A Believer Abides in God (Revised) on Pages 106-110 of The Salvation Meter Book

INTRODUCTION

Pages 106-110 of The Salvation Meter book describe the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation.  This article at https://thesalvationmeter.com website is a revision of the discussion and questions in the book that pertain to this test of salvation.  There are two basic reasons I wrote this revision.

First, a sermon is never finished merely preached.  In the same way, there will always be ways to revise and improve the discussion of the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation.  Second, I hope this revision will assist anyone who reads, teaches or preaches, or merely considers the substance of this test to better appreciate the principles taught this test of salvation. 

The “A Believer Abides in God” is an essential test of salvation that indicates a person’s spiritual condition.  It is strong evidence of a lost condition if a person does not abide in God.  On the other hand, it is strong evidence of salvation if a person possesses the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son.  My hope is that through this discussion and questions, the reader will arrive at a firm appreciation of whether or not they possess the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son.  If the reader does not think they possess the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son, they should seek counsel about their spiritual condition because they may not be saved. 

REVISED DISCUSSION

1 John 4:13, 15, 16b and 1 John 2:24

The Apostle John set out “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation, focusing on a person’s post-conversion spiritual condition.  John articulated this test through passages like 1 John 4:13, 15, and 16b.  He elaborated on this test by what he wrote in 1 John 2:24.  For the sake of completeness, 1 John 4:13, 15, and 16b (ASV 1901) are below:

13 hereby we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. … 15 Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God abideth in him, and he in God. … 16b God is love; and he that abideth in love abideth in God, and God abideth in him.

Each of the five usages of menō in the above passage, which the ASV 1901 translates as “abide” or “abideth,” is in the present tense, which signifies that the Apostle John did not convey any assessment of the completion of the relationship defined by menō.  See Heiser, M. S., & Setterholm, V. M. (2013; 2013). Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology. Lexham Press.  

            And, 1 John 2:24 (ASV 1901) reads:

24 As for you, let that abide in you which ye heard from the beginning. If that which ye heard from the beginning abide in you, ye also shall abide in the Son, and in the Father.

The ASV 1901 translates the first usage of menō as “let … abide,” and it is in the present tense and imperative mood.  John intended to command his audience to continuously let the saving gospel of Jesus Christ menō in them. Referring to verse 24b, the ASV 1901 translates the second usage of menō as “abide,” which is in the aorist tense and subjective mood.  The ASV 1901 translates the third usage of menō as “shall abide,” in the future tense.  When he wrote v. 24b, John intended to convey to his audience that if there was a menō relationship with the saving gospel of Jesus Christ, there was a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and the believer.

Usages of menō

The key to increasing one’s understanding of this test of salvation is to better comprehend the Greek verb menō and how it applies to defining a 21st Century believer’s relationship with God the Father and God the Son, i.e., Jesus Christ.  Some usages of menō in the Septuagint (LXX) referred to the eternality of God per Psalm 102:12 (ASV 1901):

12 But thou, O Jehovah, wilt abide for ever; And thy memorial name unto all generations.

And, the enduring righteousness of God per Psalms 110:3 and 111:3:

Psalm 110:3 (ASV 1901) – 3 Thy people offer themselves willingly In the day of thy power, in holy array: Out of the womb of the morning Thou hast the dew of thy youth.

Psalm 111:3 (ASV 1901) – 3 His work is honor and majesty; And his righteousness endureth for ever.

And refer to the truth that God’s Word stands forever per Isaiah 40:8 (ASV 1901)

8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand forever.

These usages in the LXX point to a sense of permanence and steadfastness regarding God’s attributes and His Word.  Permanence and steadfastness are essential indicators of the existence of a menō relationship.

According to Logos 9, there are over one hundred usages of menō in the New Testament.  My review of these usages generated the following takeaways about the Greek verb menō.

First, it appears that menō is a relationship that happens.  In other words, at some point menō did not exist and then something took place here it did.  John 1:32–33 (ASV 1901) seems to demonstrate this fact when the Holy Spirit was “descending, and abiding upon” Jesus:

32 And John bare witness, saying, I have beheld the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven; and it abode upon him. 33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he said unto me, Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, the same is he that baptizeth in the Holy Spirit.

Prior to conversion, a believer does not have menō with God.  But, upon conversion, the menō relationship between God and a believer comes into existence.

Second, a very difficult teaching by Jesus is presented in John 6:53–58 (ASV 1901)

53 Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves. 54 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood abideth in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father; so he that eateth me, he also shall live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down out of heaven: not as the fathers ate, and died; he that eateth this bread shall live for ever.

When someone eats food, its nourishment goes to the whole body.  The nourishment becomes integral with that person.  This is consistent with what Whiteacre (Whitacre, R. A. (1999). John (Vol. 4, p. 167). Westmont, IL: IVP Academic) says when he writes that eating and the drinking has to do with shared life that is a mutual indwelling. The menō relationship between God and a believer is an inseparable union between God and the believer.

Third, Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches is a very effective metaphor to better comprehend the nature of what it means to “abide.”  John 15:1–11 (ASV 1901) reads:

1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already ye are clean because of the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples. 9 Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

A more detailed look at this passage reveals the following.

            In verses 1-3, Jesus defined the relationship between God the Father (the husbandman) and Himself (the vine).  He also described the relationship between Himself and humans in that He was the vine, and people were the branches.  Lastly, He distinguished between lost people and saved people.  Lost people were equated to unproductive branches whose eternal destiny was destruction per John 15:2a, 6 (ASV 1901)

2a Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh it away: … 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

Saved people were equated to productive branches that God then “cleanseth it, that it may bear more fruit.”  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek verb kathairō as “cleanseth.”  The Logos 9 sense is to prune, meaning to cut back the growth of a plant so that it can grow healthier or produce more fruit.  Cleaning in the spiritual sense is like pruning in that God removes the things in a believer’s life that impede or stunt their spiritual growth.  Sometimes a believer can themselves remove hindrances.  A believer’s self-removal of hindrances is consistent with what the writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 12:1–2 (ASV 1901):

1 Therefore let us also, seeing we are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

In other instances, God may have to discipline a believer per Hebrews 12:5–11 (ASV 1901):

5 and ye have forgotten the exhortation which reasoneth with you as with sons, My son, regard not lightly the chastening of the Lord, Nor faint when thou art reproved of him; 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, And scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 It is for chastening that ye endure; God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye are without chastening, whereof all have been made partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. 9 Furthermore, we had the fathers of our flesh to chasten us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed good to them; but he for our profit, that we may be partakers of his holiness. 11 All chastening seemeth for the present to be not joyous but grievous; yet afterward it yieldeth peaceable fruit unto them that have been exercised thereby, even the fruit of righteousness.

            A branch is integral with the vine so that nourishment flows from the vine to each branch.   Only through God does a believer receive sustenance to live a life that produces spiritual fruit and gives glory to God.  In this regard, verses 4-5 (ASV 1901) read:

4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; so neither can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same beareth much fruit: for apart from me ye can do nothing.

To produce spiritual fruit throughout their life, a believer must abide in an integral and intimate relationship with God. 

            Verse 7 (ASV 1901) reads:

7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

This verse stresses the importance of Jesus’ words to remain in a believer.  A believer is to have intimate knowledge of Jesus’ teachings to adhere to correct fundamental biblical teaching about Jesus and the gospel.  See the “A Believer is a Bible Engager” test of salvation on pages 144-150 of The Salvation Meter book and the “A Believer is a Learner” test of salvation on pages 150-153 of The Salvation Meter book.  This condition displays itself when a believer’s actions and responses mirror those of Jesus.  Answered prayer is another demonstration that Jesus’ words remain in a believer.  See the “A Believer Experiences Answered Prayer” on pages 204-207 of The Salvation Meter book.

Verse 8 (ASV 1901) reads:

8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; and so shall ye be my disciples.

This verse stresses the importance of an abiding believer producing spiritual fruit of the Spirit.  This means their life should display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control consistent with Galatians 5:22-23.  Typically, fruit of the Spirit will become more visible over time as a believer grows spiritually.  See the section entitled “A Believer Displays the Fruit of the Spirit” on pages 94-104 of The Salvation Meter book.

Verse 9 (ASV 1901) reads:

9 Even as the Father hath loved me, I also have loved you: abide ye in my love.

Verse 9 stresses abiding in love which pertains to the “A Believer Loves Other Believers” test of salvation found on pages 190-194 of The Salvation Meter book. 

Verses 10-11 (ASV 1901) read:

10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. 11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Verse 10 emphasizes obedience to God.  Verse 11 describes that Jesus’ joy is in a believer.  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun chara as “joy” and it means great happiness and pleasure.  The chara Jesus described may be made full through obedience to God.  Verses 10-11 relate to the “A Believer is Obedient to God” test of salvation found at pages 138-142 of The Salvation Meter book. 

Finally, Campbell et al. (Campbell et al., The Theological Wordbook, (2000), Word Publishing, Nashville, Tennessee) point out that although 2 Peter 1:1-11 does not use menō, there are similarities between John 15:1-11 and 2 Peter 1:1-11 (ASV 1901), which reads:

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and the Saviour Jesus Christ: 2 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; 3 seeing that his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that called us by his own glory and virtue; 4 whereby he hath granted unto us his precious and exceeding great promises; that through these ye may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world by lust. 5 Yea, and for this very cause adding on your part all diligence, in your faith supply virtue; and in your virtue knowledge; 6 and in your knowledge self-control; and in your self-control patience; and in your patience godliness; 7 and in your godliness brotherly kindness; and in your brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, they make you to be not idle nor unfruitful unto the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 For he that lacketh these things is blind, seeing only what is near, having forgotten the cleansing from his old sins. 10 Wherefore, brethren, give the more diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never stumble: 11 for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

A review of 2 Peter 1:1-11 developed the below takeaways.

            First, God’s power grants a believer called by God all things that pertain to life and godliness which means that God is able to grow a believer spiritually.  This growth has a reverential aspect in that a believer’s reverence and awe of God grows over time.  A believer fully appreciates their complete and necessary dependence upon the one, true living God via confession and actions.  Also, a believer seeks their life in Christ more intensely and with a submissive mindset.  Further, spiritual growth increases a believer’s obedience to God.  See the “A Believer is Obedient to God” test of salvation at pages 138-142 of The Salvation Meter book.  Finally, the fact that God calls a believer should result in the display of extreme gratitude to God for the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. 

            Second, a believer is a partaker of the divine nature, which defines a menō relationship between God and a believer.  While a believer never becomes “divine” like God, a believer ought to move closer to God’s nature, and in doing so, move away from sin in the broadest possible sense.  This “divine” nature should be the source for a new life which a believer has a desire to obey God, i.e., do God’s will. 

            Third, a believer has “all diligence” to possess the listing of attributes set out in verses 5-7.  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek noun spoudē as “diligence” and it means to try one’s very best in attempting to do something.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 662). New York: United Bible Societies.  The Logos 9 sense of spoudē is to do something with an excited fervor.  Spoudē is modified by pas, which means the full quantity. The expression “all diligence” means a whole-hearted mentality to try one’s best to possess these attributes.

The first attribute is “faith,” which is the English translation by the AVS1901 of the Greek noun pistis, which means to have complete trust and reliance in something that is usually understood.  In this usage, pistis refers to complete trust and reliance in the saving gospel of Jesus Christ for salvation.  See the section entitled “The Irreducible Minimum of the Saving Gosepl of Jesus Christ” at pages 72-77 of The Salvation Meter book.  Pistis is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The second attribute is the Greek aretē which the ASV 1901 translates as “virtue.”  It means outstanding moral goodness or excellence. It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The third attribute is knowledge, which is the ASV 1901 translation of the Greek noun gnōsis.  It means the result or content of perception, learning, and reasoning.  In this context, it is the knowledge of how to live a holy life.  It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The fourth attribute is the Greek noun enkrateia which the AVS 1901 translates as “self-control.”  It means to exercise complete control over one’s desires and actions.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 750). New York: United Bible Societies.  Enkrateia is a fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, which is the subject of discussion found on pages 94-104 of The Salvation Meter book.

A fifth attribute is “patience,” which is the translation of the Greek nonu hypomonē.  It means the capacity to continue to bear up under difficult circumstances.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 307). New York: United Bible Societies.  In addition to merely bearing up, this word has the sense of contending.  There is an active dynamic sense in addition to a passive static sense.  It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

A sixth attribute is eusebeia which the ASV 1901 translates a “godliness.”  It means appropriate beliefs and the practice of these beliefs about God.  It is not in the listing o the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. 

The seventh attribute is the Greek noun philadelphia which the ASV 1901 translates as “brotherly kindness.”  It means the love that exists between fellow believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is not in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, but is consistent with the “A Believer Loves Other Believers” test of salvation at pages 190-194 of The Salvation Meter book. 

The eighth and final attribute is “love,” which is the translation by the ASV 1901 of the Greek noun agapē.  It means to have love for someone or something, based on sincere appreciation and high regard.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 292). New York: United Bible Societies.  It is the kind of love that cause s a believer to deny themselves for the benefit or good for the person who is the object of their love.  It is one in the listing of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23, which is the subject of the discussion on pages 94-104 of the book.   

The existence of these attributes evidences a menō relationship between God and a believer. 

            Fourth, a believer who practices the above eight attributes will not be idle nor unfruitful.   In 1 Peter 1:8, the ASV 1901 translates the Greek adjective argos as “idle.”  It means pertaining to being useless, in the sense of accomplishing nothing.  See Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 624). New York: United Bible Societies.  The ASV 1901 translates the Greek adjective akarpos as “unfruitful,” and it has the same meaning as argos.   The existence of a menō relationship between God and a believer demands that a believer not be useless when it comes to serving God. 

            Fifth, a believer does not forget their cleansing from sin, which is a condition that defines a menō relationship between God and a believer.  It is a dangerous condition for a believer in having forgotten the grace of God in their life.

Conclusion

The “A Believer Abides in God” is a significant test of salvation.  While the menō relationship is somewhat subjective, the above Scriptures define it with sufficient precision, so a person should assess if they possess a menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son. If a person does not think they possess the menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son, they should seek counsel about their spiritual condition because they may not be saved. 

The Scriptures that define and support this test generate the following questions for you to answer.  The attributes connected with a menō relationship touch upon many of the other tests of salvation in this book.  Hopefully, the below questions do not duplicate questions connected with other tests of salvation that possess menō as a component.

QUESTIONS

Question 5-1A:  How do you describe your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  It your meno relationship something that was absent and then came into existence at your conversion?  Is it a close or distant relationship or somewhere in between?  In your description, you may want to consider the metaphor of the vine and the branches (John 15:1-11).  Possibly, your description may include how God has granted you power to live a more holy life.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-1B:  Keeping in mind that during their earthly life, no one is perfect or will ever achieve perfection or ever will become “like God,” do you sense that you are a partaker in the divine nature?  Do you feel like you are moving more toward God and more away from the sin and corruption of the world?  Do you feel like you have a “power source” that enables you to live a life more pleasing to God?  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-1C:  Do you sense that you possess some or all of the attributes of virtue, knowledge, self-control, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love found in 2 Peter 1:1-11?  Do you display some of these attributes more fully than others?  Identify the attributes you display more fully.  Do you have a desire to increase the presence of these attributes in your life?  Is this especially the case concerning the least visible attributes in your life?  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-1D:  Do you remember (i.e., not forget) the cleansing from sin that you received at your conversion?  Are there actions you take to help yourself remember how God cleansed you from sin?  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-2:  Is your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son continuous or steady?  Does it have a sense of permanence and steadfastness?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-3:  Are there common threads between the times you felt strongly a continuous or steady relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.   

Question 5-4:  Is your relationship with God the Father and God the Son more robust or intense at different times in your life (e.g., during times of trouble, times of plenty and joy, times that are “neutral”)?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-5:  Have there been interruptions in your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  If so, have they been for a short period, or were they extended?  Would you describe these interruptions as a definite break or more of a lessening of the intensity in your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son?  Are there common threads between the times when you felt an interruption in your relationship with God the Father and God the Son?   Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself. Would you please take some time to explain your answers? 

Question 5-6:  Do disruptions in your relationship with God the Father and God the Son typically occur during times of less stress and challenge in your life?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answer.

Question 5-7:  What mental picture do you draw when you think about the fact that God the Father and God the Son abide in you?  How does that make you feel?  Is it a condition that seems to be overwhelming?  Is it a condition that exists right now?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-8:  If you had to describe several different happenings in your life that support the fact of mutual abiding between God the Father and God the Son and yourself, what would they be?  When you were experiencing these events, did you appreciate that God was present, or did God seem distant or uninvolved?  Did any of these instances include you putting aside hindrances to your spiritual growth?  Did any of these instances include God disciplining you to remove such hindrances from your life?  In hindsight, did you comprehend the experience of your menō relationship with God the Father and God the Son at the time of the event?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.  Please explain your answers.

Question 5-9:   Keeping in mind that a mutual abiding exists between God the Father and God the Son and a believer, do you possess that kind of menō relationship?  Please keep in mind your answers to Questions 5-1A through 5-1D that help define a menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself.

Question 5-9A:  Do you have a desire to increase the menō relationship between God the Father and God the Son and yourself?  Do you intend to establish ways to increase that menō relationship?  Please describe your plan to increase your menō relationship and include a description of any accountability mechanisms in your plan.

Question 5-10:  Do you believe you satisfy the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation?  Please explain your answer and include evidence that supports your answer.  Do you strongly agree, moderately agree, moderately disagree, strongly disagree, or are neutral about the statement that you satisfy the “A Believer Abides in God” test of salvation?  Please record your answer at Indicator 5-A of your Personal Salvation Assessment in the Appendix.

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