Today’s post is Part 2 of Oliver W. Price’s article, “Your Resurrection Riches.” Part 1 can be read Here.
Understanding my inherited Resurrection Riches relieves me in the face of life’s strains, stresses, and anxieties. It’s wonderful to be in this world as a son of God. Sometimes I do wonder, however, how well a weak fellow like me can represent the throne of heaven on earth. How can I carry out my role as God’s son and ambassador? I’m afraid I’ll fail.
Here’s where I’ve had to discover the second element of this optimistic faith. I’ve had to find a new rest in His love.
I knew God loved me enough to bring me into His family. But does He love me enough to bring me up? Any parent will tell you it takes a lot more love to bring a child up than it does to bring him forth. I’ve discovered God’s love is enough to bring me to maturity.
I needed to know God’s love in a deeper way after I returned from the mission field. After a hot battle with fellow missionaries, I had come home crushed, defeated, feeling like a failure.
“Has the Devil whispered to you that God is through with you?” W.E. Hawkins gently probed. Exactly. I thought I would never preach again. I had given up on myself. I had no idea that the word of the Lord would come to me the second time as it did to Jonah.
It was here I began to know how large the persevering love of God really is. This is the subject of Paul’s second prayer in Ephesians 3:14-21. (I’ve prayed this one for myself, too.)
This prayer called me to open my heart to the full length, breadth, depth, and height of Christ’s love. I needed this. You see, I was so disappointed with myself that I found it almost impossible to believe that Christ loved me as a stumbling, failing Christian.
A story I read illustrates the state I was in. A little boy was stricken with a serious illness back in the days when hospitals were rare. His mother placed him in a room at home apart from the rest of the family to prevent the spread of the disease.
Faithfully she nursed him day by day. The fever, however, left the lad depressed. He finally voiced the fear that his mother might give up on him and leave him to die.
“Son,” she said, taking him gently in her arms, “if your disease did not prevent me from coming to your side when you first became ill, it will never cause me to leave you or forsake you.”
I discovered that Christ’s love for me has this same dimension – and much more.
In this prayer, Paul seeks deep roots and strong foundations in love (Ephesians. 3:17). Once I believed Christ still loved me as much as He ever did, I was on my feet again. But now my roots in love ran a lot deeper. Such love staggers my mind. It surpasses knowledge.
Why do you need to know this love to be filled with all the fullness of God (Ephesians 3:19)? Because only when you are confident of His love can you afford to be completely honest about yourself. And God is fully at home only in the man who is honest about himself.
God has the persevering love necessary to cleanse us, perfect us and fill us with Himself. He has taken on this responsibility. The prayer closes with a tribute to His ability to accomplish this (Ephesians 3:20-21).
I think this is what Peter discovered after his great failure. Jesus gave him a very personal invitation to come meet with Him after the resurrection. “Go tell my disciples and Peter,” He said. Why single out Peter? Because he needed to know that He still belonged. The Lord had not given up on him.
To know this assures you that you are not “on probation.” It leads to the restfulness of spirit that marks real Christian living. You’re confident of where you stand with God even if you fail.
This confidence will enable you to assume a new responsibility in life. The responsibility to behave like a real son of God. You are a beloved son of God, so act like one.
I desperately needed this on the mission field. There was a need for a lot of “foot washing” among us missionaries. We offended one another with all manner of bitter, harsh words.
But no one would confess that he had done anything wrong. We were all jealously guarding our reputation for being very “spiritual.” We thought we were far too spiritual to ever be so wrong.
Consequently, we exploded with charges and counter-charges. And no one stooped down to confess his sin to a brother missionary or ask his forgiveness. We went to save the heathen, but there was no one to save us!
This sort of thing happens in Christian homes, churches and mission societies all too often. It happened when Jesus was with His disciples.
The disciples needed to have their feet washed. But whoever did it would have to take the place of a servant. Washing dirty feet is bad enough. But whose reputation for spirituality is secure enough to stoop down as the servant of all?
John 13:3 gives this significant insight into the Savior’s confidence:
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God… began to wash His disciples’ feet.”
Jesus knew very well where He stood with the Father. He didn’t have to jealously guard His reputation for being spiritual. He was free to take the place of the sinner and the servant.
Many arguments between Christians are never healed because no one is humble enough to make the first move. Who will break the ice and say, “I know I was wrong. Will you forgive me?”
As a young married man, I tried to go to sleep without patching up an argument with my wife. I laid there stiff as a board, quiet as a mouse. I wanted her to understand that my conscience was perfectly clear! It wasn’t my fault.
Finally, she poked me in the ribs and said, “Are you sleeping or pretending?” MY mask fell off. We confessed our faults to one another. Forgave. Wept. And then slept soundly.
My wife could break the ice because she was more secure than I was. You have to be secure in His love to confess you are a sinner and, as a servant, seek to restore your neighbor.
Christ was not a sinner, but He was willing to take the sinner’s place. The only time He ever described His own character was when He said, “I am meek and lowly in heart.” That means he took the position of a sinner and a servant.
He promised that, if we will take this position and responsibility, we will find rest deep down inside (Matthew 11:28-30). Paul marks humility and meekness as the leading characteristics of a person who wants to live in a manner that really matches our claim to be sons of God (Ephesians 4:1-3).
The confidence that we really are sons of God and that all the wealth of God actually is ours grows and becomes stronger as we accept this responsibility by faith.
We are sons of the Almighty by faith, not by sight. Some folks say if we’re really sons of God we should all be driving Cadillacs. They forget that our outward circumstances may not always reflect our royal status. We are,
“…as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” (2 Corinthians 6:10)
I think W.E. Hawkins saw this. That’s why an old, worn-out hat didn’t dampen his spirit like it did mine.
The secret is to know our wealth and strength in the midst of outward poverty and apparent weakness. Jesus lived in poverty, but He was confident His Father would provide an upper room for the last supper.
He seemed to be weak, but when he was arrested He told Peter,
“Put up your sword… I could call an army of angels,”
He died without even owning a tomb for His burial, but a rich man was ready when the need arose.
Our wealth and strength are primarily inward, but it includes the confidence that our Father stands ready to meet all our outward needs.
The reason our wealth is essentially inward and spiritual is because we are spirits who have a body, not bodies who have a spirit. Furthermore, life’s great battles are not against flesh and blood, but against great powers and authorities in the spirit world.
Christ has already conquered the Devil, but He has allowed him to run loose for a while to train us to conquer him, too (Romans 16:20).
The story is told of a Russian teacher who ridiculed the existence of God. Leaning over, he challenged, “If there is a God, let Him send an angel to kick me right now.”
A bold student got up and accepted the challenge.
“What did you mean by that?” The teacher stormed. “You are not worthy to have an angel kick you,” the young Christian replied, “So God sent me to do it instead.”
This young man accepted a challenge to God’s honor which many of us avoid. If we take up this challenge, we will discover how God has prepared us for a new resistance against the Devil.
By His grace, we can get beyond our battle with selfishness so we are free to fight the Lord’s battle with Satan. We should reach the point where our prime concern is with the way our God is dishonored in this world.
But many believers are blind to the challenge. It was that way in Israel in David’s day.
A heathen giant defied the armies of the living God. If he beat them, he’d defeat their God. Yet, no one in the whole camp seemed to care nor did they realize that God gives special power and protection for those who march at His command.
But a young boy, too young to join the army, was there that day. He saw what this meant to God. No heathen should get away with such an insult against the Almighty.
So, David accepted the challenge. Protected only by the name of the Lord. Armed only with a little slingshot and the power of the Lord.
But that was enough. One little stone brought down the giant. All because a young man understood the purpose and power of his relationship with God.
We’ve lost this power today. It’s as rare in the church now as it was in the army of Israel in that day. How can we put on the whole armor of God today and be strong in the power of His might (Ephesians 6:10-20)?
To put on the armor of God means to be clothed with Christ in a special sense. It is like a soldier putting on his uniform. The day he dons his uniform, the soldier commits himself to fight his country’s battles. He will march at their orders. He will fight for their cause.
The Christian puts on the armor when he commits himself to a life of obedience because he is concerned for the honor of God. Whatever he does will then be done ” in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Colossians 3:17). Goliath strode forth with sword and shield, but David went in the name of the Lord (I Samuel 17:45).
A believer who is thus committed to obedience will discover the power of delegated authority. The principle is quite simple. A soldier on duty, carrying out orders, has all the power of his commander back of him.
A frail little police officer can stop the traffic on a busy street with an uplifted hand. They have no power of their own. But those drivers recognize that the officer speaks with all the power of the government.
We need this power today in the church and in the Christian home. For lack of it, the church and the home are backing down when they desperately need to stand.
I lost control of my oldest son when he was in high school. But I discovered where I had lost my power over him. My hot temper had robbed me of moral weight and authority. I confessed my sin and asked his forgiveness.
God taught me to first rule my own spirit, then rule his. Slowly I watched God break his rebellious attitude. Today, he is serving the Lord.
I have seen the power of God in church discipline. I had to go to a man who fell into sin. He sassed me and threatened to leave the church.
“You can leave if you like. I’m not begging you to stay,” I quietly replied, “but I can tell you one thing. The God of Jonah will follow you and finish the job of discipline. It’ll be easier for you to take the medicine the elders of your church have prescribed for you.” He apologized and agreed he wanted to make matters right before the church.
The battle has already been won for us. Let’s take our stand and claim it!
Part 1 of this article can be found here: Your Resurrection Riches. This article was originally published in Moody Magazine.
Copyright 2018 Bible Prayer Fellowship, Oliver W. Price