THE ABUNDANT LIFE
by Sylvia Pearce
Jesus said in John 10:10 that “The thief comes 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.” Since Jesus came to give us His life more abundantly, then what exactly is this quality of life, and how do we get it?
Most Christians are either living in the regrets of the past, or longing for a future event that will relieve them of all their misery. There is so much said about the blessed event of the second coming of Christ. I love thinking about it as well, however, I’m not living longing for Him to come back in order to escape my unpleasant and painful circumstances. On the contrary, I’m having too much fun finding Jesus’ Abundant Life right in the midst of my unpleasant circumstances to want to escape them.
“Abundant Life” to me is Jesus in me, by faith, discovering the thrilling adventure and the joy and privilege of being a “living sacrifice” (Rom. 12:1) for others. Does this sound like I am going to extremes by saying I love finding the joy of experiencing Jesus right in the middle of all my circumstances? The truth is that every Christian has the birth right to be able to experience “The Abundant Life of Jesus” in every place and at all times.
Most Christians think that “abundant life” means that when all is going well in their lives in some outer successful way, then they will have “abundant life.” On the contrary, “Abundant Life” means in whatever state we find ourselves in, His life is there inside of us providing for every need abundantly.
Until we find joy and peace, instead of self-pity and escapism in the midst of our pain, we will never know what Paul saw when he wrote the Philippians declaration: “That I might know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). If we remember our history, Paul was in prison in Rome ready to be beheaded when he wrote this powerful statement. He also said in the same epistle that he had learn contentment in whatever state he found himself in, that is, whether being abased, or abounding (Phil 4:11-12).
The point is that most of us don’t know how we can experience present tense satisfaction and completeness no matter what our circumstances may be. We are either looking forward to another time when things will be better, or if we are not living in the future, we are regretting our past failures by focusing on all of our pitiful “IF ONLY” thoughts.
The question is: “Have we Christians even heard the ‘Rest of the Gospel’?” Do we Christians even know that there is present tense abundant life provided for us through the gospel? Don’t most of us think that this kind of victory is only available after our physical death?
Sad to say, most of Christianity is confessing themselves to be just poor “saved, sinners” until the day they die. I’ve got good news for you there is more to the gospel that you have probably heard. Most of the time the gospel’s benefits are presented to us as past deliverance of sins, with a future heavenly destination, but hardly do we understand the benefits proclaimed in the gospel for present tense deliverance.
My good friend, Dan Stone, wrote the book called “The Rest of the Gospel.” Dan’s excellent book clearly reveals the fullness of the gospel proclaimed in Paul’s epistles, that is, by the blood of Christ we are reconciled to God and have the forgiveness of our sins (Colossians 1:20; Romans 3:25), which most Christians understand. However, through the “body of Christ” we are also delivered daily from the power of sins dominion by His indwelling resurrected life and “divine nature” within us (Romans 5:10).
The answer lies in the full meaning of the Cross of Christ. The infinite depths and unfathomable riches of the Cross will forever be discovered and rediscovered throughout all eternity. However, this booklet will be our attempt to bring to light some of the depths of its tremendous riches.
When we say, “the Cross,” we do not merely mean the crucifixion of Christ. We mean, the death, the burial, the resurrection, and the ascension to the throne, as well as the glories vested to us believers by way of the Cross. The Cross is not specifically a line of teaching, it is not a department of truth, it is not just another message delivered, it is the center or hub of all gospel truth. It is the basis, and the explanation of everything taught. The Apostle Paul says, “I’m determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified”(I Corinthians 2:2). Paul knows nothing save the Cross, and neither should we.
If Leviticus with all of its sacrifices, and its rivers of blood has any meaning, it means that God meets man on but one basis, and that is the basis of the Cross. But why does God demand blood and death? Is God sadistic? Even Jesus told the Jews in John 10:17 that, “Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it up again.” So, God the Father loves the Son, because He lays down His life and dies and is raised again. Could it be that the only way to resurrection life is through death? This is absolutely true, there is no real life in the whole universe without the death of the Cross.
LIFE IS BIRTHED OUT OF DEATH
The Cross is the source all of LIVING transforming power in the universe. Paul says in I Corinthians 1:18 that, “For the preaching of the Cross is to them that perish foolishness, but unto us which are saved, it is the power of God.” The Cross is both the instrument of death as well as the source of all life. There has to be Calvary before there was Pentecost, and there has to be a Cross before there is a crown, for the power of Jesus’ resurrection is birthed out of the slow and agonizing death of the Cross.
The Cross of Jesus has put to death all that Satan has stolen and ravished in us through the Fall as well as restored back to us all that was lost in Adam and even more. For by the power of the Cross we are delivered, cleaned, healed, restored, regenerated, redeemed, reconciled, justified, sanctified, and glorified. The metamorphic power of the Cross has transformed us both spiritually and genetically from the old creation, in Adam, to the new creation, in Christ. The Cross delivers us from the powers of darkness in Satan, and translates us into the light kingdom of the Son“(Col. 1:13), that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14).
THE BLOOD OF CHRIST, AND THE BODY OF CHRIST
Abundant Life is the person of Christ, Himself; but before we can know this life of abundance, we have to know how we all died and were raised to LIFE in Christ, at the Cross.
The bible in Colossians 1:20-22 declares that there are two aspects of the Cross. It says, “Having made peace through the blood of His Cross, by Him, to reconcile all things unto Himself.” Then in verse 22 it says, “In the body of His flesh through death to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight.” The Romans epistle also unfolds its revelation of the blood of Christ, and the body of Christ. The first five chapters present to us salvation by faith and the forgiveness of our sins by the blood of Christ (Romans 3:25; 5:9), while Romans 6-8 presents the provision of the bodily death and resurrection of Christ (Romans 7:4).
The blood of Christ satisfied God’s justice, while the body death of Christ satisfies us for the power of His resurrected LIFE (IN US) daily saves us from sin’s dominion. “Much more [certainly], now that we are reconciled, that we shall be saved (daily delivered from sins’ dominion) through His [resurrection] life” (Romans 5:10-Amp).
Let us now consider both the blood, as well as the body of Christ. We will look at the blood side first. Our God meets us in our fallen and blinded condition and offers us the provision of His precious blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Sins in the unbeliever are the actions or outer manifestations of a sinful satanic nature. Yet, we are so blinded and outer minded at this point that all we can recognize are our outer sins, and we have no clue to the inner condition producing these sins. We don’t know and cannot see that it is really a spirit manifesting itself through us producing the very sins we are seeing (Eph. 2:2-3). All we know is that, “I have sinned; I am guilty of sin; I need forgiveness; I need a Savior,” and rightly so: we are guilty sinners, and we are in need of a Savior. I see the wisdom of God in not revealing the secrets of sins’ hidden producer too soon. If sinners knew that it was Satan producing sin through them, then they might try to justify themselves and try to sidestep true heart repentance which would be fatal.
The New Covenant is based on the death of the “testator;” “For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is only in effect after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth” (Hebrews 9:16-17). Therefore, “without the shedding of the blood” (the death of Jesus Christ), there is no remission for sins” (Hebrews 9:22).
The Bible proclaims that “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Eph. 1:7); we have peace with God, “through the blood of his Cross” (Col. 1:20);“we are elect through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (I Peter1:2); we are redeemed by “the precious blood of Christ” (I Peter 1:19); we are cleansed daily by “the blood Jesus Christ” (I John 1:7); and we are “washed from our sins in His own blood” (Rev. 1:5).
Now we sing a new song unto our God “for thou was slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God, kings and priest; and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 9-10).
(I will further clarify, the Blood and Body in next month’s (October) Newsletter.)