by Spiros ZodhiatesWealth That Can Never Be Lost
"I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge" (1 Cor. 1:4,5).
Riches have wings," said the poet Cowper. And that is more truth than fiction, as many investors have discovered! There are two basic differences between material and spiritual riches. Things satisfy us to a limited extent. They enable us to satisfy some of our desires. One reason man can never be fully satisfied by material things is that his appetite for them grows a good deal faster than the supply. Man can never have enough money, it seems. When he sets a goal, he will automatically set it higher as soon as he attains that goal.
But this is not true of the treasures that God gives us. They grow in proportion to the growth of our power of apprehending them. The more we take of them and use them, the more we are able to take of them. When money is spent, it is gone; but spiritual wealth is in greater supply than before we began to spend it. The more we have, the more we may have; the more we desire, the more we possess; and the more we use, the richer we become.
And here is another difference: These riches that Christ gives us, if we will only take them by faith, are inseparable from us. The more money a man makes in this world the more trouble he has to know what to do with it, but here is wealth that cannot be parted from us and so brings with it no anxiety. Our riches in Christ need not be left behind at death, as our worldly wealth must.
In the second century, a Christian was brought before a pagan ruler and told to renounce his faith.
"If you don't do it, I will banish you," threatened the king.
The man smiled and answered, "You can not banish me from Christ, for He says ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.' " To which the king angrily retorted, "Then I will confiscate your property and take all your possessions."
Again the man smiled and said, "My treasures are all laid up on high; you cannot get them." The king became furious and shouted, "I will kill you!"
"Why," the man answered, "I have been dead forty years; I have been dead with Christ, dead to the world, and my life is hidden with Christ in God, and you cannot touch it."
Yes, we who are in Christ are permanently enriched. This distinctive quality of permanence is borne out by the tense of the verb eploutísthete, "ye were enriched." It is in the first aorist passive, indicating that this enrichment was effected at a definite time in the past and is final as well as continuing. This is the old causative verb from ploútos, "wealth," common in Attic writers, which was dropped out for centuries and later reappeared in the Septuagint. In the New Testament it appears only three times (1 Cor. 1:5, 2 Cor. 6:10, 11) and is used by Paul alone.
As recipients of God's grace, we cannot become poor in the way that a person can who stands the chance of losing material wealth. The passive verb "were enriched" indicates that what we are as believers is all due to Christ. When we are in Him, we are in the family, "an heir of God through Christ" (Gal. 4:7). Is there a greater privilege, a greater enrichment, than being children of Him by whom all things were created and all things consist? A true sense of values should lead each of us to prefer that above all else.
When a certain wealthy man died, his will could not be found. Since his wife and only son had preceded him in death, his possessions were sold at auction. Everything was disposed of except a picture of the son. Nobody seemed to want it, until an elderly woman approached and pleaded with the auctioneer to let her have it for the few pennies in her possession. When he gave her the picture, she hugged it to her heart because she had been the son's nurse in his infancy and boyhood days.
Attached to the back of the painting she discovered an envelope addressed to an attorney. Taking it to him, she was astonished to hear him exclaim, "Woman, you have a fortune! This is the man's will, and in it he has left a large sum of money to anyone who loved his son enough to buy the picture!"
This is an illustration of what Paul meant when he wrote the Corinthian believers that the moment they stepped into the family of God through faith in Christ, they were enriched in everything. The moment a person accepts Christ, he acquires a spiritual nature that he did not have before. "Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet. 1:4). He is transferred from the devil's family to the family of God. "For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus" (Gal. 3:26). The debt for sin has been paid through the atoning death of Christ upon the cross. And, sad to say, the man who is in hell today is there because he is paying for his own sins, not having availed himself of God's offer of pardon through Christ.