Continuing on with the imagery of Jesus as the true vine and the Father as the vinedresser who prunes us for our joy and his glory, I was drawn to consider our relationship to the words of Christ.
3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. (John 15)
While Judas was about to be cut off, and the other disciples pruned, Jesus assures them they are already clean. For us who keep wondering if we are saved because of our failures, Jesus said these words just before all the disciples failed him. All deserted him, and Peter denied him three times.
Focus: it was “the word I have spoken to you” that made them clean, not the works they were able to accomplish.
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10)
It is faith that is our victory, and we do not get faith from good works, but “through the word of Christ”. If we listen up, we grow up.
13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1)
It is when we “heard the word of truth” that we “believe in him” and received eternal life. When Peter told the Day-of-Pentecost crowd what they were to do, he stated it like this: “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Receiving the Holy Spirit is a promise of the gospel that is applied to us when we repent and declare Jesus our Lord and Savior through baptism. My point is that faith comes from hearing the words of Christ, so when we hear the word of truth, the gospel of our salvation, we are born again into the life of Jesus Christ.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3)
It is our place to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly”. This is no mere nibbling at the words of Christ while longing for a different meal. This is a starving soul (think “blessed are the poor in Spirit”) that is now hungering and thirsting for the righteousness of faith as revealed in Jesus Christ.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5)
The simple point is that Paul makes “let the word of Christ dwell in your richly,” and, “be filled with the Spirit” synonymous. Being filled with the word and filled with the Spirit are the same thing, simply identifying different facets of the same gem. If being filled with the Spirit feels nebulous to us and we don’t know how to know if it is real in our lives, then let the word of Christ dwell in you richly and you will know you are filled with the Spirit since the Spirit is the only one who can teach you all things and bring to your remembrance what the word of Christ has already taught you.
And then add this:
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16)
This simply brings out to me that Jesus has “said these things to you,” and that is enough for us to have peace. Even when the world causes us tribulation, as it has, does, and will, we are to take heart in the words of Christ and persevere in faith.
Which, of course, reminds me of what Jesus had said earlier that evening,
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15)
It is what Jesus has spoken to us that leads us into that abiding relationship between vine and branches in which the joy of the vine flows into the branches bringing the joy of the branches to the full. As that joyful fellowship with Christ becomes evident to others, it both builds up the body of Christ, and gives us opportunity to share our testimony with people who wonder why we have such hope as Christ in us.
In conclusion: Because Jesus has “overcome the world”, our faith in him makes us those who overcome the world. We simply must let his word dwell in us richly so we are constantly abiding in him and so bearing much fruit to Father’s glory.
4 Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 John 4)
4 For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5)
© 2017 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)