The Truth About The Abundant Life

Introduction

You hear time and time again about the abundant life. We are told how we could live the abundant life if we would do this or do that. We are told that we have a right to the best that God has to offer. There are so many formulas taught today that one would think that there is no reason at all why Christians should suffer lack. There is so much enthusiasm and hype that we would think that Christians have a magic formula for obtaining wealth from God. However, we don't seem to experience what they tell us from the pulpit. Why?

Is lack an indication of a lack of faith or perhaps a secret sin? Are your troubles the manifestation of God's wrath on your life. Do you strive to live the abundant life according to a world system? Are you seeking the abundant life? That question alones begs the problem. You should be seeking something else shouldn't you? Anyway, there are many of us who pursue the "good life" and desire nice things. However, are those what the Bible refer to as abundant living or the abundant life?

I was part of the church game at one time though not whole heartedly. I took the word of faith teaching about prosperity and abundance to heart because I suppose that is what I wanted to hear and that would be great....if it were true. You too may have been bitten by the prosperity bug and are following a plethora of formulas now in hopes of receiving the abundant life. I'm sure by now that you realize or at least have a suspision that things are not working as you were told they would and as you hoped.

You still have the same job, the same house, and basically the same life. You don't see the wealth pouring in as you were told. You've tithed, given to the church, supported the pastor, went to all of the church functions or at least all that were in your power to attend. Yet you don't see the land of milk and honey. You desire more than anything right now if you could get money to repair your leaky roof or purchase a more reliable car or provide more money for your family. Yet you find yourself in the same boat. Why?

I have news for you my friend. The abundant life that you were promised is an illusion. It is not real at least from the biblical perspective. You have been striving to support someone else's dream. You have given to support someone else's goals and aspirations. You gave away your blessing and the very seed that God gave you to plant. Sure we should give to our church, but that doesn't mean that we invest in the religious institution. What I mean by that is that our duty is ultimately to God and not an institution. We shouldn't give so that we receive. That is against biblical teaching. We should give out of the kindness and love in our hearts. However, we have been blinded to that truth.

We have been duped into thinking that God is an investment agent or the like. We think that if we give someone some money that God will give us 10 or 100 times in return. We have been duped to follow our own earthly lusts when in fact Jesus Christ told us what we should seek. Have you ever stopped to wonder about the lives of the Apostles. Would you say that they had the abundant life? We wouldn't argue for a moment the close relationship Paul had with God. We wouldn't think it strange to hear someone say that Moses was close to God or that Peter had a close relationship with God and that they all had an abundant life or would we.

The problem is that we have replace the concepts of the world into our perspective of the Kingdom of God. We think that God works the way that the world does and He does not. We think that God is concerned ultimately with our wealth and well being. We have been fooled into thinking that God is establishing an earthly kingdom for us to be lavished in riches and glory, i.e., the abundant life.

Well we will investigate the truth of this matter. We will discuss how to live from the perspective of the Christian faith. This is not a prosperity movement study as I'm sure you've guessed by now, but a discussion to help you experience fulfillment in your life by joining yourself with Jesus Christ and abiding in him so that you would bear much fruit. This study is designed to present the truths about the abundant life so that you would surely experience it.

What is the Abundant Life?

Let’s first define the abundant life since there are so many teachings about it. Regardless of the number of teachings, it is imperative that we understand this in terms of the biblical context. I could present to you a number of interpretations and therefore teachings about the abundant life, but we need to interpret this concept from the biblical perspective.

The teachings of the abundant life derive from John 10:10 so let’s take a look at it.

(John 10:10) -- The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

There are a few questions that you may ask and probably should ask after reading this scripture. This is true for whatever scripture you read. You should always establish the context of what you read in the Bible so that you would better interpret what was written and therefore receive the true revelation from God. Now here are some questions that you might ask.

  • Who is the thief?
  • Who is the “I” referring to?
  • Who are “they?”
  • What is life?
  • What is meant by “abundantly?”

Do you see? Unless you get the answers to these questions and more if you have them, then you are likely to misinterpret this scripture. As a matter of fact, this scripture is typically taught out of context by the faith and prosperity teachers because they want to convince you that you can have the “abundant life” based on their definition.

Who is the thief? Consider the following scripture.

(John 10:1-3) -- {1}“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. {2}But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. {3}To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

The thief here is the one that enters the sheepfold some other way except through the door. That sounds great, but not so fast. What is the question? That’s right. Who are the sheep? You could also ask, “What is the sheepfold and what is the door?”

The sheep here are the people of God (See Psalm 100:3). The people listening to Jesus would have had a good picture or understanding of the shepherd and sheepfold. The sheepfold would have been understood as an enclosure for the sheep. It was sometimes a cave or stone-walled corral topped with briars, which had a single entrance. The shepherd slept at that entrance in order to protect the sheep.

Another very important question we should ask is, “Who is the shepherd?” We still have to answer the question, “what is the door?” Consider the next scripture.

(John 10:7-9) -- {7}Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. {8}All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. {9}I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus Christ is the door. Jesus Christ is the way into the people of God. We could even apply this another way and say that Jesus is the way to reconciliation with God. We become children of God by going through Jesus Christ.

(John 14:6) -- {6}Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

All who ever came before Jesus were thieves and robbers whose only intent was to destroy. Note that Jesus is not talking about the prophets of old as their intent surely was not to destroy the people of God. Jesus was talking about the false prophets and the false shepherds whose only objective was to ultimately destroy the people of God. Of course we know that the one behind all of this is Satan. I love the following scripture because it helps us to understand how we may discern the false prophets and false shepherds.

(Matthew 7:15-20) -- {15}“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. {16}You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? {17}Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. {18}A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. {19}Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. {20}Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

Now we have to go back to a fundamental question. What is “life” and what is the “abundant life?” Let me quote John 10:10 again just for reference.

(John 10:10) -- The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Oh I forgot. We didn’t establish who the “I” is in this verse. Well the “I” is of course Jesus Christ since he was the one talking. Here’s another question for you. Who was Jesus talking to? The audience many times is significant for proper interpretation. Remember that in John 10:1 that Jesus said, “Most assuredly I say to you…” So who was the “you?”

Chapter nine tells us of the incident of Jesus healing a blind man and the confrontation between that man and the Pharisees. It appears that Jesus was talking to the people that were gathered around while He was speaking to the man that he had healed. We also note from John 10:19-21 that Jesus was indeed speaking to the people that were gathered around after he healed the blind man. So in this case, Jesus’ comments are relevant to a general audience.

The word life here is translated from the Greek word “zoe,” which means life. How would the listeners have interpreted this statement? What would they have understood life to be? Let’s define the word life.

  1. The animated state of humans, animals and plants. It is the time between birth and death. This refers to physical existence.
  2. The New Testament extended this physical existence to include a spiritual component. It refers many times to the spiritual life that result from a relationship with God (through salvation).
  3. Life could also refer to the concept of “eternal life,” which is the eternal fellowship or union between God and his people (See John 17:3). The Apostle Paul states that spiritual death results from a life of sin (See Romans 6:21-23).

So life here refers to our life as a whole. Does this mean that Jesus came so that we could enjoy the “good life” so to speak? That is, are we supposed to have the expensive cars, large homes, the best clothes, etc.? No it does not! Why? We must take this scripture in light of other scriptures that talk about the same thing. As a matter of fact, the Bible never declares that it is our right to own expensive things and live the “good life” so to speak. The Bible never presents God as our genie who we go to whenever we want something. Consider the following scripture that pertains to the reason why Jesus came.

(Matthew 1:21 NKJV) “And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins”

Also consider,

John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

And,

John 1:4 (NKJV) In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.

References to Jesus’ coming and his purpose have nothing to do with material possessions for us on earth. As a matter of fact consider the following scripture.

Matthew 6:19 through Matthew 6:21 (NKJV) 19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

We are instructed not to be earthly minded, but spiritually minded. We should also consider that our existence on earth is only a moment when compared to our fellowship with God for all eternity, which is for those who have been saved.

Now the word “abundant” in John 10:10 actually is translated from a Greek word that means (in the sense of beyond); superabundant (in quantity) or superior (in quality); by implication excessive (from the Strong’s Concordance Greek Dictionary- See Strong’s number G4053). This definition has been applied to material abundance, which we can see from the context is not accurate. Jesus is not talking about material abundance and why would he. Consider what Paul says about Jesus Christ, which I think would greatly help to put things in perspective in regards to the reason Jesus came.

2 Corinthians 5:18 through 2 Corinthians 5:19 (NKJV) 18Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

Jesus did not come so that we would be materialistically wealthy. He came so that we would be spiritually wealthy because of our relationship and fellowship with the Father. The material things will pass away, but the eternal things are…..well, eternal.

So the abundant life actually refers to the wonderful and progressing fellowship we have with the Father and all the benefits that come with it (See Ps 103:2-5 as an illustration). We are unfortunately not taught to think of our fellowship with the Father in the prosperity movement and I dare say in many religious institutions. We are taught that God is our genie and all we need do is make demands of him with faith and he will honor our faith and therefore our demands. The problem with this is that we become the ones in control and not God. We control the actions of God with our faith instead of God controlling our actions. Of course you can see how absurd that is when we consider who God is. God’s will be done on earth just as it is in heaven.

It is we who must conform to God’s way and plans and not He who has to conform to ours. Not everyone will be able to own a Lexus or BMW. Not everyone will have a 10 room mansion or a closet full of expensive suites. Not everyone will have a $1000 hat. However, we Christians can all have a genuine personal and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ and you really can’t become more prosperous than that. All of the riches in the world cannot stand up against God the Father and the whole realm, if you will, of salvation. Remember that salvation is really reconciliation to God and the corresponding benefits.

The Shepherd

Ok. Now Jesus is the door (John 10:7-9), but who is the shepherd? Consider the following scripture.

John 10:11 through John 10:15 (NKJV) 11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.

It is clear hear that Jesus Christ is the good shepherd. He cares for the sheep (his people) and his people know him. Also note the contrast between the good shepherd and a hireling. A hireling is a hired person, a servant, someone compensated for a purpose. However, human leaders are also seen as shepherds that care for the flock (See Numbers 27:15-16). Jeremiah warned of shepherds that really didn’t care for the flock (Jeremiah 23:1‑2, 50:6; Ezekiel 34:1-6). God is also depicted as a shepherd who takes care of the sheep (See Psalm 23, 80; Ezekiel 24:15-16).

Now listen very closely what I’m about to say to you. There are many pastors, bishops, and other religious leaders who are only interested in the pay. There are many pastors of churches that are pastors because it pays a certain amount. People are making a career out of ministry leadership, not in the sense of working for the Lord and serving people, but for making wages as one would do in a 9-to-5 job. Another bad thing about it is that they can only do this because we allow them.

Pastors and the like are not accountable to anyone and the congregation is typically so gullible that they can get away with anything that they want. They could say anything in order to spawn higher income and the people will follow along. Why is this so?

  • Many professed Christians do not read or study their Bible
  • Many professed Christians do not really know Jesus or the Gospel
  • Many professed Christians know very little about Christianity

Some religious leaders feed on the human desire to be comfortable or well to do. They feed on our desire to have the best things that money can buy. We allow them to feed because we keep doing what they tell us. We believe what they say because we don’t know what God told us. Our religion and religious institutions are far more important than the word of God, whereas Jesus said,

Matthew 4:4 (NKJV) 4But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’”

We don’t see it that way because if we did then we would spend much more time reading and studying the word of God so that we would know what God said. This is not to say that all ministers are out to take advantage of you. Many are not, but then still many are. It’s the same in any area of discipline. There are many plumbers that enjoy their trade and are not trying to take advantage of customers. However, there are some who are trying to take advantage of customers.

It is also interesting too that in any profession that one can only be taken advantage of if one is ignorant of the subject matter. Therefore, if you don’t know what the Bible says then you are more likely to believe whatever you are told from the preacher. The concept of the abundant life is just one of those things that we have believed because of what we were told and because we liked the way that it sounds.

The abundant life is not about riches on earth that we should have as Christians. The abundant life is about riches in heaven that we should have as a result of our fellowship with Christ. Consider what Jesus Christ said about this matter.

Matthew 6:19 through Matthew 6:21 (NKJV) 19“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Is your heart heavenly or earthly? Do you have treasure in heaven or are all your treasures on earth. Consider what Jesus told the rich ruler.

Matthew 19:21 (NKJV) 21Jesus said to him, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

You know the story. The rich man came to Jesus wanting to know how to enter into life. Jesus told him to keep the commandments. The rich man said that he already kept the ones that Jesus specified so what else should be done. Then Jesus responded with what is in verse 21 above. Notice that Jesus said, “And you will have treasure in heaven.” This suggests that this man had no treasure in heaven even though he had treasures on earth (he was rich).

So it is important that we do not focus on the riches and glory that the prosperity movement promotes and deceives us with. Their general motive is to build their kingdoms and provide themselves with riches and glory. Haven’t you found it strange that in order to receive riches requires that you give them what you have? I often wonder when people would realize this especially since the Bible does not teach us to do that. The Bible teaches us to care for one another. It would therefore be silly for me to give all that I had to a church with a pastor that purchases new car after new car and a big house and yet I have a neighbor who has no heat in his or her home. That would be foolish. Consider the following scripture.

James 2:14 through James 2:17 (NKJV) 14What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? 15If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, 16and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? 17Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

We should help one another. If we say we are Christians (have faith or the faith) then we should help those who are in need. Giving to your church is not necessarily helping those who are in need. What does your church do with the money it receives?

I’ve been to churches where most of the money collected per any given year was spent on everything else but ministry. I went to one church were 80% of the money collected was given to the pastor and that did not include regular building costs and the like. That’s one thing, but when you add the fact that these ministers are not preaching the truth makes matters worse.

In any case we know now that Jesus is the good shepherd. He cares for us and to him we could turn for anything. However, there are other shepherds too. As a matter of fact, the word “pastor” means shepherd. A pastor is one who feeds and protects the sheep. Believe it or not, the pastor’s job is to serve you and not the other way around.

The Bible also refers to pastors in Jeremiah 23 for example. So a shepherd can be a person other than Christ, but Jesus Christ is the true shepherd of all Christians. A pastor is a shepherd of a congregation. I hope you can see how a hired hand could be detrimental to the welfare of the congregation

Living the Abundant Life

Wouldn’t you like to be totally fulfilled in your life? Wouldn’t you like to accomplish as much out of life as you possibly could totally fulfilling your purpose? Wouldn’t you really like to have life and have it abundantly? Well the good news is that you can!

Before we can really enjoy the abundant life and obtain all that we can out of life, we need to understand some things.

  1. God wants to bless you
  2. The blessings cannot preempt the blesser
  3. More than anything else God wants you to want Him
  4. God will give you gifts (things that you do not deserve and that you did nothing to get)
  5. God will reward your work

The key to experiencing the abundant life is yielding and obeying. Only then can the blessings of God flow in our lives and only then can we accomplish the things that we are ordained to accomplish. Consider the following scriptures.

(Ecclesiastes 2:24) -- {24}Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.

(Ecclesiastes 3:12-13) -- {12}I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, {13}and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

(Ecclesiastes 5:18-20) -- {18}Here is what I have seen: It is good and fitting for one to eat and drink, and to enjoy the good of all his labor in which he toils under the sun all the days of his life which God gives him; for it is his heritage. {19}As for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, and given him power to eat of it, to receive his heritage and rejoice in his labor—this is the gift of God. {20}For he will not dwell unduly on the days of his life, because God keeps him busy with the joy of his heart.

(Ecclesiastes 8:15) -- {15}So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.

And,

(Ecclesiastes 12:13) -- {13}Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.

I do recommend that you read the book of Ecclesiastes because it will change your whole perspective of life. In any case there are two things that we see in the above scriptures.

  1. Enjoy the results of your work
  2. The number one thing that we should do is obey God

Also consider the following scripture.

(1 John 5:14-15) -- {14}Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. {15}And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.

Even our prayers have to be in line with the will of God if we expect to receive what we pray for. This is because God will do whatever he purposed to do. It is therefore up to us to get on board with what God is doing instead of what we are doing. Consider again some other scriptures.

(Proverbs 16:9) -- {9} A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.

(Proverbs 19:21) -- {21} there are many plans in a man’s heart, Nevertheless the Lord’s counsel—that will stand.

(Psalm 1:1-3) -- {1}Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; {2}But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. {3}He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

The revelation from these scriptures is profound—at least it was to me when I discovered it. Here is what we can glean from these scriptures.

  1. What God wants is what happens
  2. We do have some input in what happens in our lives in regards to God’s purpose

Notice we can make plans, but God’s purpose will prevail. We can make plans and what we plan could lead to prosperity. We can plan and God will direct us. How can these all be true? It’s quite simple. If we make plans in accordance with the will of God then our plans will lead us to accomplishing what God wants in the first place. If my plans line up with what God is doing in my life and with my life then my plans will lead me to activities that will accomplish the will of God. Voila! I will succeed and prosper. The key is that we are moving in accordance with God’s will.

I am reminded of Joseph and how he prospered (See Genesis chapters 37 – 50). He prospered even while in prison and as a servant. Why? Because the LORD was with Him. Is the Lord with you or are you trying to do things on your own or worse are you trying to get God to submit to your plans?

With that said we can see that the number one thing to know is what God is doing. If I know what God is doing then I can begin to align myself with that and therefore prosper and be fulfilled. Only then will we experience the abundant life.

The move of God right now in human history and how to get on board: God is doing what he has done from the beginning (after the fall). God is calling his people back to him. The life on earth is temporary and we cannot compare the acts of God with the lifespan on earth. God is calling people to be reconciled to him.

This point is so important because it helps us to realize that the worldly possessions and the material gains are in respect not important at all. Sure we like to have nice things. I like to have nice things. The fact is that not everyone will be able to get everything he or she wants. Everyone probably should not have everything that he or she desires.

The move of God in the earth is salvation and that is where we should focus our attention. God will take care of you. We need to keep this very fact in mind when we seek the true abundant life.

True prosperity in the Kingdom of God

  • True prosperity is not in riches and glory
  • True prosperity is linked to our relationship with God, which mandates our union with Christ.
  • We are blessed according to what God says blessed is (see Matthew 5 for example)
  • Prosperity also corresponds with your accomplishment of God’s will for your life or for any particular task. You prosper as you advance according to God’s will.

Prosperity for Christians should not be measured in accordance with the world’s perception of prosperity. The world considers you prosperous when you have lots of money or the like. People think someone is prosperous when that person has lots of power and prestige. However, the Bible does not present prosperity like that in the Kingdom of God. In God’s kingdom prosperity is not measured in dollars and cents or in levels of authority. As an illustration, consider the following verse of scripture.

(Matthew 23:11-12) -- {11}But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. {12}And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Another great contrast between the world’s system and the Kingdom of God is found in the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-12). The state of blessing that is depicted in the beatitudes is far different than what the world would say blessed is.

True prosperity comes as we fulfill the will of God in our lives!

We should always remember the above principle. True and meaningful prosperity comes as we strive to fulfill the will of God in our lives and for our lives. Jesus said seek the Kingdom of God first and His righteousness. God said to love him first and then love others. We cannot experience the abundant life until we pursue God and seek to fulfill what he has ordained us to do.

What does it really take to succeed in life

Success in life takes two things: luck and work (I use the work luck here to spark your attention)

  • Luck could be subdivided as follows
    • Good fortune by chance
    • The grace of God in a particular situation
  • Work – The Bible has a lot to say about hard work

Keep in mind that luck isn’t just by chance even from God’s perspective. It is by chance from our perspective. God’s will is done on the earth, but sometimes what God does not will does happen. This is a topic for another study such as the problem of pain or the problem of evil. Suffice it for me to say that we are all susceptible to chance, but nevertheless God sees it already and perhaps warns us. Again this is a topic for another study and is beyond the scope of this seminar.

Remember that what God wants is what happens and that we do have input in what happens in our lives as long as we are operating according to God’s will. However, God will give us favor, which is something we do not deserve. God will grant us gifts. Consider the following.

(Ecclesiastes 9:11) -- {11}I returned and saw under the sun that— The race is not to the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all.

The bottom line is that we have to work. But what does it mean to work? By work I mean to be active in pursuing the will of God and God himself. Be active in accomplishing your desires. Be found working and not sleeping. When we work we can be guided. If we are not working then the best we can do is dream about accomplishing.

Make a Change

My wife and I began a change in our lifestyle some time ago. We began eating healthy foods and exercising regularly. It has truly made a difference. We aren’t as sick as much as we used to be and our bodies are more in tuned than ever before. However, it wasn’t all at once. We started slowly and gradually shifted our eating habits. I thought I would never say that I don’t want a Philly cheese steak. I thought I would never admit that I don’t want a Pepsi cola or a Krispy Crème donut. However, these things have become undesirable because of the gradual change in our eating habits.

The same thing applies to our lifestyle in regards to the Kingdom of God and the whole scope of our lives. We have to make a change. Paul said it nicely.

(Romans 12:2-3) -- {2}And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. {3}For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

We have to change the way we think and we have to change our habits. This means that we have to change our mode of operation and the way we do things. Think about your life right now. What do you do in a typical day or week? How much time is spent in fellowship with God or in reading and understanding the Bible? How often do you pray? How often do you meditate on the things that you have learned from what God has revealed to you in Bible study or fellowship times? I would guess that many of us spend more time watching television than actually pursuing the Lord. And we wonder why we struggle so much. We struggle because we aren’t connected to the source of abundant life. We struggle because we don’t know where God is and what He is doing so we are left to try to do whatever however we can.

The following are some things that you can start to do today

  • Spend quality time with the Lord and talk to him as a friend. You can’t see him or hear him physically, but don’t let that hinder you from spending planned quality time with Him.
  • Read and study the Bible
  • Pursue God’s Way (be doers of the word and not just hearers)
  • Be a critical listener and reader when it comes to what others tell you about the Lord and His Kingdom
  • Practice what you have learned (be a disciple of Christ)

Start slowly and don’t ritualize it. Don’t worry if you didn’t read your Bible today. However, just be sure to make it a regular part of your life and not a sporadic occurrence or rare activity. Become involved with a Bible believing study group. Become involved with a true Christian church instead of one with a lot of hype. A true Christian church is not determined by size or number of members. It is determined by the quality of its teaching and what it is doing and produces.

How do we get more from life? Live life with God! Live life pursuing the Lord and His way! Be busy working and doing and doing some more as you strive to accomplish all that God has set before you. Don’t be lazy, but zealous to be a servant for the Lord. Go and live the abundant life—the true abundant life.

The great deception

There are many things that can happen in your life that will hinder you from experiencing the abundant life and choke the very things that you have learned above right out of you. Consider the following words of Jesus Christ.

(Matthew 13:23) -- {23}But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”

There are many things that go on in churches today that will actually hinder you and keep you from living the abundant life. They are subtle and seemingly beneficial, but in the end they produce nothing or very little in your own life.

Let me share with you some examples of things that we are taught in church that hinder us from receiving from God and being fulfilled. Therefore, adhering to these things keep us from living the abundant life. First let me share some things that pertain to the state of the church (religious institutions) today.

My personal opinion is that Jesus has been left behind in the religious institutions of today. Today the church is more concerned about getting their praise on instead of getting turned on to Jesus Christ. A good church is measured in terms of the praise and worship team (the band) and not in terms of truth and changed lives.

We should not forget that Christianity is about Jesus Christ and us being reconciled to God because of the redemptive act of Jesus Christ. Jesus died for you so accept that and stop trying to save yourself. Christianity is not about how much money you have, how healthy you are, what kind of car you drive, or what kind of clothes you wear. Christianity is about Jesus Christ and him crucified for our salvation. Christianity is about reconciliation to God.

The church institution is wrapped up in religion and worldliness, which is contrary to the truth of the Christian faith. You see the marketing schemes advertising church services, conventions, and the like. Though there is nothing so wrong about advertising your church, I find that the advertisements are more about the kingdom the pastor is trying to build instead of a call to those who are genuinely hurting or seeking.

It is very important that you understand the true authority in your life. This will help you to be free from the wolves that are trying to destroy you. Consider the following.

  • All authority belongs to Jesus Christ not to pastor, bishop, elder, or whatever
  • The authority of the Christian faith in our perspective is the written word of God. In actuality it is indeed Jesus Christ, but we weren’t living when Jesus was walking, talking and teaching on the earth. Instead, we have the record of his ministry activities.
  • The standard of the Christian faith is indeed the written word of God—the Holy Bible.

Deceptive Teachings

You must honor the Sabbath by going to church every Sunday: Most people do not realize that Christians don’t go to church on the Sabbath. Of course there are some that do realize that and justify breaking the Sabbath commandment by re-defining the Sabbath day. We are told that the Sabbath is the day that we are to worship the Lord or put aside for the Lord. Actually the Sabbath was a day of rest. The people were always to worship the Lord.

This is a topic for another study, but suffice it for me to say that the Sabbath day practice did not make it over to the New Testament church. Instead, we honor the first day of the week, that is, the day of the resurrection. Our religious practices commemorate Jesus.

This is not to say that we should not go to church. Paul said that we should not forsake assembling ourselves together.

(Hebrews 10:24-25) -- {24}And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, {25}not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

However, we should not feel as though going to church is an obligation. It is more of a benefit and a blessing. It should be a wonderful thing to go and fellowship with others of the faith. If you miss a Sunday at church because you simply want to rest or you want to spend time with the family in the park then so be it. That too is a blessing. Don’t make a beautiful thing such as church (true Christian fellowship) a source of burden or bondage.

You must pay your tithe to your church from your gross: This is a rather controversial topic even though I still can’t understand why. It is also one of my major soap boxes. First of all, the practice of tithing did not transfer over to the New Testament church. Notice that it is not taught in any of the New Testament Scriptures. Tithing is a relatively new practice in the church and was first instituted to raise money if memory serves me correctly. The tithing that is taught in churches today has nothing to do with the tithing that was practiced in Old Testament times.

We would need land cattle and or vegetation in order to tithe according to God’s commandments. Tithing one’s wages was not practiced in Old Testament tithing, even though there was a wage system. Tithing was for food and to teach the people to obey God. See my study, “Tithing, Giving, Sowing and Reaping” for much more detail on this topic.

The point here is that we have accepted a teaching without studying it for ourselves. The preacher says to tithe and we blindly follow. Some give the very money that they need for their basic needs hoping to be blessed by God. The blessing that God continues to give them is continually given away to those who only want to use you for their own gain or to build their own kingdoms.

Here are some points to consider about tithing and giving to a church.

  • Tithing is a practice that did not pass over to the New Testament
  • You are not obligated to blindly give money to a church
  • Our first responsibility is to love God, then to love others
  • The practice of giving to a church does not necessarily mean that you are expressing your love to God.
  • Helping your parents is a more indication of your love for God if not your love for your parents
  • Helping others is an indication of your love for God (Matthew 25? Ministering to others)
  • We give to a church because we believe in what that church is doing and we want to be involved.

We give to the church because we want to support the cause of that church and therefore its pastor, being that the vision of the pastor is the guide for the church and that God gave him or her that vision. Give from your heart and not from obligation. There lies a true path of blessing (See 2 Corinthians 9:7).

You must support your pastor: Being a pastor I suppose I wouldn’t mind if this were true. However, it is not. Yes it is true that you should support the man or woman of God that provides the words of life to you. That is only fair and right. However, it is not our job to support the pastor in terms of paying his wages and the like. It should come out of the wash so to speak. That is, if the pastor is preaching the word of God and your life is blessed then you quite naturally would want to support him or her and their ministry so that others would be blessed to.

However, many pastors have made it seem that it is our job to feed them and clothe them when with the same breath they tell you to trust God for the things you need. Strange isn’t it. Why can’t they trust God and just keep on doing what God purportedly called them to do?

Now I’m not saying to stop giving to your church. My point is simply to stop blindly doing what you were told, but instead have purpose for what you do and make that purpose consistent with the word of God. Then there will be no guilt for what you can or can’t do. Just serve God and follow Him. Know that you are in His will and if not then get in it.

You should not challenge the pastor or any other religious leader: This is a popular one among hireling ministers. How else could they control you unless you are forbidden to challenge them? I remember reading an article about leaders of other countries that maintain power through brutality to such an extent that the people are not allowed to oppose the views of that leader. Anyone who opposes the leader would be jailed and many times executed. The same system of dictatorship is practiced in many religious institutions (what many call churches). They hear from God and challenging them would mean that you are challenging God.

If you do not agree with something your pastor says then its fine for you to express it though respectfully. Sometimes we don’t understand the presenter’s point of view or cannot follow the logic behind his or her conclusions. In such cases you should feel free to ask questions. I’ve learned a lot by simply asking questions and I encourage people to ask me questions. So don’t feel that you cannot challenge the pastor. If he or she is telling the truth then the truth should remain firm.

“Touch not my anointed. Do my prophets no harm” means that you cannot criticize the pastor, elder, or other religious leader. Now it is not a good thing to talk about people behind their backs. One should approach the pastor or religious leader if you were offended, hurt, or if you don’t agree with something he or she said and it warrants a response (some things are not doctrinal, but personal beliefs). Sometimes good discussions are great for both parties.

Don’t feel as though approaching your pastor with questions and even doubts are forms of touching the anointed. If you have questions then ask. If you have serious doubts then get them resolved.

Women cannot teach. Women cannot be pastors. Women are inferior to men: This is probably one of the most controversial topics in the religious community. In general women are discriminated against because of their gender. Women are told that they can’t do a number of things in the church simply because they are inferior to men and therefore cannot be ahead of men. This simply is not true from the biblical perspective.

This is a very involved topic and I would refer you to my study, “The Place of Women.” This is a very popular study online and very informative in my opinion. You can access it from our website at www.pursuingthetruth.org/studies/files/placeofwomen.htm.

There are many other things that we are told in our churches. Some true and some not true. My point here is that we should know the word of God for ourselves so that we would know the truth when we hear it and not solely rely on the words of men and women for truth.

You must line yourself up with the man of God: This is one of those things that I believe is taught to control people. It attempts to make one believe that we need the pastor in order to be blessed or hear from God. The truth of the matter is that we need Jesus Christ. God will take care of us pastor or not. The pastor is there to serve you so you may indeed line yourself up with a man or woman of God, but this would be a situation similar to a mentor and student.

Line yourself up with Jesus Christ and cherish the person that God sends your way to mentor you and help you in your Christian walk. Take note that these people may not be pastors or bishops. They may simply be other Christians that have been in the faith much longer than you and can therefore help you. These people may simply be other more experienced Christians. I can tell you from experience that these people are priceless to your walk. They help keep you from developing strange doctrines and beliefs. They help you to keep things in perspective as well.

The truth from the Holy Bible that will make you free: Let me first refer the reader my study called “In Pursuit of the Truth,” which can be accessed from our website at http://www.pursuingthetruth.org/studies/files/pursuit_truth.htm. Now consider what Jesus said.

John 8:31 through John 8:32 (NKJV) 31Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

The key to being free is knowing the truth and the key to knowing the truth is to know Jesus Christ. We can come to know Jesus Christ by becoming a disciple (learner) of Jesus Christ. It’s that simple! Also consider the following scripture.

1 John 2:27 (NKJV) 27But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you £will abide in Him.

We have the Holy Spirit to teach us. The only thing that I or any other Bible teacher can do is to expound upon or to help you understand the things that you are taught. Furthermore, any teaching that I may do is actually from the Holy Spirit because biblical knowledge from a Kingdom of God standpoint is more than an intellectual exercise, but involves the heart as well.

So eat, drink, and digest the word of God. Know God for yourself. That simply means to read and study your Bible. Pray and fellowship with the Lord and come to know him more and more. You take the initiative to know God. Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. Spend time learning and understanding the Word of God. See my study guide called, “Developing a Personal Bible Study” for detailed information that you can use to study the Bible. You can access this study from our website at http://www.pursuingthetruth.org/studies/files/developbiblestudy.htm.

Here are some points that you should consider in regards to the Bible and the importance of knowing what it says

  • The Bible is God’s revelation of himself to us
  • One is free when one is joined with God (John 8:31-32)
  • One is free when one knows who he or she is in regards to God’s plan and what God has said and purposed.
  • We are free when we really know what God says

The Minister’s Responsibility

It is important that ministers preach the truth just as it is important for us to know the truth. Here are some points about the truth.

  • The Truth does not come from seminary
  • The Truth does not come from mere study
  • The Truth comes from discipleship and knowing the word of God. One cannot be a disciple and not know the word of God, but one can know the word of God and yet not be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
  • We cannot preach the truth and conform to the marketing paradigm of the current “church” at the same time.
  • We cannot preach the truth and strive to do those things that have nothing to do with the truth. In other words, we can’t preach the truth if your ministry is really going someplace else
  • Ministers need to administer the truth as it is revealed to us in the Word of God instead of administering what makes people feel good.

We have moved far away from simple truth of the gospel. The church has become involved in all types of marketing campaigns and the like to attract members to their kingdoms. Even Christian music has become a commercial motivated enterprise in many instances.

Ministers have to spend time in the word too. We have to remain fresh in our perspective of the gospel and not get caught up in the hype that so permeates the church today. We are so hyped up on “faith” and prosperity that we have forgotten about basic Christian living and the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Many people couldn’t tell you what the gospel of Christ really is for example.

One thing that I think is necessary is that ministers be held accountable. However, who will they be held accountable to? There lies a problem. If the minister isn’t accountable then he or she can easily drift off course. At the very least the people should hold him or her accountable for what he or she teaches. This way the minister will always be sure that he or she is preaching the truth.

Conclusion

The abundant life is something that all Christians can experience. However, we can only experience the abundant life if we line ourselves up with God’s will and do it. The abundant life is not in riches and material things. It is founded upon our fellowship with the Father through Jesus Christ. The abundant life is ultimately the accomplishing of the things that God has ordained us to. It is also found in terms of sanctification as we grow into the image of Christ and in our Christian walk. We can experience more and more of God if we would simply join ourselves with him and not expect him to yield to our plans and desires.

We are hindered living the abundant life because we listen to so many false teachings that take us away from the way of God. We have a laundry list of teachings that we try to live by that have nothing to do with the will of God or the Christian faith. We need to stand up and just say no to those false teachings so that we would be free to do and be all that God wants of us.

Make the change today. Seek the Lord. Study your Bible. Spend time in fellowship with the Lord and begin living the abundant life. Amen.

 


The Truth About The Abundant Life
Presented by Pursuing the Truth Ministries
By Pastor William Cunningham
(c) All rights reserved

By: 
William R. Cunningham