How do we abide in Christ?
– We abide in Christ by believing in the gospel. By believe, I don’t mean merely an intellectual acknowledgment of facts. Rather, I mean to hope in the gospel, to trust in it, to depend on it.
– Some might expect that my answer here would be, “We abide in Christ by praying and reading the Bible.” Now, those two things can be very helpful means to abiding in Christ, but the reason I didn’t name them primarily is because you can pray and read the Bible in such a way as to think that those things somehow commend you to God. If you prayed and read the Bible hoping that your actions would get you right with God, you would not be abiding in Christ. You would be abiding in your own self-righteousness and would have no basis for a relationship with God. Therefore, the very first thing we must do is to believe in the truth of the Gospel and to place our trust, our hope in it. We must gladly and eagerly bank all your hope in Jesus Christ and what he has done, for a right relationship with God.
– Now, we would not know the promises of the gospel and the trustworthiness of God to keep his promises apart from reading the Bible. And we wouldn’t be able to confess ours sins and express our faith to God and plead for His aid apart from prayer. So prayer and reading the Bible are vitally important. But even as we perform these spiritual disciplines, we must remember that they do not earn us any righteousness. Christ alone is all our righteousness and it is faith alone that connects us to Him. Spiritual disciplines rather are means that God has appointed to help strengthen and increase our faith in order that we might abide in Christ. Doing spiritual disciplines are not in themselves abiding in Christ. Trusting in Christ is abiding in Christ. Spiritual disciplines help us to abide in Christ, by reminding us of how much we need Him and how helpless we are and how trustworthy He is. So if you are having a hard time trusting in Christ, a hard time living in a daily awareness of the glory of the cross, then my encouragement is to pray and read your Bible. Read and pray with the goal of seeing how weak and sinful and needy you are, and how beautiful and trustworthy and sufficient Jesus Christ is for all your needs.