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THE ABUNDANT CHRISITAN LIFE
Intro: I read a story of two mountain villages. One of these villages got its water from a mountain spring. In the summer months when the weather was dry, that spring would dwindle down until there was barely a trickle of water coming into that little village. There is just barely enough water to keep the village alive until wetter weather comes in.
In the center of the other village, there is a fountain that is always flowing with a seemingly endless supple of thirst-quenching, life-sustaining water. It is an artesian well that continues to gush regardless of how dry the summer months may become. This village always has an abundance of water for its own needs and for the needs of others.
These two towns stand as a parable for you and me this evening. They picture to two kinds of Christian life that are available to each of us. Some believers live a life that is like a dwindling, trickling little stream that barely gives evidence of its existence. Others live a life that is overflowing with the spiritual blessings of the redeemed: peace, joy and power. When Jesus was here on this earth, He said that He came to give us “abundant life”, John 10:10. This is a life that is overflowing with all the blessings of the Spirit of God. He tells us that when we trust Him, we will be like that artesian well. Our life will literally gush with the overflow of His work within us, John 4:14. Which scene more accurately pictures the kind of life you are living? The dead, dry Christian is a contradiction by his very nature. Jesus did not save us to be listless, dry, dull and barely clinging to spiritual life. He saved us to be filled with His glory, His peace and His joy. He saved us to overflow with a spiritual bounty, Eph. 1:3. According to that verse He has already given all we need to enjoy the abundant Christian life. What we need to do is learn how to appropriate what the Lord has already given to us.
Some examples of this kind of living are the Apostles of our Lord. Before they were filled with the Spirit, they were prone to failures, petty jealousy and other sins of the flesh. However, after Pentecost, they were changed men! They were filled with power and joy. Even in the darkest hours, they were able to rest in their faith in the Lord, Ill. Peter – Acts 12:6. These were men who had joy in spite of persecution. They lived a life of overflowing spiritual blessings. This is a life that is available to every single one of God’s children. Yes, even you! These verses tell us something about how to receive it. We are told that there are two ministries performed on our behalf that make the abundant life possible. I want to share them with you this evening.
I. v. 8-12 THE GLORY OF THE SAVIOR’S MINISTRY FOR US
(Ill. Verse 8 tells us that Jesus is a “minister”. That is, He has a work that He does on behalf of others. When He was here, He spoke about His role as a minister, Matt. 20:28.)
A. v. 8 God’s Promises To The Jewish People – The Bible is very clear when it teaches
us that Jesus Christ came to this world to be the Savior of the Jews, Rom. 1:16. His primary goal in coming was to be the Jewish Messiah. This is made clear by the events of Matthew 15:21-28. He came to the Jews! He came to fulfill the promises and the prophecies that God had made to the Jews down through the years. In fact, in every area of His life and in everything He did, Jesus Christ perfectly fulfilled every aspect of the Jewish Law and the prophets. Jesus proved in every detail that He was the Messiah. Yet, the Jews stumbled over the fact that He came as a suffering Messiah. They could not understand that His ministry was to be carried out in two parts. In His first coming He was to die for the sins of the people. In His second, He would restore the Jewish kingdom. He came to His own and His own received Him not, John 1:11, because they stumbled over His cross, 1 Cor. 1:23.
In that day, the nation as a whole rejected Him, but there were individuals who received Him. That is how is works today. There are Jews saved here and there. However, the day will come when the whole nation of Israel will come to faith in Christ! Jesus is the minister to every Jew who will receive Him today.
B. v. 9-12 God’s Prophecies To The Gentile People – In these next four verses, Paul
gives us four quotes from the Old Testament. He quotes once from the Pentateuch, the Law, twice from the Psalms and once from the Prophets. He is using the Jewish Scriptures to show the Jews that God has opened the door of salvation wide for the Gentiles to enter. Thank God that salvation is not just for the nation of Israel! If that were the case than you and I would be left out. But, the Bible tells us that any lost person in the world who will trust Jesus can and will be saved! That is the essence of the Great Commission – Matt. 28:19; Mark 16:15. When Saul of Tarsus was saved by the grace of God, he was given a commission to take the Gospel to “the Gentiles”, Acts 9:15; Rom. 11:13.
Thank God that wherever sinners are found, regardless of their nationality, their skin color, their background, etc, they can be saved by grace and brought into a relationship with the Lord God. He broke down the wall of partition that separated sinners from God and has reconciled us to the father by the blood of His cross, Eph. 2:11-22 – Glory!
(Note: That is what Jesus did for humanity! He came as a minister of salvation for all that
will receive Him by faith!)
II. v. 13 THE GLORY OF THE SPIRIT’S MINISTRY FOR US
(Ill. This verse is one that overflows with the glory of God. Notice the words “fill” and
“abound”. These words refer to that which is filled to the top and is overflowing. The Lord wants us to know that as His children, not only as He redeemed us and given us a relationship with Himself, but He has also fixed it so that life doesn’t have to be dull, dry and boring. He wants us to know that we can live lives that are overflowing the best of His blessings every single day! This verse shares with us some truths related to that glorious fact.)
A. The Author Of The Abundant Life – The Bible tells us here that God is the giver of
abundant life. Many people live a life that is in a rut. They do the same things in the same way every day of their lives. There is no excitement. There is no overflowing joy. They never see anything out of the ordinary. That is not the kind of life Jesus saved us to live! He saved us to live a life that is filled with His presence, power and glory, a life that extraordinary and overflowing in the unusual. When a person is walking with the Lord, as they should be, they will be constantly seeing the Lord working in them and around them in wonderful, supernatural ways. Do you want a life that is different? Do you want a life that is filled with the wonder of God’s work in and around you? Paul says the way to have that kind of life is to get to God. He alone can give that kind of life to His children. The secret lies in being saved and in living close to the Father! Jesus promised His children that their lives would be different if they came to Him, John 7:38.
(Note: You can be saved and still live a life that is as dry as a corn shuck. If you do not live as close to Him as you should, you will probably think the Christian life is boring, the church is dead and that your life is no different than that pagan who lives next door. If you want to abundant life that Jesus can give, it will require you to walk in close communion with Him. This might mean you will have to start praying. Maybe you will have to read you Bible. You might have to find your way to the church house with a little more regularity. You might even have to stop doing some of those things that hinder God from moving in your life like He wants to. Before we decide that the Christian life is dull and boring, let’s make sure we have lives as close to the Lord as we can first. If you can get close to Him, your life will be anything but boring!)
B. The Attributes Of The Abundant Life – Paul uses three words in this verse to
describe the characteristics of the abundant life. These three things – Joy, Peace and Hope, are what all men are seeking. If men were honest, they would have to say that they spend their entire lives wanting these three things. Men have exhausted fortunes, and spent countless years seeking these things. But, they cannot be bought. They can only be found in Jesus. He is the source of joy, peace and hope. Yet, these things are the personal possession of every person who has the abundant Christian life. Let’s take a few minutes to examine each of these words this evening.
1. Joy – When we think of joy, we immediately think of happiness. But, real joy is more
than that. It isn’t slapping a silly grin on your face and walking around like that all the time. It isn’t pleasure either. All of these things are affected by our circumstances. When all the situations in life please us, we are happy. When there are problems, then we are unhappy. No! Real joy cannot be touched by the circumstances of life! Real joy is a sovereign gift of God! It is part of the fruit of the Spirit, Gal. 5:22. It cannot be shaken, but endures all things with a confident glory that nothing can rattle! You and I will not always be happy as we go through life, but we can always have joy! Listen to what Paul said, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice”, Phil. 4:4. Paul isn’t saying that we should always be happy, he is saying that there should always be the joy of the Lord in our hearts that is real and vital because of our relationship with Him. By the way, Paul was in a Roman prison when he wrote those precious words! Our circumstances change, but the Lord does not! The relationships of life wax and wane, but our relationship with God never waivers. He gives us “joy unspeakable and full of glory.”, 1 Pet. 1:8. May we learn to be like Job, whom, when attacked by the devil, never lost his cool; he just worshipped the Lord, Job 1:20-21. Job knew a truth that many of us never grasp. It is found in Neh. 8:10, “the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Do you have joy in your heart this evening?
2. Peace – The abundant life is one characterized by “peace.” This is a word that
means “to join together.” It is the exact opposite of the word worry which means “to pull apart.” The life that is filled with the Lord’s best is a life that is not pulled apart by worry, but it is one that rests in the promises and power of God. It is a life that knows true peace of heart. It knows that whatever may come in life, it is all in the hand of the Lord to either allow it or to stop it. It does not concern itself with which may happen, it merely leaves the choice in the hand of God knowing God will take care of all matters, Rom. 8:28. Jesus promised us that He would give us peace, John 14:27. He gave us peace with God when He died for our sins and we received Him, Rom. 5:1. But, there is a daily peace that we can experience in every situation of life, Phil. 4:7. Do you have peace this evening? Regardless of what is happening in your life, do you know that the Lord is in control and that He will take care of you? That is the peace of the abundant life!
3. Hope – A third characteristic of this abundant life is “hope”. This is not the wishful
thinking that word hope has come to mean in our society. No, this is a deep settled conviction based on a clear word from God. You see, the redeemed have the promises of God to rest upon. These promises give us hope! If you are lost this evening you have no hope. If you are lost, regardless of what happens to you tomorrow it is a bad thing. No matter how good it may appear on the surface, it might serve to drive a wedge between you and the Lord, (Ill. Money, marriage, death, rapture). However, if you are saved, no matter hat happens, you have hope! Thank God, if you are saved, you serve a God Who is in control of the situation! Whatever happens in life, He will take care of you, Phil. 4:19!
C. The Appropriation Of The Abundant Life – How do you get this kind of life? Anybody
in their right mind would want it! The answer is found in two words in verse 13. Those words are “in believing”. Paul says that the abundant Christian life is appropriated by faith! That may be a problem for some. There are people who may think that they have no faith. However, the Bible says that you do, Rom. 12:3! And, friend, it doesn’t take much faith to get the job done, Matt. 17:20. In fact, you have more faith than you realize! I dare you to try and live one day without faith! You would not be able to walk, drive your car, sit in your chair, turn on the lights, go through a door, believe the newspaper, use the television, trust anybody, love your children, love your spouse, etc. Faith is essential to our very existence. If we exercise such faith in earthly matters, surely we can learn to transfer that faith to the Lord, 1 John 5:9.
We obtain the abundant Christian life by faith in God and by the work of the Holy Spirit within us. We cannot do it ourselves, but we can stop it from being a reality! When the Lord saved us, He placed His Spirit within each of us. The Holy Spirit has the power to fill us and give the abundant life we all want to have. It will come from Him and Him alone.
Conc: Many of us are just like the disciples. There was Simon Peter the loudmouth, James and John the hot heads, Thomas the skeptic and Nathaniel the pessimist. They were all full of themselves and living anything but an abundant life. However, on the day of Pentecost, they received by faith that which Jesus had for them and when they did, they were forever changed. They each received a life that clearly bubbled over with power, authority and glory. How do they get it? By faith!
What about you my friend? Would you describe your life as abundant? Would you say that you are living large in Jesus? Is your life like that struggling little stream that is on the verge of drying up, are is it like that artesian well that flows up from an abundant supply in the heart? If there is a lack in your life, the help you need is found in Jesus. Get to Him and get fixed today!