About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The Other Side Of Abundance


Jesus said that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but He comes to give abundant life (John 10:10).  Some Christians take this to mean that Jesus promised to make them materially wealthy, but is that what Jesus really promised?   


John, more than any other New Testament author links the word "life' with the word "eternal."  He uses the phrase "eternal life" 17 times in his book, whereas the other 3 gospels combined use the phrase 9 times.  If you study John's gospel you will note that whether he calls it abundant life, eternal life, or just life, he associates life with the divine nature of God entering into our mortal existence.       


The context of Jesus' statement is seen in John 9:40 where He addressed the Pharisees after healing a man of his blindness.  Jesus had offered these men abundant life earlier but they refused it (John 5:40) and now they were insisting that His words were demonically inspired (John 10:21).  Knowing to whom Jesus was speaking helps us understand the meaning of abundant life.


The abundant life Jesus offered could not have been material abundance because the Jewish leaders to whom He spoke were already wealthy and Jesus was poor.  Remember, foxes have holes and birds have nests but Jesus had no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20).  To think a monetarily poor Jesus could give material wealth to rich men makes no sense.


So, what did abundant life look like for those who received it back then?  Well, right away 120 disciples received the Holy Spirit into their lives in a very powerful way (Acts 2:1).  I'd call receiving the eternal Holy Spirit of God abundant life.  Minutes later Peter had the power, authority, and the ability to speak the Word of God resulting in 3,000 people being saved.  I'd call that abundant life.


In Acts 3 Peter and John healed a lame man in Jesus' name.  I'd call that abundant life.  That's just the beginning of such abundance that we see in the lives of the disciples throughout the book of Acts, but, there's another side to abundance that doesn't get much pulpit press these days.


In the very verse that Jesus spoke of abundant life He said that the thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy.  This implies conflict between those who exercise their abundant life with the satanically inspired anti-Christ world around them.  This conflict is seen when Peter and John were arrested for healing the lame man.  The thief came to steal, kill, and destroy the good thing that Peter and John did for the lame man. 


Peter and John did not cave into this satanic attack.  They exercised their abundance of authoritative audacity by telling the Jewish leaders that they had no choice but to obey God rather than them.  The demonic struggle did not end there.  Soon after this episode Peter was imprisoned.  I'd call this the other side of abundance.  On and on it goes throughout the book of Acts.  The abundant life is consistently challenged by the satanically inspired anti-Christ culture in which the first generation of Christians lived.   


Think about this.  Peter was on the verge of having a prosperous fishing business.  If he had anticipated material abundance from Jesus, he would have been very disappointed.  Jesus didn't offer Peter monetary prosperity.  He not only asked Peter to leave his career, He called him to a life of little wealth that ended in crucifixion.  I call that the other side of abundance. 


Look at the Apostle Paul's life.  I think he is the most influential and productive Christian in history.  What did his abundant life look like?  Philippians 3:4 and following tells us that he forsook the good life of being a leader among the Jews to follow Jesus, which he considered to be his ultimate gain.  Like Peter, his abundant life led him through numerous hardships (2 Corinthians 11:23 to 27) that ended in him being beheaded.  I'd call that the other side of abundance. 


Don't get me wrong.  There is nothing inherently wrong with the abundance of material wealth, but that's not what Jesus was speaking about in John 10:10.  Let's not put words into His mouth that He never spoke.  The Biblical fact is that abundant life is divine abundance and with divine abundance comes satanic adversity.  When we exercise our abundance it will create conflict with the anti-Christ culture in which we live.  Satan does not like such abundance.  If you are eagerly anticipating a future of exciting abundance just remember that the anti-Christ culture in which we live doesn't appreciate our version of abundance. 


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