Profile PictureMUSTARD SEED DISCIPLESHIP by McKay Caston

Grafting Requires Wounding: What It Means to Abide in Christ

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A passage in Scripture that has most shaped my understanding of how sanctification works is John 15:4-5, where Jesus exhorts us to "abide" in him as branches “grafted” into a living vine.

To abide is simply to believe. It is an act of moment-by-moment faith, to embrace the God proclaimed reality that Jesus is my sin-bearer and righteousness provider. This is not a passive thing, but wholly active.

As we believe Jesus to be our Justifier (the one who positionally saves us), we also affirm Jesus as our Sanctifier (the one who progressively changes us, conforming us into his image as people who love like Jesus).

At the point of the spiritual union between believer and Savior, the sap of the Spirit flows into the branch, transforming the self-impotent stem into a fruit-producing instrument of blessing.

Fruit is the result of the once dead branch being grafted into the vine, from which the branch receives initial life, experiences continual life, and eventually, inherits eternal life. Fruit is not the cause of spiritual union with Christ, it is the proof of union with Christ.

What previously I have overlooked in my study of the metaphor is how grafting requires wounding.

In order to graft a branch into a vine, the life source must be cut in such a way that allows the branch to penetrate the vine, then be wrapped with tape, cloth, or cords that bind the two together. Look it up on Google or YouTube. It's an amazing process.

In John 15, the night before his crucifixion, Jesus provides a metaphor some take as a cryptic image. Abide. Or in some translations, remain.

But there is nothing cryptic about the concept of abiding.

On the front of his mind—the very front—is the wounding he would receive, where he shed blood unto death for us to have access to spiritual life now and forever as grafted branches into a crucified but risen and reigning Vine.

The call to action for us is clear.

Simply abide in Christ by consciously embracing the wounds of Jesus as the ground and source of your justification, adoption, sanctification, and hope of glory.

This means you are not a contributor to your salvation in any way. You are just a recipient, called to abide by faith in the finished redemptive work of Jesus.

And the more you abide, the more you'll be changed from the inside out, producing not your fruit, but the fruit of the Spirit.

All to the praise of his glorious grace—grace that causes us to sing with Augustus Toplady,

Nothing in my hand I bring,

Simply to the cross I cling;

Naked, come to thee for dress;

Helpless, look to thee for grace;

Foul, I to the fountain fly;

Wash me, Savior, or I die.

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