Thursday, March 15, 2007

Day Seventeen: The Implications of the Promise, Part I

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:7-8).

Over the last several days we have meditated on John 15:7-8, pondering the conditions of Jesus’ promise, the promise itself, and the purposes of the promise. For the next few days I want to draw out several implications of these things for our lives in Christ, and my hope is that each of us will take the time to linger over these things, allowing Christ to speak to us and apply his words and ways to our lives as individuals and as a church. So, I invite you to read over these implications prayerfully with me, asking the Lord for eyes to see and hearts to receive.

First, in light of the command to abide in Christ, we ought to search our hearts to see whether we are in him. Consider the words of Paul from 2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” I do not mean to breed in us an ungodly fear that we are not saved, for the Bible clearly teaches that we can be confident about our salvation. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). But I do mean to breed in us a godly humility that does not presume on Christ. I do mean to breed in us a godly humility that invites Christ to reveal to us the true state of our souls and our standing with him.

For even if we fail the test and find that we are not in Christ, we can humbly and earnestly call on his name, knowing that he will answer: “For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13). And even if we pass the test but discover that we are in need of the Lord’s rebuke, we can cry out to him for mercy and help, taking comfort in the goodness of his heart and the aims of his discipline: “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? ‘My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.’ It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:5-11).

And if we search our hearts and find that we are in him, our joy in him will increase, our love for him will increase, our humble confidence in prayer will increase, our zeal to bear the fruit of the vine will increase, our desire to share the gospel will increase, and our passion to glorify the name of our Father will increase. In the end, though the process may be painful, there is simply no downside to examining ourselves in Christ--unless, of course, we harden our hearts before him. So, brothers and sisters, let us take the time to search our hearts, trusting in the goodness of our Father's heart for us.

Prayer Focus: Pray that by means of prayer and the word and the wise counsel of others, the Father will graciously reveal to you the true state of your soul and your standing with Christ. If you find that you are not in Christ, call out to him. If you find that you are in Christ but in need of his rebuke, take comfort in him. If you find that you are in Christ and in good standing with him, rejoice and pray for more grace.

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