The Superiority of Gospel Wealth

2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.

One of the great joys of trusting in Christ is an unwavering assurance of the blessed future which He has secured for us. Our assurance does not come because of anything we’ve done, but it’s based all on His work and our trust in that work. Therefore, we can be sure that what He has accomplished and purposes to accomplish will be done.

This news is wonderful, not only because of what will come, but also because of the practical effects it has on us right now. It provides for Christians a richness which the world cannot attain. These riches are much more effective in alleviating physical and emotional suffering than material wealth ever could. Allow me to give a few examples:

1. Gospel wealth fixes relationships.
Perhaps the greatest example to illustrate is the father who tries to buy his daughter’s love even though he’s never around. That situation has been showcased over and over again in cinema. The father never has any time for his daughter but will buy her whatever she wants to try and make her happy. The girl wants her dad, not his money.In this example, the Gospel would fix both people and allow their relationship to be mended. The daughter would no longer have an absolute need for her father’s affection because she would be satisfied by God’s fatherly care. The father wouldn’t have to prove his worth by making money, so he could work less hours thereby having more time to spend with his family. If they were both satisfied by Christ, they would be free to love each other.

2. Gospel wealth secures joy.
Joy, in our culture, is found only in the temporary and aesthetic. People work for happy hour and hook-ups. They pick jobs that will make them money so that they can have status and feel like an elite. If they can’t achieve the things they have established are of ultimate value, then they have no joy. The Gospel changes all of that. If Christ has you, He will never lose you (Jn. 10:28). If you have Christ, you will never lose Him. Even if you lose all earthy wealth and relationships, you will still have Christ and the knowledge of all He’s done out of love for you. Your joy is secure.

3. Gospel wealth heals the world.
When you are rich with the Gospel, knowing that Christ has provided all, you are free to give your resources and time. When you are confident that “God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19), you will not hoard your resources. You’re free to give to those who can’t give back to you. We need an army of people with that freedom in order to conquer the world’s social ills.

I pray that you find all of your satisfaction in the knowledge of Christ’s love for you. A love that’s not mere sentiment, but proved itself through decisive, self-sacrificing action. No treasure can so comprehensively care for you as Jesus Christ can. As Tim Keller says, “Every other treasure demands that you die in order to have it. Jesus Christ is the only treasure that died in order to have you.”

Be richly blessed as Jesus more and more becomes your treasure and your very great reward!

Your Talents – God’s Plan

Exodus 25:10-11
10“They shall make an ark of acacia wood. Two cubits and a half shall be its length, a cubit and a half its breadth, and a cubit and a half its height. 11You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside shall you overlay it, and you shall make on it a molding of gold around it.”

Most Christians identify ministry with a church (pastors and ministry directors) and/or organizations that address social ills (i.e. World Vision, Compassion International, etc.). However, the majority of Christians don’t fill positions at churches or nonprofits. Many of them are jewelers, entrepreneurs, carpenters, musicians, landscapers, and bankers. How do their jobs serve the glory of God? And I’m not just talking about sharing the Gospel with co-workers, I’m talking about the work itself.

This passage from Exodus about the construction of the ark is a perfect example. Allow your imagination to conjure up the image of a Middle-Eastern man, I’ll call him Michael. He is the most skilled goldsmith in Israel at the time Moses is leading the people. Once Moses gets the specs for the ark, he summons Michael to build it according to the description God has given. Michael pours all of his skill and effort into the ark because He understands that God’s presence will sit on the mercy seat which He is fashioning.

Do you think Michael realized that God had been preparing him for this task well before he was ever aware? God had orchestrated all of Michael’s tasks as a goldsmith to build up his skill so that he could build this ark which would symbolize God’s holy presence among the people of Israel and would serve as preparation for humanity’s Savior. Michael’s ability to work with gold was an important element in God’s plan to save the world.

Question: do you feel like your skills and talents are worthless for ministry? Remember that God’s plan is to use your talents for His glory. Be looking and searching for ways to bring God glory and to bless others. More importantly, know that you “are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

May God open many doors for you to use your talents to draw people to the Savior and to bring Him glory!

-Dustin

God – Gracious in the Old Testament?

2 Chronicles 30:18-20
18For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, ‘May the good LORD pardon everyone 19who sets his heart to seek God, the LORD, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.’ 20And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.”

One of the popular criticisms that folks today make of the Old Testament is that it depicts a cruel God who rules with an iron fist. This is, of course, contrasted with the New Testament “fluffy lamb” – namely Jesus – who loves everyone. There are even “Christians” who have sought to throw the OT out and hang on to just the NT documents (consider the “German Christians” who went apostate in Germany during Hitler’s rise to power).

This view, which lacks cohesion between both testaments, cannot be held onto when one actually reads the Bible. This passage is a perfect example.

Context
Here in 2 Chronicles 30 King Hezekiah has taken over the monarchy of the southern kingdom, Judah. At this point in Israel’s history, the nation has been split in two – Israel up north and Judah down south. In a daring move, Hezekiah invites not only people from his kingdom to participate in the reinstating of the Passover, but also the people of the northern kingdom! Many of them, unfortunately, “scorned and mocked” Hezekiah’s invitation (v. 10b). Still it was not a total loss, some did respond and made the trek to Jerusalem in order to commit their hearts back to the LORD.

Those who did make the journey must have realized their desperate need to be restored to their true God. The northern kingdom had been exceedingly unfaithful to Him and had been experiencing severe oppression by the nation of Assyria. Those who made it to Jerusalem had escaped this oppression. In their faithlessness, they had not been keeping up with ceremonial law and were thus considered unclean which would deem them unfit to participate in the Passover observance and celebration.

God’s Grace Apart from Works
The beautiful part of this passage comes right after Hezekiah’s prayer where the chronicler writes, “And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people.” The king knew these Israelites were unfit to be restored to God because of their failure to observe the law. He also knew that their only hope of restoration would be through God’s cleansing, not their own works. In order to show His lovingkindness, God grants Hezekiah’s request. The LORD effectively teaches Israel (and us) that the heart is of supreme importance to God. He knows that if the heart is changed, the actions will follow.

Preparing the Way for the True Cleanser
Not only does this passage show us God’s character (he delights to pardon), but it prepares the way for the One who would once and for all accomplish mankind’s cleansing. Jesus’ coming and His substitution for sinners would show us decisively that God “desires mercy and not sacrifice” (see Hos. 6:6 and Mt. 9:13). He knows our inability to uphold the standards which He laid out in the law. And so, He has made the sacrifice in order that we may obtain His mercy. He has provided the law-abider to stand in place of the law-breakers. This is the grace we must put all of our trust in if we wish to be changed in the heart and be restored to our Maker.

If you’re a skeptic who thinks God is some bully in the sky, won’t you reconsider? The just judgment which He has rendered against humans, He has bore in Himself so that we can be saved.

If you know Christ already, I pray that you would sink deeper into His love by seeing more and more, all the He has done for you! He has proved over and over His love for you. Taste it once again and continue to be changed!

May the Lord grant to all of you a greater understanding of His pardoning grace!