Abundant life?

John 10:10 “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

What does it mean to have an abundant life? After all, Jesus said that the reason He came was to give such a life to us.   But then when you think about it, many Christians around the world are enduring incredible suffering, including torture, for their faith.  That’s the way it’s always been.  Paul wrote a number of his epistles from prison, and then, in the end, he was beheaded.  As far as we know, 11 of the 12 apostles met a similar fate, and it was these men that actually heard the words from John 10 above with their own ears. Then there was John, who transcribed the words above.  His final days were awarded with exile on the Isle of Patmos, stripped of everything – no money, no friends, no home, nothing.  So how in the world is the Christian life an “abundant life” in any sense of the term?

Obviously, if it is really abundant, then its abundance is in a sense that we usually don’t think of this word.  Most people, including many TV preachers, think and speak of abundance in monetary terms.  To them, an abundant life is a life filled with a wonderful family, good health, lots of money, and all the things that money can buy.  And then to think that in the Greek language in which John 10:10 was written, “abundant” means “superabundant.” In fact, in the King James Version of Ephesians 3:20, this same word in translated “exceedingly abundant above.”  So, what is Jesus talking about, when you look at all the facts?  Is He talking about something in the sweet by and by, or does He mean an abundant life right here and now, and if it is right here and now, how can it be true when we look at the incredible deprivation and suffering of past and present believers? 

Well, for one thing, Jesus is not talking about material things.  He always spoke about how money was not something we should be anxious about, or focused on.  While money is obviously necessary, it is never to be our god.  In fact, if money is our god, then Jesus isn’t (Matthew 6:24).  No, the abundance that Jesus was talking about is an abundance in inner, spiritual, eternal things that cannot be seen with the eye.  It is a heart filled with the abundance of the infinite God.  It is a joy that is “unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8).”  It is a hope that “overflows by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13).”  It is the peace of God in the heart and mind that “surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).”  And it is the knowledge of the infinite love of God that can never be taken from us, no matter what “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword” may crash into our lives (Romans 8:35). 

You see, a person can have all the money in the world, but if he or she doesn’t have the awesome, inner, eternal things of the Spirit, he or she doesn’t have very much at all.  As Jesus elsewhere told us, “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  For what can a man give in return for his soul (Mark 8:36-37)?”   Such a person may have an abundance of the things money can buy, but be totally bereft of that which is more precious than gold that is promised to the believer in the riches of the Word of God (Psalm 19:10). And in the end, all the material wealth that the unbeliever does have, will be taken away (Matthew 25:29), and that loss will be forever.  But the believer, who may have next to nothing of material value in this life, has all the eternal gifts that are given to every person in the family of God. And they will even inherit the earth itself, in the end (Matthew 5:5). 

So, is Jesus’ promise of an abundant life actually true?  It definitely is – and the believer who really thinks about it will super-abound in thanksgiving all the while (Colossians 2:7).

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