Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray:
When and Why it was written
Revival sweeps through the Western Cape
After eleven years of ministry in Bloemfontein, Andrew Murray was called to Worcester in the Western Cape, a town about 60 miles from Cape Town. His ministry began there on 27 May, 1860, which happened to be Pentecost Sunday.
Only a month later, an amazing revival broke out in Worcester and in neighboring towns of the Cape Winelands. It lasted for more than two years.
During this time, Murray did much to spread the revival blessing by means of preaching in neighboring towns. But by April/May 1862, his wife, Emma, noticed that his congregation was becoming tired of hearing sermons that were specifically aimed at the unconverted. She judged that it was now time for his congregation to deepen their walk with the Lord.
Emma voices her opinion
While Murray was on a missions trip to the Transvaal between April and June 1862, Emma wrote to her mother about her views on AM”s preaching. As you will notice from the quotation below, she doesn’t mince her words and is rather forthright in her assessment. She writes:
To the unconverted, even in our midst, a three-month cessation from such earnest appeals may give them more force when Andrew returns, if it pleases God, for I have noticed that many after feeling at first, are apt to get hardened when regularly listening to Andrew’s sermons.
Losing their conscious closeness to God
What was actually happening to members of Andrew Murray's congregation was that they were losing their conscious closeness to God that they had experienced during the revival. Not only that, we also find that he was experiencing something similar with regard to his ministry. He states in a letter that he felt he was once again beginning to hinder God by trying to serve in his own strength.
Blijf in Jesus (Abide in Christ)
After returning home, Murray decided to focus on the newly converted by writing Blijf in Jesus (Abide in Christ) that was published in 1864. But because he felt he himself had not experienced all that he had written about in this work, he did not have it published in English until 1882.
So what happened in 1882 to change his mind? Well, we’ll deal with that question in my next blog post.
A Word About:
The Mystery of the True Vine
Andrew Murray wrote The Mystery of the True Vine at the pinnacle of his spiritual journey. In it, he hones in on important aspects of his book: Abide in Christ.
A major difference between the two books
In this book, Murray begins intentionally with God the Husbandman, and not Jesus the Branch. In relation to putting God first, he warns us that the great downfall of the Christian life is that we tend to leave the Father out. He goes on to remind us that Christ came to bring us to God.
As in many of his other writings, Andrew Murray focuses on mistakes he himself has made because he knows that we are inclined to make them too.
Douglas, W.M. Andrew Murray and his Message. Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1957.
Du Plessis, J. The Life of Andrew Murray of South Africa. London: Marshall Brothers, 1919.
© Olea Nel