ASK Newsletter First Quarter 1996


John H. Stoll, Ph.D.
Executive Director, ASK, Inc.

The desire for fullness of life and longevity is inherent within all of us. God did not create mankind to die, but to live. Only the entrance of sin caused death to become a part of one's existence. And, Christ came to overcome that problem, so that all may live not only in the here and now, but for eternity (John 3:16).

Fullness of life is that which everyone desires. God Himself desires that for every person for Jesus said, "I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly" (John 10:10). The question is not do we want it, the question is how do we achieve it? To have eternal life requires that one make a personal commitment to Jesus Christ as Savior for his sins (Romans 10:9,10).

To enjoy fullness of life in the present life, there are number of things one must do. Those who have studied people who have lived to be over one hundred years, have noted five basic characteristics that have contributed to their longevity: 1) Good genes, 2) A goal or purpose for living, 3) An optimistic outlook on life, 4) Ability to handle stress well, and 5) Good diet and health care. Apart from the first one, which no one can control, though exercising the other four can be a contributing factor to the succeeding generations in their genes, the ability to have fullness of life and longevity is achievable by adhering to these factors.

It is interesting to note, that though the Bible is not primarily a book on physical health, nor psychology, or any other science (It is the book of God's revelation to mankind on how to live spiritually, according to God's program for all people), yet it does speak to these five characteristics as woven throughout Scripture. The Bible is basically a book of principles for Godly living, but these principles are illustrated through the lives of human beings, and in the recounting of their lives, the five elements of fullness and longevity are described.

Godly living is basic to God's revelation to mankind. However, humans have been created as threefold beings, Spirit, Soul, and Body. The spirit of the person is the life one has from God; the soul is the greek word psyche, from which we get the word psychology, meaning emotion/will/mind; and the body is the flesh. God is desirous that one be balanced in all three areas, in order to fully function as a whole person. In I Thessalonians 5:2 we read, " - - And I pray God you whole Spirit, and Soul, and Body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ". Like a three legged stool, in which one desires three equally strong and balanced legs, God wants us to be strong and balanced in all three areas of our life. Therefore, it is important to consider well the whole of one's life.

Consider each of the five characteristics of a full life. One has no control over how long he or she may live, but caring for one's body/soul/spirit, can be a contributing factor in a long life.

  1. Good genes. Though no one has control over their birth, and who their parents are, yet two elements can be considered. First, if one has inherited poorly, caring for one's body properly may help in overcoming, and it is certain that not caring for one's body can only accelerate a poorly inherited constitution. Also, countering poor inherited genes by good living, may contribute to bringing stronger children into the next generation. Certainly all this would be acceptable in God's sight.
  2. A goal or purpose in life. God is a purposeful being, and He created mankind for a purpose (Psalm 8:4-6). The primary purpose of mankind, according to God's standard is for us to live for and bring glory to God. That is universal for each one. In addition, God has given to each of us gifts and talents to be developed (I Corinthians 12:4-31; Ephesians 4:7-15). When we purpose in life to use our talents to serve God, then He honors us with a full life (I Samuel 2:30; Philippians 1:21, 4:13).
  3. Optimistic outlook on life. In the world in which we live today, there isn't much to contribute toward one being optimistic. The reason there are so many suicides among young people is that they have no hope of the future. However, for Christians, who ought to be the most optimistic people in the world, because we have the most going for us, the realization that God is sovereign, that His plan for mankind is on track, and that we are the recipients of life that is eternal, should be reason enough to enjoy the fullness of life, in the midst of a troubled world. God's Word provides us comfort in times like these (John 10:10; 14:27; 16:33; Hebrews 13:5,6).
  4. Handling Stress. There are three basic problems that adversely affect the normal stress that we all have: Fear, Guilt, and Moral conflicts. Stress is a part of life itself. It isn't do we have stress or not, for we all do, it is how do we handle it? When the normal problems of life are compounded with these three adverse elements, the stress becomes unbearable. God's answer to our personal problems and the stress we face is found in His admonitions and promises to us of holy living. (I Thessalonians 4:1-12; Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:1-3; Hebrews 4:16; I Peter 5:7; II Corinthians 1:3,4; 7:1; Psalm 42:11). By following His principles and promises, we can handle the stress of life, without it overwhelming us.
  5. Good diet and health care. Since God's work is done through human instrumentality, it behooves the Christian to care for his body. Profligate living is condemned in the Bible, and caring for one's spirit/soul/body is commended. Since there is constant transference, both negatively and positively among all three parts of us, it is imperative that one seriously consider and care for each aspect of our wholeness. It has been said that the majority of organic diseases in our hospitals have had a psychosomatic origin. The constant stress and strain of life, coupled with lack of proper bodily care, contributes eventually to a serious breakdown. When a Christian considers well the admonition of I Corinthians 6:19,20, then there is no excuse for lack of caring for our bodies.

The resources that every Christian has through the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, coupled with discernment of Biblical principles, ought to be the resources to assist everyone to come to wholeness and fullness of life, regardless of one's longevity (Philippians 4:19). The finest comment anyone can say, when he comes to the end of life, is that he has had a full life. The worst comment is to hear one say, "I wish I had it to do over again". When a Christian unconditionally commits his/her life to God and the Holy Spirit's control, then God is the guarantor that one will have fullness of life (John 10:10; 12:26).

Over the past five years, Dr. Stoll has been writing a book on Biblical and Psychological principles of life for Christian maturity. For three years he wrote it in outline form and taught it to his Bible class at the Minneapolis Athletic Club, using the men as his "pilot project", and gaining feedback from them. Then he wrote the chapters of the book.

Currently, the 41 chapters of the book are at the publishers, and should be in print this spring. At this time it is unknown as to cost, which probably will be around ten dollars, in paperback. The contents can be used as individual study of Biblical principles, for group Bible classes, Sunday School teaching, or as foundational instruction in a Christian college Bible course. You may contact our office for further details as to availability, cost, etc.