The Life of God

 
The purpose for which John the Apostle wrote his gospel was so that people could have eternal life—a purpose he clearly states at the end of his gospel when he said—
 
John 20:31 (NKJV)
…these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.
 
Fifty-four times in his gospel John talks about the life that Jesus gives. The Greek word he uses for life is Zoë, a word that means spiritual life, or in other words—the life of God.  The Bible defines Zoë life as a dynamic life, a fruitful life, a joyful and fulfilled life.
 
It’s a life that Jesus Himself said was abundant and David in Psalm 23 described as overflowing. But here’s the problem—if I were to go around asking people to define the concept of ‘life ‘—for many it would be a little hard to nail down.Most people today would probably try to define life in terms of a quality of living.  
 
They would say that life is about achieving a certain level of happiness based on success in their chosen career field which brings them affluence, material possessions and possibly even fame.  But this abundant life that Jesus spoke of isn’t external as many believe and teach.

It isn’t an abundance of money or possessions or earthly success. This life is spiritual in nature—as Jesus said in John 6:63, “The words I speak to you are spirit and life”.
 
Look, money can buy you things but not happiness, books but not wisdom. Money can buy you a quality of living but not a quality of life (the first being outward, the second inward).  In fact, Jesus warned us against trying to define our lives in terms of our possessions when He said:
 
“Take heed and beware of covetousness for one’s life doesn’t consist in the abundance of the things they possess.”
(Luke 12:15)
 
You see, eternal life (Zoë) isn’t just a quantity of life—it’s a quality of life.  The thing that makes eternal life so wonderful and so appealing is not its ‘quantity’ (never ending) but its ‘quality’ (richness and fullness).
 
Eternal life wouldn’t be appealing if it simply meant life forever—if that life was painful, hopeless and empty (people in hell will live forever but that won’t be a blessing). What makes the eternal life that Jesus gives so appealing and desirable is that it is never ending life in all of its fullness, richness, joy, and blessing—because it’s the life of God in us!
 
Let me come at this another way—not only does Zoë life come from Christ—it is only found in Christ. It’s not that Jesus just gives this life—He is this life! Inside the Son there is spiritual/eternal life and outside the Son there is no spiritual life only eternal death and separation from God (in hell).
 
The instant a person receives Jesus as their Lord and Savior (by faith)—at that instant they are connected to God, the Spirit of God fills them, and the life of God begins to flow through them. The result is that the fruit of the Spirit (Gal.5:22-23) starts to grow in their lives proving they are now a new creation in Christ!
 
Jesus said, “You will know them by their fruit”—the fruit demonstrates they are a child of God.
 

Listen to me, the fruit doesn’t make you a child of God—it simply bears witness to the reality that you have been born of the Spirit and are a now a child of God.

A person can ‘tie’ some ‘fake spiritual fruit’ onto themselves (put on a good spiritual façade)—but that won’t make them a Christian, any more than tying apples onto a thorn bush will make it an apple tree! It’s the relationship with Jesus that causes God’s life to flow into and then the through a child of God producing spiritual fruit. (John 15)

 
Without that relationship with God (born-again)—a person has to draw strength, joy, peace, and purpose (all the things that make life live-able) from their circumstances, personal experiences, material possessions—including and especially from the use of alcohol and drugs. But that only lasts so long, even for the rich and famous, because—there is only so much a person can buy, so many places they can go and so many drugs they can take before their life crashes.
 
I’m sure you heard that, a week ago last Friday, another celebrity committed suicide—Anthony Bourdain.  He was the Emmy-winning host of the culinary travel show known as “Parts Unknown”—he hanged himself in his hotel room in France.
 
Bourdain’s suicide followed the suicide of fashion designer Kate Spade three days earlier on Tuesday of that week—Spade hanged herself in her New York City apartment.
 
Of course, we all remember the tragic death of Robin Williams in August of 2014—who also hung himself. 
 
Why are all these rich celebrities (there are others) committing suicide?  Most people consider fame and wealth to be the very definition of happiness and fulfillment in life.
 
Apparently, that’s not true—in fact, as Christians, we know it’s a lie spawned in the councils of hell to get people to pursue everything other than God to find happiness and fulfillment in life.  When these worldly pursuits don’t deliver (because they can’t)—to push them into suicide!  
 
It’s what Jesus called the “deceitfulness of riches.” (Matt.13:22)
 
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) has recently come out with a report that says suicide rates are up 30 percent since 1999. It is occurring all across the country in all demographics and age groups—from age 10 up—male and female.
 
They (CDC) reported that, “More than half of all the individuals who committed suicide had no mental health diagnoses”—so then, why are relatively healthy people, mentally speaking, killing themselves? Experts have their opinions as to why suicides are way up in our country—let me share with you mine.
 
I believe that as our nation has become more and more secular, people have either turned their backs on God (making Him irrelevant in their minds) or they simply don’t believe in Him at all (neo-atheism is on the rise especially among millennials).
 
Three of the fruits of the Spirit listed in Galatians 5 are: love, joy and peace—these come directly from God and grow naturally in the lives of those who are connected to Him through His Son, Jesus Christ.
 
These fruits make life joyful and livable—but anyone not connected to God through His Son have to ‘manufacture’ these fruits (love = sex; peace = drugs; joy = material possessions), but it’s fake fruit and while it might look good—it will not satisfy.
 
The question is—why aren’t more Christians experiencing this dynamic spiritual life in their own lives on a daily basis? I mean as Christians they have union with Christ (they’re saved)—so why then aren’t they experiencing this abundant, dynamic, overflowing life that Jesus promised would be theirs?
 
It’s because for this life to flow in and through a child of God on a regular basis—they must remain connected to Jesus every day. In other words, union (salvation) is where it starts (like connecting a hose to the spigot and turning it on)—but for the water to continue to flow through that hose it must continue to be connected to the source of the water.
 
As Christians we would put it this way—union (salvation) connects us to Jesus, but communion keeps us connected to Him every day, allowing the Holy Spirit (the life of God) to continually flow in and through our lives.
 
This is what Jesus meant when He said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John the Apostle added his commentary, “But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive…” (John 7:38-39)
 
We also know that the joy, blessing and dynamic of the life of the Spirit will constantly fill me and flow through me only when I stay close and connected to Jesus in fellowship every day.
 
Get involved with sin or walk away from Jesus—and your connection to Him will be severed (practically not positionally) and like the hose in our illustration that gets disconnected from the spigot—you will dry up and no longer experience the life of Christ in your life until you repent and get reconnected to Him.
 
This means that as a Christian, when you begin to experience a lack of joy and peace; when anxiety and worry starts to grip your heart and the result is fear and depression—you most likely are experiencing the negative emotions of being out of fellowship with God.
 
Don’t pursue this life (dynamic, overflowing life) as a direct pursuit—it’s only found in Christ as a beautiful by-product of your relationship with Him. Commune with Jesus each day and you will experience this life every day as it constantly flows in and through you like rivers of living water!

Pastor Phil