Sabbath Greetings Everyone,
Those whom God calls, and who have made the choice to live for Him and walk in all of His ways, have left their past behind and have embarked upon a journey to a new life. Paul talks about this new life in 2nd Corinthians:
2nd Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
The Bible makes it clear that this new life is a realty and in fact tells us that we must begin anew. Jesus calls this new life the “abundant life” in John 10:10, and that we can only have this new abundant life through Him.
John 10:10 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.
John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.
And along this theme, Paul talks about how God can do exceedingly abundant things in our lives even above what we normally think.
Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.
So what does this new life look like? If we are being true to the Scriptures, we want to clarify right away that these verses are not describing some kind of “name it and claim it” prosperity gospel that promises abundant wealth, everything good, and continuous super health throughout our lifetimes. The new abundant life given to us in Christ means much more than merely material physical blessings.
Throughout the Bible we do see God blessing people and promising blessings to those who love Him and obey Him, and there are many Scriptures that speak of being prosperous. In the Book of Joshua, God encourages Joshua to be strong and of a good courage, then goes on to admonish him in the way to live that will lead him to “prosperity and success”.
Joshua 1:6 Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
1:7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper withersoever thou goest.
1:8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Is prosperity and material blessings the sign of an abundant life? Although there were some men and women of God who were considered wealthy and the Bible does not say it is a sin to be rich, most people in the Bible and throughout history have had lives of struggle, poverty, suffering and pain; and they experienced persecution, loss of loved ones, childlessness, poor health, widowhood, etc., etc.
Can true Christians have an abundant life in spite of trials of all kinds? The type of “abundance” that God talks about is not what most people think of as being the “abundant good life” that men and women of this world strive so hard to achieve.
In Hebrews 11:32-40, Paul describes some of the things that the people of God have had to go through. He concludes this passage with the promise that God will provide better things for His faithful children who are suffering in this life and if they endure to the end.
In this chapter Paul speaks of servants of God who were of great faith and yet some of them had to go through some pretty horrendous trials. He tells us about how these faithful men and women were tortured, mocked, scourged, imprisoned, stoned, sawn in two, destitute, mistreated and homeless. He goes on to say that the world was not worthy of these saints.
According to the prosperity gospel proponents, these men of faith lives would sound more like cursed lives, rather than the kind of blessed abundant life that these false teachers propose which they say can be ours in this life if we just believe and say the right things.
Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
11:33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions.
11:34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
11:36 And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
11:37 They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
11:38 (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
11:39 And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
11:40 God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
These saints were RICH in FAITH and the writer of Hebrews said of these servants of God, that they saw themselves as strangers and foreigners in this world and talked of their hope for a much better country, a heavenly city that God is preparing for His faithful people.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
11:14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
11:15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.
11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
Hebrew 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.
These people had unspeakable joy in their lives in spite of their trials for they kept before them the vision of what God was preparing for them, and they had complete faith that God was able to perform all that He had promised.
1st Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
1:8 Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:
1:9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Paul spoke much on joy and on abundant living even as he, too, struggled very much in his lifetime. It was Paul who wrote even as he was in prison and separated from his brethren, about “being content in all things”, about “rejoicing always”, and about the kind of “peace that transcends all understanding”. He believed and taught that God can answer our prayers for His people in “exceedingly abundant” ways. He was not just waiting until the time that he would be released and delivered before he could say all of these things. Paul wrote of his joy, his sufficiency and his abundance in Christ that was his no matter what circumstances he found himself in.
Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Philippians 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God.
Paul said that he had everything that he needed in Christ and encouraged his brethren by telling them that God would supply all their needs according to God’s riches in glory. These “riches in glory” include having a peace that the world generally cannot have at this time.
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
The abundance through Christ is not just the peace of God for Paul wrote in his epistle to the Ephesian brethren of a long list of the RICHES that we have in Jesus; these are things that only come from God and nowhere else:
Ephesians 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
And in his epistle to the Colossians Paul reiterates more of the abundance that believers can have by knowing God and walking with Him.
Colossians 1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
This is the kind of abundance that God’s children can have for all those who put their faith in Christ and in the Father and who are being faithful to them. These spiritual treasures are far better than the temporal riches that can be had in this present world. The riches that the world seek after are way inferior and do not last; they are fleeting just as our physical lives in this present world are temporary and before we know it they are over.
Trials for Being Followers of Christ
As it was observed in the Book of Job, trouble and tribulation come to all men. “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.” (Job 5:7)
Being a believer has its own set of troubles because the world hates those who put their trust in God and the enemy hates God’s children. It seems harsh but in reality this is part of our being fashioned and molded into the kind of sons and daughters that will become like God, who take on His divine nature making us fit to be kings and priests in the Kingdom of God. We are as clay on the potter’s wheel and our troubles are instruments to bring about the changes necessary to make us fit to be godly vessels that God can use now, and throughout eternity.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.
Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
John 15:18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 5:12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
But in John 14 Jesus gives us the tremendous promise that for those who attain to the resurrection of spirit that we will be with Him in the place that He is preparing for us. And not only that, but we will be like Christ, with new powerful, spiritual bodies, the kind of glorified body that He has.
John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.
14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
14:4 And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
1st John 1:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 1:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
Scriptures tell us, that often it is BECAUSE of our relationship with Christ that we have persecution and trials in this life. Our new life in Christ may cost us in material things and even physical well being; but in spite of all that, we do have an abundant life with spiritual assets that no one can take away from us unless we let them, or we give them up ourselves.
The disciples gave up all that they had in order to follow Christ and to go forth into the world with the Great Commission. One day, Peter asked Jesus what they would have for leaving all of their material goods for the cause of Christ? Christ told them that if they have forsaken houses, family, lands, wealth, in order to do the will of God that they would be given “an hundredfold” of these things, along with eternal life which is quite an abundance and even beyond whatever abundance we could ever hope for in this life.
Matthew 19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
We are so abundantly blessed if we are faithfully fulfilling our calling and doing all we can to walk with Christ, keeping all of the Father’s commandments, continually growing, learning, applying what we learn to our lives on a continuous basis. Jesus tells us that:
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” and “I am the way, the truth, and the life”.
Yes, with Jesus we have a truly abundant life and He promises us that we will have abundance beyond our wildest imagination if we put our hope in Him and commit to live for Him all of our days.
The proper prospective of the abundant life that Jesus talks of is to understand that we will not automatically receive material and physical abundance in this life, but that we have the much better extraordinary spiritual blessings that only God can supply if we are faithful and living in accordance to all of His will for us; and that we can have His abundance even in the midst of difficult circumstances. Poverty, trials and persecution cannot take away the glorious riches that God has given and is preparing for those who are patiently waiting for a new and better country.
Psalm 119:50 This is my comfort in my affliction: for thy word hath quickened me. [His Word has revived me and has given me “abundant” life!]
Psalm 16:11 Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.
Have a wonderful and abundant Sabbath everyone!
Photo Credit: Public Domain ~ Used for educational purposes only