To Help Abuse Victims, WE Must First Know and Abide in Christ
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
John 15:1-5 ESV
(1) “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (2) Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. (3) Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. (4) Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (5) I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
In the end, it is the Lord Jesus Christ, and He alone, who must deliver abuse victims. Christ is the only One who genuinely sets captives free. Therefore, if we are going to truly help abuse victims, we must point them to Jesus. And if we are going to do that, then we must know Him ourselves. We must be truly joined to Him in a living way as a branch is joined to the grapevine. Without this abiding in Christ, all of our blogs, all of our sermons and seminars and books and counseling, mean nothing. Christ tells us so – …for apart from me you can do nothing.
The Christian is in Christ. When Christ saves us, His Spirit comes to us, indwells us, regenerates our hearts (the new birth), and effects many other incredible, redeeming works in us. One of the thing He does is to baptize us into Christ (see Romans 6, for example). Like a branch organically joined to the vine, the Christian is united with Christ. We become members of His body, of which He is the Head. His righteousness becomes ours. His death, ours. His resurrection, ours. As He is a Son of God and an heir, so we become adopted sons and heirs with Him. As we used to be “in” Adam, represented by him, sinning in him, and dead in him, so now we are joined to a new and final Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only this time, the Representative of this whole new race of redeemed humanity brings life instead of death (Romans 5).
Every Christian, therefore, is intimately joined to Jesus Christ. He is the Groom, His church is His bride.
At the same time as we are assured of our unchangeable position in Christ, we are exhorted by God’s Word to abide in Christ (John 15). What is now true of us is to be lived out by us. The New Testament repeatedly reminds us of who we now are in Christ, and calls us to live accordingly. Because we are in Christ, we are to put off the old man we once were and put on the new man. Because God is at work in us, we are to work out our salvation (Philippians 2).
HOW do we do this? How do I go about “abiding in Christ”? Scripture is quite clear. To abide in Christ, we HEAR God’s Word, BELIEVE it, OBEY it, LOVE it. In doing so, we cultivate our relationship with Christ, and more and more of His life streams into us, causing us to bear greater and greater harvests of fruit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, etc, see Galatians 5). Like any relationship – take marriage for example – because the one-flesh union exists, we must work to cultivate that relationship. How? By spending time with one another, listening to one another, talking to one another, serving and loving one another. It is the same with Christ. We must hear Him by carefully reading His Word, spend time with Him – talking to Him in prayer, loving and serving Him, obeying His commandments. This is abiding in Christ. Listen to Anna describe it. She does a better job than I (Jeff) do –
“A long time ago, when still a teen, I thought people that were truly intimate with Christ were so because they were just more enthusiastic than others. I loved Him but I had no clue how to know Him that way. Finally, down the road a few years, I just cried out to know Him, to want Him above all, to treasure Him more than anything. I had no idea what to do, how to do it, I only knew that I wanted to know and trust Him. True to His Word, when I drew close to Him by surrendering my hold on this world and the things of it and my own limited knowledge of how to know Him, how to manage anything, He drew near to me. Yes, it involved a more firm dedication to Bible study and to prayer but those things alone aren’t what makes one abide in Christ; many study the Word academically and many a self-centered prayer is offered that does no good. The study of the Word must be done with the desire to know Him, understand His truth and bring Him glory through living it. Prayer must be offered with a desire of our will being bound to His. I think that abiding in Him is seeing Him as He is…glorious, beautiful, altogether awesome and wonderful…and desiring Him above all. It’s becoming friends with Christ. The more I seek Him (through His power), the closer we become. Also, the more I know Him, the more I rest in Him, the less this world pulls me and the more I can’t wait to see Him.”
Apart from this living, abiding, union with Christ, we can do nothing. Nothing! Not for ourselves, nor for anyone else. We will be of no real use to any abuse victim, nor will we point them to the only real source of victory over their abuser – the Lord Jesus Christ and union in life with Him.
I have to preach this sermon to myself constantly. I try to preach it to my church as well. EVERY problem, EVERY trial, EVERY temptation can and WILL be met victoriously IF we are abiding in Jesus Christ. Oh, the victim’s circumstances may not change quickly. In some cases the trials might even increase. As we work with victims, we find that we simply cannot “fix” them and their hard, hard situations as quickly as we might like. But we can, and must, point them to Christ. Abiding in Him will never fail to bring them joy, answered prayer, and peace.
To do all of this, we ourselves must know Christ and what it means to abide in Him.