My Dear Friend,
It is my humble prayer that today’s message will give a better understanding of what it means to have Abundant Life. As always, you are much loved and very much missed!
Love in Christ Jesus,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. The one who enters by Me will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:7-11
In the 1970s, I heard many sermons based on today’s Scripture with an emphasis on Jesus’ statement, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” And the one word that many of the preachers would focus on was very appealing to the human ear: “abundantly.” In the English language, the word “abundant” generally has positive connotations. We humans like things – especially material things – in abundance!
This was the dawn of a new era in the Christian Church. It was during this decade that the theology commonly known as “prosperity gospel” began to explode. Before that time, the consensus among faithful Christians could be accurately expressed in the lyrics to an old gospel hymn:
“This world is not my home, I’m just a passin’ through. My treasures are laid up just beyond the blue.”
But the prosperity gospel changed all that. Now, Jesus’ promise, “I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly” meant, “NAME IT AND CLAIM IT IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!”
Sadly, many who had placed their faith in God’s abundance as tantamount to material prosperity were inevitably disappointed and disillusioned. According to Scripture, difficult times must come as Jesus’ Second Coming draws near. As hard times intensify, the faith of those who have been misled by this inaccurate, albeit attractive, interpretation of Jesus’ “abundant life” will be left languishing.
Jesus likened many false prophets who came before Him to “thieves and robbers” who were just out for gain with empty promises. They treated the people as sheep to be sheared in cold weather, only to keep themselves warm. They cared not that the sheep may be spiritually mauled. As hired shepherds, with no vested interest in the sheep’s wellbeing, they were not willing to risk their own lives for them.
But Jesus is the Good Shepherd. And the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He did not lay down His life for us to have an abundance of material things, an abundance of convenience, or an abundance of comfort.
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Jesus also calls Himself the “door of the sheep.” Sheep need both a good shepherd and a door (gate) though which to pass from inner safety to outer pasture for nourishment and refreshing water. The one who goes through Him as the Door will find spiritual protection and repose in this earthly pasture with all its inclement weather, and then will pass through that same Door into eternal safety at the close of this earthly setting.
The Lord Jesus laid down His precious life that we may have abundant life – life so abundant and free that no amount of poverty, inconvenience, discomfort, or sorrow can deter us from going on in faith.
Having experienced hardship his entire Christian life, the Apostle Paul gloriously concluded:
“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)
The “abundant life” that Jesus speaks of is not material wealth, nor is it a life of ease. Jesus’ abundant life is “strength for today, and bright hope for tomorrow.” It is eternal life. I would like to invite you to walk through the Door to salvation and allow the Good Shepherd to lead and guide you through life’s most tempestuous storms. He is knocking on the door of your heart. Please receive Him today.