PART 2 GOD’S ABUNDANT LIFE
PART 2 GOD’S ABUNDANT LIFE
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.
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 a 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.2 In the morning, he would call the flock, and they would recognize him by his voice. So, what we’ve 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 shall be saved (will receive deliverance and protection), and subsequently shall go into the sheepfold for safety and out from 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.
He then warned of those whom He called a thief (a reference to Satan; the present religious leaders), who would come to steal (deceive), to kill (ruin), and to destroy (cause the destruction of) the sheep. These leaders could also be known like their master, the Devil, as the thieves of souls whose pretension to be a way to God is based on no inward and eternal reality.3 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.4
In contrast, Jesus said that He’d come 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 Koine Greek word zooen, which is derived from the word zoe. Most of the New Testament was written in 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 happy5; to have eternal life in all its fulness; to have within them perennial sources of life for others - fullness of being6; spiritual blessings … abundance of grace, peace, love…7 Did you notice the description of spiritual blessings?
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 would receive this life.
What a great way to start this study. Before we continue on, let’s carefully think about what we’ve just learned concerning God’s abundant life. The words more abundantly tell us that there are spiritual blessings that reside within the believer that not only provide for them true happiness but also should be a source of life for others.
So, just what are these internal blessings?
We’ve been given a glimpse of them: grace, peace, and love. But there’s more. Whatever they are, they’ll make us happy. With these thoughts in mind, we’re now going to take a look at sections of Scripture that will present to us the varied words used to describe these inward blessings.
Let’s begin by going to the book of Matthew.
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’ll 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 lives on a daily basis? This begs the question, what’s 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. What does it mean to come to Christ? We’ll talk about this in the next chapter.
29-30 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. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Once we’ve 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 that we should learn? This will be unveiled as we continue in this study. Keep these thoughts in the back of your mind. What we’ve found out is that our obligation to do something is analogous to learn. Huh?
So, when we’re obligated to learn the truths that Jesus teaches, we‘ll experience rest (refreshment and rejuvenation) for our souls. By analogy, rest can be associated with experiencing God’s abundant life.
The verses that we’ll 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? Let’s find out.
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 eight days and was to be celebrated immediately after the harvest of corn, wine, and oil. This feast was celebrated at the end of the month of September and the beginning of the month of 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 forty-years wandering in the wilderness by their Jewish ancestors during which time they dwelt in booths. Leviticus 23:43
At 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. On the seventh day of the feast, one of the rituals was to walk around the altar seven times with these branches in hand, 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.
John 7:37-39 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.)
On the final day of the feast, the eighth day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed with a loud voice that whosoever believed in Him out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. Jesus wasn’t saying that literal rivers of living water would pour out of their belly, but this spoke He of the indwelling Holy Spirit, whom they were decreed to receive. However, this encounter wouldn’t take place at this time, but only after Jesus had been crucified on the cross, raised from the dead after three days, and ascended into heaven to be seated at the right hand of the Father. After which, on the day of Pentecost, the fiftieth day commemorating the completion of the grain harvest, the promise of the arrival of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of promise, would take place and be received (indwelt) by His disciples along with anyone who repented to God the Father and believed in His Son Jesus Christ.
When a person receives the Spirit into their life, then out of his belly (innermost part) shall flow rivers of living water. This implies that these rivers of living water came from Him, another one of the members of the Trinity. So, just what are they, and what causes them to be realized in the believer’s life? These 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’ll eventually find the answer to this question, but not now. Let’s keep our focus on the question at hand, which is what is God’s abundant life? I think you’ll agree that the words rivers of living water are another use of different words in describing what constitutes abundant life. Let’s learn more about these two words by going to the book of Acts.
In the book of Acts, abundant life relates to the word’s times of refreshing.
Let’s see what these words are all about.
Suggested Reading: Acts 3:1-4:31
Acts 3:19 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;
A man, who was born crippled at birth, was placed at one of the nine 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 the temple with the Apostles’ Peter and John. The people knew of this man’s physical disability and were awestruck at his healing.
Peter, aware of the people’s amazement and wonder as to the complete restorative curing 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 something else to them, and that was that they needed to Repent. This encompassed an acknowledgment of their sins along with a confession of a wrong mindset concerning Christ as the Messiah, and if this were the case, then they would be converted (turned to God by belief in this Christ, the Messiah). And subsequently, that your sins may be blotted out (wholly to remove the record, the charge, and every trace of the account against them8) so that they would be able to experience the times of refreshing (divine peace and joy) in their lives, which shall come from the presence of the Lord.
From this, we can deduce that God’s abundant life can also mean 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 have any idea what these three words could be? I don’t either. Let’s find out.
Suggested Reading: Romans 14:1-23
In the early church, there were many contentious issues. Three of them are presented here.
a. Eating certain foods.
Romans 14:2-3 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.
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 of the common religious 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 decided upon was for the Gentiles to no longer bring food or drink, which had blood in them.
b. Esteeming or Not Esteeming Certain Days.
Romans 14:5-6 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;…
The Jewish believers considered certain days (e.g., the Sabbath, the feast days, etc.) to be more important than other days. The Gentiles believed that all days had the same value. Suppose the Jewish Christians wanted to continue to observe the Sabbath well, 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 6:00 pm when this day ended), 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 make it clear in their teachings to the Jewish believers that they were allowed to continue to observe the tenets of the Mosaic Law. However, the observing of its commands couldn’t provide salvation nor bring about spiritual growth.
c. Eating meat or anything that was offered in sacrifice to pagan idols.
Romans 14:14-15 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.
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 some of their fellow believers, who were still visiting these temples.
A solution to the idea of eating meats or drinking beverages associated with these feasts was announced. The believers were asked to no longer attend the pagan temples for any reason. Along with this, if when they were in the meat market, it became aware to them that the meat was from a pagan temple, then they were asked not to buy it. However, if any believer attended a festival and free meat was offered, they were advised not to ask where it came from. The admonition was simply to eat and don’t question it.
Romans 14:17 For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.
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 hearts can only take place or be effectual in us by means of one person, i.e., the Holy Spirit, who when He is relied upon by the believer will activate 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) in their life. Did you get that? I’ll say it again.
God’s abundant life is righteousness, peace, and joy permeating our inner being by the Holy Spirit. Wowsa! It comes from the Spirit and not by what we do. When we’re operating in God’s abundant life, we’ll automatically perform not only good works but godly works.
Therefore, what should be the emphasis of church teachings? The emphasis of church teachings should be on presenting the gospel, declaring sound doctrine, and helping us address the weaknesses of our flesh so that divine power is our energy and the Word of God is our perspective. Do you see it? Are you getting it?
Believe it or not, we have a few more Scripture sections to look at, which will give us a clear understanding of what God’s abundant life means for us. Please proceed onward to the book of Colossians.
Set your affection on things above, not on thing 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 affection (mind) on things above (heavenly realities and values, which are determined by the presence and power of the risen Christ), and not on thing on 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 lives,9is 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 also mentioned. It’s the motivating energy and directive agent of the new kind of life he lives.10
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 is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
These verses talk about fruit, the fruit of the Spirit. What is it? Is it some kind of spiritual food? The word fruit, according to 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 these verses are conveying to us here is the remaining fruit besides peace and joy.
In order for these to be reflective in a believer’s life, they need to be developed. How might this be accomplished? I’ll share this with you in an upcoming chapter. However, if and when they’re developed, they will reveal the 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:
Love: Genuine love; self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved.
Joy: Inner rejoicing; that [doesn’t] depend on circumstances because it rests in God's sovereign control of all things.11
Peace: Tranquility of mind as a result of a right relationship with God; a restoration of right relationships between people12; the calm, quiet, and order, which takes place in the justified soul, instead of doubts, fears, alarms, and dreadful forebodings13 (a strong inner feeling or notion of a future misfortune, evil,14 etc.).
Longsuffering: Remaining quiet when persecuted; patient endurance of wrong under ill-
treatment, without anger or thought of revenge.15
Gentleness: Mildness of temper; considerate of others when discipline is needed.16
Goodness: Gracious giving (no strings attached); reaching out to others to do good even when it [isn’t] deserved.17
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.18
Meekness: Humility; not being harsh with others; the right use of power and authority, power under control.19
Temperance: The mastery of one's own desires and impulses.20 Galatians 5:22-23
All of what we’ve just been taught and learned can be summarized by saying God’s abundant life is the elements of the character of the Holy Spirit which reside in us and hopefully will be developed and evidenced to both believers and unbelievers. Wow! Wow! And Wow!
Well, we have one more Scripture section to look at. Are you ready to find out something new about what God’s abundant life is all about? Please go to the book of Hebrews.
Suggested Reading: Hebrews 4:1-11
Hebrews 4:1, 9, 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.
We’ve already looked at the word rest in the book of Matthew earlier in this study. However, what we’ll find out here is another meaning for it in respect to God’s abundant life.
We’re told that There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. Therefore, we should fear, like the Israelites, who didn’t obtain rest in the land of Canaan because they didn’t 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 had obeyed the messages or instructions from God, then they would’ve been able to defeat their enemies and thus secure rest from them.
Genesis 2:2 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.
As God rested, so we’ve 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. The rest spoken of here is a rest analogous to what God entered [into] when He finished the work of creation.21 In order for us to enter into this rest, we must hear the gospel (the glad tidings of rest) from whosoever is preaching it and respond positively to the Word spoken by accepting and believing what was said. We’re 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.22 What we’ll find out is that this rest in our soul can only be maintained by labor (to try very hard by making deliberate choices). Try very hard? In what way?
Let’s say this again in another way. After responding to the gospel, the gospel of Christ, we should to go to a Spirit-filled church so that we can hear the word spoken from those in leadership, which should be designed to provide rest in our souls, a rest which can only 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).
The 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.23 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. [Nevermore] will they feel anxious care.24 Are you ready for it? In 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.
Listen carefully. When we hear the messages from those in leadership, do they instruct us on how to enter into God’s inner rest, or do they instruct us to perform godly works, which they say are works produced from obedience to God’s commands? I hope you got this. Just because works have a godly slant, it doesn’t mean that they’re approved of by God in the sense of us performing them in our own energy. Ponder on this.
So, there you have it. There’s a lot more to what God’s abundant life is all about than what I would’ve ever imagined. How about you, has what has been presented been enlightening? Let’s go ahead and summarize before we present something else about this subject.
God’s abundant life is:
- 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 happy25; having eternal life in all its fulness; having within them perennial sources of life for others - fullness of being26; spiritual blessings … abundance of grace, peace, love…27. 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 oneself 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.28 Colossians 3:2-3
- Peace (tranquility of mind) and joy (inner rejoicing). Galatians 5:22-23
- The elements of the Holy Spirit's character (i.e., love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance) hopefully will be developed within us and evidenced to 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’ve just learned, I’d recommend for you and myself to memorize whatever definition of God’s abundant life is the easiest to meditate upon so that if we were to share what this is about to an unbeliever, we’d 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.
Where does this abundant life come from or how does a person receive this life?
I think that the answer to this has already been mentioned. But let’s take a closer look at it so that there’s no misunderstanding.
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2 The Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989, 01 March 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
3The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 7 December 2021 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
4 The Pulpit Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 01 March 2014
5 Adam Clarke’s Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2004. BIBLESOFT. WEB. 25 January 2020 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
6 The Pulpit Commentary.
7 Adam Clarke.
8 Barnes’ Notes. Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006,05 March 2014 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
9 Weust’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 01 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
11 Bible Knowledge Commentary/New Testament, 2000, 01 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
12 UBS New Testament Handbook Series Pc Study Bible version 5, 2005, 03 Dec. 2016 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>.
13 Adam Clarke.
14 Dictionary.com, 07 Dec. 2016 ˂http://dictionary.reference.com>.
16 Bible Knowledge.
17 Bible Knowledge.
18 Adam Clarke.
19 The Bible Exposition.
25 Adam Clarke.
26 The Pulpit.