Rich through the Gospel

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.

Inherited 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!

Birthed Through the Gospel

Birthed Through the Gospel

By Erin Bird

Last week, I opened the series Gospel Facets letting you know that for the next several weeks, we are going to look at different “facets” of the gospel. This week, we jump into possibly one of the most well-known “facets.”

Even if you are not a follower of Jesus yet, I suspect you might be familiar with this week’s “facet”. For it is heard in our cultural and Christian nomenclature to refer to certain types of Christians. The facet I am referring to is the idea of “birth.”

In his conversation with a religious leader named Nicodemus in John 3, Jesus said a person must be “born-again” in order to see the kingdom of God. This really confused Nicodemus, causing him to ask Jesus if he has to climb back into his mother’s womb. Jesus responded:

“Truly truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:5)

newborn baby with outstretched handsI have heard some people say the phrase “born of water” is baptism. Perhaps, but to me, that doesn’t make sense when Jesus says someone must be “born again.” Hear me out: I believe Jesus is referring to physical birth when he uses the phrase “born of water.” After all, when a woman goes into labor and the amniotic sac breaks, releasing the amniotic fluid, we say her “water broke.” This is what I think Jesus is referring to when he says someone must be “born of water.”

But a person can’t just be born physically of water. To enter God’s kingdom, they must also be born of Spirit. They have their first birth – physical birth. Then they can go through the second birth, being “born again” by the Spirit.

The cool thing about this image is that if you follow Jesus and have been “born again” through the Gospel, God is your Father – your Heavenly Daddy! And just as new parents love their helpless newborn, God the Father loves you passionately. You don’t have to do anything to impress Him. He simply loves you because He has created you. His image is in you, marking you as His.

So may you contemplate today and this next week just how much God loves you if you have been “born again” through the gospel, letting this thought lead you to rejoice!

Gospel Facets

A New Series

by Erin Bird

Because my upcoming podcast will be about how the gospel speaks into our everyday struggles, I spent some time reading books about the gospel during my sabbatical (as well as a lot of fiction!). Through my reading, one of the things that hit me about the gospel was just how multifaceted the gospel is.

If you have ever held a diamond or precious stone in your hand, it has most likely been chipped or shaped in such a way to allow the beauty of the stone to shine through. As you turn it in your hand, you see different reflections and colors. The whole thing is the diamond, but you appreciate its beauty through the facets.

Spiritually, the gospel is a diamond. The Scriptures teach us a wide variety of  “facets” about the gospel. Because I want you to be passionately in love with Jesus, over the next several weeks, I want to help you contemplate how, through the gospel, a person can be:

  • given new birth
  • adopted
  • justified
  • reconciled
  • ransomed
  • assured
  • and so much more.

My hope is that you will be overwhelmed by the realization of how much God loves you, and get a glimpse of what has taken place in your life through the life, death, & resurrection of God’s Son if you have chosen to put your faith in Jesus.

So join me next week as we kick off the “Gospel Facets” series.

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