Generally, there are two kinds of wealth – material and spiritual. The Bible does not exalt material at the expense of spiritual wealth. The Bible also does not reject material wealth and focuses only on spiritual wealth. What we find in the Bible is the emphasis on both, but giving priority on spiritual wealth.
Material wealth from biblical point of view is a result of obedience to God’s covenant, be it personal, domestic, ecclesiastical and political. Whenever we find passages in the Bible emphasizing spiritual wealth over material wealth, it is because material wealth turns into a barrier to spiritual wealth. It should not be.
Someone said that there are four types of people in relation to these two kinds of wealth:
- Those who are materially poor but spiritually wealthy
- Those who are both materially and spiritually poor
- Those who are materially wealthy but spiritually poor, and
- Those who are both materially and spiritually wealthy
Some people tend to despise material wealth. Others despise spiritual wealth. God is the source of both.
If you are materially poor but spiritually wealthy, you can find comfort in times of suffering through the word of God and prayer. Also people who are spiritually poor but materially wealthy can buy house and lot, cars and jewelries to give them pleasure and somehow cover up the feeling of emptiness. Miserable are those who do not have both material and spiritual wealth to comfort them when they are suffering. But of course, our ideal is that our spiritual wealth will also reflect in material wealth as a result of God’s blessing due to our obedience to His covenant.
This afternoon, I would like to focus on spiritual wealth, which I describe as wealth in Christ.
There is a tendency among Christians to give lip service to spiritual wealth. Yes, we believe that we are spiritually wealthy but most of the time we think that such wealth has nothing to do with our present existence. We are glad that we have assurance in the next life, but as far as our life here on earth is concerned, it appears that there is not much comfort we can derive from our spiritual wealth.
This is seen when Christians appear to be unhappy, when they envy the people of this world who are materially wealthy. The fact is understanding our spiritual wealth will impact the quality of our life here on earth and such impact will manifest in our attitude towards education, family, relationships, work and profession, business and money. So if we are confessing that we are spiritually wealthy and yet we have poor study habit, unhappy family, broken relationships, purposeless work and always without money, that indicates a problem somewhere.
In Ephesians 1:3-14, the apostle Paul talks about “spiritual blessings”. For easy comprehension, I use a synonymous phrase to describe this spiritual blessings – wealth in Christ.
The apostle Paul identifies six items that describe our wealth in Jesus. I will just focus on the first three items stated in 1:3-8.
What are these items? What are your spiritual blessings in Christ that you ought to praise God? What are your wealth in Jesus?
I. You should praise God for He CHOSE you, v. 4a
That’s the first item – election. Election is a spiritual blessing. It is your wealth in Christ.
Notice how the word “election” is popularly used today. Election is a common term in politics. Politicians waste so much material wealth for people to elect them. So political election is not free; it is costly.
A poor man has no chance to win in a political election simply because he has no money to spend during his campaign. In many countries, many politicians die during time of election. So political election costs not only money, but also lives to achieve one goal – the quest for power.
It is unlike the election of God. No one needs to die to be elected by God. You also don’t need to pay God for you to be elected by Him.
Notice two biblical truths when God elected you. He chose you before the creation of the world. That is the time of your election. God loves you even before the world has been created.
Notice also another truth – God chose you to be holy and blameless in His sight. This is God’s purpose for choosing you. God did not choose you because you are good and holy. God did not choose you because you are handsome, beautiful, wise powerful and wealthy. God chose you out of His good pleasure to accomplish His purpose in you, and that is to be holy in His sight.
That’s a high calling and a difficult one. On our own, we can be holy in people’s sight, but not in God’s sight. We need the grace of God continually to be holy in His sight. We need the continuous cleansing of Jesus’ blood for us to be blameless in the sight of God.
II. You should praise God for He ADOPTED you, vs.4b-6
Predestination is a difficult word. It means that God has already decreed our destiny prior to our coming into this world. And the immediate goal of God’s predestination is for us “to be adopted as His sons through Christ.” This is our second wealth – adoption.
Illustration: What do you think would be the feeling of an orphan adopted by the richest family on earth, the Rotschild?
Do you still remember the story of Choi, Sung-bong, the boy that lived on street for ten years since he was five? Imagine how precious would it be for Choi, Sung-bong to have a loving family to adopt him? If we can put a price on it, how much would it cost for a boy like Choi, Sung-bong to be adopted by a loving family?…It’s priceless!
Our adoption too is priceless. You cannot put a tag price on it. Imagine that without Christ, we are like orphans in this world. Satan as our natural father hates us. The world of sin and death is the old world where we all live in. It is full of misery and pain. But when God adopted us, He did not only adopt us in a loving family, but in a very wealthy family. Amen!
III. You should praise God for He REDEEMED you, vs. 7-8
Redemption is our third wealth in Christ.
In Huge Debt
Have you experienced being in huge debt and your creditor is threatening to sue you unless you do something to pay him? That’s a terrible experience that nobody wants to be in. But there are people for many reasons have sank into such situation.
We too owe God a lot due to our sins. And the only payment for our sins is death. But instead of us dying, God sent His Son to pay our debt by dying on the cross instead of us. The price that Jesus paid to redeem us is His life. It is through His blood that we have been redeemed from our debts.
The essence of our redemption is the “forgiveness of sins”.
I read a story of one great but unforgotten scientist. His name is Nikola Tesla. In 1875, Tesla enrolled at Austrian Polytechnic in Graz, Austria under scholarship. During his first year, Tesla excelled and got the highest grades. However, his father did not appreciate his accomplishment. On his second year, Tesla had a conflict with his professor. The year ended with Tesla losing his scholarship and became addicted to gambling. He also played billiards. On his third year, perhaps due to his gambling addiction, he took an examination unprepared. He failed and never graduated from the university. In December 1878, Tesla left Graz and severed all relations with his family to hide the fact that he dropped out of school. Later, Nikola suffered a nervous breakdown.
We do not know exactly what caused Tesla’s nervous breakdown. Perhaps, it’s a combination of emotions – bitterness towards his father, anger towards his professor, frustration with himself and guilty feeling for his addiction and disappointing his family for dropping out of school.
We are all familiar with such feeling. Imagine a person who committed a great crime thinking that his crime cannot be forgiven. Perhaps, it’s adultery, theft or murder. The conscience of such person is always bothered. It is always restless not until he finds an assurance that all his sins were forgiven.
That is why King David said, “Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit” (Psalm 32:1-2).
Indeed, a person who experienced the forgiveness of sins is blessed for he received a kind of wealth that is priceless! Amen!
As a child of God, you are wealthy simply because you have been elected, adopted and redeemed by God. Each of this treasure is priceless. You did nothing to earth this wealth. Your proper response to God should be one of praise and adoration. Amen!
Concluding Illustration: Last Will and Testament
I, _____________________________________ of __________________________________________________ declared that this is my Last Will and Testament.
I revoke all prior wills.
I give my real property, which was my residence at the time of my death, together with my insurance on such real property to _______________________.
I give also my personal automobile, household goods, furnishings, tools, jewelry, clothing and tangible articles to ________________
On this _____ day of _____________, in the _______________________________, I hereby sign this document and declare it to be my Last Will and Testament.
Jesus has also given His Church His Last Will and Testament. All His wealth are now owned by the Church. He signed it not with pen, but with His own blood when He gave His life on the cross for His Bride. You and I are that Bride. Amen!