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Explaining the Riches

October 16th, 2005

“…according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us…”

(Ephesians 1:7,8)

The church sign read: “THOSE WHO FEAR HIM LACK NOTHING.” It is an exact quotation from Psalm 34:9 (NEB). The longer we view this quote the more curious it becomes. We are certain that “the riches,” of which the New Testament speaks, deserves clarification.

Professor of literature at the University of Warsaw, Jan Kott, said of wealth—“In the Middle Ages the clearest image of wealth was a bag full of golden pieces. Each of them could be weighed in hand. For many centuries wealth meant fields, meadows and woods, flocks of sheep, a castle and villages. Later a ship loaded with pepper, or cloves, or big granaries filled with sacks of wheat, cellars full of wines, stores along the Thames emitting a sour smell of leather and the choking dust of cotton. Riches could be seen, handled and smelt. It was only later that they dematerialized, became a symbol, something abstract. Wealth ceased to be a concrete thing and became a slip of paper with writing on it” (Shakespeare Our Contemporary, Doubleday & Company: garden City, New York, 1964) 5,6. Today, we know that wealth is represented on computers as mere numbers, but numbers nevertheless. So, if riches can be represented without concrete equivalence, why not realize that although the Christian faith is not about material acquisitions, they are still valuable spiritual possessions.

1. Theological “riches” (ploutos) are conditional (Romans 10:12).
2. Theological “riches” (ploutos) are ironical (Proverbs 13:7).
3. Theological “riches” (ploutos) are present and futuristic (Ephesians 1:7,8; 2:7).
4. Theological “riches” (ploutos) are practical and glorious (Ephesians 3:16).

The time has come to realize what we have.

-Robert M. Housby

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