The Wealth by Which We Live, Part 2
The Wealth by Which We Live, Part 1
Resignation to the will of God and confidence that God, because of His grace, will always deal with us with benefit and blessingthis attitude will stabilize the trembling heart in a world like this. Who can doubt that our continually aggravating social problems would simply evaporate before a proper understanding of divine grace which is available to all in our present world.
1. GRACE IS THE KEY TO ALL SUFFICIENCY (II Cor. 9:8). We have serious but naive Christians who continue to preach and teach that God blesses us because we are faithful, because we are worthy, because of our merit. The truth, however, lies in the fact that God blesses us because of the faithfulness, merit and worthiness of Jesus Christ on Calvarys cross. So the Apostle Paul was able to say, By the grace of God I am what I am (I Cor. 15:10). This man of God announced that at all times and in all places he was the undeserving object of sufficient grace. He rejoiced, whatever his circumstances, in the presence, power and never-failing riches of Jesus Christ. For the Christian every need is supplied (Phil. 4:19).
When we believe this, we will never again be subject to the indignation and bitterness which comes from a merely human interpretation of our circumstances. With the help of the professional agitators in todays world, many walk and live their lives in a state of inflamed resentment at someone who is more favored or apparently (and so much is only apparent) more rich than they. Until recently, this attitude was called by its right nameenvy. Now it is the legitimate thirst for liberation but it is, in fact, a satanic trick to divert our attention from the sufficiency of divine grace. Our pathetic and ignorant world needs to discover that the heart of man will never be satisfied with human possessions.
What a contrast to all of this in the life of the Christian. The one who has believed in Jesus Christ has been delivered from the idiotic pursuit of perishable human gain as the purpose of life in that he knows himself to be a sinner, forgiven by Christ, and one who is now the object of gracious provision from heaven. Clearly, virtually every indignation in our present world would be dissolved with the proper understanding of grace, the unmerited favor of God which comes to those who believe.
2. GRACE GIVES DIRECTION TO LIFE. The believer, rejoicing in salvation, soon asks, What now shall I do? The Apostle Peter calls him to follow the method by which his strength and spiritual capacity are increased. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever ( II Peter 3:18).
It must once again be said that certainly the greatest need in the Church of our time is for this exact process, growth in grace and in the knowledge of Christ, to take place. The individual believer in these days and the Church as well, have given themselves to a myriad of programs, many of which may indeed be commendable, albeit increasingly costly. The shortcoming of many of these activities, however, is that they so easily obscure this clear call to each person who has trusted the Savior, to grow in grace and to continue to expand his knowledge of Jesus Christ.
To grow in grace means to grow in an understanding of, appreciation of, response to, gratefulness for, witness concerning, the marvelous grace of God. Growth in grace must be the object of the ministry of the Church and the goal of every Christian.
How then shall we grow in grace? A great appreciation of sustaining grace comes when we come, as the Bible tells us, to remind ourselves of the things that are freely given to us of God (I Cor. 2:12). All bitterness and resentment would quickly be dispelled within any person who would take an hour to meditate upon the things which have come to him gratuitously from his Heavenly Father on a daily basis. Surely these include life itself, health, strength, the absence of pain (and sometimes its needed presence), food, shelter, friends, critics, and many other things.
3. GRACE PRODUCES AN ESTABLISHED, STRONG HEART. The timorous spirit of man is made strong and courageous, confident for every one of the experiences of life, when it rests upon the sense of a daily provision of favor from God. No matter what be a mans circumstances, no matter how violent may be the waves which come crashing against his life in the world in which he lives and moves, he resigns himself to divine grace and the result is beautiful indeed.
4. GRACE GUARANTEES READY ACCESS TO GOD HIMSELF. No one who has lived a few years on this troubled planet would suggest that our present world, this life, is not full of needs, pressures, temptations, failures and frustrations on the part of those who are Christians. We have the promise of continued, abundant grace for every need and regular access to the presence and certain help of a God who continues to deal with us by grace. God understands the concerns of our human life in every detail. This indeed is one of our great benefits from Jesus Christ having become a man like we are. We read, therefore, with appreciation the marvelous promise, Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:14-16).
5. GRACE SUPPLIES ABILITY FOR DIVINE SERVICE. In addition to the infinitely precious gift of salvation, each believer is invited by His Lord to invest his life to accomplish heavens results in this world. Lost, sinful man, redeemed by the grace of God, is now given the dignity of causalitythe privilege of serving the great King.
Few people realize that the opportunity to serve on behalf of others is a very precious gift indeed. The man who has not yet come to Jesus Christ, among his many other problems, still has within himself a killing viceselfishness. He does nothing in life except with the question in mind, What will I get out of this? How will this work out to my profit? He spends his life looking out for number one, and for him that moment is lost which does not produce advantage over someone else, fair or unfair. His mind, the opposite of the mind of Christ, is selfish and will ultimately be satanic. The person whose own well-being is the final motivation of life is in desperate, hopeless, poverty.
Conversely, one of the classic proofs of the living presence of Jesus Christ in a life is that life no longer seeks its own profit, its own advantage. Rather, that life is lived in service to God, seeking the benefit of others. All agree, even the worst of us in our better moments, that life in pursuit of personal advantage is ultimately wasted. Theres no doubt that this life is made a joyous and wonderful thing because of the grace of God. The Christian has been delivered from the poverty of selfishness.
6. GRACE IS EVERLASTING, REACHING OUT INTO ETERNITY. We all recognize that this life at its best is not final reality. It is rather the pleasing, anxious prelude to the real life which is before us in heaven. As wonderful as our sojourn on earth may have been, there comes a time when each of us is called to move across that fog-shrouded bridge from this fading world to the real world to come. At this time, the time of our physical death, even the Christian is tempted to be disconsolate. Faith itself may seem to fail. It is then that the Christian remembers that this wealth of grace which is his in Jesus Christ is the basis of his hope of heaven.
No one but a fool would esteem anything of value that is not characterized by everlasting consolation and good hope. To possess these eternal satisfactions is to be rich indeed. To be without that is to be in the most grinding of all poverty. How then do these eternal realities become ours? The answerthrough grace. Grace assures us of our home in heaven. In that bright land the streets are paved with goldgold that will never perish.
The Rich and the Poor
What then is the wealth by which we live? As we have seen, it cannot be the coin of any realm or the currency of any nation. Rather it must be the wealth of divine favor, the wealth that is grace itself. No person who receives the grace of Jesus Christ can ever be poor, and no person who is without that grace can ever be rich.
Let us remember, then, that the grace of Jesus Christ comes to us first of all in salvation, by which grace we are freely given the gift of God which is life everlasting. Apart from this saving grace we cannot live, for it is the basis of everlasting life and of our temporal existence as well.
The grace of God, where alone is wealth, continues to be operative on our behalf in every hour and every activity of our lives as children of God. All that we have is freely given to us by a gracious Heavenly Father because of Christ. The Christian alone is therefore the possessor of true riches and eternal hope. All others, however ornate may be the palace or their temporal existence, are impoverished and hopelesslost for eternity.
The GospelIts Dynamite
The greatest power on earth or in the universeor in any possible universeis the power of God. No fact is more irrefutable, more true.
Therefore, one of the most important questions we will ever face is How is the power of God expressed, activated, unleashed in the world? How does this remarkable and total force work in the transforming of lives and the production of results in the human condition? Happily, we have a precise and beautiful answer to that vital question. It is stated by the Apostle Paul in a forceful expression of the central motivation of his life. It is a statement that, especially in our time, no intelligent Christian should ever forget.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believes; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Rom. 1:16). This amazing statement, properly understood, would utterly transform a high percentage of our Christian activity and completely revise our estimate of the spiritual possibilities which the Church faces in our present age. How is the power of God expressed to the transformation of the lives of men? The answer is clear and could be cataclysmic. It is through a precise and beautiful message called the Gospel of Christ.
The word the Apostle Paul uses in this passage translated power is the word dunamis. It is the word from which we get our word dynamite and it literally means it works. It is the promise that something happens, the transformation of a soul takes place when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed. The power of God unto salvation makes its massive impact upon a receptive heart so that, in believing, that person receives the most marvelous gift available to anyone in this lifesalvation. Salvation means that one is cleansed from sin, made a child of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ for heaven. It means that the person is delivered from the wrath to come and made a recipient of the Holy Spirit. The result is that the believer becomes a fountainhead of spiritual blessing and divine grace to his friends, his neighborhood, his community, his world. Through the saved person, the transforming power of God works, making him to shine like a light in the world in the midst of crooked and perverse nations.
The Gospel, then, is dynamite! It is the way by which the Bible promises that the explosive, transforming power of God touches earth, altering the lives of men and nations. The individual who has believed that Gospel has become a part of the single method by which God has promised to touch humanity, that single method being faith in the finished work of Christ on Calvarys cross, faith in the Gospel.
It follows then that we need to ask again the question, What is the Gospel? The answer is precisely stated in the Word of God, it is the message that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures (I Cor. 15:3). This means, of course, that our sins have been atoned for, our deserved condemnation under divine justice has been cancelled by the shedding of the blood of Jesus Christ. It means that we are delivered from the penalty and the power of sin by the saving work of another, Christ, the Son of the Living God. It means, therefore, that salvation is by grace and not by works, and it comes to me as an absolutely free gift. Because of the death of Christ and my faith in that finished work, there is, therefore, now no condemnation. God has worked by grace and not by merit in taking my sin away. Nothing on earth is more precious than this Glorious Message of the death of Christ for my sins, the unspeakably wonderful Gospel of the grace of God.
For the Christian, nothing else whatsoever in life is worth living for, worth being proud of, worth investing in, than the truth of the atonement of Christ on Calvarys cross. So Paul said, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world (Gal. 6:14).
From the writings of Dave Breese