We read in the Bible that we are to abide in Christ and walk even as He walked. But just how are we to do so? W.W. Prescott explains it well here. He gave this talk on October 20, 1895 at the Armadale Camp-meeting. It was published in the Bible Echo in two parts.
Abiding in Christ and Walking in Christ, Part 1
“He that saith He abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.” 1 John 2:6.
Abiding and walking are the lessons of this text. As a result of abiding in Christ, we ought to walk as He walked. The first lesson is abiding in Christ. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide, in Me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing.” John 15:4, 5. Christ says, “I am the true Vine.” There are a great many that profess to be vines; but I am the real vine, I am the Vine that has life. We are the branches. But in the Scripture Christ is spoken of as a branch. “Behold, I will bring forth My servant the Branch.” “Behold the man whose name is the Branch; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the Lord.” Zech. 3:8; 6:12. “For he shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him there is no beauty that we should desire Him.” Isa. 53: 2. “I am the vine, ye are the branches.” But the Scripture speaks of Christ Himself as the branch. Christ is a branch unto God that He may be a vine unto us.
Before any branch can grow, there must be some life underneath that does not show itself. So the branch is after all only a root which has come up in sight, but which depends for life upon the roots that draw life from the soil. God is the source of all things; but He comes in sight to men in
JESUS CHRIST THE BRANCH,
and Christ the branch is but the root of God, growing up in sight that men may see it, and God be manifested. When Jesus Christ came to the world, it was God manifesting Himself; but because the root came up out of what appeared to be dry ground, because it did not manifest itself in the way that men thought it ought to, they did not recognize it. They thought it was something not to be desired, and so they rejected it; and yet it was a branch springing up from the root of life, it was God manifesting Himself to the world so that He could be seen. Clouds and darkness are round about His throne; yet He manifested Himself, so that the world, if they would, might see Him in the Branch.
Christ became a branch unto God in order that He might be a vine unto other branches. But the branch abides in the vine only by having a living connection with it. Just as soon as the branch is severed from the vine, though it is put back again with great care, it no longer abides in the Vine. It will not abide in the vine except it be grafted, and the success of this grafting depends upon making such a connection that the life from the vine shall flow into the branch again.
And we must abide in Christ as-
THE BRANCH ABIDES IN THE VINE,
so that very life of God shall be our life. The branch is full of life, yet it has no life of its own. So we must present ourselves every day to be filled with life from God. Just the moment the connection is severed between the branch and the vine, just that moment the branch ceases to live. That is the lesson of abiding in Christ. As the branch is connected with the vine, filled with life, yet needing all the time to be filled, so we are to be connected with Christ, wholly dependent upon Him for life.
That is the lesson; what is the application?-“He that saith he abideth in Him ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.” If the branch is connected with the vine, it bears the fruit of the vine. God in Christ is the true Vine, but the fruit of the grape vine is not found directly on the stalk. The fruit is found on the branches. Christ is our vine, and those who, through becoming connected with Him, are His branches, will bring forth the same fruit as He did when He was here, a branch Himself. That is to say, they will walk even as He walked. This brings before us the thought of-
CHRIST OUR EXAMPLE
“He that saith he abideth in Him, ought himself also so to walk even as He walked.” Not as men say He walked, but as He walked. And how shall we know how He walked? -By reading and studying His life. That is where we find how Christ walked, and there we will find how we ought to walk. And we will walk as He walked, not wholly as an obligation, but as a result. If one says he abides in Christ, and walks not as He walked, his life is contrary to his profession. We do not get into Christ by trying to walk as He walked; we do not abide in Christ by trying to walk as He walked; but we first get into Christ, and then as a consequence, just as the branch will bring forth the fruit of the vine, so will the Christian, who really abides in Christ, bring forth the same fruit that He bore, walking as He walked.
If we abide in Him, we will walk in His steps, and He has left us an example that we should walk in His steps. There are many people who take it upon themselves to point out what are Christ’s footsteps; but His word is the test, and in it we may find whether they are pointing out the right footsteps or not. There are in the world to-day many false conceptions of Christ, which amount really to having a false Christ. It is not what our idea of Christ is, but what He is, that is to be our example; not what we have been taught that Christ is, but what His word says that He is.
It was revealed unto Simeon “that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ,” and that is what we want to see. Not any man’s idea of what Christ ought to be, but the Lord’s Christ. That is the Christ of the word, and our idea of how Christ walked should be formed wholly by the word.
A PRACTICAL TEST
And now let us test it that way. It is quite likely that as soon is we begin to talk of walking with Christ, there comes up the thought, Christ walked on the water; and you surely do not expect us to walk on the water. Let me call your attention to an incident at the beginning of Christ’s ministry: “And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishers. And He saith unto them, Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets and followed Him.” Matt. 4: 18-20. Before Christ walked on the sea, He walked by the sea on the land; and before He saw Peter on the water, He saw him on the land and told him to follow Him, and Peter left his nets and followed Him. Later on in Christ’s ministry, we find that after He had fed the five thousand, His disciples took ship to go across the lake, but He went apart into a mountain to pray; “and when the evening was come, He was there alone. But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves; for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.” Matt. 14:23-25. But notice that before He walked on the sea, He had spent the night in secret prayer. “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with the waves: for the wind was contrary.” So is our ship. Very likely just now some ship is being tossed by the waves of human tempest. And in the fourth watch of the night, Jesus came to them from His season of secret prayer, walking on the sea. “And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Let Him say that to you now. “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” “And Peter answered Him, and said, Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come unto Thee on the water. And He Said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Verses 26-31. Christ’s walk on the sea was
THE WALK OF FAITH
But Peter failed because of his lack of faith. It is contrary to nature to walk on the water, and it is contrary to our nature to walk as Christ walked; but He says to us as He said to Peter, “Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.” Whether it be on land or on sea, His word is a rock; and when He puts His word beneath our feet, He builds for us a bridge of rock, and it makes no difference whether He puts that bridge on land, or water, or in the sky.
But Peter sank. And the Peter that sank that night on the water is the Peter that sank that other night, in failing to testify for Jesus. The reason in both cases was his lack of faith. In every walk of Christ there is a lesson for us, and as it is unnatural for man to walk on water, so it is unnatural for him to walk as Christ walked-in obedience to the character of God; but power is given through faith in God’s word, “Come unto Me.”
Although Christ was God in the flesh, yet He did not escape-
THE CRITICISM OF MEN
as to the way He walked. Observe the record: “And it came to pass as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold many publicans and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it,”-Who is a Pharisee?-He is a man who has undertaken to be his own Saviour, and is very confident in his own power to do the work. It does not matter whether he lived eighteen hundred years ago, or whether he lives to-day. Who is a Christian? One who depends upon Christ as his Saviour, and has all confidence in Him.
Christ came in contact with Pharisees who were making themselves holy, and they found fault with Him for eating with publicans and sinners, and “they said unto His disciples, Why eateth your master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, He said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy and not sacrifice; for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Matt. 9:10-13. When they found fault with the way He was walking, He said, I am walking according to the Scriptures, and if you were following those Scriptures, you would not find fault with Me. These men were the leaders of the religious thought of the day. They were looked upon as the teachers of the people, and they prided themselves in that position. Yet they criticised Christ’s walk.
Let us read another record: “And when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased.” What displeased them?-Because the children cried Hosanna to Christ and not to the scribes and Pharisees. “And said unto Him, Hearest Thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings Thou hast perfected praise?” I am walking in accordance with the Scriptures.
Let us turn to Mark’s Gospel on this point; “And it came to pass that He went through the cornfields on the Sabbath day; and His disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn. And the Pharisees said unto Him, Behold, why do they on the Sabbath day that which is not lawful?” Mark 2:23, 24. For what did they find fault with Him this time? The first time it was about sitting down and eating with sinners; but it was His glory to receive sinners then, and it is so now. The second time they found fault with Him about the children singing His praises. Let them sing them now. The third time it was because He did not keep the Sabbath day according to their idea, and how does He meet it? “Have ye never read what David did, when he had need and was an hungered, he and all that were with him?” If you had read the Scriptures, you would not have found fault with Me in that way. The principles laid down in the Scriptures are the principles which govern My life, but I am not walking according to your interpretation of the Scriptures.
— W.W. Prescott, Bible Echo, December 2, 1895