The Wealth of the Christian
In this post, I will be reflecting on one of this year’s Creation Fest UK messages as well as adding some of my own thoughts. The first message that was given was on the festivals main stage was to a packed out “Big Shed” full of attendees – both Christian and non-Christian – local, national and international.
The message was entitled “The Wealth, Walk and Warfare of the Christian” but focused more on the Wealth that we have in Christ from Ephesians 1. The sermon was given by Brian Brodersen who is the Senior Pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Mesa, California.
Ephesians 1:3–14 (ESV) — 3 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,
here we have the blessings already given to us but they are located in the heavenly places – in the spiritual realm. They are not primarily, nor predominately earthy and material blessings but heavenly and spiritual blessings. Those that confuse spiritual blessings with material blessings simply don’t understand the gospel.
There is a theology that is prevalent and becoming more so – that says that if you are sick or poor it’s because God’s blessing isn’t on you. It’s known as the prosperity gospel: that somehow there is a sin to be repented of and since you haven’t, you have this or that material problem. God wants you to be materially and physically wealthy. What people don’t understand is that the promises of material wealth found in the Old Testament were tied to the land promises given to Israel. One of the errors of Replacement Theology is that it replaces Isreal with the church so that all of the promises to Isreal now are inherited by the church. But the promises of health and wealth were given to Isreal, not the church. If anything, in the Old Testament there is the promise of prosperity to Israel, but in the New Testament there is the promise of adversity to the church.
There is also an important distinction that should be made in these opening verses between the POSITIONAL reality of these blessings and the PRACTICAL reality of them. For example, as believers of Christ, our position in Christ is that of complete and perfect righteousness. This is how God sees us, in Christ: our position is seated in the heavenlies already (Eph 2:6). However, this is not the PRACTICAL reality for any of us! We still struggle with the “old man” and we still struggle with the effects of the brokenness of this world. We still feel very much grounded in this world and on this earth. Practical holiness is the state of journey towards positional holiness. the former, we must engage in and work towards, the latter has already been granted to us by grace through faith.
4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.
Notice that all of these blessings come to us because we are “in him”. We cannot have these blessings without being born again believers of Jesus Christ. And this promise is that we will become holy and blameless. This is a promise that one day we will grasp and anyone who responds to the call of God by faith is chosen to be holy and blameless.
In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
The purpose of predestination is found in this text and in also Romans 8:29:
Romans 8:29 (ESV) — 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
The purpose of predestination is for adoption – that we are conformed into His image and made co-heirs with Christ. So this is a promise not to those who don’t believe but to those who do.
7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight
He has redeemed us through His blood. Jesus said of Himself that:
Mark 10:45 (ESV) — 45 … even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Since Jesus is the ransom for our sins, we are now free from shame and guilt. Paul wrote:
2 Corinthians 5:17 (ESV) — 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Simply, we know the future! He has made us to know the purpose of His will. God has a purpose for each and everyone of us and this is not only linked to the promise of individual “glorification” (Romans 8:29) but also cosmic subjugation. Paul says that everything will one day be untied in Him. It’s the thing that all creation currently groans for:
Romans 8:22 (ESV) — 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Finally, we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit. In modern Greek, the word “guarantee” is the same as a wedding ring. So, Jesus has given us a “wedding ring”, a promise that He will come good and fulfil that which He started.