Abundant life is a term used to refer to Christian teachings on fullness of life. It is not an organized movement or a unique doctrine, but a name applied to the teachings and expectations of the groups and people who follow the teachings. Abundant life teachings may include expectations of prosperity and health, but may also include other forms of fullness of life when faced with adverse circumstances.
The term "abundant life" comes from the Bible verse John 10:10b, "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." "More abundantly" means to have a superabundance of a thing. "Abundant life" refers to life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength for mind, body, and soul. "Abundant life" signifies a contrast to feelings of lack, emptiness, and dissatisfaction, and such feelings may motivate a person to seek for the meaning of life and a change in their life.
Abundant life teachings, that God is a good God who wants to bless people spiritually, physically, and economically, were championed by Oral Roberts in the United States after World War II, with his faith healing ministry having the most impact. These teachings came at a time when many equated poverty with spirituality, and sickness with God’s discipline and punishment. He included the term Abundant Life in the name of many parts of his ministries, such as The Abundant Life television program, the Abundant Life magazine, the Abundant Life Prayer Group (ALPG), and the Abundant Life Building used as his world headquarters.
Abundant life for a person begins with a new birth, a new relationship with God, new motivations, and a new relationship with mankind. The process of Christian maturity for that person continues with learning to live abundantly, being cleansed from sin, and learning to fight spiritual battles. Christian salvation and maturity is not reliance on the self-efforts of rituals, devotion, meditation, good works, asceticism, and self-control over desires, but by believing in the redemption from sin through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24, 1 Cor 15:3–4). Through faith in divine agency, the working of the Holy Spirit, God transforms a person's desires to be more in conformity with God's will (Ephesians 2:8–10, Romans 12:1–2).
Abundant life teaches prosperity and health for the total human being, including the body, mind, emotions, relationships, material needs, and eternal life. The Bible, the good news (Christianity), and salvation are essential elements of those teachings. Other elements are faith, prayer, evangelism, and concern for human worth in the areas of spiritual oppression, poverty, disease, hunger, injustice, and ignorance. In order for these teachings to have an impact on a person's fullness of life, it is essential for that person to align their goals with God's goals.
Abundant life teachings may include expectations of physical and material prosperity and good health and well-being, but may also include other forms of fullness of life, including eternal life, when persecuted or suffering. For a Christian, fullness of life is not measured in terms of "fun" and "living large," or in terms of wealth, prestige, position, and power, but measured by fulfilled lives of responsibility and self-restraint, and the rewards and blessings that accrue over a lifetime of pleasing God. According to the abundant life interpretation, the Bible has promises of wealth, health, and well-being, but these promises are conditional promises. According to James 1:17, God gives only good and perfect gifts, so God only gives gifts and blessings that are compatible with that person's abilities and God's goals for that person. This interpretation raises serious issues and presents a condemning and discriminating view of poor or disabled Christians in the apostolic times and throughout history.
The source of abundant life is identified as the Spirit of God in Galatians 5:22-23, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance". A Christian is a person who has the Spirit of God (Romans 8:9) received according to the Biblical formula (Acts 2:38). Becoming a Christian means a change to a different way of life with a different purpose. Fulfilling this purpose and experiencing abundant life go together, as described by Matthew 6:33, "But seek you first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
These are terms closely related to abundant life teachings or lifestyles that include expectations of prosperity and health, but that may also include elements of a fulfilled life by responsibility and self-restraint.
- Word of Faith
Also known as Word-Faith or simply Faith, the basic teachings are that of salvation through Jesus Christ and what that salvation entails. It is based on Jesus’ teachings concerning the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of Heaven and the state man can receive through the atonement and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. This state of new being or creation (found in the Bible verses 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15) can be received only through faith in the Word of God. The Word of Faith interpretation of this new state includes material and bodily welfare.
This is the teaching that the things received by faith start with a seed. The name "seed-faith" comes from the Bible verse Matthew 17:20, "If you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you." Oral Roberts originally called this concept "Blessing Pact", which later became known as "Seed-Faith".
- Full Gospel
A movement that places emphasis on the gifts of the Holy Spirit and that God wills for his children to be prosperous in all areas of their lives.
- Prosperity Gospel
Also known as prosperity theology, prosperity doctrine, or the health and wealth gospel, this is a teaching centered on the expectation that God provides material prosperity for those he favors.
- Health and Wealth Gospel
A teaching which emphasizes healing and prosperity.
The terms Prosperity Gospel and Health and Wealth Gospel are used as derogatory terms for Word of Faith or Word-Faith, but the terms do not mean the same things. There are significant differences among these teachings.
Oral Roberts laid the foundations of the prosperity gospel, but his teachings on abundant life and seed-faith have important differences from teachers of the Faith Movement. Even though Roberts was often associated with the prosperity gospel and the faith movement because of his close doctrinal and personal ties with Word-Faith teachers, his abundant life teachings did not fully identify him with that movement.
These are other terms relating to teachings or lifestyles that contrast to expectations of physical and material prosperity, but that may include elements of a fulfilled life by responsibility and self-restraint.
- Vow of poverty
One of the three evangelical counsels or counsels of perfection
- Voluntary poverty
A form of self-discipline by which one distances oneself from distractions from God
- Testimony of simplicity
A person’s spiritual life and character are more important than monetary worth or the quantity of goods possessed
A lifestyle characterized by abstinence from various sorts of worldly pleasures
- Simple living, or voluntary simplicity
A lifestyle characterized by consuming only that which is required to sustain life
- The Prayer of Jabez
- This is Your Day
- E.W. Kenyon
- Kenneth Copeland
- Reinhard Bonnke
- Bill Johnson (pastor)
- Benny Hinn
- Kenneth Hagin
- Todd Bentley
- David Yonggi Cho
- Billy Burke (evangelist)
- "Statement of Faith". Oral Roberts Ministries.
- "John 10:10 — The Abundant Life". Grace Communion International. (2000).
- Oral Roberts (1969) . If You Need Healing, Do These Things (4th ed.). Whitefish, MT, USA: Kessinger Publishing. Sections: A personal word; God's abundance of life. ISBN 0548384908, ISBN 978-0-548-38490-9. "...minister to the peoples of the world with the goal of seeing them made whole in mind, body and soul. ... God seeks to give men life – more abundant life – life in its abounding fullness of joy and strength. He is life itself and He seeks to share it with us."
- "Bible Verses about Abundant Life". Crossway Bibles. 2001.
- Bill Sherman (December 20, 2009). "Oral Roberts 1918-2009: A Lasting Influence". Tulsa World. p. 2. "God is a good God who wants to bless people spiritually, physically and economically."
- Ted Olsen (December 16, 2009). "Why the Oral Roberts Obituaries Are Wrong". Christianity Today. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- "Celebrating the Life of Oral Roberts: The Man Who Obeyed God". Oral Roberts Ministries.
- "Oral Roberts, OAB Hall of Fame, Inducted 2010". Oklahoma Association of Broadcasters (OAB). November 2009.
- "Oral Roberts". Telegraph (UK). December 16, 2009.
- David E. Pratte (2000). "Part I: The Nature of Spiritual Gifts". Miracles and Spiritual Gifts: The Bible Teaching about Prophecy, Tongues, Healings, and Holy Spirit Baptism. The Gospel Way.
- David Edwin Harrell, Jr. (1985). Oral Roberts: an American life. pp. 274–275.
- Bill Miller (September 2, 2009). "The Abundant Life Building,1957". Historic Tulsa.
- Bill Bright. "2: The Christian and the Abundant Life". 10 Basic Steps to Christian Maturity. Campus Crusade for Christ.
- Bill Bright (1994). The Christian & the Abundant Life Step 2, 10 Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity. New Life Resources. ISBN 9781563990311.
- Fritz Ridenour (1967, 1979, 2001). So What's the Difference?. Regal Books / Gospel Light. pp. 97, 107. ISBN 0-8307-1898-2.
- "What Does The Bible Mean By "Abundant Life"?". Spirit-Filled Life Bible. Quoted by Living Way Ministries. January 2002. Section: The study notes of John 10:10.
- Richard T. Ritenbaugh of Church of the Great God (July 2005). "Are You Living the Abundant Life?". Forerunner. Bibletools. Section: "Ready Answer".
- Richard J. Vincent (c. 1997). "An Examination of the Word-Faith Movement". Apologetics Coordination Team (ACT).
- David C. Pack (2004). "You Can Live the Abundant Life!". The Restored Church of God.
- "Salvation: Foundational Teachings". Kenneth Copeland Ministries.
- "Seed-Faith". Oral Roberts Ministries.
- Bill Sherman (December 15, 2009). "Oral Roberts dies". Tulsa World.
- David Van Biema (September 10, 2006). "Does God Want You To Be Rich?". Time. Archived from the original on 28 May 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Keith Schneider (December 15, 2009). "Oral Roberts, Fiery Preacher, Dies at 91". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 April 2010. Retrieved May 22, 2010.
- Daniel G. Reid; Robert Dean Linder; Bruce L. Shelley; Harry S. Stout (1990). Dictionary of Christianity in America. Westmont, Illinois: InterVarsity Press. ISBN 978-0-8308-1776-4.