Does John 15 Teach that Saved People May Not Abide in the Vine, in the Lord Jesus Christ?
Updated: Feb 3, 2022
What did Jesus mean when He said to the eleven on their way from the upper room to the garden, "Abide in me"? There are two very different views propagated. To many professing Christians, "abide in me," is some kind of unique brand of Christian life, to abide in Christ. You might be a Christian and not abiding in Jesus. They would say it's some kind of special closeness, a mystical concept. But that it is not what this passage is teaching.
In the context of Jn 15, Judas had left the other eleven (Jn 13). He had defected. He had not remained with Jesus and them. He wouldn't persevere. He couldn't overcome. He did apostatize. He pushed the eject button on following Jesus Christ. That very night would be one of great affliction and trial. The apostles would be tested mightily. Peter would deny the Lord three times. They didn’t yet have the indwelling Holy Spirit, but that was no excuse. Again and again in the upper room and in their journey to the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus said that if a man loved Him, he would keep His commandments, His words, His sayings. Those who would not keep His commandments did not love Him and were defectors, false professors. The promises of Jn 14, intended as comforting realities and calming truths, were for those who loved the Lord Jesus Christ, while simultaneously exposing those who were fakes, that is, false believers. Their faith wouldn’t endure the test of God. They didn’t truly love the Lord Jesus because they wouldn’t obey Him. The vine and the branch analogy of Jn 15 is a metaphor. It was one used for God and the nation Israel, a very familiar one for Israel through the OT. God had warned Israel through His prophets about defecting, about not remaining or staying with Him, and losing out on His blessings and eternal life. Israel's apostasy itself brought the eleven to this point with Jesus.
The Greek verb “meno,” translated as “abide,” means to remain or stay, not go elsewhere. It's a simple word. If you stayed, you weren't taking off. While they walked to a very difficult trial, Jesus was saying, "Don't take off." He said, "Abide in me," because of the vine and branch metaphor. The branch needed to abide in the vine or else be thrown into the fire. "Abide" is an aorist imperative, which is constative.
People who are saved will not leave the Lord Jesus Christ. Defectors like Judas are not saved. They will be cast into the fire. These are deniers of God, who are denied before the Father (Matt 10:33). This is not talking about how to be a better Christian. People who abide are saved people. All saved people abide. If you do not abide in Christ, then you don’t belong to Him. Jesus spent much of John 14 speaking to them about God indwelling believers. He was with them but then He would be in them. The ones He indwells are those who overcome, who persevere, which is all truly saved people (1 Jn 2:13-14; 4:4; 5:4-5; Rev 2:7, 11; 3:5).
Many passages of Scripture teach that all those who are justified will also be progressively sanctified and evidently changed (Matt. 7:18-19; Jn. 15:1-11; 17:17; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:18-24; Eph. 2:8-10; 5:5-6; Heb. 8:8-12; and Rev. 21:8, 27). For everything that God does to keep believers, so that no man can pluck them out of His hand, believers will cooperate in continuing in Him. Jesus is the Vine. They will remain attached to the Vine, which is abiding in Him.
Christ in Jn 15:6 says “if a man” abide not, rather than “if ye abide not,” for, Judas having been separated from them, the remaining disciples were all genuine believers. "Abiding in Christ" is not an instruction for how to be a better Christian, which is the only other way it can be interpreted, besides “losing salvation” (which is a false gospel). Those who abide in Him do in fact keep loving Him and keeping His commandments. Jesus said they will (Jn 14:23-24; Pr 8:17-21). John said they will, or they don’t know the Father and don’t have the truth dwelling in them (1 Jn 2:3-5). Faith in Christ is not a dead faith, but a living faith, a persevering faith. A person born of God will keep on believing in Jesus as a practice and way of life because every just person lives by faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38-39). False professing believers on the other hand fall back unto eventual perdition, that is eternal destruction (Heb 10:39), representative of the branch that appears to be part of the vine but is not, and “is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (Jn 15:6). They also represent the corrupt tree with the corrupt fruit (Matt 7:15-20), “trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;” (Ju 1:12c). God indwells the saved individual, the one who abides in Christ, and enables him to love Christ and keep His commandments (De 30:6; Rom 5:5).
Those who abide in Christ bring forth fruit. All saved people bring forth fruit, even as we note in the parable of the sower, where only one of the soils is saved: the fruitful one (Matt 13), thus all saved people abide in Christ. The fruit reveals the reality of their abiding in Christ and Christ in them. They also have the capacity through God the Father's pruning process to bear even more fruit.
Two different types of Christians in Jn 15:1-6 fit a theological presupposition seen in Keswick/Second Blessing theology. It is a Keswick interpretation. Abiding in Christ is a higher life to be attained for a Christian in Keswick thinking. A Christian can be a spiritual one, who abides in Christ, or a carnal one, who does not abide in Christ. Abiding in Christ describes to a Keswick believer a victorious Christian life, but someone not abiding is still a Christian. Whether someone bears fruit or does not bear fruit does not indicate any difference in eternal outcome. Both go to heaven in the end and in complete contradiction to everything Jesus says in John 13-14 and then after in the rest of John 15 into 16-17. The two natures of a Christian is also error. There is only one nature in a saved person, which is the spiritual nature (1 Cor 2:9-16). The carnal person in Scripture is an unregenerate person, even as the definition is of that word, and noted also in Rom 8:1-9. When a sinner is saved, the new doesn’t get added to the old, so that two natures occupy the saint. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Cor 5:17). He is a new creature, not a new added to the old. All old things are passed away and all things become new.
Taking passages like John 15 in Keswick fashion allows for numerous professions of faith, not accompanied by perseverance or abiding, to be counted by the workers or ministers as fruit for them. These non-fruit bearing individuals are counted as their fruit, because a profession of faith was made. It also gives false assurance to people that may very well be unsaved. Abiding in Christ is not mystical. It speaks of true Christian conversion differentiated from a false profession that does not abide, does not bear fruit, and will in the end go to Hell. What Keswick theology does is give this false conversion false security that will inoculate him from the truth that he is not saved. This is a tragedy that exists in churches all over the world that is of an indescribable monumental proportion. But it is bad enough to mark as something akin to a false gospel.
John 15 is describing the true Christian life; we remain in and abide with Jesus day by day. It's descriptive of what the Christian life looks like. John said much the same in 1 John.
Here is a brief exposition on some of the first six verses of John 15.
1. The Lord’s statement in John 15:2 that branches “in me” can be taken away, is the best attempt in this text to affirm Arminianism. However, these branches are not those who have been regenerated and then fell away from that state—they are those who were never numbered among God’s elect. All the elect will bring forth fruit, Jn 15:16, and, since they have the Holy Ghost in them, they will certainly abide, 1 Jn 2:27, or, employing two of the synonyms of abide in the NT, they will certainly continue or persevere in Christ and in obedience. The fact that the Lord refers to these unregenerate individuals as “in me,” does not necessitate their genuine regeneration. All the nation of Israel were the seed of Abraham, but the unbelievers (which is by far the most) were cut off from the nation (Ex. 30:33; Lev. 19:8; 20:17), so that, while nationally “in the Lord,” only the believing seed is “in the Lord” in a deeper and true spiritual sense (Is 45:17, 24-25). One could compare the interplay in Isaiah’s servant of the Lord image between national Israel, the Israel of God, and the Lord Jesus (Isa. 41:8; 44:1, 21; 45:4; 49:3-7; 52:13-53:12) or the Lord Jesus as the elect One and Israel as elect in Him (Isa. 42:1; 45:4; 65:9, 22). The entire nation of Israel constituted the people of God, but in a deeper sense, only the believing Israelites, only the Israel of God, constituted the genuine people of God (Rom. 9:6; cf. 11:20). In the same way, all those who are members of the church are, in a certain sense, associated with the people of God; but they are not all regenerate. The church at Corinth for example was the body of Christ (1 Cor 12:27), but some members of the church were unregenerate (1 Cor 15:12, 34; 2 Cor 13:5).
The unregenerate “branch” in the Lord cannot bear (present tense) fruit because it has never had a living connection to Christ (Jn 15:5). It had an outward, non-living, fruitless connection (and thus the utter pagan is not in view, but the false professor, the unconverted church member), but not a living, genuine connection. Union with Christ always results in a change of life, in sanctification and holiness. Therefore the branch without this living union is “taken away,” that is, it is eventually cut off from even its outward connection to the church and people of God, as Judas was, and is cast into hell. The reference is not to a true believer receiving some kind of judgment; while the verb “take away” is regularly connected to the judgment of unbelievers in Scripture (Mt 13:12; 21:43; 22:13; 24:39; 25:28-29; Mk. 4:15, 25; Lk. 8:12, 18; 11:52; 19:24, 26), believers are never said to be “taken away” by God in any of the 102 verses where the verb is found in the NT (contrast Jn 16:22). Those “taken away” are the lost. In contrast, the Father, the husbandman (v. 1, cf. 1 Cor 3:9; Isa. 5:1-2; 27:2-3) works with the branch that is vitally connected to the vine, and by “pruning” him brings about the result of even greater fruit-bearing. The fruit-bearing for the one with genuine spiritual life is certain, as is the fact that the unconverted will not bear fruit and will be cut off. We can see in this verse the perseverance of the saints, by divine grace, and the inability of the unregenerate to persevere (1 Jn 2:19), only by feigned faith and outward imitation (Mt 7:21-23). Jn 15:2 contrasts the false believer, represented by Judas, and the true believer, represented by the other eleven apostles, in the church.
2. In John 15:3 we read, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” The Lord had stated in Jn 13:10 that His apostles were clean, but not all; but now Judas having been separated from the church, all to whom the Lord spoke were now clean. There is a wordplay between the purging/cleansing of v. 2 and the cleansing of v. 3. This demonstrates that the instrumentality of the bearing of more fruit, as mentioned in v. 2, is the Word of God, v. 3, cf. Jn 17:17. The Word is the “pruning knife” (v. 2; cf. Heb. 4:12) which the Father employs to strengthen the believer to bear more fruit. Saints bear fruit as a result of their living, vital union to the Lord Jesus Christ, through the instrument of the Scriptures, the recorded, perfectly inspired and preserved record of God’s Words. God the Father continues sanctifying (v. 2, “purgeth”) the one who has become clean (v. 3) through justification.
3. In John 15:4 Jesus says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” The aorist imperative “abide” here indicates the characteristic of the whole life of the saint, not a momentary action, or repeated points of faith-decisions to surrender to Christ (compare the aorists of meno in Mt 10:11; 26:38; Jn 1:32). Remaining, continuing, persevering, or abiding as a characteristic of the whole life is the mark of the genuine convert (Jn 8:31; 1 Jn 2:3-5). He will abide because Christ and the Spirit dwell or abide in him, and thus make certain his continued perseverance or abiding (1 Jn 2:24, 27). “Abide in me” means to continue in Christ’s word and commandments (Jn 15:7, 10), to remain united to Him. The true convert, because he is in Christ and Christ is in him, will persevere in unity with the Lord, and one would expect him to remain in unity with His church, which is His body, as well. There is also a connection between the second half of the command, “and I in you,” v. 4, and Christ’s words abiding in believers, v. 7. One notes that the imperative in v. 4 covers both halves of the abiding; saints are responsible for both the “abide in Me” and for the “and I in you.” Advocates of the position that only Christians that have received the “higher life” abide typically do not say that Christ only indwells those on the higher plane—but here those that abide in Christ are those who Christ abides in. Their continuing to abide in Christ is as certain as Christ’s continuing to abide or dwell in them.
The individual who abides or dwells in Christ keeps His commandments by the power of the indwelling Spirit (1 Jn 3:24). No spiritual fruit, no good works are possible without a living union to Christ, without abiding or dwelling in Him, a state brought about by regeneration (Hos. 14:8; Gal. 2:20; Phil. 1:11). On its own, “the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,” for the unregenerate man cannot in any way please God (Rom 8:7-8). However, saints can and do bear fruit, for they do abide or dwell in Christ and they never stop dwelling and abiding in Christ. That Christ commands His saints to abide or remain in Him does not require the possibility that they will fail to do so; rather, as has been demonstrated above, their continuing to abide is guaranteed by the Spirit’s dwelling or abiding in them (1 Jn 2:24, 27). Only those who overcome will enter into life (Rev 2:7, 10, 17, 26; 3:21), but all believers will overcome, because its the event of salvation that makes them overcomers (1 Jn 5:4-5; 4:4; 2:13-14).
4. In John 15:6 Jesus declares that one who does not, as a summary of his life, abide (aorist tense), or continue faithful to Him, the Vine, is cast into hell fire, where he will be continually burned (present tense) for all eternity. The branch without genuine connection to the Lord pictures an unregenerate person with only an outward profession of Christianity. Jn 15:6 does not picture a loss of reward for a disobedient believer. Other than Jn 15:6, the verbs “cast forth” (ballo) and “burned” (kaio) are found together only in Rev 8:8 and 19:20. Neither reference speaks of believers being cast forth or burned. Rev 19:20 (cf. 20:11-15; 21:8, “the lake which burneth (kaio) with fire and brimstone”), however, demonstrates that the lost will be “cast (ballo) . . . into a lake of fire burning (kaio) with brimstone.” Furthermore, out of 125 instances of the verb “cast forth” (ballo) in the NT, believers are never once said to be cast forth by God, but the lost are, over and over again, said to be cast (ballo) into the fires of hell (note Mt. 3:10; 5:13, 25, 29-30; 7:19; 13:42, 48; 18:8-9; Mark 9:42 (cf. vv. 41-48), 45, 47; Lk. 3:9; 12:58; 14:35; Rev. 2:22; 12:4, 9, 13; 14:19; 18:21; 19:20; 20:3, 10, 14-15).
Thus, the verse indicates that a lack of fruit is evidence of a non-living connection to the vine. The present tense of ballo, in “cast” them into the fire, refers vividly (cf. the present tenses in Mt 3:10; 7:19; Lk 3:9; Rev. 2:22) to the unconverted being cast into eternal torment. The judgment of the lost in hellfire is associated with a similar plant and fruit-bearing image in Jn 15 as in Mt. 3:10; 7:19; Lk 3:9. These unregenerate, apostate, “withered” and fruitless branches (cf. Ju. 1:12; Job 8:11-14; Jam. 1:11), of which Judas is the contextual example, are often “cast forth” (also “ballo,” aorist, as in Mk. 9:45, 47; Rev. 20:15) in a certain sense in this life, through outward apostasy from the church, to which they had been outwardly united (cf. Mt. 13:47-50; 1 Jn 2:19), whether voluntarily or through church discipline, but their ultimate rejection and separation from the elect will take place at the day of judgment. At that time the wheat and chaff, the branches truly united to Christ and those only professedly so, will be “gathered” (cf. Mt. 3:12; 13:30; 25:32; Lk. 3:17) to their respective destinies of eternal joy or torment. The branches without union to Christ will glorify God’s justice in their miserable damnation; they will not glorify God here by living by faith with good works, but they will glorify His justice by their being burned eternally (Ezk 15:2-5; Rom 9:22).
Though the tree is the typical metaphor to illustrate a person (e.g. Matt 3:10; 7:15-20), that does not imply that the branch metaphor isn’t a person. Both are used to illustrate a complete person, evident by the context and words used in Jn 15:6. People are also referred to as a branch in Mal 4:1. Israel is referred to as a branch (Is 60:21). Lucifer is referred to as a branch in Is. 14:19. The Lord Jesus Christ is frequently addressed as a “Branch,” yet He is also the vine and life of the branch and tree (Jer. 33:15; Ze. 3:8; 6:12). It bears importance to remember that the branch in John 15 is a metaphor and even there its referred to as a complete person (just like the tree in Mt. 3:10; 7:15-20 and other places): “If a MAN abide not in me, HE is cast forth as a branch…” (v. 6). When that branch is gathered and cast into the fire as that passage declares, it is clearly referring to “a man” (“he”) who doesn’t abide in Christ. Since all truly saved people abide in Christ and they do not forsake Him or fall away and thus cannot apostatize, these must then obviously be lost people that had some form of profession of faith and testament to following Christ but were in fact false pretenders and actors, hypocrites (which is what this word means, and always applied to lost people in Scripture) such as Judas, the contextual example, and many others in Scripture (e.g. Balaam, Simon the sorcerer in Acts 8, the stony and thorny soils, the Jews in Jn 2:23-25, the “disciples” in Jn 6:60-66, those in 1 Jn 2:19, the apostate pastor of Laodicean church and many others in that church in Rev 3:14-18, Demas in 2 Tim 4:10, etc).
All the saved, true believers, abide in Christ; they persevere in characteristic obedience to Him and fellowship with Him through His Word (Jn 17:17; Eph 5:26; 1 Pet 2:2). The glorious promise to saints, “ye shall abide in Him” (1 Jn 2:27), should motivate them to ever closer communion with their Lord. Being confident that He which began that good work of sanctification in them will continue it until they reach glory (Phil 1:6), and that God will sanctify them, spirit, soul, and body (1 Th 5:23-24) and preserve them to the end (Ju. 1:1; 1 Th 5:23; 2 Tim 4:18), they can boldly access the throne of grace (Heb 4:16) concerning their perseverance and sanctification with the Lord who has covenanted to perform those great works in them because of the new birth. Sanctification is is their new covenant heritage and certainty (Heb 8:10-12)—the certainty of ultimate and absolute victory over sin in glory, and the certainty of God’s working in them now both to will and do of His good pleasure (Phil 2:13; Eph 2:10), provides them with a tremendous encouragement to strive for ever greater conformity to and communion with God (Phil 2:12) and practical holiness of life.
What about 1 John 2:28?
I believe 1 Jn 2:28 is a warning to those who might not be converted, due to the words used here, the context (previous and next verse), other Scripture compared and even the rest of this epistle which is a continual contrast between saved and lost.
The verse previous to that, 1 Jn 2:27, says, “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.” This passage teaches that the Spirit, who indwells the elect, remains or continues in them, and He makes certain that the elect will remain, continue, or persevere in true doctrine and practice. We note the two-way abiding here. The Holy Spirit always abides in the saved and the saved always abides in Him. Whatever v. 28 means, it cannot contradict this contextual passage, or the one that follows or other passages in Scripture.
1 Jn 2:28, our passage in reference says, “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” This is a command to persevere in the faith; those who are ashamed before Him at His coming are lost people, not disobedient Christians, as v. 29 and the previous verse demonstrate. The truly saved are no never again ashamed of Christ as these passages make clear: Is. 28:16; 54:4; Rom. 10:11; 9:33; Heb. 2:11; 11:16; Rom. 1:16; 5:5.
The word “abide” is translated from the word “meno” which is found 120 times in the NT. Here are the other instances its found in 1 and 2 John, which reflect the same truth as above, that all saved people abide in Christ while lost people do not.
1 Jn 2:6, “He that saith he ABIDETH in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.” In the previous verse (v. 5), those “in Him” are those who are truly converted, those in whom the love of God is perfected (perfect tense). This would suggest that abiding in Him, v. 6, is synonymous with being en Christo, that is, with genuine conversion. Consider that this is a present tense aorist abiding just like what we see in John 15. This passage is declaring that those who say they abide in Him, I.e. they are saved, they will walk as He walked. That truth is taught everywhere in Scripture. E.g. Jn 8:12; 10:1-5. The true sheep of the Great Shepherd ALWAYS follow their Shepherds voice (Jn 10:1-5, 26-27). Obedience to Gods Word is a major evidence of true conversion.
1 Jn 2:10, “He that loveth his brother ABIDETH in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.” Here again the contrast with v. 9, where he who hates his brother is now and always has been unconverted, indicates that abiding in the light (present tense again) is the mark of the converted individual.
1 Jn 2:14, “I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God ABIDETH in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.” This verse also teaches the abiding of the Word of God in people is a characteristic of true conversion. They were clean (perfect tense) through the Word of God which Christ had spoken (Jn 15:3) and His Words abode (aorist) in them (Jn 15:7).
1 Jn 2:17, “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God ABIDETH for ever.” The one who does the will of God, the genuine convert, will continue to eternity in the presence of God, unlike the world and its lusts.
1 Jn 2:19, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have CONTINUED with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” The pluperfect of meno here in this verse makes it clear that the elect do abide, remain, continue, or stay. They begin to do so at one point (conversion) with continuing results. The ones who do not abide are lost. This verse provides evidence that in John 15 abide is a synonym for persevere or continue. The evidence would only be undermined if one could prove from Scripture that people can genuinely abide and then cease to do so, be restored to doing so again, and cease to abide again, and continue to flip-flop back and forth, making abiding is an all-or-nothing matter rather than a matter of degree or a overall mark of believers. It is not possible to prove from the Bible that such flip-flopping takes place.
1 Jn 2:24, “LET that therefore ABIDE in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall REMAIN in you, ye also shall CONTINUE in the Son, and in the Father.” Meno is found four times in this passage. If the teachings given before this text remain or continue in the audience of 1 John, then they will continue or remain in the Son and in the Father, that is, they will be eternally saved, for they are en Christo. “Let ... abide,” is a warning to avoid apostasy from the faith. Those who apostatize were never genuinely in Christ, but they had a certain sort of profession in the Father and Son, it appears from the last clause here, as in Jn 15:2. Remaining or abiding in true faith and practice characterizes the audience; because they are those who abide, they will receive eternal life (v. 25).
1 Jn 3:6, “Whosoever ABIDETH in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.” Abiding in him is being regenerate; since in Him there is no sin, v. 5, the one who is in Him does not continue in sin (v. 6; and abide is present tense). The contrast is not with a disobedient Christian, but a lost man (v. 6bff.).
1 Jn 3:9, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed REMAINETH in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Because the Holy Spirit, given at the moment of regeneration, remains (present tense) in the elect, they are not able to continue to commit or live in sin. Those who are born of God “cannot sin,” that is, cannot continue to sin.
1 Jn 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother ABIDETH in death.” The one who is not loving his brother is remaining, continuing, or persevering in a state of spiritual death, while the one who loves his brother abides in a state of spiritual life. Love for the brethren is a major evidence of true conversion.
1 Jn 3:15, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life ABIDING in him.” Eternal life is not abiding or continuing in the murderer, reflecting he never had eternal life to begin with (Gal 5:21).
1 Jn 3:17, “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how DWELLETH the love of God in him?” The one who does not help his brother does not have love for God within him, and God does not love him with that love He has for the elect. Not having the love of God dwelling, remaining, or staying in one is being lost. Jn 5:42 makes this clear, as does 1 Jn 2:15.
1 Jn 3:24, “And he that keepeth his commandments DWELLETH in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he ABIDETH in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.” The one that keeps His commandments is a converted person. Scripture here equates “he who keeps His commandments” with “he who abides in Christ, and Christ abides in Him.” Abiding is what all saved people do then, and it is a synonym with the perseverance of believers, with continuing, remaining, or enduring in true doctrine and practice. The evidence that He continues or remains with us is the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not only the possession of true Christians who are not disobedient. This fact indicates that the entire verse deals with a saved/lost contrast, not an obedient/disobedient Christian contrast.
1 Jn 4:12, “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God DWELLETH in us, and his love is perfected in us.” Here again, the previous and subsequent context indicates that this love, which is the certain mark of regeneration (v. 7), and so is characteristic of all believers, is the subject under consideration. All believers love, therefore, God abides or dwells in all of them, and His love has been completed or perfected in them. De 30:6; Rom 5:5 and 1 Th 4:9 make it clear that it’s God Himself that teaches us to love Him and our brethren.
1 Jn 4:13, “Hereby know we that we DWELL in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.” Here the believer’s abiding in God, and God’s abiding in him, is also a mark of conversion. All believers were given and continue to have (perfect tense) the Spirit, and He is the seal and testimony of that mutual indwelling or abiding. Abiding is not something that a special class of believers learn how to do, but a certain state of all of God’s people.
1 Jn 4:15, “Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God DWELLETH in him, and he in God.” Here again, the indwelling or abiding of God in the saint and of the saint in God is a mark of regeneration, not of subsequent progressive sanctification. The mutual association between the believer’s dwelling in God and Christ and Christ’s indwelling the believer is also most noteworthy; all “in Christ” have Christ abiding in them; if Christ dwells in us, then we abide or dwell in Christ. Always.
1 Jn 4:16, “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that DWELLETH in love DWELLETH in God, and God in him.” Here again, it is extremely clear that genuine conversion means that one abides in God and in love, and God abides in him. Nor can the advocate of abiding in Christ as (solely) an instrumentality for progressive sanctification which some believers may not possess at times, argue that abiding in God and in Christ are two different things, for one can easily demonstrate that if one is in the Son he is also in the Father; this is also a necessary consequence of a proper and sound theology. Note the perfect tense forms for “we have known and believed.”
2 Jn 1:2, “For the truth’s sake, which DWELLETH in us, and shall be with us for ever.” The truth abiding, remaining, or dwelling in the saints was not a temporary state or condition, or dependent upon the struggles in practical sanctification, but a continuing character received permanently at regeneration.
2 Jn 1:9, “Whosoever transgresseth, and ABIDETH not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that ABIDETH in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.” Here it is obvious that the one who does not abide in correct doctrine is lost.
As we know, Scripture always harmonizes and what all these passages are saying does not contradict what 1 Jn 2:28 or John 15 teach.