Dr. Van Gelderen,
It almost sounds as if the one that does not abide in Christ is evidence that that person is not truly saved?
Thanks for your follow-up question to last week’s Q&A (see Q#6 What Gets Burned?). When you believe in Jesus as Savior, among many other salvation truths, you are placed “in Christ.” In the imagery of John 15 you are now in the true vine—Jesus. Jesus commands those “in me” to “Abide in me” in order to “bear fruit.” From this we can note two thoughts that pertain to the question at hand.
First, if you are “in me [Christ],” then you are in Him. The inspired text says as much (15:2). This means you are dealing with a truly saved person. This is why the Vinedresser lifts up and prunes the branches that are not functioning according to their purpose. But they are branches “in” the vine.
Second, the command to “Abide in me [Christ]” implies that abiding is not inevitable, but a faith response. Every believer can and should abide. The provision of a regenerated spirit consisting of the divine nature (1 John 3:9; Eph. 4:24) and the glorious provision of the indwelling Spirit joined to that regenerated spirit makes it such that every believer can and should abide in Christ. But it is a matter of faith, not a matter of fate. Otherwise Jesus would not need to command us to abide in Him.
While many in their new found faith keep looking unto Jesus, and therefore start abiding, it is not automatic. Sadly, there are times when every believer does not abide. Sometimes this may last awhile. I know a dear lady who got saved listening to the Gospel on television, but no one discipled her. She was not in church. But she had trusted Christ as her Savior. For ten years she didn’t “look” saved. She divorced and began living with another man. But then they started attending a Bible-preaching church. The man got saved. Then she started responding in faith to the Word of God as she heard it preached—she started abiding. When she did, she began to immediately grow in grace. For years now, she has been a blessed example of the abiding life that bears fruit. But for the first ten years she did not evidence the fruit of the Spirit because she knew nothing of the abiding life of faith.
Since every believer goes in and out of abiding, abiding in Christ is not an infallible evidence of salvation or lack of salvation.