Right now, my life is changing in a major way. I just found out that I am inheriting millions of dollars. I know, I can hardly believe it either, but it is true. I got the email to prove it!
I have not yet received these funds, but I know they are coming. Just the other day I received a surprise email from the deposed Prince of Nigeria. It seems he has fallen on some hard times, and needs assistance in transporting some of his manifold riches into the United States. I guess my blog must have caught his eye, because I got an email promising me $20 million if I would simply pay some fees and transfer this money into my American bank. It is so exciting! I feel so blessed! I am already debating on what I will do with the money once it arrives.
Some of my friends (naysayers) have cautioned me that this offer is not legit . . . that it is some sort of a scam. But I think they are just jealous that they did not receive the email. After all, if there is one region of the world that is known for its wealth and unrivaled ability to give random people millions of dollars, it would be West Africa. I promise to invite you (and the rest of the naysayers) over for a cookout on my yacht once the check clears. No hard feelings.
Now, I know what you are thinking. SOMEONE has to tell me that I have lost my mind. SOMEONE has to tell me that I have been duped. SOMEONE has to break my enthusiasm and tell me that I have about as much of a chance of inheriting that money as Olaf does of surviving the summer.
I will save you the deliberations. I KNOW this is a scam, and I delete hundreds of requests like this every year from my inbox. I went on a yarn for a few paragraphs just to make a point. Most things that SOUND too good to be true ARE too good to be true. All the “crown prince” wants is my portion of his fees. He never wanted to give me any money, instead he wanted to take money away from me.
Many look at what God has offered the world through Jesus as a similar elaborate hoax. In the Gospel we see that God has promised all spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3) based on the riches that the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, has at His disposal. We have been offered this gift of salvation and blessing in spite of our spiritual deadness, unsavory allegiances, and sinful indulgences (Ephesians 2:1-3). This offer seems too good to be true. Surely our spiritual health is something we must earn through good works. Surely it is (at least in part) our effort that makes us right before God. To think that God would simply credit our account with such riches seems like a spiritual scam to some . . . something that would melt like a snowball under the light of reality. Those who doubt this claim even scoff at Christians’ claims that this is true simply because they have a “letter” from God (the Bible) that confirms it.
Life has made us cynical. Scams all around us have made us not trust the gifts we are offered. Perhaps life has made you view God’s gift in Jesus as a scam or an elaborate spiritual hoax.
If that is the case with you, I want you to stop for a moment and reflect on a different aspect of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Specifically, I want you to reflect on the nature of God Himself:
- In the Nigerian Scam, the deposed prince has never met us, but God has known us since the foundation of the world.
- In the Nigerian Scam, the source of the riches is a nation that struggles with poverty and receives international assistance from other nations, but God has all resources at His disposal and needs assistance from no one.
- In the Nigerian Scam, we must believe an absurd notion that a prince on the run loves and trusts us enough to help him, but God is by nature loving and kind and is not taking anything FROM us in fees, but giving to us freely an abundance of spiritual blessings.
This notion of the Gospel is laid out clearly in Ephesians 2:1-10, a section of Scripture of which John Stott said, “What Paul does in this passage is to paint a vivid contrast between what man is by nature and what he can become by grace.” This passage speaks of the God of the universe blessing us in Christ with blessings we could never earn on our own. Sure, He did send us a letter (the Bible) to tell us about this blessing, but He did far more than that. He sent the Living Word, Jesus Christ, into the world to reveal His love, communicate His identity and plan, die on the cross to make payment for our sins, and resurrect from the dead to offer us life eternal. That is quite a love letter, stamped with His blood.
So, if you are one who views the Gospel of Jesus Christ as a hoax, I want you to take a second look. Behind this message is a loving God who desires to give to you not take from you. This gracious offer by God can be received by you simply by placing your faith in the work of Jesus on the cross. If you will do that, then you too can experience the spiritual riches of life in Christ. The Gospel is not a scam, because God delivers on His promise to save us by grace through faith.
This Sunday (June 1) at Wildwood Community Church, I will be preaching part 3 of the sermon series “Packed” based out of the book of Ephesians. Please join us in either our 9:30 or 10:50 service as we look at these verses this week together.
For more resources related to this study of Ephesians click on the following links:
- Packed – Series Introduction
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 1:3-14 (Study Prompts #3)
- The “In Crowd” (Devotional/Sermon Preview)
- Packed Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #1 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 1:15-23 (Study Prompts #3)
- It’s a Wonderful Christian Life (Devotional)
- Packed #2 Sermon Discussion Questions
- Packed #2 Sermon Audio/Video
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #1)
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #2)
- Eph. 2:1-10 (Study Prompts #3)