Rich through the Gospel
By Erin Bird
This week’s “facet” of the Gospel is that through Jesus, you are rich!
But don’t take that phrase the wrong way: I don’t mean earthly wealth. While some Jesus-followers have been blessed with much, many have very, very little. They would be considered poor in the eyes of most people on this planet. Even Jesus Himself would have been considered poor during his three years of public ministry, saying that He had “no place to lay His head.” (Matthew 8:20) In fact, Jesus warned against seeking worldly wealth many times. “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Matthew 8:36)
So what do I mean, then, by saying that through the Gospel you are rich?
I’ll let Ephesians 1:3 explain:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”
Did you hear it? If not, read it again.
If you follow Jesus, you have been blessed with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places!”
I think this is why Paul described these riches as “unsearchable” a couple chapters later. (See Ephesians 3:8) These spiritual riches are so vast, so huge, they can’t be searched. That’s a lot!
But sadly, most of us aren’t using these riches.
In America, we tend to idolize people who “pulled themselves up by their bootstraps” into fame and wealth. At the same time, we tend to look unfavorably toward those who are wealthy due to inherited riches. Earned wealth is thought to be more impressive than inherited wealth.
But what if you heard that before some guy became the newest millionaire in your community, he had been unemployed due to his employer closing down and was on the verge of homelessness? Suddenly, you would be quite happy for him! I doubt you’d think poorly of this guy. (Rather, you’d probably be a bit envious, wishing you had a rich uncle who could leave you a couple cool million!)
But now imagine you heard this new millionaire never touched the money. And by not using the money, the bank kicked him out of his house for refusing to pay his mortgage. “But I didn’t earn that money, so I can’t use it!” he would exclaim with faulty logic.
This imaginary scenario is played out regularly by Christians on a spiritual level. Jesus’ death and resurrection have resulted in us receiving an inheritance that can never be taken away from us. And yet, daily Christians refuse to use these riches.
What spiritual riches am I referring to?
Your Spiritual Riches
First, if you follow Jesus, realize you’ve been given the righteousness of Christ. Some theologians call this “the great exchange.” Jesus took your sinfulness and gave you His righteousness (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). That’s like a billionaire having the credit card company send him your maxed-out credit card bill while putting a billion dollars in your bank account.
Second, not only have you been given the righteousness of Jesus, you’ve been given God Himself. His very Spirit lives within you. (Ephesians 1:13-14) And if the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead now dwells in you, (Romans 8:11), then who can stand against you? (Romans 8:31) Talk about rich and powerful!
Third, because you’ve been given God’s Spirit, you have complete access to God (Ephesians 2:18). So I would encourage you to make your first move in the face of problems be prayer rather than make your first step an attempt in your own strength to “earn” the solution. (“God helps those who help themselves” is NOT in the Bible!)
Fourth, enjoy these riches now! These aren’t just riches awaiting you in heaven. You can enjoy the presence of God now through worship, service, conversations, prayer, good food, generosity, and so much more. (This is why Paul tells us in Colossians 3:17 to do all things for Jesus.) So enjoy God’s riches!
And whenever you forget to use these spiritual riches, go to the “bank” of the cross and empty tomb, reminding yourself of what Jesus has done for you, taking you out of spiritual poverty by giving you an inheritance of spiritual riches of His righteousness.
So know that if you follow Jesus, you are rich!