The Westminster Shorter Catechism begins by telling us that man’s chief end is “to glorify God.” this highlights the importance of abiding in Christ, so that we way we glorify the Father. John 15:8, “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
This is an important statement, first, because it reminds us that we prove our discipleship by bearing fruit for the Lord. Jesus adds that the same fruit that grants us assurance of salvation, also brings glory to the Father. This indicates that if we are not abiding in Christ and bearing the fruit of changed lives, then we are denying God glory that ought to be His. It is easy for us to speak of praising God and to sing hallelujahs, but the way that God desires to be glorified in us is by our transformed lives. That our lives might contribute to the glory of the one, true, and eternal God ought to fill our hearts with wonder and amazement. Moreover, that we might give something back to the God who has given His own Son for our salvation ought to spur us with great zeal for the glory of the Father.
Christ’s fruit in our life glorifies the Father before the holy angels, who Peter says long to look into the things of the gospel (1 Peter 1:12). Our changed lives vindicate God’s saving purpose before the accusations of the devil. Back in the garden, God cursed Satan, declaring that he would be made to east dust (Genesis 3:14). One of the chief ways in which God feeds the Serpent dust is by forgiving our sin through Christ’s blood and then actually making us holy so that even Satan must glorify God in our salvation. The fruit of our lives further glorifies God before the watching world.
When Jesus says that our fruit proves our disciples, a corollary principle is that many professing Christians lack assurance and peace in their salvation, some living with great doubt and fear, because they are careless about abiding in Christ. Ryle observes, “Men are content with a little Christianity, and a little fruit for the spirit, and do not labor to be “holy in all manner of conversation” (1 Peter 1:15). They must not wonder if they enjoy a little peace, feel hope, and leave behind them little evidence.” (Ryle, John, 3:118). The way for us to receive the most benefit from our faith is the same way that we are of maximum usefulness to the Lord: if we will abide in Christ, we will bear much fruit so as both to glorify the Father and to prove our discipleship.
Abiding in Christ Fills Us with Joy
Second, Jesus states that abiding in Christ fills us with joy. John 15:11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” The world insists that turning from sin to follow Christ is bound to take all the pleasures out of life. Jesus insist that exactly the opposite is in fact true. The way to possess true and abiding joy—not the joy of the world, but what Jesus calls “my joy” — is to abide in Him.
It is obvious from this that we may fail to know the joy that ought to be ours. We lost our joy when our fellowship with Christ is broken through worldly distractions. Disobedience and unbelief steal our joy. This is why David pleased God in his great prayer of repentance. Psalm 51:11-12, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” David missed the spiritual joy that he had previously known, and he pleased God not only to forgive him but also to restore his presence and therefore His joy. Jesus found His joy in pleasing the Father through obedience.
Jesus stated his desires that by abiding in Him, “your joy may be full” (John 15:11). Jesus is not speaking of fairy-tale happiness in which all our worldly dreams come true. Jesus never promised a carefree life to His followers, but He did offer us fullness of joy as His life grows in us. Hebrews 12:2 says that, “for the joy that was set before Him” Jesus endured the cross, so that even that great baptism of suffering could not snuff out the eternal flame of His joy. Abiding in Him, as a living branch in the true vine, we experience His life flowing into us through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, so that our deep experience of blessing matures into the rich wine of spiritual joy as we abide in Him.
Do you find that you long for the fullness of Christ’s joy in your life? It is evident that Jesus longs for this. Indeed, there can be no greater object in love than for the One we adore to have joy in our fellowship. We do not need to live joyless lives, but we do need to abide in Christ, relishing His love, offering our obedience in return, and then abounding in the perfect divine joy that He has eternally possessed and that He delights to give to those who abide in Him.