God has taken hold of us to know him and follow him and bear fruit he produces in us as we remain in him. God’s design for us is a long way from being finished. That for which Christ Jesus took hold of you and me is not yet complete. Therefore, remain in Jesus!
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
I attended the baptism of my nephew, Evan, last weekend and was reminded again of Philippians 3:12, which is the verse I encouraged my daughter, Em, with when she was baptized years ago. Take hold of that for which Christ took hold of you. That’s what Paul was pressing on to do. That’s what I was encouraging Em to do.
That’s what baptism says we are doing: pressing on to take hold of that for which Jesus is taking hold of us.
I thought about giving my nephew the same verse, yet I wrote John 15:5 on the bottom of the card. Remain in Jesus. Remain in Jesus so that you can bear fruit.
Remain in Jesus so that he can fulfill his purpose in taking hold of you.
I guarantee that Jesus does not take hold of us so that we won’t bear fruit. He takes hold of us to remain in him and bear much fruit. Much. Fruit.
One of the other students baptized in Sunday had believed in Jesus his whole life, he said. And then the young man said, “I want to do more than just believe. I want to follow Jesus.” Press on in following Jesus. Don’t think that believing is enough or where we find our completion or conclusion. Jesus actually wants us to follow him.
When Evan took his place in the baptismal tank, he gave his testimony, which included this profound statement: “God’s design for us is a long way from being finished.” God is not done yet. Not done with you and not done with me. Not done with my nephew Evan and not done with the others who were baptized that day.
His design for us is a long way from being finished or completed. That for which Christ Jesus took hold of you and me is not yet complete. Paul confesses in his own case that he has not yet obtained what God has for him. That’s why he was pressing on toward that goal.
That’s why it is so important for us to remain in Jesus. This is not a sprint. This is not an episodic event. This is a marathon. It is a journey. It is a life of following Jesus through many seasons in which we will do the works that he has prepared in advance for us to do. God has taken hold of us for us to know him and follow him and bear fruit which he will produce in us as we remain in him.
Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. Now, we know that we can do many things apart from God, yet what Jesus is really saying in that we cannot do anything of eternal good or in fulfillment of God’s will for us unless we remain or abide in him. We need to remain in Jesus if we will have a hope of obtaining our goal and taking hold of God’s destiny for us, bearing the much fruit of his presence and power and purpose for us.
Thanks for inviting me to witness your baptism, Evan. And praise God his design for us is still a long way from being finished. Remain in Jesus.