I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10), said Jesus, the ultimate life-giver. The context of this well-known passage is John 9 and 10. Jesus had just healed a blind man. Although the man was rejoicing, the Pharisees were not. Instead, they condemned the man and threw him out of the synagogue. But Jesus found him and revealed Himself as the Son of God. The man believed and worshipped.
But the Pharisees did not. Instead they asked, “Are we blind also?” (John 9:40). To which Jesus replied, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains” (verse 41).
Jesus continued by explaining that thieves enter a sheepfold by climbing over the wall or some other way, but “he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:2). Bringing His point home, He told these false shepherds, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. . . . The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (verses 7-10).
Jesus brought hope and healing everywhere He went. But to receive Christ’s gift of abundant life, people had to believe—and obey. The blind man followed Christ’s instructions and washed in the Pool of Siloam (John 9:7). The lame man at the Pool of Bethesda had to “rise, take up [his] bed and walk” (John 5:8). The man with the withered hand had to “stretch out [his] hand” (Mark 3:5) to be healed. Even Lazarus, though dead, responded to Jesus’ command, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:43), and was restored to life.
Christ continues to offer life abundantly through His Word, His Spirit, and His church. Through the pen of inspiration, God has uniquely positioned the Seventh-day Adventist Church to be a church that offers abundant life physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church recognizes human life, including the life of the unborn, as precious in God’s sight. In its recently voted Statement on the Biblical View of Unborn Life and Its Implications for Abortion,¹ the church acknowledges that “God upholds the value and sacredness of human life,” and “God considers the unborn child as human life.” The statement is clear that “human life is of inestimable value” “independent of physical, mental, and emotional capacities” “regardless of sex, ethnicity, social status, religion, and whatever else may distinguish them.”² All life is a God-given gift meant to be treasured.
We Seventh-day Adventists recognize that an abundant life comes from following God’s divinely inspired directions regarding care for our bodies, which are the “temple of the Holy Spirit” and not our own (see 1 Cor. 6:19, 20). Further, Adventists view human beings in their God- given totality, meaning that rather than seeing body and soul as two separate entities, we believe that body, mind, and spirit are connected, making the person a “living soul.”³
Through the Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy much divine counsel has been given to us regarding living the abundant life God desires to give us—physically, mentally, and spiritually. The NEWSTART⁴ acronym is a helpful way to remember these important, God- given principles.
Nutrition. What we eat and drink has a direct effect upon our body, mind, and spirit. The Bible and Spirit of Prophecy promote a plant-based diet, as was given in the Garden of Eden (see Gen. 1:29, 30). Eating meat, with its high concentrations of protein, cholesterol, and fat, has been closely tied to high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. A beneficial diet includes fruits, nuts, vegetables, grains, and legumes. In addition, limiting intake of sugar and refined foods, not eating between meals, and eating a big breakfast, lighter lunch, and only a light (or no) supper can be very beneficial.⁵
Exercise. God designed humans to be active. Regular physical exercise gives incredible benefits— increased energy, endurance, and muscle strength. It reduces stress, cholesterol, blood pressure, and the risk of disease. It improves sleep and mood and helps us maintain a healthy weight.⁶
Water. More than half of our body is made up of water. Drinking at least eight glasses of water each day improves metabolism, helps filter toxins and poisons, and leads to clearer thinking. No other liquid can take the place of water in giving so many benefits. Some beverages, particularly alcohol and caffeinated drinks, such as tea, coffee, and some soft drinks, have been shown in numerous studies to be detrimental to one’s health.⁷
Sunlight. Sunlight stimulates the production of essential vitamin D, giving us healthier skin, an improved immune system, and an improved mood. While getting too much unprotected sunlight can damage one’s skin, many health benefits come from getting some sunlight every day.⁸
Temperance. Temperance means self-control and is usually associated with avoiding harmful substances and using only in moderation things that are good. Studies have shown that Adventists live longer than average largely because they abstain from alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and illegal drugs.⁹
Air. While we need air to breathe, our quality of life and health can be much improved by the quality of air we breathe. Regularly open windows for good ventilation and spend time outdoors each day, breathing deeply. If you live in a city, go to a park with trees to breathe cleaner air.¹⁰
Rest. Proper rest and relaxation are essential for physical and mental health. Going to bed early and rising early has been shown to bring the best restorative sleep. Some behaviors that can help induce good sleep include eating a last meal several hours before bedtime, exercising regularly, not drinking caffeinated beverages, and eliminating unnecessary stressors from life. Observing God’s weekly day of rest, the seventh-day Sabbath, brings many physical, mental, and spiritual benefits.¹¹
Trust in God. Maintaining an active life of faith and trust in God promotes peace and health. The Bible promise is: “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You” (Isa. 26:3). Jesus gives our lives purpose and meaning, and through Him we find health and salvation.
By recognizing and teaching biblical tenants regarding the inestimable value of all human life, and by accepting, observing, and teaching health principles given by God through His Word and through the gift of the Spirit of Prophecy, God is indeed working through His remnant church to promote the abundant life that He freely and generously offers to all.
If you haven’t already done so, I hope you will accept His abundant life today.
President of the Worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church •
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @Pastor Ted Wilson.