PART 1 God’s Abundant Life
PART 1 God’s Abundant Life
What is God’s abundant life?
Have you ever wondered what the words abundant life mean?
I’m sure you have heard about it in whatever church you have or are attending. Some would say that God’s abundant life refers to the blessings that He bestows on those who follow Him. These blessings they say can take on the form of physical health, financial prosperity, finding the right mate, etc. This sounds good. God wants us to be happy, doesn’t He? Happiness has to do with outward blessings, right?
Others might say that God’s abundant life has to do with living a life of sacrifice. This they say refers to: not owning a home; giving financially as much as one can to the church; volunteering to help those who are less fortunate; etc.
After my conversion, I had heard about the words, abundant life. I didn’t know anything about they meant, but they sounded like something I would like to have. Have you heard these words spoken, but are still unclear as to their meaning?
Hopefully, this study will give both of us clarity on this topic. Are you ready to begin reading about what these words not only mean, but how what they are about can become a spiritual reality in our life on a day-to-day basis? I’m excited. Let’s get started by turning to the first chapter.
What Is God’s Abundant Life?
The best way that I know how to answer this question is by taking a look at Scripture. Are you ready to study the Word and learn about God’s abundant life? Please turn in your Bible to the book of John.
I Am Come That They Might Have Life, and That They Might Have It More Abundantly
Suggested Reading: John 10:1-16
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
Jesus said that He is the door of the sheepfold, and that if someone entered in some other way, the same is a thief and robber. The sheepfold was an enclosure made of rocks with one opening for the door entrance. The shepherd (or porter) would guard the flock or Rocks, at night by lying across the opening.1 In the morning, he would call the flock and they would recognize Him by His voice. So, what we have become aware of is that there are two ways to gain entrance to where the sheep are, the first is by going through the door entrance and the second is by going over the rock wall.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
Jesus said that if any enter in the right way, another word by Him, then he/she shall be saved (will receive deliverance and protection), and subsequently shall go into the sheepfold for safety and out of it in order to find green pastures and still waters for nourishment and refreshment.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
Jesus then warned of those whom He called thieves (the present religious leaders) that follow after the spirit of the thief (the devil), who would come to steal (deceive), kill (ruin), and destroy (cause the destruction of) the sheep. These leaders could also be known like their master as the thieves of souls whose pretension to be a way to God was based on no inward and eternal reality. Their main purpose was to make the sheep their own by treating them in an ungodly manner, whereby they were: not to give them pasture, to sacrifice them to his (the devil’s) selfish ends, to use them for his own purposes.2
In contrast, Jesus said that He had come so that they (His followers; those who hear His voice) might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. There it is, did you notice the words life and more abundantly? So, what does each of these words mean?
The word life is from the koine Greek word zooen, which is derived from the word zoe. Most of the New Testament was written in the koine Greek, the common language of the people at that time. This word life means eternal life, the life of the world to come, or the zoe life. The words more abundantly are from the Greek word perisson. These words can have a few meanings such as those superadded things which are needful to make that life eminently blessed and happy3; to have eternal life in all its fulness; to have within them perennial sources of life for others - fullness of being4; spiritual blessings … abundance of grace, peace, love…5.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Along with the Jews, there was mentioned that there were also other sheep (unbelieving Gentiles) that He would bring into the sheepfold, who will receive this life.
What a great way to start this study. Before we continue on, let’s carefully think about what we had just learned concerning God’s abundant life. The words more abundantly tell us that there are spiritual blessings which reside within the believer that not only provide for them true happiness, but also are to be a source of life for others. So, just what are these internal blessings? Whatever they are, they will make us happy. With these thoughts in mind, we are now going to take a look at sections of Scripture that will present the varied words used to describe these inward blessings, which are to be outward sources of divine life for others. Let’s begin by going to the book of Matthew.
And Ye Shall Find Rest unto Your Souls
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Jesus said that whosoever comes to Him, He will give them rest. What does it mean to have rest? This word means to be provided with refreshment and rejuvenation. Wouldn’t we want to experience these in our life on a daily basis? This begs the question, what is the basis for us being able to enter into this rest? The basis for having an opportunity to experience this rest is that we must first come to Christ.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Once we have come to Him, then the next thing we need to do is take upon us His yoke and learn of Him. What does it mean to take His yoke upon us? To take upon oneself a yoke signifies any kind of obligation to do a particular thing. What is that particular thing that Jesus admonishes us to do? That is, to learn of Him. In what way? To learn of Him means to learn the truths that He teaches. Just what are these truths, we should learn. This will be unveiled as we continue in this study.
So, when we are obligated to learn the truths that Jesus teaches, we will experience rest (refreshment and rejuvenation) for our souls. By analogy, rest can be associated with experiencing God’s abundant life.
The verses that we will look at next in the book of John equate abundant life with rivers of living water.
What are rivers of living water and how are they associated with God’s abundant life?
He That Believeth on Me, out of His Belly Shall Flow Rivers of Living Water
Suggested Reading: John 7:2-53
2 Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand.
Jesus was attending the feast of Tabernacles. The feast of Tabernacles (Weeks) lasted for 8 days and was to be celebrated immediately after the harvest of corn, wine, and oil. This feast is celebrated at the end of the month of September and the beginning of the month October. It took its name from tents, which were erected either about the temple, public places, courts, gardens, and the flat roofs of houses in commemoration of the 40-years wandering in the wilderness by their Jewish ancestors during which time they dwelt in booths (Leviticus 23:43).
In the beginning of this feast, all of the people would cut down branches of palm trees, willow, and myrtle, and tie them together. These arrangements were then carried about with them, when they prayed in the synagogue or when they walked around the altar in the temple singing Hosanna. On the 7th day of the feast, one of the rituals was to walk around the altar seven times, which was called Hosanna Rabba. The day following, a priest would draw water from the pool at Siloam, and place it in a golden vessel that contained wine. It was then poured over the morning sacrifice, while the people were singing.
In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37-39)
On the final day of the feast, the 8th day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed with a loud voice that whosoever believed in Him out of his belly will flow rivers of living water. Jesus was not saying that literally rivers of living water would pour out of their belly, but this spoke He of the indwelling Holy Spirit, whom they should receive. However, this encounter would not take place at this time, but after Jesus had been crucified on the cross, raised from the dead, and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. After which, on the day of Pentecost, the 50th day commemorating the completion of the grain harvest, the promise of the arrival of the Holy Spirit would take place and be received (indwelt) by his disciples and on anyone who repented to God the Father of their sins and believed in His Son Jesus Christ as to who He is and what He has accomplished.
When a person receives the indwelling Spirit into their life, then out of their belly (innermost part) will flow rivers of living water. This implies that these rivers of living water are coming from Him. So, just what are they and what causes them to be released in the believer’s life? Rivers of living water can have a few meanings such as spiritual refreshment; large, and liberal, and constant blessings; and fruit bearing which can only be realized in the life of the believer and evidenced by them toward others, when the Holy Spirit satisfies their inner person.
This brings us to a paramount question. How does the Holy Spirit satisfy our inner person? Don’t be mad, we will get to the answer to this question, but not now. Let’s keep our focus on the question at hand, which is what is abundant life? I think that you will agree that the words rivers of living water is another use of different words in describing what the meaning of abundant life is all about. Let’s learn more about these words by going to the book of Acts.
In the book of Acts, abundant life relates to the words times of refreshing. Let’s see what these words mean.
When the Times of Refreshing Shall Come:
Suggested Reading: Acts 3:1-4:31
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19)
A man, who was born crippled at birth, was placed at one of the 9 gates of the temple at Jerusalem to beg for money. He was healed by the Holy Spirit, through the intermediary of the apostle Peter. After the healing, he entered into the temple with the apostles Peter and John. The people knew of this man’s physical disability and were amazed at his healing.
Peter aware of the people’s amazement and wonder as to the complete restorative healing of this man’s crippled legs proceeded to speak to them and said that it was through faith in the name of Jesus Christ that this man was healed. And then he said to them that they also needed to repent (to have a change in one’s attitude or mind). This encompassed an acknowledgement of their sins along with their confession of a wrong mindset concerning Christ as the Messiah; and if this be the case, they would be converted (turned to God by belief in this Christ, the Messiah). Subsequently, their sins would be blotted out (wholly to remove the record, the charge, and every trace of the account against them6) so that they would be able to experience times of refreshing (divine peace and joy) in their life, which shall come from the presence of the Lord.
From this, we can deduce that God’s abundant life means that a believer has the opportunity to experience times of refreshing (divine peace and joy) in their life on a day-to-day basis.
In the next section, which is taken from the book of Romans, abundant life is equated with three words. Do you know what these three words could be?
Who Art Thou That Judgest Another Man's Servant?
Suggested Reading: Romans 14:1-23
In the early church, there were many contentious issues. Three of them are presented here.
- Eating certain foods.
For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. (Romans 14:2-3)
The early churches were made up of Gentiles and Jews, many of whom continued to obey the mandates of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law placed restrictions on the Jews as to what they were allowed to eat. In the church at Rome, there were some Gentiles who believed that they could eat whatever they wanted to and some Jews who proclaimed that a believer should only eat vegetables. This came to a head when the Jews and Gentiles met on the first day of the week for worship, the breaking of bread (communion), and the agape feast. An agape feast was an expression for the religious common meal of the church. Apparently, the Gentiles would bring meat and drink, which contained blood in them. Because of the dietary laws, the Jews were repulsed by these offerings and refused to continue to attend these gatherings. The resolution was for the Gentiles to no longer bring food or drink which had blood in them.
2. Esteeming or Not Esteeming Certain Days.
One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord;… (Romans 14:5-6)
The Jewish believers considered certain days (e.g., the Sabbath; feast days, etc.) to be more important than other days. The Gentiles believed that all days had the same value. If the Jews wanted to continue to observe the Sabbath that was up to them. What many of them decided to do was observe the Sabbath (the seventh day of the week), and then afterward (after 6:00pm) they would attend the assembly of the Christian believers on the following day (the first day of the Jewish week).
The leadership of the early church would in their teachings make it clear to the Jewish believers that they were allowed to continue to observe the tenets of the Mosaic Law. However, the observing of any particular aspect of it could not provide salvation nor bring about spiritual growth.
3. Eating meat or anything that was offered in sacrifice to pagan idols.
I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died. (Romans 14:14-15)
Some of the believers would attend pagan temples in order to partake of the free food that was made available from the animal sacrifices. In some cases, the pagan priests would take some of the food (meat) and bring it to the public markets for anyone to buy. When some of the believers, who had attended these pagan rituals regularly had decided since their conversion to Christianity that these practices should no longer be participated in, they began to judge their fellow believers, who were still visiting these temples.
A solution to this idea of eating meats or drinking beverages associated with these feasts was announced. The believers were asked to no longer attend to the pagan temples for any reason. Along with this, if when they were in the meat market and it became aware to them that the meat was from a pagan temple, then they were asked to not buy it. Furthermore, if any believer attended a festival and free meat was offered, they were advised to not ask where it came from. Simply eat it, and don’t question.
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17)
This brings us to the realization of what God’s kingdom should really be all about. God’s spiritual kingdom as revealed in this verse, His rule in our heart can only take place or can be produced in us by means of one person, i.e., the Holy Spirit, who when He is relied upon by the believer will cause us His righteousness (upright character and disposition; integrity), peace (regulating, ruling, and harmonizing the heart), and joy (inner happiness without any kind of mental agony or fear) to be operative in his/her life. There you have it.
Another way to describe God’s abundant life is that it is righteousness (upright character and disposition; integrity), peace (regulating, ruling, and harmonizing the heart), and joy (inner happiness without any kind of mental agony or fear) permeating our inner being by the Holy Spirit.
Believe it or not, we have a few more Scripture sections to look at which will give us a fuller understanding of what God’s abundant life means for us. Please proceed onward to the book of Colossians.
For you are dead
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God
The believers at Colossee were instructed to set their mind on heavenly realities and values, which are determined by the presence and power of the risen Christ, and not on the things of the earth, the things of which should not be our aim, goal, or master. For we, like them, are dead to the sin nature being separated from our former life and everything of an evil nature that pertains to it, having once and for all died with Christ through our identification with Him at regeneration. And our new life, the inner life, the zoe life, the resurrection life which the saint enjoys, the eternal life given him as the motivating energy and directive agent of the new kind of life he lives7, is hid (concealed and safe) with Christ in God.
Did you notice it? God’s abundant life can also be characterized as resurrection life. And another eye-catching description of it was mentioned. It’s also the motivating energy and directive agent of the new kind of life he lives.8
The next section of Scripture gives us a clear and concise description of what God’s abundant life is analogous to. This is found in the book of Galatians.
But the Fruit of the Spirit
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
This verse talks about fruit, fruit of the Spirit. What is it? Is it some kind of spiritual food? The word fruit according to the Greek can also be referred to as the graces (spiritual qualities; influences; qualities of character) of the Spirit; the result of the Spirit’s operation on the soul. When we ascribed abundant life in the book of Romans as being righteousness, peace, and joy in the Lord, what we find are the remaining graces beside peace and joy.
In order for these graces to be reflective in a believer’s life, they need to be developed. How might this be done? I will share this with you in an upcoming chapter. If and when these are developed, they will reveal spiritual qualities of divine character that present actionable expressions of godliness to a lost and dying world, who so need to see the supernatural in the natural.
What these graces should evidence to others are as follows:
Love: Genuine love; self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved.
Joy: Inner rejoicing; does not depend on circumstances because it rests in God's sovereign control of all things.9
Peace: Tranquility of mind as a result of a right relationship with God; a restoration of right relationships between people10; the calm, quiet, and order, which takes place in the justified soul, instead of doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings11 (a strong inner feeling or notion of a future misfortune, evil12, etc.).
Longsuffering: Remaining quiet when persecuted; patient endurance of wrong under ill-treatment, without anger or thought of revenge.13
Gentleness: Mildness of temper; considerate of others when discipline is needed.14
Goodness: Gracious giving (no strings attached); reaching out to others to do good even when it is not deserved.15
Faith: Punctuality in performing a promise; conscientious carefulness in preserving what is committed to our trust, in restoring it to its proper owner; in transacting the business confided to us; neither betraying the secret of our friend; nor disappointing the confidence of our employer.16
Meekness: Humility; not being harsh with others; the right use of power and authority, power under control.17
Temperance: The mastery of one's own desires and impulses.18 Galatians 5:22-23
All of what we have just been taught can be summarized by saying God’s abundant life is the elements of character of the Holy Spirit that hopefully will be developed within us and evidenced to both believers and unbelievers. Wow! What beautiful explanations and expressions of the divine nature!
Well, we have one more Scripture section to look at. Are you ready to find something new about what God’s abundant life is all about? Please go to the book of Hebrews.
For We Which Have Believed Do Enter into Rest
Suggested Reading: Hebrews 4:1-11
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
(Hebrews 4:1, 9, 11)
We have already looked at the word rest earlier in this study. However, what we will find out here is another meaning for it in respect to God’s abundant life.
We are told that there remains a rest for the people of God. Therefore, we should fear, like the Israelites, who didn’t obtain rest in the land of Canaan, because they did not respond positively by accepting and believing the messages declared to them, letting them find their way into their minds and making them their own. If they obeyed the messages or instructions from God, then they would have been able to defeat their enemies and thus secure rest from them.
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. (Genesis 2:2)
As God rested, so we have been promised an inward rest in our soul, a rest or freedom from our own works, which are works that are produced in our own power. This is a rest analogous to what God entered into, when He finished the work of creation.19 In order for us to enter into this rest, we must hear the gospel (the glad tidings of rest) from whoever is preaching it, and respond positively to the word spoken by accepting and believing what was said. We are to then take the Word spoken about how we can enter into this rest on a day-to-day basis and let it find its way into our minds and make it our own.20 What we will find out is that this rest in our soul can only be maintained by labor (to try very hard by making deliberate choices).
Let’s say this again in another way. After responding to the gospel, we should to go to a Spirit-filled church so that we can hear the word spoken from those in leadership, which is designed to provide rest in our soul, a rest which can be obtained by believing the message, letting it find its way into our minds, and making it our own, so that we can have victory over our enemies (those from within and those from without).
This word rest using Old Testament terminology could also be referred to as a Sabbath rest in the sense of accomplishing a purpose, as God did when He finished the work of creation. It’s entering into and participating in God's unique, personal rest in which the believer shares.21 This inward rest will result in: a cessation from toil; a rest similar to that of God-the same kind of enjoyment, the same freedom from care, anxiety, and labor.
How happy then are they who have entered into heaven here on earth! Their toils are over. Their labors are done. Never again will they know fatigue. Never more will they feel anxious care.22In this respect, God’s abundant life can be described as a rest that provides freedom from our own care, anxiety, and works, an inward rest in our soul.
So, there you have it. There is a lot more as to what God’s abundant life is all about than what I would have ever imagined. How about you, has what has been presented been enlightening? Why don’t we summarize before we present something else about this subject. Once again, what is God’s abundant life?
God’s abundant life is/are:
- Having eternal life within, the life of the world to come, the zoe life; those superadded things which are needful to make that life eminently blessed and happy23; having eternal life in all its fulness; having within them perennial sources of life for others - fullness of being24; spiritual blessings … abundance of grace, peace, love…25. John 10:10
- Experiencing rest (refreshment and rejuvenation) for our souls. Matthew 11:28-30
- Rivers of living waters providing spiritual refreshment; large, and liberal, and constant blessings; proper motivation for fruit bearing. John 7:37-39
- A surplus of spiritual refreshment for one self and ever flowing streams for others.
- Times of refreshing (divine peace and joy) in one’s life that come from the presence of the Lord. Acts 3:19
- Righteousness (upright character and disposition; integrity), peace (regulating, ruling, and harmonizing the heart), and joy (inner happiness without any kind of mental agony or fear) in the Holy Spirit. Romans 14:17
- Resurrection life which the saint enjoys; the motivating energy and directive agent of the new kind of life he lives.26 Colossians 3:2-3
- Peace (tranquility of mind) and joy (inner rejoicing). Galatians 5:22-23
- The elements of character (i.e., love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance) of the Holy Spirit that hopefully will be developed within us and evidenced to both believers and unbelievers. Galatians 5:22-23
- An inward rest that provides freedom from our works, cares, and anxieties in the soul. Hebrews 4:6
From what we have just learned, I would recommend for both you and myself to memorize whatever definition of abundant life is the easiest to meditate upon so that if we were to share what God’s abundant life is to an unbeliever, we would be readily available to do so.
What else should we know about God’s abundant life?
I think the next avenue to explore is in answering the following question.
What is incumbent on us that would cause this divine life to be operational within us on a daily basis?
I believe this to be the dilemma for so many Christians. How can the abundant life that God has given me become more and more effectual in my life on a daily basis? There are many answers to this question. However, the first question I would like you to consider at this time is the following one.
Where does this abundant life come from?
1 The Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989, 01 March 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
2 The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 01 March 2014
3 Adam Clarke’s Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2004. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 25 January 2020 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
4 The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 28 January 2020
5 Adam Clarke’s Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2004. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 30 January 2020 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
6 Barnes’ Notes.Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006,05 March 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
7 Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 01 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
9 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 01 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
10 UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 03 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
11 Adam Clarke’s CommentaryPc Study Bible version 5, 2004, 04 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
12 Dictionary.com, 07 Dec. 2016 ˂http://dictionary.reference.com>.
14 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 10 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
15 Bible Knowledge.
16 Adam Clarke.
17 The Bible Exposition.
23 Adam Clarke’s Commentary.
24 The Pulpit Commentary.
25Adam Clarke’s Commentary.