How is it possible to miss having an abundant life? What is our involvement in developing godly character? How is salvation an ongoing process?
In this Q&A, Dr. David Jeremiah (@davidjeremiah) talks about his book, A Life Beyond Amazing: 9 Decisions that Will Transform Your Life Today(Thomas Nelson, 2017).
What holds us back from living an amazing life?
Dr. David Jeremiah: Sometimes it’s because we misunderstand the nature of salvation. Salvation is one of the Bible’s great words, but many don’t understand that the Bible presents salvation in three stages. Many people consider salvation a one-time, past event. They forget its ongoing nature.
From the first step of that process to our last breath, we’re crossing this bridge. Throughout our lives, we develop our character consciously or unconsciously. In your journey to a life beyond amazing, you’ll learn to develop your character in ways that bring remarkable rewards.
There’s a second reason people miss the abundant life: they misapply the concept of works. Many biblical passages teach that we’re not saved by our own efforts but by the grace of God alone. But the same passages also tell us good works are an essential evidence of the salvation experience. We’re not saved bygood works, but for good works. It begins with God’s grace, and it’s sustained by his grace as you shape your character by what you do as you cross the bridge.
A third reason we fail to develop godly character involves a mistaken view of spirituality. Some believe we have little or no role in our own Christian maturity. God does everything, they think, and we simply have to “let go and let God.” After all, if it’s the “fruit of the Spirit,” we should passively let him work within us as we abide in Christ.
It’s true the Holy Spirit alone can reproduce the character of our Lord Jesus, and we must always abide in Christ. But the Bible also makes us active partners in the process, and we must be diligent to do our part. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed” (2 Timothy 2:15).
God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. And he’s given us the indwelling strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The rest is up to us. Peter says, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5–7).
Love is one of the nine key decisions you outline. How do we know if we’re truly loving one another?
Dr. David Jeremiah: Because love is not about what we feel for others—it’s about what we do for others. The true power of love is found in selfless attitudes and actions that seek the best for another person without expecting anything in return. When we act in that way, the feeling of love follows close behind.
What’s one thing that will help to realize a life beyond amazing?
Dr. David Jeremiah: One of the most productive things we can do is to read Paul’s prayers for the churches he was involved with. He didn’t pray for greater attendance, bigger offerings, or even more people becoming Christians. When we examine his prayers, we discover something far more challenging.
For instance, to the Christians in Philippi, he says this: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9). In 1 Corinthians, Paul urges his readers to imitate him. We too should pray for greater love, whether we’re praying that prayer for others or for ourselves. It’s God’s desire for all of us that we continue to grow in our ability to love one another. I promise you this is a prayer he will surely answer.
What’s the difference between happiness and joy?
Dr. David Jeremiah: Happiness is about what happens to you; and, to an extent, it’s dependent on your circumstances, your behaviors, and your attitudes. But the joy of Christ is much, much bigger. The joy of Christ is about relationship with a person. It’s something you have access to, but it’s also something you must choose. Christian joy shows up not only in the happy times but also in times of trial and discouragement. Jesus’ joy survived troubles and even flourished in the midst of them. He told his followers: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!” (Luke 6:22–23). When we’re in a right relationship with God, he rejoices. And it’s only through that relationship that we experience joy in its fullness.
How should Christians assess their own integrity?
Dr. David Jeremiah: Before you begin your journey toward integrity, you need to determine your starting point. In other words, what’s your integrity quotient? How much integrity do you have? Do a moral inventory of yourself. Hold yourself accountable going forward for what you say and do. Moving toward a more faithful, fair, and honest life begins with confronting truthfully who you are. You can’t hold yourself accountable if you won’t see yourself clearly.
I truly wish I could give you an easier place to start, but I can’t. Let me tell you what I know: You can’t go anywhere if you don’t start from the truth. Confession basically means saying the same thing about your sin as God says. So if you say you want to develop integrity, but you’re not willing to face the rough parts and confess them, you won’t get there.
Bio: Dr. David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than 50 books, including Is This the End?, The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, David Jeremiah Morning & Evening Devotions, and Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible. Dr. Jeremiah serves as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, where he resides with his wife, Donna. They have four grown children and 12 grandchildren.
Read more at Life More Abundant: An Interview with David Jeremiah.