is to understand that Jesus has already won the war. He just wants us to fight the battles and stand in Him. As we stand in Christ, we continue to advance against the enemy. 

"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:" - Ephesians 6:13-17

Jesus Christ has already overcome the world, and He has already defeated the power of Satan at the cross. By putting our faith in Him and abiding in Him, we now have full access to the victory that was purchased for us at Calvary. 

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" - I John 5:4,5

When Paul tells us to walk in the spirit and we shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh, he is saying, "Stay connected to Jesus, and allow His love, His fruit, to flow out of your life, and you will not fulfill the lust of the flesh." We get in trouble only when we disconnect from Jesus. 

"This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh." - Galatians 5:16

This is what walking in newness of life is really all about. It is staying connected to Jesus and standing in His Identity, His Nature, His Faith, and His Victory. As we do this, the fruits of the Holy Spirit become the weapons of our warfare. We overcome evil with good. We overcome hate with love. We overcome sadness with joy as we stay connected to Jesus and remain in Christ. Our New Man, Jesus Christ, actually lives the life for us that we could never live on our own. 

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." - Romans 6:4

We will never learn the secret of abiding in Christ Jesus by wrestling with our own flesh or trying to conquer our old man by our own efforts. We should simply run into the clefts of the Rock or the wounds of Jesus Christ. His wounds are His grace, His forgiveness, His love, and they are there for us as we enter this place in God by faith. Once in Christ, we should stay there; we should remain there, live there, or abide there. Staying connected to Jesus means that I am going to remain aware that I am living in Christ, in His Nature, His Identity, His Faith, and His Victory. This is the secret of how love, peace, and joy can continually flow out of our hearts to others. 

I would like to adopt this mantra for the Saints of Return Ministries:

I choose to remain in Christ Jesus continually, to walk in newness of life and to love everybody, every day in every way.

This is the abundant life that Jesus promised to us. This is the life of joy unspeakable and full of glory. This is the way to a peace that passes all understanding. This is the way of life of a true disciple of Jesus as we are predestined to inherit the riches of God as an heir of God and a joint heir of Jesus Christ. As we learn to inherit God’s promises by faith, taking God at His Word, our entire world changes from the natural to the supernatural. 

This promise below that is found in our text almost seems to good to be true. We doubt it because we have not experienced it as much as we would have liked to. We look at a promise like this and say, "This doesn’t work. Jesus could not have meant what He said here." 

"If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." - John 15:7

The truth is that Jesus did mean what He said, and this promise is for me and for you. The only reason we have not experienced this as much as we would have liked is because we have not been abiding in the Vine. If we try to live the Christian life from our own identity, in our own nature, with our own faith, and if we think we must win our own victory, then I can promise you that we will fail, and God will not answer our prayers. 

But let’s be bold and courageous enough to take God at His Word. He promised us here that if we abide in Him and His Words abide in us, then we shall ask what we will and it shall be done unto us. Wow! What a promise! The secret is to stay connected to Jesus. For years, I was connected to a religion, to a religious leader, to a religious dogma, to a religious organization, but I did not stay connected to Jesus. Staying connected to Jesus has made all the difference in time and eternity to me. I never knew how awesome it would be to abide in the Vine, to walk in newness of life and to allow the love, joy, and peace to flow out of my heart and into others. I never want to disconnect from the source of life again. Remember our mantra.

I choose to remain in Christ Jesus continually, to walk in newness of life and to love everybody, every day in every way.

Bill Hudson

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