In the last post we saw that Jesus came to make it possible to do good works and thus inherit eternal life.
This is not all Jesus came to do. God’s plan turns out to be much, much greater than just delivering us from the slavery to sin that we read about in Romans 3, Romans 7, and Ephesians 2:1-3. We have seen, though, that delivering us from the power of sin so that we can do good works is at least one major purpose of grace (Tit. 2:11-12), the atonement (Tit. 2:13-14), the new birth (Eph. 2:10), walking in the Spirit (Gal. 6:8-9), and a central purpose of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
Empowering us for good works was extremely important because it is good works that are rewarded with eternal life (Jn. 5:29; Rom. 2:6; Gal. 6:8-9; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 3:4-5; etc.).
This would have been enough. What a grand thing that a human being could obtain immortality through the gift of eternal life!
What God has done in Christ, however, is far greater than merely empowering us to do good works, even as central as works are to New Testament teaching.
The Riches of Christ
In Ephesians 3:8, Paul says that he is preaching “the unfathomable riches of Christ” to the Gentiles (non-Jews). What do these unfathomable riches include?
We are the children of God.
The apostle John expresses this best:
Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called the children of God! (1 Jn. 3:1)
God has made us his children. How does this actually play out?
The first and most important thing is that God gives us his Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul tells that those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God, and that the Spirit bears witness in our spirits that we are his children (Rom. 8:14-16). It is by walking in the Spirit that we fulfill the righteousness of the Law (Rom. 8:4; though we do this apart from the Law–Rom. 3:21), that we do good works (Gal. 6:8-9), that we put to death the deeds of the body (Rom. 8:13), and overcome the lusts of the flesh (Gal. 3:3; 5:16).
Beyond even this, we have unlimited and “bold” access to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). There we find mercy, and we find grace (favor) to help us in times of need.
I like to illustrate this with a friend I had many years ago. She was the niece of a South American dictator. As a result, the dictator would favor her with the best his government could provide in the way of wealth, housing, dress … in other words, all the wealth of his government. She turned it down, however, and left the country because she knew that when his government fell, she would fall with it.
God is not like my friend’s uncle. His Kingdom is everlasting. And from his government we receive “every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ” (Eph. 1:3); in fact, everything we might need for life and godliness (2 Pet. 1:3).
In that same chapter, the apostle Paul prays that our eyes may be opened so that we can see “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints” and “the exceptional greatness of his power to us who believe” (vv. 18-19). The power is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead (v. 20), and the riches of God’s inheritance is described by Paul as so great as to eclipse our present sufferings, not even worthy to be compared to them (Rom. 8:18).
One day we will be raised from the dead and receive new bodies in an event so glorious that the whole creation is waiting breathlessly for that day (Rom. 8:21-23). Until then, he has predestined us to become just like Jesus (Rom. 8:29; 1 Jn. 3:2); he is standing by us so that no one can lay a charge against us or condemn us (Rom. 8:32-34); even tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, or sword will not be able to separate us from the love of Christ; and in fact, we will more than overcome these things (Rom. 8:35-37).
There is even more!
The way of righteousness that the Holy Spirit puts us on includes complete deliverance from “the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet. 1:4; 2:20), so much so that we become partakers of his divine nature (2 Pet 1:4).
We are made a part of his people, which provides protection from confusion and the trickery of men (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Jn. 2:26-27), and joins us like an arm to a body to an everlasting family based in love (1 Cor. 12-13). Those same two chapters let us know that we are empowered with spiritual gifts that we can share together to build the whole family together into the fullness of Jesus Christ (Eph. 4:11-16; 1 Pet. 4:10-11).
Despite all this empowering to do good, he still promises to show us mercy when we stumble or fall (1 Jn. 1:7-2:2), and we become those to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Rom. 4:1-8). On top of this is a promise of continual growth as we follow him (Php. 1:6).
God’s salvation is rich and full. It is a salvation not just of mercy, but of divine favor that transforms and delivers. It even produces an amazing union with God that allows us to be his children in a real way, becoming partakers of his divine nature.
The plan now is to tell you how to obtain these great and precious promises, which means we will cover the Gospel of Christ and how to respond to that Gospel. After that, I will show you a passage of Scripture that describes this foundational description of Christianity in just nine verses!