As fruiting is not automatic, abiding, again, is not automatic either. Jesus' command for us to
abide indicates that it is possible for a believer to choose not to abide, even one who is ready to bear fruit and
has been "cleansed." Peter is a classic example of this. He was clean
(John 13:10) and cleansed
(John 15:3) but he was still arrogant
(John 18:10-11). He still failed to abide in Christ in the crisis
of that night. Remember, we are listening in on a conversation between Jesus and His disciples. This command is being
given to them first, and us second. They, by definition of the nature of biblical commands, can
choose not to abide. Otherwise it does not make sense for Jesus to command them to do so.
If abiding is a product of being regenerate, is automatic, then Jesus would not have commanded
them to abide. Rather, He would have said something to the effect of, "You will now bear fruit as evidence of your
regeneration which I will now describe as abiding since the Holy Spirit will be indwelling in you." Or, if He was to
speak as some evangelicals, He would have said, "You will now bear fruit because I am at work in you to accomplish
My purposes whether you intentionally do anything in particular or not." But that is not what Jesus says. He commands
them to abide if they are to bear fruit; thus, it had to be possible for them to fail to abide and fail to bear
fruit. This is even more evident when we see that Jesus defines abiding in terms of obedience in verse ten.
Dr. Earl Radmacher was born almost seventy years ago in Portland, Oregon just a
couple of miles from Western Seminary where, in the providence of God, he would later serve on the theological
faculty for thirty-three years (1962-1995) and in administrative positions as Dean of the Faculty (1964-1965),
President (1965-1990), and Chancellor (1990-1995). In 1995 he was designated President Emeritus and Distinguished
Professor of Systematic Theology Emeritus.
His parents, who were immigrants from Romania and Austria, settled in Portland in 1913 where they brought eight
children into this world, Earl being the last. The whole family was very active in local churches so every Sunday
found Earl spending all day in church-Sunday school, morning worship, potluck lunch at the church, recreation break,
youth service, evening service, and after service. Even though he heard the gospel preached Sunday after Sunday, he
did not personally receive Christ as his Savior until he was fourteen years of age. He has often stated that sitting
in church Sunday after Sunday doesn't make one a Christian any more than sitting in a garage makes a car…
At that juncture in his life, Earl came in contact with another Earl-Earl Gile-a faithful Sunday school teacher
who lived right across the street from the grade school he had attended, and he opened up his home as an outreach
to boys from the school. Mr. Gile's church rented the school gymnasium on Thursday nights and made it available for
boys to play basketball if they came to Sunday school on Sundays. That sounded like a good deal, so he went. Shortly
after that, the teacher announced a forthcoming boys camps at Twin Rocks Beach, Oregon. He decided to go; and there,
at fourteen years of age, he accepted Christ as his Savior.
Although the church preached the gospel faithfully, they didn't go beyond the gospel to build up believers in the
faith. He has often said, "As a believer, I didn't need a birth message, but I did need a growth message. That being
absent, I tended to flounder, and my growth in Christ was stunted. Thus, the high school years were a disaster as far
as the things of Christ and spiritual growth were concerned."
As graduation time neared, he took the normal batch of tests to determine which line of work he should pursue. The
tests indicated mathematics or mechanics, so he decided to go the route of mathematics and join it with money by
starting a career in a savings and loan institution. He started as a file clerk and worked up to an investment
statistician that year.
His plans in the investment business were dramatically interrupted, however, by a visit to Portland of a new
evangelist on the scene, Billy Graham, in August of 1950. A friend invited him to go to the meeting and, although
he had little spiritual appetite at that time, God seemed to press him toward the affirmative. As the poet Francis
Thompson has written: "He tracked me down the corridors of time." As it turned out, Earl not only went that night but
every night thereafter for six weeks. The only meeting he missed was the women's meeting (they wouldn't let him in!).
After listening to the powerful preaching of Billy Graham for six weeks, at the conclusion of the last service,
he found himself standing on his feet, going forward, grabbing Cliff Barrow's hand, and telling him that God called
him to preach. His next question was, "What do I do now?" Cliff said, "You go to college to prepare" and he
recommended his alma mater in South Carolina.
Once again, god had a man prepared to help him take the next step. As the tabernacle cleared out, he saw a man he
hadn't seen since grade school. In the beautiful providence of God, this man, Jerry Burleson, was going to the same
college in South Carolina that Cliff Barrows had recommended, and he was looking for one more rider. Although it was
just two weeks before Fall semester, Jerry assured him that they would accept him on probation through his
recommendation. He worked nights for two weeks training another person for his job so that he could leave with the
good graces of his employer.
Twelve years and four degrees later (together with broad opportunities of experience in preaching and teaching,
overseas missions and military chaplainry, local church pastor and parachurch ministries, rural and urban outreaches),
he ended up not in the pastorate, but in the training of evangelists, pastors, and teachers at Western Seminary. His
years there involved traveling over ten million miles and preaching and teaching over twenty thousand hours in over
a thousand Bible conferences and thousands of churches.
Among the numerous books and articles that Dr. Radmacher has authored or edited are the following books: You
and your thoughts (1977), The Nature of the Church (1978, 1995), Can We Trust the Bible (1979),
What to Expect from the Holy Spirit (1983), Hermeneutics, Inerrancy, and the Bible (1984), The NIV
Reconsidered (1990), The Nelson Study Bible (1997), Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary
(1999), and Salvation (2000).
Dr. Radmacher has often stated, "In my wildest dreams fifty years ago, I could never have imagined the exciting
plans that God, in His sovereign grace, had for me." His life mission is found in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to show
yourself approved unto God, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." His
personal life verse is 2 Corinthians 3:18, "But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of
the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord."