As you can see on the screen, the title of my message today is “R.E.M.A.I.N. in Christ”. I have been thinking a lot lately how it is important for us to remain firmly connected to Christ. It is vital for us to walk closely with the Lord.
Now before I look at my Bible reading. I want to look at the image I have used on the screen. It is a picture of the grape vine in Hampton Court in London. The vine is over 250 years old and some of the branches are over 200 feet long and each year it produces over 200 kilograms of grapes. The main root is four feet around. Everything grows so well, and it produces so much fruit, because it is connected to main the root. It receives all its nutrients from the main root.
In John 15:1-5 Jesus talks about our spiritual connection and says it is like vines and branches. It stresses the importance a close connection. It says…
John 15:1-5 – “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit, so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
This passage has lots of good stuff I could speak about today. It talks about God being the gardener who trims us and prunes us. Jesus talks about us being pruned and purified by His message. It talks about producing much fruit. But the part I want to focus on today is the words of Jesus, “Remain in Me and I will remind in you”.
Remaining in Christ is vital to producing much fruit. Jesus tells us this in the text. Today I want to share six keys using the letters of remain to help us remember.
R- Rest in the finished work of Christ
John 19:28-30 – Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. 30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
Jesus paid the price for our sin on the cross. He died to take our punishment. Just before He died He said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). The work of salvation is done. We don’t have to strive or strain any more. We just have to trust Jesus as our Lord and our Saviour.
Romans 10:9-10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
Rest in His work, realise you are saved and held in His hands. Romans 8:38-39 tells us that nothing can separate us from Him. It says, “And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below–indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So, Rest!
To remain in Christ, rest in what He has purchased for you.
E – Endurance is vital
Hebrews 12:1-2 – Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The Apostle Paul told us in Hebrews 12:1-2 to run the race set before us with endurance. The race set before us is the things that God wants us to do in this life. We need to stay in our lane and focus on our race and work.
Anyone who has ever run a race knows running with endurance means to pace ourselves. We need to pace ourselves in our service of God too. We can’t run off like a bull at a gate as we will burn out, we have to pace ourselves and do what we can do. We do our part, God does His. Think marathon not sprint!
Matthew 11:28-30 reminds us to take on Christ’s yoke and work with Him. We partner and get involved with Him in what He is already doing. We partner, but He always takes the heavy end of the work.
To remain in Christ, we need to run with endurance. None of us are helpful if we burn ourselves out. We become like a marathon runner who goes out too quickly and ends up sitting on the edge of the road.
To remain in Christ, endurance in vital.
M – Maintain a close walk with the Lord
John 15:4 – Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
In John 15 Jesus stresses the importance of being connected to Him. Our connection to Him is where we get our spiritual life.
Anyone who has ever trimmed trees would have noticed that if the trimmed parts are left in the sun, they quickly wither and die. While the branches still connected, thrive. They can still produce flowers or fruit. They can still do the things they were created to do. We are like those branches, if we stay connected, we can produce the things we were created to produce.
As Christians we know that we keep connected through prayer, worship, serving, Bible reading and church fellowship. Connection via these things are keys to remaining Christ. They keep us strong and our connection strong.
The Greek work used in the text for remain is men’-o. It means to stay. Other words that can be used to describe it are – abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, stand. These all give us a sense of staying steadfast in one place. This is what Christ wants is to do.
To remain in Christ, maintain a close connection with the Lord.
A – Aim to be a vehicle of blessing
2 Corinthians 9:8-11 – And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
God wants to use us to bless others. In 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 Paul talks about God blessing us, so we can bless others. It talks about God providing enough for us and leftovers to pass on to others.
As Christians we need to see ourselves as vehicles of blessings. We need to think of ways to bless, support, uphold and encourage others. Allow God to move through you each day. Serving God keeps daily keeps us in Christ.
A friend of mine had a goal to do one thing a day for others. She was intentional in her efforts. It might be a nice phone call, a card, helping with gardening, delivering a food parcel. Her goal was to do 7 things in 7 days each week. Before long, her lifestyle changed to one of blessing. She became a vehicle of blessings. And as the passage says she always had enough for herself.
To remain in Christ, aim to be a vehicle of blessing.
I – Imagine eternity with Christ
John 14:2-3 – My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
Jesus said He is preparing a place for us in eternity. He also said He is coming back for us one day. A great truth of the Bible is we will spend way more time in eternity than we will in this life. It makes sense to think about our eternal home. The Bible says we are citizens of heaven.
In Philippians 3:20-21 it says, “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. And Colossians 3:1-2 says that we should set our hearts of minds on things above.
Focusing on our eternal home helps and inspires us to walk closely with Christ and Remain in Him.
To remain in Christ, imagine eternity with Christ.
N – Never allow yourself to be overcome by the world
John 16:33 – I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
Jesus told us in John 16:33 that in this life we will have many trials and sorrows. Unfortunately, this is part of living in a fallen world that is marred by sin. Jesus also said in this verse to not lose heart, because He has overcome the world.
Jesus the author and perfecter of our life and faith, has overcome this world. We are on His team and He is for us. A key to remaining in Christ is to not let the world overcome us.
It can be so easy when we hear bad news in the media to lose heart. But I have learned that when I hear of bad things in the media to use it as a call to prayer, rather than an opportunity to be discouraged.
The Greek word for overcome used in this passage is nik-ah’-o. It means to subdue: – conquer, overcome, prevail, get the victory. It gives us a sense of something that is full and complete. Much like when Jesus said, “It is finished”.
Galatians 6:9 reminds us to “not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”
The simple fact that Galatians 6:9 tells is not to become weary in doing good, tells us that we can get weary. The world can press in and overcome us. When this happens we need to – Stand firm. Stand strong. Focus on Christ. Keep serving and know that He has overcome.
To remain in Christ, never allow yourself to be overcome by the world.
Today we have looked at a great passage from John 15. It likens our relationship with Jesus and being like vines and branches. Jesus told us that to produce much fruit we ween to be connected to the Vine.
We saw six keys using the letters of remain.
1. Rest in the finished work of Christ
2. Endurance in vital
3. Maintain a close walk with the Lord
4. Aim to be a vehicle of blessing
5. Imagine eternity with Christ
6. Never allow yourself to be overcome by the world