The Life Abundant
John 10:10 — “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
There is a wonderful fullness in the Word of God, and oftentimes, as we read, our hearts are touched by the abundant promises, and the provision made for the human race, if they will but accept of it. If we do not see this provision when we read we should take the advice of the Spirit to the church of the Laodiceans, and anoint our eyes with eyesalve that we may see. This to my mind is what David wanted when he prayed for some of God’s eyesalve, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” And when God anoints man’s eyes, when HE opens them, then we see the truth revealed in the light of God. The veil is not on the Word, but on the heart, yet the Spirit will take away the veil, and the Bible, the Word of God, teems with wonders. It is a wonderland; it not only relates miracles, but it assures believers that greater works than these that I do shall ye do also because I go to my Father. Walk with Jesus through the Word, and let Him open the understanding, by the Holy Spirit, and, as the disciples on the way to Emmaus felt their hearts glowing within them with the new spiritual life, so will our hearts burn within us by the way. Beloved, we do not need any new revelation; we just need to search and study and love the Word, the revelation that we now have, and God will wonderfully open up the whole Californias, and Sierra Nevadas, and Golcondas and Klondikes of spiritual wealth unto each one of us. The Bible is the best seller on the bookstands today, but we need more knowledge of the Book that lies unopened on our center tables. Jesus said, “Search the Scriptures; they are they which testify of Me: in them ye have eternal life.” Oh, God has mines that very few love to explore; they go after the ashes of the world; they put money into pockets that have holes; they starve their souls on the world’s dainties while they might be rich. Listen to what God says in the Word, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed.” Buy it, buy it, buy it! The wise man said, “Buy the truth, and sell it not.” Nowhere else can we find the abundant life but through Him who is the Life. The prayer of the heart should be as Adelaide Proctor has so well expressed:
“I do not ask O Lord
That life should be a pleasant road;
I do not ask that thou shouldst take from me
Aught of its load;
I do not ask that flowers should ever spring
Beneath my feet;
I know too well the poison and the sting
Of things too sweet.
For one thing, Lord, dear Lord, I plead:
Lend me aright,
Though strength should falter, and though heart should bleed,
Through peace to light.”
The Word makes known to us the way in the very word of Jesus who was Himself the Life,the Truth, the Way. He knew that man did not have the life abundant. He knew the misery of a soul in hell, and the joy of a soul in heaven. He knows the meanness of a life left unto itself and, because He knew, He pitied us in our lost estate, and, pitying us when there was no man to help, He brought life to us. And redemption was an assured fact from that very moment for every soul who would accept of the Way as He laid it down. The soul must rise above transitory things and soar into the environment of things spiritual if it would meet the thought of God for all men. God is now waiting to come into every heart, to take full possession, to give life, and life more abundant, but we are so slow to see. A woman very busy one time entered her room as the twilight shades were falling. She went directly to her desk, turned on the gas, and began to write. Page after page she wrote; five minutes she worked, ten, then half an hour. The solitude became oppressive. She wheeled her chair around and, with a shock of joyful surprise, looked squarely into the face of her dearest friend lying on the lounge by her side. “Why, I didn’t know you were here! .Why didn’t you speak?”
“Because you were so busy you didn’t speak to me.” So it is with God. The Holy Ghost, the representative of the Father’ and the Son, is here all the time, but we are so busy, so taken up with other things, so engrossed with temporal and material things, we fail to listen, to recognize His presence. We can never be alive to the Infinite unless we get the life which so abundantly awaits us, aye, is proffered us on every page of the Word of God; for all these things were written that ye might believe and believing might have life through His Name.
Someone may now say; “I thought grace was free!” So it is. Water is free, but you must drink it or you will die. Air is free, but you must inhale it or you will die. Grace is free, truth is free, salvation is free, and abundant, but you must accept of it, and accept of it on God’s own terms. Here is God’s own air, take it in, breathe it; fill your lungs with it, and live. If you close your lungs against it, your blood will stagnate and you will die. If you close your heart to the truth of God, you will die of spiritual stagnation. Open all the channels, pay the price, empty your hands, purify your hearts, and just let — let — let the Holy Ghost have His way, and you will know the power of this wonderful salvation. Yes, I love this fullness of this wonderful Word; I love it because it is the fullness of God, and it is for you and for me. Praise the Lord! I take a telescope and look up to the heavens and I see stars, stars innumerable. The telescope does not put them there, but it enables me to see them. These wonderful truths are in the Word, in this blessed old Bible, but we do not see them oftentimes because our affections and prejudices and pride and distorted judgment prevent. But just let the Holy Spirit come in, give Him full possession, and He will reveal their beauty and power unto us. Some years ago I was reading after that now sainted man of God, Rev. R. V. Lawrence of the New Jersey Conference, a man who knew what the abundant life meant, and I recall partly an illustration he once used. He told of an Irish boy who was away from home, and so homesick that every day he would go down to the water’s edge and look toward home. One day a gentleman who was at the shore took with him a telescope and looked across the waters with so much pleasure that he did not fail to express aloud. The boy heard him, and also expressed a desire to take a look towards home any way, not expecting to see the cabin by the water side over there. The gentleman gratified the boy, and when the lad looked across the waters and saw everything brought right alongside, he began, “There it is! There is the cabin, there are the pigs, and the boys, and there is mother sitting by the door, and there is the green grass! Oh, I feel as though I was home again!” Then turning to the gentleman, that boy who didn’t have a penny in his pocket said, “Say, Mister, what will you take for this?” I do not wonder he wanted to buy it. But here is a Book from God Himself. It is the Word of God, and I put it to my eyes and by faith I see, the unseen to mortal eyes. Yonder is my home, my portion fair. Yonder are the mansions of the blessed. Yes, yonder are the loved ones who wait our coming. Yonder my Lord awaits our arrival and, as the soul of the believer catches the inspiration and fire, he sings,
“I am thinking of home, yes of home, sweet home,
And my spirit doth long to be
In that far better land where the saints ever sing
Of the glory of God, my Redeemer and King,
And salvation so full and so free.”
Oh, the richness of the Word of God! Oh, the blessedness of the faith that brings salvation nigh! It takes the very best that language can give to express, aye, we fail to express it; language is too poor to tell what one feels as waves of glory roll over the heart that just simply believes God, and takes Him at His Word. Listen, as my heart goes out in the Word, Where sin abounded, grace doth abound. That it? Nay, “grace doth much more abound.” Hallelujah! Niagaras of grace! Oh do hear it! Oh do believe it, and get blessed! God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all things, may abound in every good work. Is that it? No! No! “That ye always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” Men, women, brethren and sisters, here is something of which you can have enough. A woman who was always poor, and never had enough of anything, one time went down to the ocean, and as she watched the waves coming in, one after another, and no cessation, she stood in open-eyed wonder, and said, “Thank God, here is something of which you can have enough!” You may have, and you can have, all the salvation you want. And, beloved, let me say it kinds, you have all you want, for grace abounds. By the grace of God, Jesus Christ tasted death for every man. God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us; and again, “We are more than conquerors. through Him that hath loved us.” Oh, do not say that you will be satisfied just to get into heaven; God wants you to be more than conqueror, to have an abundant entrance. Get the full import of the text, “I am come that ye might have life and that ye might have it more abundantly.” O ye little ones in Zion, ye who are weak because of unbelief, ye who have been wounded in the conflict, God wants you to be strong in Him, to have life, to have abundant life. He can and will heal every wound that sin hath made. If you did fall down, do not lie there. Get up, call on God, give Him a chance to show His abounding grace, and He will gladly do it, and the angels will have a time of rejoicing over another brand plucked from the burning.
I want to bring to you this thought: Life is the Gift of God. Natural life is the gift of God. “God breathed into man’s body the breath of life and man became a living soul.” When the Master stood before the grave of Lazarus, and spake to him saying, “Lazarus come forth,” it is said that many of the Jews believed on Him. Why? Because they knew that none but God could impart life. Spiritual life is the gift of God. Do you accept of it? The Apostle says “Eternal life is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” And this morning, this very hour, it is your privilege to take God’s gift and to know that you know you are one of God’s live men. Life is the work of the Spirit.
He is called the Spirit of Life. Jesus never spoke of the Spirit as “it”. He did not regard the Spirit as an influence. I was preaching one time and in the course of the sermon I said I would not hold union services with any people who denied the Deity of Jesus Christ or the personality of the Holy Ghost. Immediately a person in the congregation asked me, “Can you give me a Scripture that proves the personality of the Holy Spirit?” Of course I did at once. “The Spirit said, Separate unto me Saul and Barnabas for the work whereunto I have called them,” “The Comforter when He is come will guide you into all truth,” “He will take the things of God and show them unto you,” “He will guide you into all truth.” He is a person. Never speak of Him as “it” or “itself.” It is wrong to do so. Spell “Spirit” with a capital, and honor the Holy Ghost, for the Holy Ghost IS the Eternal Spirit, as we were taught in those days when children in the Sunday School had catechisms in their hands instead of lesson leaves that deny the Deity of Jesus and the efficacy of the blood.
I want to bring before you another thought with this text: Life more abundantly is a term of comparison, is a contrast with life that preceded it. It is comparing spiritual things with spiritual, life more abundantly. This is one of God’s great inspiring truths. Believing this we can stand before valleys of dry bones and say, “These can all live,” before a mighty chief of sinners, a very Saul of Tarsus, aye, in the very presence of spiritual indifference and wickedness in high places, and claim victory for our God. When God was on a mission to destroy, He would not do it until He talked to Abraham, for He said, “I know Him.” And this man, because he believed God, was called the Friend of God. But there is something better than that for the believer today. Yonder goes Moses up to the Mount, and on its summit God comes down to meet with him, and for forty days God talks with Moses. I think those forty days were but as a few minutes to Moses he was so engrossed with communion with God, that he lost all thought of time, and when he came down his face shone with the glory of another world. But for the believer today, there is something better than that. “The Law came by Moses but Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ.” There was something helpful to a penitent sinner when the Urim and Thummim flashed on the breastplate of the high priest, and he knew that he was accepted of God. It was a blessed thing when the High Priest, after the sprinkling of the mercy seat with blood, would come out and with uplifted hands would pronounce the benediction on the multitude, and every man could go to his home a justified and forgiven man; but through Christ we have something better than that:
“Jesus our great High Priest,
Hath full atonement made .
Ye weary spirits rest,
Ye mournful souls he glad!
The year of jubilee hath come,
Return ye ransomed sinners home.”
Yonder on the side of old Mount Tabor I see Elijah at prayer; before him an altar, and on the altar a sacrifice, around him Israel and the prophets of Baal. I hear him pray. Listen! Did you ever hear such a prayer? He prays for fire — fire from heaven, “O thou Lord God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy Word.” And the fire comes — fire from heaven, and it consumes the sacrifice. But we as the children of God today have something better than that. Fire, not for Israel’s altars alone, but for every child of God, for every heart; in every church, for all time. Listen to the voice of one crying in the wilderness: “There standeth one among you the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose. He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.” The Baptizer with fire has come at last, and He says, “I am come not only that ye might have life, but that ye might have it more abundantly.” If I had my choice to go back to Mt. Tabor where fire from heaven fell upon the altar, or back to Pentecost where the Holy Ghost as in cloven tongues of fire came upon each of them, I would say “Pentecost,” every time. And we do not have to go back to either, for here and now we have the very same Jesus that was at Pentecost, and just as ready to give the fire, when we are as ready to receive the Holy Ghost as they were on that day.
The Baptism of the Holy Ghost, the fullness of the Spirit, this is the Life Abundant. The Spirit and the Life go together. You cannot separate them. A Spirit-filled soul is a live soul. Listen! “The words I speak unto you they are Spirit and they are Life.” To be spiritually minded is life. The Spirit is life because of righteousness. The letter killeth but the Spirit giveth life. The Spirit shall be in you a well of water springing up to everlasting life. The fullness of the Spirit is the privilege of every believer. This means life enough to help someone else. When Jesus was in the Mount of Transfiguration, there were nine disciples down on the plains, and a boy grievously vexed with a devil was brought to them, and they could not cast him out. But read of them after Pentecost. Read Acts 5th chapter and 11th verse: “There came a multitude from the cities round about Jerusalem, bringing sick folks and those which were vexed with unclean spirits, and they were healed every one.” They had power from on high. They had the abundant life. I do not read of very many conversions through the labors of the disciples before Pentecost, but, after that, three thousand were converted in one day, and after that five thousand, and everywhere they went “the Word of God mightily grew and prevailed.” When Thomas Harrison was young he wanted to do something for God. He had a passion for work for God. He went to the book stores and bought the Life of John Fletcher, and Carvosso, and Bramwell, and he studied books. He did everything but take the gift. But one day he got desperate. He said, “I’ll have this cleansing, this fullness or I’ll die. I’ll put away all these books, and this afternoon shall be all knee work.” And he gave his knees a talking to, and said, “You might just as well come down, for I am not going to get up until I get the victory, until God gives me the Holy Ghost.” And he went to praying, when there flashed through his soul there was a better way than long and hard struggling with God for a human soul — just take God at His Word, believe that He meant exactly what He said, that life, the fullness of the Spirit was the gift of God. And in just three minutes he was on His feet shouting aloud, “Glory to God, I’ve got it.”
God is no respecter of persons. If you want it, meet the conditions, believe God, and take it. Take it now. God sanctifies by the Holy Spirit. To them that believe on His Name all things are possible.
This Life means life under all circumstances, life when your feet are growing cold, when your loved ones fade out from your vision, for it is life eternal. Pardon me for calling your attention to the hero of Pilgrim’s Progress. He had the victory when he came down to the banks of the river, and he said, “I feel the bottom and it is good.” Old Mr. Standfast, also one of the characters portrayed in this choicest piece of literature it has ever been my privilege to read, came down to the river. Hear him shouting, “This river has been a terror to many, yea, the thoughts of it has often frightened me, but now, methinks I stand easy, for my feet are fixed upon that upon which the feet of the priests that bare the ark of the covenant stood while Israel passed over this Jordan. The waters are indeed to the palate bitter and to the stomach cold, yet the thought of what I am going to and of the conduct that waits for me on the other side, lie as a glowing coal to my heart. I see myself now at the end of my journey. My toilsome days are ended. I am going now to see that Head that was crowned with thorns, and that face that was spit upon for me. I have formerly lived by hearsay and faith, but now I go where I shall live by sight, and shall be with Him in whose company I delight myself. I have loved to hear my Lord spoken of, and wherever I have seen the print of His shoe in the earth there have I coveted to set my foot, too. His name has been to me as a civet box, yea, sweeter than all perfumes. His voice to me has been most sweet, and His countenance have I more desired than the light of the sun. His Word did I gather for my food, and for antidotes against my faintings. He has held me and I have kept me from mine iniquities, yea, my steps has He strengthened in the way.” And his last words were: “Take me, for I come unto Thee,” and the angels and the trumpeters of the skies sang his welcome home to the city where cometh no night, where the inhabitants never Say, I am sick, and where the people are forgiven their iniquity. Home, forever at Home.