Abide In Christ by Andrew Murray
That Your Joy May Be Full
“These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain (or abide) in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11)
Abiding fully in Christ is a life of exquisite and overflowing happiness. As Christ gets more complete possession of the soul, it enters into the joy of its Lord. His own joy, the joy of heaven, becomes the soul’s own joy in full measure as an everabiding portion. Just as joy on earth is everywhere connected with the vine and its fruit, so joy is an essential characteristic of the life of the believer who fully abides in Christ, the heavenly Vine.
We all know the value of joy. It alone is the proof that what we have really satisfies the heart. As long as duty, or self-interest, or other motives influence me, men cannot know what the object of my pursuit or possession is really worth to me. But when it gives me joy, and they see my delight in it, they know that to me at least it is a treasure. Therefore, there is nothing so attractive as joy, no preaching so persuasive as the sight of hearts made glad. Only this makes gladness such a mighty element in the Christian character: there is no proof of the reality of God's love and the blessing He bestows, which men so soon feel the power of, as when the joy of God overcomes all the trials of life. And for the Christian's own welfare, joy is no less indispensable. The joy of the Lord is his strength. Confidence, courage, and patience find their inspiration in joy. With a heart full of joy no work can be wearisome, and no burden can depress. God Himself is strength and song.
Let us hear what the Savior says of the joy of abiding in Him. He promises us His own joy: "My joy." As the whole parable refers to the life His disciples should have in Him when ascended to heaven, the joy is that of His resurrection life. This is clear from those other words of His: "I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy will no man take from you” (John 16:22). It was only with the resurrection and its glory that the power of the never-changing life began, and only in it that the never-ceasing joy could rise. With it was fulfilled the word: "Therefore God, Your God, hath anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions” (Psalm 45:7). The day of His crowning was the day of the gladness of His heart. That joy of His was the joy of a work fully and forever completed, the joy of the Father's bosom regained, and the joy of souls redeemed. These are the elements of His joy. As we abide in Him, we are made partakers with Him.
The believer shares so fully His victory and His perfect redemption, that his faith can sing the conqueror's song without ceasing: "Thanks be to God, who always leads (me) to triumph” (2 Cor. 2:14). As the fruit of this, there is the joy of the undisturbed dwelling in the light of the Father's love — there is not a cloud to intervene if the abiding is unbroken. And then, with this joy in the love of the Father, as a love received, there is the joy of the love of souls, as love going out and rejoicing over the lost. Abiding in Christ, penetrating into the very depths of His life and heart, seeking for the most perfect oneness, these three streams of His joy flow into our hearts. Whether we look backward and see the work He has done, or upward and see the reward He has in the Father's love that passes knowledge, or forward in the continual elevation of joy as sinners are brought home, His joy is ours. With our feet on Calvary, our eyes on the Father's countenance, and our hands helping sinners home, we have His joy as our own.
And then He speaks of this joy as abiding — a joy that is never to cease or to be interrupted for a moment: "That my joy may (abide) in you." "Your joy no man takes from you” (John 16:22). This is what many Christians cannot understand. Their view of the Christian life is that it is a succession of changes between joy and sorrow. And they appeal to the experiences of a man like the Apostle Paul, as a proof of how much there may be of weeping, sorrow, and suffering. They have not noticed just how Paul gives the strongest evidence of this unceasing joy. He understood the paradox of the Christian life as the combination at one and the same moment of all the bitterness of earth and all the joy of heaven. "As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Cor. 6:10). These precious golden words teach us how the joy of Christ can overrule the sorrow of the world, can make us sing while we weep, and can maintain in the heart, even when cast down by disappointment or difficulties, a deep consciousness of a joy that is unspeakable and full of glory. There is only one condition: "I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you” (John 16:22). The presence of Jesus, distinctly manifested, cannot help but give joy. As we consciously abide in Him, how can our soul help but rejoice and be glad? Even when weeping for the sins and the souls of others, there is the fountain of gladness springing up in the faith of His power and love to save.
And this, His own joy abiding with us, He wants to be full. Of the full joy our Savior spoke three times on the last night. Once here in the Parable of the Vine: "These things I have spoken to you that your joy may be full;" and every deeper insight into the wonderful blessedness of being the branch of such a Vine confirms His Word. Then He connects it with our prayers being answered: "Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full” (John 16:24). To the spiritual mind, answered prayer is not only a means of obtaining certain blessings, but something infinitely higher. It is a token of our fellowship with the Father and the Son in heaven, of their delight in us, and our having been admitted and having had a voice in that wonderful interchange of love in which the Father and the Son hold counsel, and decide the daily guidance of the children on earth. To a soul abiding in Christ, which longs for manifestations of His love, and which understands to take an answer to prayer for its true spiritual value, as a response from the throne to all its utterances of love and trust, the joy which it brings is truly unutterable. The word is found true: "Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full." And then the Savior says, in His high-priestly prayer to the Father, "These things I speak...that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13). It is the sight of the great High Priest entering the Father's presence for us, ever living to pray and carry on His blessed work in the power of an endless life, that removes every possible cause of fear or doubt, and gives us the assurance and experience of a perfect salvation. Let the believer who seeks, according to the teaching of John 15, to possess the full joy of abiding in Christ, and according to John 16, the full joy of prevailing prayer, press forward to the high-priestly prayer of John 17. Let him listen there to those wonderful words of intercession spoken, that his joy may be full. Let him, as he listens to those words, learn the love that even now pleads for him in heaven without ceasing, the glorious objects for which it is pleading, and which through its all-prevailing pleading are hourly being realized, and Christ's joy will be fulfilled in him.
Christ's own joy, abiding joy, fullness of joy — such is the portion of the believer who abides in Christ. Why, oh, why is it that this joy has so little power to attract? The reason is simply this: Men, yes, even God's children, do not believe in it. Instead of the abiding in Christ being looked upon as the happiest life that ever can be led, it is regarded as a life of self-denial and of sadness. They forget that the self-denial and the sadness are owing to the not abiding, and that to those who once yield themselves unreservedly to abide in Christ as a bright and blessed life, their faith comes true — the joy of the Lord is theirs. The difficulties all arise from the want of the full surrender to a full abiding.
Child of God, who seeks to abide in Christ, remember what the Lord says. At the close of the Parable of the Vine, He adds these precious words: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may (abide) in you, and that your joy may be full." Claim the joy as part of the branch life — not the first or chief part, but as the blessed proof of the sufficiency of Christ to satisfy every need of the soul. Be happy. Cultivate gladness. If there are times when it comes by itself, and your heart feels the unutterable joy of the Savior's presence, praise God for it, and seek to maintain it. If at other times your feelings are dull, and the experience of the joy not such as you would wish it, still praise God for the life of unutterable blessedness to which you have been redeemed. In this, too, the word holds good: "According to your faith let it be to you” (Matt. 9:29). As you claim all the other gifts in Jesus, always claim this one too — not for your own sake, but for His and the Father's glory. "My joy in you;" "that my joy may abide in you;" "my joy fulfilled in themselves” (John 17:13) — these are Jesus' own words. It is impossible to take Him wholly and heartily, and not to get His joy too. Therefore, "Rejoice in the Lord, always: and again I say, Rejoice!” (Phil. 4:4)