Saturday, December 19, 2015

Advent Day 19: Jesus Came to Give Us Life Abundantly

[9] I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out
 and find pasture. [10] The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. 
I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 
(John 10:9-10 ESV)

When we hear the phrase abundant life, all kinds of images flood into our heads.  Some imagine a large family, some a life of relaxation, others a life of great material possessions.  Whatever most people imagine, it typically includes having more than they have now.

In fact, what is commonly referred to as the prosperity gospel or the "health and wealth" movement takes verses like this and abuses them.  See, they would say, Jesus wants you to have abundant life. He came for that very purpose.  God wants you to have wealth and great material possessions.  He doesn't want you to live in poverty.

To come to those conclusions, however, they have to ignore verses where Paul speaks of being content with both much and little (Phil. 4:12) or the command in Hebrews to be content with what we have (Heb. 13:5).  They have to ignore the expectation of suffering from James 1 or 1 Peter 1.  

They're also ignoring what Jesus is saying in John 10.    Jesus says that all who enter through him, enter into eternal life.  If you listen to anyone else and try to enter another way, then you will not be saved or find eternal life.

Jesus is setting up a contrast between eternal destruction and eternal living.  Jesus' point is not, "If you enter by another way, you'll be ok, but your life will be miserable.  So, enter by me and you'll have a life of great possessions and influence."  Jesus is not comparing the quality of life, but whether you will have life at all.

The word abundant is defined as "existing or having available in large quantities."  In other words, Jesus is saying that we will have much life - large quantities of life.  Jesus says nothing of the possessions of this life being abundant - only that our life will be, if we enter through him.  

The problem is that we take eternal life in Christ for granted.  Therefore, we think eternal life is not what Jesus is talking about.  Instead, he must be referencing something added to this life.  But, when we realize what we deserve is eternal death and destruction, then having eternal, abundant, large quantities of life is astonishing.

Jesus came to earth so that we could have abundant life; not a rich life or a life of ease or a healthy life on earth.  He came that we might live for all eternity with the joy of knowing him!

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