More Abundant Life

Life is precious. After one’s eternal soul, life is the most valuable thing we possess. We go to great lengths and expense to extend life. We buy gym memberships, take vitamins and invest in health care. We diet and try to eat healthy. For most people taking care of their body is important. Yet, despite all we invest in creating a better lifestyle, we often overlook the true nature of life.

Scientists, atheists and skeptics are baffled about how it all began. They offer theories that range from semi-serious to absolutely ridiculous—a big bang, a silent explosion, a billion year acid rain, protein molecules developing into the ingredients of life—all these find their way into discussions pertaining to origins. However, they all fail to answer the great mystery of how life began.

The Bible, however, provides solid teaching that answers the question of how life began. Moses wrote,

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen. 1:26-27).

Providing more detail, the writer continues in chapter 2:7, “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” The term “formed” denotes a potter sculpting clay. Likewise, God designed humanity and formed all the intricacies of the body. Even though God created a detailed body it was the act of breathing “into his nostrils the breath of life” that caused man to live. How wonderful and awesome it is to ponder this creative power of God.

From Genesis through Revelation, the Bible is consistent throughout in presenting Creation as recorded by Moses in Genesis 1-2. Man’s lack of respect toward God and His revealed will has led to alternative explanations that write God out of the script. Throughout biblical history many people have turned from the living God to serve idols (Deut. 8:19; Jer. 5:19; Rom. 1:23). Even the great Apostle Paul had to correct an erroneous view. In preaching to the intellectual elite on Mars Hills, he taught them about the true God whom they ignorantly worshipped: “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:28).

Abundant Life Is Eternal Life

Jesus spoke of life. He was passionate about it and wanted all people to have it and to experience it more abundantly. He said, “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.” (Jn. 10:10). The reason Jesus left the glories of heaven was to give life. The context of John 10 pictures Jesus as the Good Shepherd and The Door. He is the one who watches and cares for His own. Others come to pillage and plunder, interested in stealing the sheep to kill for their advantage, but Jesus is the Protector. He is there to provide life and to provide it more abundantly. Arndt and Gingrich define “abundantly” as, “abundant, profuse, going beyond what is necessary.” Carson notes, “This is a proverbial way of insisting that there is only one means of receiving eternal life…only one source of knowledge of God, only one fount of spiritual nourishment, only one basis for spiritual security – Jesus alone.”

The more abundant life of which Jesus speaks is not a greater and fuller experience on earth, although that happens to the one who dedicates their life in service to Christ. In the passage under consideration, Jesus is speaking of eternal life, the ultimate goal of all who enjoy mortal life. Jesus states, “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6:40). The will of the Father, the goal accomplished by the Son, was providing a way of eternal life. All who believe in Jesus, accept Him as the Christ, repent of their sins, confess His name and are immersed in baptism, share the hope of the life Jesus promised.

Throughout John 6 we find references to Jesus being “the Life.” He is the bread of life (vv. 35, 48), the One in whom life is found. Misunderstanding His teaching, many turned and walked with Him no more (v. 66). However Peter understood Jesus was different from all other teachers. When Jesus asked, “Will ye also go away?” (v. 67). Peter quickly responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life” (v. 68).

The actual statement of Jesus that caused some to turn away, and yet prompted Peter to utter his profound question, is found in verses 51-53:

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”

This passage has caused great confusion in the religious world. To take this passage literally would make one guilty of cannibalism. Cannibalism is reprehensible to man and God. The drinking of blood was against Mosaic Law (Lev. 3:17, 17:20, 12). The very statement “eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood” would have been repulsive to the Jews. No doubt, they were overcome with a picture of cannibalism and they missed the spiritual lesson.

This passage has also been misunderstood in Roman Catholicism. This passage serves as the basis for their doctrine of the Eucharist and transubstantiation. They teach that in the sacrament of the Eucharist the bread becomes the literal body of Christ while the wine becomes the literal blood of Christ. This is a grave misunderstanding of Jesus’ meaning in this passage and it is patently false doctrine. In following the rules of sound hermeneutics, all passages must be taken literally unless the meaning of the context forbids. When looking at the context as a whole it is easy to see the use of metaphor. David Watson remarks on this passage, “…the words of Jesus concerning eating His flesh and drinking His blood (1) are figurative and not literal, (2) employ the figure of speech known as a metaphor, and (3) do not refer to the Lord’s Supper.” There may be many difficulties in this chapter, and men have debated much over it, but the overall theme is really simple—Jesus gives life!

John said, “In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 Jn. 4:9). God’s expression of love toward humanity was to provide a way we might live. We find life through Jesus—this is the plan God established. The way is Jesus!

Life Equals Salvation

In a well-known passage, Paul writes, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23). Sin is destructive and leads to death; however, God’s gift is eternal life. Paul wrote Timothy, “But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). This life is provided through His Son. The gift is offered, it is up to us to accept.

Clearly, life is found in Jesus. In one of the most controversial passages in the Bible, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Jn. 14:6). Emphasis is often placed on Jesus as “the way” and “the truth,” and Jesus as “the life” is often overlooked. In this monumental statement Jesus is allowing us to understand He is the only life. No other exists apart from Him! Paul Butler astutely notes, “He is the Life. Not merely physical life nor is He merely the source of the spiritual life of every man although He is the source of both of these. But He is the Life as opposed to Death. Only by faith in Him may men be assured of Eternal Life and fellowship with the Father. Without Him men are assured of eternal death and separation from God and all that is good and right.”

There is a connection to the statement found in John 1:4—“In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” In this passage John provides us with profound insight into the nature of Christ. Craig Keener remarks on this verse, “…since John identifies ‘life’ with ‘light’ (1:4; 8:12), and ‘light’ contextually refers to Christ (1:9-10), we must understand that on a functional level ‘life’ is ultimately Jesus himself (11:25; 14:6; cf. 3:15; 5:24).”

Life Is Found Because of His Sacrifice

Isaiah, the most illustrious of the prophets, spoke often about the Messiah. In the famed fifty-third chapter we find, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (v. 5). At least twelve times in this chapter the suffering of Jesus is spoken of as vicarious. The bloody picture of a sacrificial Lamb is painted, allowing us to realize it was on our behalf. The New Testament partner to this passage is, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Pet. 2:24). Peter’s discussion of the sacrifice rightly indicates it was for our sins. It is what allows us to live unto righteousness and share the hope of life eternal. God manifested His great redemptive plan and the way to life in Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection. For this reason Paul declares, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness” (Rom. 6:17-18).

The Mosaic system of sacrifice involved many sacrifices, yet all these could not make perfect the supplicant (Heb. 10:1). Jesus accomplished this once and for all by His sacrifice. “Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself” (Heb. 7:27). He is the perfect Lamb. He died that we might live.

Obedience to Christ Is Key to Life

Jesus desires for us to experience more abundant life. Abundant life is eternal life, the salvation for which we hope, and Jesus is that life. His sacrifice made it all possible. The question now presents itself: “How do I take advantage of the offer made by Christ?” The key is obedience. The Hebrew author had Jesus under consideration when he wrote, “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (5:9). Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 7:21). Evidently, obedience to Jesus and His will is the answer to our question. Jesus plainly stated, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15).

The amazing thing concerning the life Jesus promises is the simplicity of the steps one needs to take. He outlines the importance of faith: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Faith is an important motivator. When one believes in Christ they “should not perish.” Unlike some modern translations the Greek supports this statement in our language. The reason one should not perish is because faith should motivate one to continue searching out everything they must do to obtain life and salvation. Jesus also mentions the importance of repentance: “I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk. 13:3). He underscores the necessity of confession: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven” (Mt. 10:32). The final step to realizing the hope of the life Christ offers is baptism. Paul wrote, “For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). Christ is the Life and in order to attain such Life one must be in Christ. Baptism is the essential step which puts one in Christ and allows access to life.

 

Article by: Brad Shockley