Does five-dollar-per-gallon gasoline have you rethinking your daily commute to work or your summer vacation? Does walking into a grocery store make you lose your appetite? Has the price of home furnishings given you pause about replacing that worn out recliner? Of course, the church is never guaranteed deliverance from economic hardship in this life. But as believers, we have access to infinite riches from the bank of heaven. Consider this wealth if you will.
“The riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering” (Rom. 2:4, KJV; cf. “kindness and tolerance and patience” NASB). The text speaks of these three riches as that which “leads you to repentance” (v. 4). It is a reminder that God provides a universal goodness to all mankind, providing all with life because “in Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). It is His goodness in general that offers the most poverty-stricken pagan the view of a glorious sunrise or radiant sunset more breathtaking than the greatest masterpiece of a Michelangelo or a Rembrandt, that puts more beauty and symmetry in a weed like Queen Anne’s lace than can be found in the Parthenon or the Acropolis. The riches of His goodness provide the beauty and succulence of a kiwi fruit, the mouthwatering crispness of an apple, and the juiciness of sweetcorn. But for the goodness of God to all mankind, the universe might have been painted only in varying shades of grey and our only food might have all tasted like sawdust. The goodness of God reveals a universe so vast yet ordered that it can be explained only by supernatural creation. Yet as men enjoy the riches of God’s goodness while denying His creation and rejecting His redemption, He waits with “tolerance and patience,” not striking them dead but providing “time to repent” (Rev. 2:21).
“The riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). Have you received the riches of His grace? Are you familiar with the next verse (v. 8)? Paul announces that it was rich grace “which He lavished on us”! Space does not permit any significant elaboration on this wealth that God provides specifically to believers. His goodness He pours out, to one degree or another, on all men. But His grace He reserves for those who are to become blood-bought children of God through faith. Read the first two chapters of Ephesians to get a bird’s eye view of the riches of His grace. In the meantime, consider the fact that grace delivers us from hell and eternal death, cleanses us from sin, gives us a new, holy nature, imparts to us the Holy Spirit of God never to leave or forsake us, brings us into God’s family, makes us “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Then there are the peace, joy, and comfort of the Spirit, the recognizable fellowship and communion with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ, the assurance that heaven is real and our eternal home, and the promise that Christ might return at any moment, delivering us from physical death and catching us away to be with Him forever. As lavish as the word lavish is, it is a poverty-stricken expression for describing the infinite riches of the grace of God that inundates believers.
“The riches of His glory” (Rom. 9:23). Can anything surpass the riches already mentioned? Perhaps not. But consider that God’s rich goodness which opens the door for His rich grace results in rich glory. Glory is that which properly and exclusively belongs to God alone as the expression and manifestation of all His attributes. It is His gracious will “to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom. 9:23). In other words, not only does God’s grace enable us to see God in all His glory and to fellowship with Him in glory, but it also empowers us to share in His glory. Christ “is not ashamed to call them [believers] brethren” (Heb. 2:11) because of the sanctifying work of redemption that provides for us the very holiness of God. Jesus Christ acknowledged this truth in His High Priestly prayer offered just before He went to the cross: “The glory which You [the Father] have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one” (John 17:22). We share eternally in the very glory of God.
Now, what was I worried about and what did you fear?
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