Summary: Paul wrote to the Corinthians saying that Jesus shed the the riches of His own glory and authority, impoverished Himself to make us rich. Is this wealth real or imagined?
Pastor Dan Little
The Landmark Church
February 19, 2012
Riches! Real or Imagined?
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.
You all know that I follow the news of the work of the Holy Spirit in places around the world where the church is growing and multiplying at astounding rates.
Culturally these places and peoples have very little in common but spiritually there is common thread running through these far flung congregations.
It is this, the unquenchable urge to celebrate and rejoice in the wealth of God’s love, a wealth that they are increasingly aware of by direct experience.
There is this deep sense that they are actually living WITH GOD instead of frantically trying to live FOR GOD.
Go to North East India, go to places in China, Mogolia, places in the Arctic among the Eskimo tribes, go to Cuba, or Guatemala or Africa where God is moving—some places where people live on $1.50 a day, and you will find these people joyfully celebrating the wealth they have found in the grace of God as well as joyfully taking the love of God to others.
They are experiencing God’s love in powerful and real and deeply personal ways. They burn with it. They are immersed in it. They carry the fragrance of His love with them wherever they go.
I inquired of the Lord to know why we experience so little of this wealth in our American churches. Why we have looked upon the spontaneous joy and celebration and love-powered evangelism of this wealth and sought to duplicate it by human force of energy, by ginning up emotions with highpower entertainment.
The Lord showed me two reasons.
1. We neither look for nor expect direct experience of the love of God.
2. We have embraced a shrunken and diminished definition of wealth—a money & stuff & comfort-based definition of wealth.
REASON NO 1.
Lack of direct experience.
When the Holy Spirit through Paul says (2 Cor. 8:9); 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.
That word KNOW means to become progressively acquainted with this love and grace by first hand experience.
Here among the churches that profess to believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, our tendency is to study about the grace and love of God, but we don’t know what it means to be immersed in it to the place where our very lives give off the rich fragrance of God’s grace, love and provision.
What we do in this country is not too dissimilar to launching a great study on water. The study team brings in cases of spring water from many different bottlers. We have samples of tap water from here and there.
We talk about the water.
We analyze the water.
We test it under various conditions.
We even put little test drops on our tongue now and again.
And then after a grueling 14 hour day of study and research when everyone is parched with thirst we leave the water on the lab table and go off into the world in search of something to drink. We don’t drink it. We can’t stop analyzing it long enough to drink it and celebrate what God has provided.
Jesus spoke to this problem when He said to the Scribes and Pharisees John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. ESV
And we too, very often suffer from the paralysis of analysis.
In contrast, when Jesus to averred; “I and my Father are one” He was doing more than talking good theology. He actually lived a life of experiential union with God. And so can we. The work of the Holy Spirit is to teach us to live with God which is quite a different thing than frantically living for God.
The great shame is this, that so have lived for so long without a first hand KNOWING the grace of God that we no longer think it possible or even necessary to become progressively acquainted with the vast wealth that is ours in the grace of God.
Too many people read their Bible thinking that that is what good Christians do. They want to be a good Christian so they read their Bible.
There is a much higher reason—a living reason for reading your Bible.
• You read it in order to become progressively acquainted with Jesus and his infinite love for you,