Abide

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Daily Reform, John 15:1-8

From the Reformer

Here Paul relates that immediately upon being called by God to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, he went into Arabia without consulting a single person. “When it had pleased God,” he writes, “I did not deserve it. I had been an enemy of Christ. I had blasphemed His Gospel. I had shed innocent blood. In the midst of my frenzy I was called. Why? On account of my outrageous cruelty? Indeed not. My gracious God who shows mercy unto whom He will, pardoned all mine iniquities. He bestowed His grace upon me, and called me for an apostle.”

We also have come to the knowledge of the truth by the same kindness of God. I crucified Christ daily in my cloistered life, and blasphemed God by my wrong faith. Outwardly I kept myself chaste, poor, and obedient. I was much given to fasting, watching, praying, saying of masses, and the like. Yet under the cloak of my outward respectability I continually mistrusted, doubted, feared, hated, and blasphemed God. My righteousness was a filthy puddle. Satan loves such saints. They are his darlings, for they quickly destroy their body and soul by depriving them of the blessings of God’s generous gifts.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, Galatians 1:15-16

Pulling It Together

God calls whom he will, using strange, weak, and foolish people to perform his will. Believe! Abide in the Vine and he will live in you. This is salvation, not the fruit that is born as result. Yet, if you abide in Christ, the fruit of Christ will follow.

“But how do I abide in him?” Let his words abide in you; that is the answer Jesus gives. “But how do I know his words are alive in me?” Again Jesus answers: fruit will be the result of abiding in the vine. Live off of the vine and you will wither and die. Had Paul not received the words of Christ on the road to Damascus, he would have never born the fruit of preaching to the Gentiles. He did, however, receive Christ’s words and thus, lived in the Vine. Only because he did so was much fruit produced and the result was that God was glorified in Paul’s fruitful life.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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