Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Abundant Life (John 10:10)

John 10:10
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.

This verse of Scripture is frequently cited by televangelists and popular preachers to support their view that a Christian should be living a life of prosperity and bountiful blessings from God...including health and material wealth.

But is Jesus merely referring to an abundant life full of material blessings?

In order to understand this particular verse, we must understand the context.

In the chapter preceding John 10:10 , Jesus, speaking to the same people, tells of the false shepherds (the Pharisees and prior spiritual leaders of Israel) who maligned and misused God’s word and thus were unable to see Jesus as the true Messiah (John 9:39-41).

In chapter 10, Jesus is using a theme of the sheep and shepherd. Though many thieves and robbers come to kill, steal, and destroy the sheep (John 10:1, 10), Christ came to give life and keep the sheep from destruction. This is why Jesus declares Himself to be the “Good Shepherd” who lays down his life for the sake of the sheep (John 10:11). And only through Him, will the sheep find pasture (John 10:7, 9). While other false teachers come with selfish intentions (Ezekiel 34:2-4) and could care less about God’s people, Christ gave His life for His sheep as a substitutionary atonement for sinners on the cross.

Nowhere in this context does this verse speak of an extended physical life or a life full of material blessings. The abundant life comes when Christ saves us, protects us, feeds us with His word and ultimately leads us into our full salvation. Christ did not lay His life down to simply give us our best life now…the price He paid was to give us something much more valuable, knowledge of the only true God (John 18:3). Simply viewing this Scripture in a shallow way that leads to a better life demeans this eternal purpose that Christ had in mind when he laid down His life for His sheep.


Kimbrella said...

I believe that this passage is true on both the physical and the spiritual plane. God is greater than the natural mind of man. So when pastors site this scripture as a means to justify their greed through the purchase of a blessing or an offering to their kingdom peddleing Gods name they (pastors) deceive themselves. That particular pastor is deceiving the sheep into beleiving the donated funds are for God's Kingdom. The pastor's justify this belief in their own minds so it is convincing to the congregation. At the time of judgement they (pastors) will say,"Lord! Lord! Look what I have done. I have brought these your way but he will say, "and look to see who your evil greed has turned away. Depart from me because I never knew you! Kimbrella in NJ

Rich said...

I completely agree that this is a charge against the greedy pastors. I just have a hard time believing that Jesus is referring to receiving physical blessings. If that was the case, then you wouldn't need Christ-as the writer of Psalms says, the wicked prosper at times more so than the righteous. Also, I don't see any other verse promising material blessings. What I do read is that those whom are in Christ have been blessed with "every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" as Ephesians 2 says.