Sermon #19 1 John Series
Title: “Abide in him”
Text: 1 John 2:28-29
Subject: The necessity for perseverance
Date: Tuesday Evening—September 25, 2012
Tape # 1 John #19
Readings: Rex Bartley and Bob Duff
Christ is coming. Do you really believe that? Not many folks do; but it is so. — “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they [also] which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen” (Revelation 1:7). We should ever be…
“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” (Titus 2:13-14)
Christ is coming. Are you ready? Are you prepared to meet God? Perhaps you ask, “Pastor, how can I be prepared to meet the God?” Some would tell you to sell all of your property, and just set down and wait for the Lord’s coming. Others would tell you to carefully avoid anything that would take your mind off of heaven and the coming of the Lord Jesus. Would you be prepared for the return of our Lord, prepared to meet God? If so, listen to these three words, and obey them: — “Abide in Him.” That is my subject: — “Abide in Him.” My text is 1st John 2:28-29. — “Abide in Him” — John 2:28-29.
(1 John 2:28-29) “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.”
Being, I trust, the servant of God, I have three great desires. Every time I stand here, before you, to preach the gospel of Christ, there are three things that burden my heart. Every time I go to some other place to preach, these three things are pressing burdens. As I prepare to preach to you, or prepare to preach to a group of preachers, or prepare to preach to a group o children, these three things are at the forefront of my heart and mind.
First, the Glory of God — My first desire in my life and in my ministry, in my behavior and in my doctrine, in my heart and in my preaching, in my house and in God’s house is the glory of God.
· The Twofold Message of Evangelism — “All Flesh is Grass!” — “Behold, Your God!” (Isaiah 40).
· God’s glory is paramount in everything, especially in the house of God! — Worship! — Preaching — Teaching — Prayer! — Hymns! — Methods! — Ordinances! — Programs! — Missions! — Evangelism! — Doctrine! (Ephesians 1:1-14)
My first great desire, as a believer, as a child of God, as a gospel preacher is the glory of God: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!
Second, Your Salvation — As your pastor, the care of your immortal souls is constantly on my heart. As often as the Lord enables me to pray for you, your children, and your grandchildren, I seek your everlasting salvation and the benefit of your souls. I pray that God will graciously bring you to the Savior. It is my heart’s desire to God for you that you might be saved, that you might come to Christ.
It is my business in life to lift up Christ, as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, and urge poor, needy sinners to look and live. There is no salvation apart from a personal faith in Jesus Christ. Our Lord said, — “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God and there is none else.” For this reason, I preach Christ, constantly pointing you to the crucified Redeemer. I call upon sinners far and wide to look to Christ. I press upon you the necessity of faith in Christ. I endeavor, with earnest fervency, to persuade you who hear me to come to Christ. My heart’s great desire for you is that you come to Christ.
The burden of my heart, as your pastor, is that you may be in Christ, the City of Refuge. This is the great longing of my heart for every one of you. You must be in Christ, in a living, loving, lasting union of faith with the Son of God. If you are not in Christ, you are not saved. Those who are in Christ receive life from him. You must be in Christ,
· as the stone is in the building,
· in Christ as the members are in the body,
· in Christ as the branches are in the Vine.
Third, Abide in Christ — I make no presumption, but I have good reason for looking upon you as my brothers and sisters in Christ. You have come to Christ. You are, by profession,
· by the faith you profess,
· by that which you profess in your baptism,
· by that which you profess at the Lord’s Table,
· by that which you profess as members of this church body,
You are, by profession, in the sweet experience of God’s saving grace, in Christ. As your pastor, my heart’s prayer and longing to God for you is that you may “abide in him.”
This was the great burden of John’s heart for the people he served. With great love for their souls, he says, — “Now little children, abide in him.”
· Hold steadfastly to the pure doctrine of the gospel.
· Walk in the light.
· Try the spirits.
· Give no heed to false prophets.
· Walk in love.
· Love not the world.
But how can we obey these commands? How can anyone be expected to live like that? —— “Abide in him.”
In spite of the many temptations you meet that would take you away from Christ, away from his worship, away from his gospel, may God the Holy Spirit graciously keep you, ever giving you grace “to abide in him,” ever like Mary to sit at the Savior’s feet. — “As ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” Oh, may you be rooted in Christ, grounded in Christ, built up in Christ, ever kept in a growing, loving union with the Son of God!
“Abide in Him.” Those words must have flowed sweetly and freely from the lips and pen of this aged pastor. He seems to be echoing the words of our Savior. Just before he died, leaving John and the other disciples behind, our Lord said, — “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. If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” And now, just before his death, John follows his Master’s example. He says to his little children, “Abide in Him.”
This word “abide” appears to have been a favorite with our Lord, and it became a favorite with that disciple whom Jesus loved. In our King James Version it is translated in a number of ways. Sometimes it is “abide,” at other times it is “remain,” and it is frequently translated “continue.” But the meaning is always the same, “Stay with Christ.”
Proposition: Here the Holy Spirit teaches us how to prepare for the Lord’s coming, how to persevere in the faith. We must keep on abiding in Christ by faith, trusting him to preserve us in the Day of Judgment.
Divisions: Let’s read our text together again — 1 John 2:28-29.
“And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. 29 If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.” (1 John 2:28-29)
I want you to see three things given to us in these two verses of Inspiration.
1. A Compassionate Exhortation.
2. A Confident Encouragement.
3. A Confirming Enforcement.
A COMPASSIONATE EXHORTATION
First, here is a compassionate exhortation. — “And now, little children, abide in him.” — These words are thoroughly characteristic of John. He is always full of tenderness and love. He speaks to these dear children of God as his own “little children,” because he loves them as his own. He watches over their souls as a loving shepherd. John was such a man, and he spoke in such a way, that those who knew him knew that whatever he said, he said for their good. — Spirit of God, make me such a pastor!
The Apostle addresses these believers in very endearing terms. — “And now, little children…” John was not just a father in Israel; he was a grandfather in Israel. He had been around for a long time. He had seen, heard, and experienced much. “And now,” in his old age, the Apostle gathers his children around him. With the tenderness of a father and the wisdom of years, he speaks to his children in the faith.
A Pastor’s Love
This title, “little children,” is a simple, but full expression of John’s love to his congregation. — Tradition tells us something of the loving and tender relationship this old pastor and his congregation enjoyed. He loved them; and they loved him. He had preached the Word of God to them for many years. But now he was so feeble that they had to carry him into the assembly. Sometimes, all he could do was lift up his hand and say, “Little children, love one another.” To show his tender concern for them, John calls them “little children.”
· He loved them as a father, for many had been converted under his ministry.
· He loved them as a pastor, desiring the greatest possible good for their souls.
John wanted the best for his little children, and they knew it. He could not wish for them a greater blessing, out of the depths of his inmost soul, than that they should abide in Christ.
I am sure John also intended to remind his congregation of their near and dear relation to their Father in heaven. — You are the children of God. But as yet, you are only “little ones.” Therefore, you must not run away from your Father’s house, nor from your elder Brother’s love. As little children, stay home and abide in the Lord.
A Child’s Weakness
John here reminds us of our own weakness and dependence. This is our condition in this world. — We are all of us, but “little children.” In faith, and knowledge, and spiritual strength, we are apt to become proud and high-minded. You know what a tendency there is in you to think of yourself as strong, spiritual, and wise.
· It seems that John at least hints at our weakness. As little children, we must abide in him. Did he not say, “Without me ye can do nothing.”
· The beloved pastor also gently warns us of our fickleness. Like little babes, many of God’s children are very changeable. At one time we are hot. At another time we are cold. Sometimes we are zealous, fervent, prayerful, and devoted. And sometimes we are languid, worldly, and unbelieving. Therefore, John says, “Little children, be faithful and unchanging in this one point: — Abide in your Savior. Change not toward your Redeemer. Constantly stretch out your arms to him and cry, —
“My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine;
For Thee all the follies of sin I resign”
John is tenderly reminding us of our constant dependence upon our Lord Jesus Christ.
· “Without Me ye can do nothing!”
· “My grace is sufficient for thee!”
As little children depend upon their parents for everything, even so we are dependent upon Christ. He nurses us. He feeds us. He comforts us. He carries us in his arms. Little children, since you depend upon Christ for everything, abide in him. Do not wander away. Do not wander into the wilderness. The world is empty and barren. Only Christ has fullness.
Many of you are of riper years than I, but we are all little children. Let us then cling to Christ alone. In all our weakness, fickleness, and dependence, let us abide in him. — “The conies are but feeble folk, yet they make their houses in the rocks.” Every child of God must be like them, making his house, his dwelling place in Christ, the Rock of Ages.
John gives us this loving exhortation — “Abide in Him.” But his exhortation has a sense of urgency. If you could read this in the Greek language in which it was written, if you could read this as the saints under John’s care read it, you would read it as an urgent, imperative demand, marked by an exclamation point. This is a very simple, loving, and safe word of instruction. Yet, it is an urgent exhortation, comprehensive of many things. — Abide in Him!” What does John mean when he says, “Abide in Him”?
Abide in Truth
He meant that we must abide faithfully in the truth taught by our Lord. — “Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye shall continue in the Son, and in the Father” (v. 24).
· Truth is unchanging.
· The gospel is fixed and unalterable.
You may know more about the truth than you did when you were first converted. But see to it that you ever abide in the truth. Abide in the holy mold of sound doctrine which you had from the beginning. Do not be deceived by modern inventions. Cast not away your confidence.
John also means that we must abide in Christ as the only object of our faith and trust. When you were first converted, you rested upon Christ alone as your hope of eternal salvation. Your glad testimony was — “I am a poor sinner and nothing at all, But Jesus Christ is my all in all.”
· You had no experience to trust.
· You had no works to depend on.
· You had no graces to boast of.
· You had no good works to rest in.
· You had no good feelings to encourage you.
· You had no holy resolutions to perform. — Christ was all.
Now, see that you abide in Christ, trusting him alone as your hope before God. Stay in the good ship Grace. Do not try to walk across the water in your own strength.
· Trust his righteousness as your only righteousness.
· Trust his blood as your only cleansing.
· Trust his sacrifice as your only pardon.
· Trust his holiness as your only holiness.
· Trust his power as your only preservation.
· Trust his fulness as your only fulness.
· Abide in Christ. — Live only upon his merits. — At all times, in all your circumstances, keep on coming to God as a poor sinner depending on the merits of Jesus Christ alone for your eternal salvation.
Again, when John tells us to abide in Christ, he means that we must go on making Christ the constant object of our lives. As we live by Christ, we must live for Christ. Ever since you were washed in his blood, you have felt that, since he died for you, you must be consecrated unto him. You are not your own. You are bought with a price. You belong to Christ, and Christ alone. Therefore, I say, abide in him. Set your heart to seek his glory. Make it your life’s business to honor your Redeemer. Love Christ supremely. — “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lusts of the flesh, and the lusts of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lusts thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever” (vv. 15-17). Seek grace to know and do the will of your Savior. Prefer the honor of Christ to all things.
Surely, we must also understand this statement to mean that we must persevere in our obedience to the Lord Jesus. He who is my Savior is also my Ruler. Obey him by whose obedience you are justified. Be it yours to follow the Lamb withersoever he goeth. I do not say that you should obey the precepts, dogmas, and morals of men. But I do say that, as the redeemed of the Lord, we must conscientiously obey God our Savior.
· His Doctrine — (1 Thessalonians 5:16-23 — “Quench Not the Spirit!” refers to Providence and Doctrine — Murmuring Unbelief and/or Receiving Evil Doctrine.)
· His Ordinances
· His Example — (Ephesians 4:30-5:2 — “Grieve Not the Spirit!” refers to Brotherly Love, Kindness, etc.)
· His Will
When John says, “Abide in Him,” he means that we must continue in a living, spiritual union with our Lord. All the life we have is derived from Christ. Seek no other. He is our Bread and Water. We must feed upon him. Christ is our Life. Apart from him we have no life. Mark my words you are not a Christian, unless Jesus is the Christ of God to your soul.
· You are not alive to God, unless you are one with your risen Lord.
· You are not saved, unless he is your only Savior.
· You are not righteous, unless he is your righteousness.
· You are not redeemed, unless he alone is your satisfaction to Divine justice, unless he alone is your atonement.
I do not really know how to express this abiding union with Christ. But there are a few things essential to it.
· Depend upon Christ for all things, — as the branches depend on the vine, as the members depend on the head, as body depends on food, as the tree depends on the root, as the house depends on the foundation.
· Abide in Christ in the sense of being at home with him. Make Christ your dwelling place. Lodge in him. Dare I presume to say it? Yes, be at home with Christ, so that he is the constant familiar companion of your soul. Brethren, we ought to be able to say with Moses, — “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.”
· Abide in Christ in this sense too, so that he is the element of your life. As these bodies live in this world, breathing its air, eating its food, and drinking from its fountains, so let us abide in Christ as the element of our lives. Christ is our Life. In him there is everything we need. Do not go out of Christ for anything. Have neither want, nor wish, nor will beyond Christ. Make Christ both the treasure and the pleasure of your heart.
Now, I have not come near giving you the meaning of this exhortation — “Abide in Him.” It means holdfast to Christ, live in Christ, depend upon Christ, be at home in Christ.
Why does John press this exhortation so urgently upon us? If he makes such a statement, surely he has some good reason for doing it. It is not a vain exhortation. I hope you are so lovingly and firmly attached to Christ that you cannot think of forsaking him. But many who were once the professed disciples of our Lord have so degenerated that they have departed from him and are now antichrists. — How I tremble for some I know who are described in 1 John 2:19! — “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would [no doubt] have continued with us: but [they went out], that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19)
Illustrations: B. P. — G. S.
J. B. — K. W.
D. S. — D. A.
Therefore, this exhortation comes forcefully from John’s tender heart — “Abide in Him!”
· Those who are truly in Christ will abide in him. God has promised to preserve us. He has given us his Spirit. And we are kept by his power.
· Only those who keep on abiding in him are truly in him. — “If any 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” (John 15:6).
A CONFIDENT ENCOURAGEMENT
Secondly, here is a confident encouragement. John encourages us to abide in Christ with these words — “…that when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.”
Notice, John speaks of his own need of this exhortation — “Abide in him, that we may have confidence.” This beloved pastor never separated himself from his congregation. He does not say, “I and you,” but “we.”
Those who preach, as well as those who hear, must abide in Christ. John knew that, even as an Apostle, he must abide in Christ. We who preach the gospel must always first preach to our own souls. I need to be preached to, just like you do. I, too, must abide in Christ.
There is a sense here, I am sure, in which John is referring to his personal desire to present those immortal souls for whom he spent his life in the sweet labor of the gospel to the Lord in the last day. What a joy it will be in the Day of Judgment for me to present you perfect, as a chaste virgin to Christ!
· Colossians 1:28
· 1 Thessalonians 2:19
Faithful pastors are men who watch over the souls of others as they who must give account. It was this pastor’s desire that his hearers abide in Christ, so that in the Day of Judgment his account would be joyous. It is for this reason that churches are admonished to obey their pastors. — “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
John motivates us to abide in Christ by the promise and expectancy of the Savior’s coming. — “Abide in Christ — Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13-14).
Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord is coming! Even in those early days of the church, only a few years after his ascension to glory, God’s saints were inspired by the expectation of Christ’s return. It seems that we have lost that sense of expectancy. But it should not be so. Christ is coming! When he appears, he will appear in all the manifestation of his glory. That one whom we have loved, though we have not seen him, we shall see. Every eye shall see him. But we shall see him as he is. In all the beauty and glory of his person and work, we shall see him!
· He is coming personally. That very Christ who died, rose again, and ascended to glory is coming back again.
· He is coming, and suddenly he shall appear.
· He is coming in triumph.
· He is coming in glory.
· He is coming now! At the appointed time, he shall appear.
When the King comes, he will set in judgment over all the earth. The dead shall be called out of their graves. We shall meet the Lord in the air. The Great White Throne shall be set up. And every man who ever lived will be gathered before King Jesus, who will judge every soul in strict justice.
Day of Judgment, day of wonders!
Hear the trumpet’s awful sound,
Louder than a thousand thunders,
Shakes the vast creation round!
How the summons will the sinner’s heart confound!
At His call the dead awaken!
Rise to life from earth and sea!
All the powers of nature shaken,
By His looks, prepare to flee!
Careless sinner, what will then become of thee?
Horrors past imagination,
Will surprise your trembling heart,
When you hear your condemnation,
“Hence, accursed wretch, depart!
Thou with Satan and his angels have thy part!”
But those who abide in Christ shall have confidence, and shall not be ashamed before the judgment bar of the King. — Blessed be God!
To those who have confessed,
Loved and served the Lord below,
He will say, “Come near ye blessed!
See the kingdom I bestow!
You forever shall My love and glory know.”
Under sorrows and reproaches,
May this thought our courage raise;
Swiftly God’s great day approaches,
Sighs shall then be changed to praise!
We shall triumph when the world is in a blaze!
When the wicked perish with shame and confusion of face, we shall have confidence. Trusting the righteousness and shed blood of Christ, we shall have boldness and freedom, even in the great Day of Judgment.
Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness,
My beauty are, my glorious dress;
Midst flaming worlds in these arrayed,
With joy shall I lift up my head.
Bold shall I stand in that great day,
For who ought to my charge shall lay?
While through Thy blood absolved I am,
From sin’s tremendous guilt and shame!
What is more, we shall not be ashamed. Those who have built upon Christ, the Solid Rock, shall not be ashamed in that great day. — “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”
· We shall never be put to shame by him.
· We shall experience nothing that will cause us shame.
· We shall not be ashamed of our confidence, our hope, our faith, or our expectation.
· Our hope shall not make us ashamed, for we shall have that which all this time we have hoped for.
· We shall have no shame before one another.
· We shall have no shame before God!
In spite of our sins and infirmities we will not be ashamed. In the Day of Judgment we will stand before the throne in the very righteousness of Christ, without spot, wrinkle, fault, or blemish. We have not been ashamed of Christ here, and we shall not be there! Therefore, brethren, I say, “Abide in Him!”
A CONFIRMING ENFORCEMENT
Third, we have before us a confirming enforcement. Here John returns to his exhortation, “Abide in Him.” He gives us a very practical and specific illustration of abiding in Christ. He shows us how we can know that we are abiding in him. — “If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that everyone that doeth righteousness is born of him.” Remember, John is talking about faith in Christ. He is talking about confidence before God.
We know that Jesus Christ is righteous. He is the righteous God. Being God, he is righteous in his nature and in all his works. All that he is is righteous. And all that he does is righteous. As our God-man Mediator, Jesus Christ is righteous. As a man, he lived in perfect, righteous obedience to God for us. As our Mediator, he faithfully accomplished the righteousness of God’s covenant for his people. And we know that Christ alone is the Author of everlasting righteousness. He accomplished that righteousness that is revealed and proclaimed in the gospel. He accomplished that righteousness which we have received by faith. He is the Lord our Righteousness.
And we know that only those who live in righteousness are born of God. John is not talking about those who do the works of righteousness for their acceptance with God. Such men and women are not born of God. They have not submitted themselves to the righteousness of God, but go about to establish their own righteousness. Those who are born of God claim no righteousness of their own.
Those who are born of God denounce all self-righteousness and receive the righteousness of Christ by faith.
· Christ is our Righteousness in Justification!
· Christ is our Righteousness in Sanctification — Regeneration!
· Christ is our Righteousness Forever!
All who are born of God are obedient to the righteousness of Christ. We trust Christ! That is what it is to do righteousness (Romans 9:30-10:13).
· Believers are careful to maintain good works because we understand and rejoice in the fact that righteousness is done!
· Those who are born of God do good works, not to be accepted of God, but because we are accepted in the Beloved.
· All who are born of God “abide in him.”
· We are regenerated by the power of his Spirit.
· We have his grace implanted in our hearts.
· We are created anew in his image.
· We are kept by the power of his grace.
· We are preserved in Jesus Christ.
“Abide in Him!”
Are you born of God? Do you live upon the righteousness of Christ? Do you trust Christ alone for all your righteousness? — “Abide in him!” Don’t grow a hair’s breadth bigger than that! — “As ye therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.” — “Abide in him!”
Many years ago, Ebenezer Wooton was conducting a series of preaching services on the village green at Lydford Brook England. On the last night of the meeting, as the people were leaving and the preacher was packing away his tent, a young man approached him and asked, rather matter-of-factly, “Mr. Wooton, what must I do to be saved?”
The preacher presumed he was just being a cocky smart alec. “Too late!” He said Glancing up from an obstinate tent-peg with which he was struggling, he just grunted, “Too late, my friend, too late!”
The young man was startled. “Oh, don’t say that, Mr. Wooton!” he pleaded. “Surely it isn’t too late just because the meetings are over?” “Yes, my friend,” exclaimed the preacher, dropping the cord in his hand, straightening himself up, and looking right into the young man’s eyes, “It’s too late! You want to know what you must do to be saved, and I tell you that you’re hundreds of years too late! The work of salvation is done, completed, finished! It was finished on the Cross. Jesus said so with the last breath that He drew! What more do you want?”
To “abide in him” is to go on trusting him who finished the work for us before ever we were born, when he died upon the cursed tree as our Substitute, crying, — “It is finished!”
· Come to Christ!
· “Abide in Him!”
· Abiding in him you are prepared to meet him, and soon you shall!
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