John reminds his readers that the way to prepare for the coming of Jesus is to abide in him. How can we know if we are doing so. Here are four evidences of abiding in Christ.
First, a person who is abiding in Christ will love God’s Word (Jesus stated this in John 15:7: ‘If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you’). An abider in Christ will enjoy reading the Bible, meditating on the Bible, searching the Bible. If a person does not feed his soul on the Bible, he is not abiding in Christ. In contrast, the spiritually healthy will always want to know the wishes of the Master.
Second, the same verse from John 15 gives another evidence of abiding in Christ and that is regular prayer. Prayer has many forms. Sometimes it can be short, at other times it can be longer; sometimes it can be individual, at other times it is corporate; sometimes it is specific – focusing on one issue, at other times it is general. True prayer usually involves the mind, although at times Christians can be perplexed. Real prayer always involves the heart because it is an expression of love to Jesus, of an ongoing desire to speak with him.
Third, those who abide in Christ will love other believers. John mentions this aspect in 1 John 4:12: ‘No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.’ He also says in that chapter that this brotherly love has its practical aspects: ‘But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?’ (1 John 3:17). If we don’t love other Christians we are not abiding in Jesus.
Fourth, those who abide in Christ will want others to begin abiding in Christ. They will realise that it is possible for an innumerable number to abide in Jesus simultaneously. So they will tell others of the pleasures and benefits of abiding in Jesus, such as pardon for sin, peace in the soul, power for living, and promises of heaven.
These are four marks of abiding in Christ – love of God’s Word, love of prayer, love for Christians, and love for the lost – and they must be present in some degree in order for this relationship to be maintained. Their presence will give us the confidence John mentions in verse 27, which is not merely confidence before Jesus returns, but confidence when he returns. This is a reminder that when we see Jesus we will not regret anything we have done for him. At that moment we will not regard as pointless the times we read the Bible, prayed to God, performed acts of love for other Christians, and told unconverted people about the gospel.