Do you have true life? Is Christ sustaining you? What is the real meaning and purpose of abundant life? Join me as I explore this topic. Quotes will be from Larry Crabb’s Shattered Dreams and When God’s Ways Make No Sense. Our main scriptural passage for this post is John 10:10 KJV:
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.
What does Jesus mean by abundant life? How does this relate to the Gospel? What is the real, deepest meaning and application for God’s Gospel in your life?
The “Real” Good News of the Gospel:
Larry describes the good news of the gospel:
“is not that God will provide a way to make life easier. The good news of the gospel, for this life, is that He will make our lives better. We will be empowered to draw close to God and to love others well and to do both for one central purpose, to glorify God, to make Him look good to any who watch us live.” pg. 150
The Gospel is all about what God does in our hearts, how Christ mercifully and miraculously transforms us! It’s not “primarily about getting saved out of hell and into heaven. It is not primarily about living a certain way that creates fewer problems and makes us feel better about ourselves and our lives. pg 174″
Jesus’ primary concern is not self-improvement or pleasing us with things from/in this life. His primary work is to reveal Himself to us and through us to others.
Jesus’ Main Purpose for Us: John 17:3
Jesus reveals His highest dream for those of us who follow Him as He defines what “the true abundant life is: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” John 17:3–Jesus’ prayer for His disciples then and now
Jesus’ greatest desire for us is
“about knowing Him as the most wonderful person there is, the very best friend anyone could ever ham. It is about glorifying God by enjoying Him more than any other source of pleasure.” pg 174
The Gospel frees us to pursue and enjoy the ONE who matters the most in life and eternity. Have you ever wondered why Jesus calls His followers to deny self and follow Him? The answer is simply that there is nothing worth pursuing in our selves (human, carnal nature). We will either worship ourselves by making self and self pleasure our idol or we will choose to follow someone or something else that seems to immediately appease our desires.
Larry describes the Gospel:
“It’s so much more but never less than forgiveness of sin, restored relationship with God, and the promise of heaven forever. It’s a call to radical discipleship, to a life of perseverance through unpredictable suffering and of joy in knowing there is no condemnation for ongoing failure. It is not an easy life. It wasn’t meant to be.” pg 35 When God Makes No Sense
The entire purpose of God’s redemptive work is to unify us with Christ. We are to become more like Christ with each passing moment of our lives. The real power of the Gospel is found in that it renews and transforms our desires and focus of life. God aligns our desire to His mercy and grace that we can only experience in and through the life and work of Jesus the Christ.
What is abundant life in Jesus all about?
Abundant life means more than we can assume with an English word understanding only. Got questions explains what abundant life means:
To summarize abundant life, it’s the life we find as we walk with Christ and come to know and resemble Him more. Jesus uses illustrations from sheep herding/care in John 10. Jesus identifies Himself as the Gate and the Good Shepherd. Jesus is contrasting Himself with the Pharisees and their dead religion. It’s important to remember that John 10 follows John 9 wherein the Pharisees reject Christ. The Pharisees were stirred up because Jesus had healed a blind man on the Sabbath.
It’s important for us to realize that religion and man made rules lead to spiritual blindness and hypocrisy. Sabbath laws (not what God actually requires in Scripture) were more important than the blind man and Jesus’ merciful healing. This is the trap of legalism wherein rules become more valued than relationship. The Pharisees were blinded by their refusal to believe. They choose their own gospel of legalism and obedience over the True Gospel. For a more detailed discussion the setting and meaning of John Chapter 10.
True Gospel versus False or Distorted Gospel
The True Gospel message is summarized in 1 Corinthians 15:1-5 and Galatians 1:6-9
John Piper gives a detailed discussion on this topic in his talk and post: “How I Distinguish Between the Gospel and False Gospels”
We humans have a tendency to distort truths. We do this when we encounter God’s Word and truth and decide to modify the truth to fit our ideas or desires. The Gospel is actually offensive in nature because it requires that we admit and deal with our helplessness and sinfulness. We deal with this by trusting Jesus to save us, not by trying to earn God’s grace with our “good” deeds. Jesus gives us a new nature as He brings us from death into spiritual life with/in Him. Ephesians Chapter 2 explains what it means to be made alive in Christ!
People aren’t naturally good as modern humanists teach. We can’t find truth from within ourselves as many spiritualists claim. Our human hearts have a definite sin problem that only God can fix (Romans Chapters 1-3). However, we must remember and understand that the fix requires dying to self and trusting in God!
It’s best to know and live in accordance to God’s Gospel as revealed in His Living Word. If you hear or see anything that seems to add, subtract, or modifies in any way the Gospel then go back to the scripture passages I listed above to consider what’s being presented. Jerry Bridges has an entire chapter entitled “Preach the Gospel to Yourself” in his book: The Discipline of Grace, God’s Role and Our Role in the Pursuit of Holiness. We need to daily remind ourselves of the truths of God!
The Way of the Redeemed: a new creature, nature, and passion!
God gives us a new identity and power for our lives! Larry describes this new reality on pg 178:
“We’re now forgiven and can draw near to God. We’re new creations whose core identity is no longer sinner but saint. We have a new appetite within us, a desire for God that is stronger than every other desire, waiting to be discovered and nourished. And we have a new power. The Spirit of God exists literally within us. His central passion is to awaken our appetite for Christ and to reveal Him to us.”
May God graciously grant you abundant life in His Son Jesus and remind you daily of His great holiness, righteousness, truth, and grace we find as we trust and walk with Him daily,
For His glory and your edification in His truth, I write these words