Our Riches in Christ
June 3rd, 1956 @ 7:30 PM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Corinthians 8:9
6‑3‑56 7:30 p.m.
Now in our Bible, let us turn to the eighth chapter of the second Corinthian letter, and we shall read together the first nine verses, and the text is the ninth verse. We shall read from the first through the ninth verses in the eighth chapter of the second Corinthian letter. This morning, we came down to that ninth verse in our preaching through the Bible almost eleven years.
In the eleventh year, preaching through the Word of God, we’ve come to the eighth chapter of the second Corinthian letter. Now, let’s all of us read it together – the first nine verses. Do you have it? Second Corinthians, the eighth chapter, the first nine verses. Now, together:
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia:
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves,
Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
And this they did not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
Therefore, as ye abound in everything–in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us–see that ye abound in this grace also.
I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others and to prove the sincerity of your love.
For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.
[2 Corinthians 8:1-9]
And that last sentence is one of the most beautiful and most meaningful in the Bible: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" [2 Corinthians 8:9]. He was, and He became. It’s like John 1:1: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God . . ." And then further down in that passage: "And the Word became flesh" [John 1:14]. He was, and He became.
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich" – that refers to the preexistent life of our Lord and Savior. His life did not begin in Bethlehem, but He was God of very God: eternal, self‑existent. There never was any time when Jesus was not [John 8:56-58]. Back and back through all the eons of eternity, He was God of very God. He became flesh [John 1:14]. He was God [John 1:1; Titus 2:13; 2 Peter 1:1].
He felt it not a thing to cling to, to hold on to – to be equal with God [Philippians 2:6]. He was God of very God, in the beginning, before the beginning [John 1:2]. Always and always in the eternity of the eternities was our Lord Jesus Christ – preexistent, always living [John 1:18; Hebrews 8:10] – a mystery into which we cannot enter, but this: that God always was and Jesus was God [John 1:1, 10:31-33, 20:26-28].
He was rich. "By Him were all things made that were made" [John 1:3]. In Him do all things consist, hold together [Colossians 1:17]:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creation.
For by Him were all things created that are in heaven, that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created by Him and for Him.
And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.
All things hold together. He was rich. Everything that we see was created by and for the Lord Jesus Christ. When He extended His scepter to the west, when He extended His scepter to the east, as far as the west is west and the east is east, all the glittering universes that are created were created by and for the Lord Jesus Christ [Colossians 1:16]. He was rich. The gold and the silver are His [Haggai 2:8]. The cattle on a thousand hills are His [Psalm 50:10]. The earth and the fullness thereof is His [Psalm 24:1]. And the universe, studded with its stars and its diadem of suns, belongs to Christ. He was rich.
Not only was He God, preexistent God, not only was He creator – all things were made by Him – but He was rich in adoration, in worship. The Lord Jesus Christ, Creator of the angelic orders of heaven, those angels of light – those tenuous figures of love and beauty and worship – all of them were made for and by Him [John 1:3; Colossians 1:16]. And in the morning and in the evening, and in the springtime and in the fall time, and throughout the years of the eternities did they sing their praises to the glory of Christ, the Son of God.
Into those things we can hardly enter. Imagination can run riot, and yet it could hardly be expressed in song, in poetry, in sentence. Language cannot contain it. Heart cannot conceive of it: the illimitable, immeasurable, vast glory and riches of the preexistent Son of God, Christ our Savior, God of very God. But Paul says, "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes, He became poor" [2 Corinthians 8:9]. He became poor. In the second chapter of the Philippian letter, Paul wrote it like this: "For Christ, who, being in the form of God" – in the morphos of God [Philippians 2:6]. Whatever God’s form is, Christ was that:
He, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be held onto to be equal with God,
But poured Himself out and was made in fashion as a man.
And being found as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
In 1 Timothy 3:, Paul spake of that like this: "Great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifest in the flesh" – incarnate, became a babe at Bethlehem. God – God was manifest in the flesh. God became incarnate in the Babe in Bethlehem. "Great is the mystery of godliness: God was incarnate in the flesh. God was justified in the Spirit. He was seen of angels. He was preached unto the Gentiles. He was believed on in the world. He was received up into glory" [1 Timothy 3:16]. Great is the mystery of godliness.
God was manifest in the flesh: seen of angels, seen of angels [1 Timothy 3:16]! And in the first chapter of the letter of Simon Peter, Peter says, "And of these things" – the incarnation of Christ – "the angels desire to look into" [1 Peter 1:12]. What those apostles are saying is this: in that colossal, unbelievable, phenomenal thing of God being wrapped in flesh and in mortal clay, the angels watched it. The angels looked upon it. The angels desired to probe into it. It was a mystery beyond anything that they had ever dreamed or thought for: the Son of God – the Prince of Glory, God of very God – laying aside His girdle of stars, laying aside His diadem of gold, laying aside His beautiful sandals of silver and glory, laying it all aside, taking from His shoulders the purple of the universe and became a man [Philippians 2:6-8]. And the angels looked upon it and desired to probe into it [1 Peter 1:12].
And as He came down into this world, they followed Him, and they hung out a new star in honor of the – of the incomparable glorious occasion, and they sang a new song [Luke 2:8-14]. The Infinite had become an infant. God Almighty had become a little babe entrusted into the loving care of a humble peasant girl [Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-38, 2:4-7].
Where was He born? When He was made poor, when He became poor, where was He born? Oh, He should have been born in Caesar’s palace! He should have been found in Herod’s household. His cradle surely is made out of gold. Surely His pillows are made of down. Surely all of habiliments, of riches, and of royalty are surrounding Him. Nay. Nay. When He was born, He was born in the arms of a peasant woman. When He was cradled, His cradle was a manger filled with hay, and His companions were the stolid ox and the ass [Luke 2:7, 12].
Edersheim [Alfred Edersheim, 1825-1889], in the second book and the fifth chapter, has an entire chapter of the Jewish expectation of the Messiah [The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, by Alfred Edersheim, 1883]. Oh, what things did they think about how He should be born and how He should come into the world! Somehow, all of us have the persuasion that just common humanity, just ordinary flesh, is too cheap and too ordinary for the great manifestation of the works and presence of Almighty God. They tried to conjure up just marvelous things that were to surround the birth of the Messiah when He should come.
And we are still at that same aberration today. Common humanity is not enough for Jesus. Just common clay is not enough for Him to assume, so they manufacture all kinds of legends and myths and fancies saying He could not be born of an ordinary woman. She had to be born of an immaculate conception. Just a woman, just an ordinary woman, could never give birth to the Son of God; so they manufacture the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception – that she herself was born in an angelic and peculiar and celestial and heavenly way, free from the pain of sin and the depravity that comes to humanity from Adam. And then they manufacture all kinds of things about the Assumption of Mary, the bodily Assumption of the mother of God, and all kinds of things to set her apart from common humanity. Is that the Bible? Is that the Book of God? Is that the revelation of the Lord? No.
One of the glories of the revelation of God is this: the tremendous and unbelievable value and pricelessness that God places upon just plain, ordinary humanity – poor people, ordinary people, common folks like we are today! When the Lord Jesus came down into this world, He came down among the poor. When He assumed flesh, it was the flesh of the poor, and when He was born, He was born and laid in the arms of a peasant girl. And God Himself was nurtured and loved and cared for under the watchful eyes of a virgin named Mary [Matthew 1:18-25; Luke 1:26-35], a peasant girl from a despised town named Galilee [Luke 1:26, 2:4-5; John 7:41, 52]. He became poor.
And for the years of His life as He grew up, He was subject unto His parents [Luke 2:51]. How long? Till He was sixteen? Till He was eighteen? Till He was twenty? Till He was twenty‑five? How long was He subject unto His parents? The Son of God, when He came into this world, was subject unto His parents for thirty years – for thirty years. He came to bear the sins of the world with the greatest ministry of all history lying ahead for Him, yet He stayed in His home for thirty years [Luke 3:23] – The Son of God subject, the Bible says, unto His parents [Luke 2:51].
Apparently, as He grew older, Joseph died for he disappears from the story and the Lord Jesus seemingly took upon Himself the responsibility for the care of the family – His mother and His brothers and His sisters. And when He died, He was careful on the cross to make provision for His mother that she might have a home after He was gone [John 19:26-27]. And the Bible says, "And from that moment, John took her, the mother of Jesus, to his own home" [John 19:27].
He assumed the responsibility of a family. What does that mean? It meant that He worked. It meant that He toiled. He was poor. He was poor. Though rich, He became poor, and He worked with His hands. He that created the sun and the stars, He worked with His hands and made things out of wood [Mark 6:3]: built a house, repaired furniture, made yoke for oxen. He that set the stars in their courses and made them shine in the skies [Genesis 1:17; Psalm 8:3; Isaiah 40:26], He worked with His hands – with a hammer, with a chisel, with the – with the tools of an ordinary laboring man: Christ, the Son of God; God of very God.
And His life – and His life – was one of humility and of poverty, of need and of want. He who hath made possible all of the harvests of the world [Luke 9:12-17; John 6:1-14], He was then hungered [Matthew 4:2; Mark 11:12]. He that set the strains of the deep in the depths of the oceans [Genesis 1:9-10; Job 38:10-11; Psalm 33:7; Proverbs 8:29], He asked, drank a cup of water from a despised Samaritan woman [John 4:7]. He who created the shafts of light [Genesis 1:3-5; Isaiah 45:7; 2 Corinthians 4:6] and the – and the tremendous velocity of the movement of these spheres and the very course of the winds [Mark 4:37-39], He walked [John 1:36]. He never rode a chariot. He never rode a horse. He walked over the finished shores of Galilee. He walked. "And He became subject unto death, even the death of the cross" [Philippians 2:8].
Oh, the shame [Hebrews 12:2], the despicableness, the scorn, the blasphemy, the cursing, the spitting [Matthew 27:30; Mark 15:19; Luke 18:32], the contumely, the ignominy: Christ – rich, became poor and subject Himself unto the death of a felon [Isaiah 53:12], unto the death of the malefactor, unto the death of a criminal [Isaiah 53:9], unto the death of a traitor and an outcast, a seditionist, and a murderer!
Christ: rich, became poor; took upon Himself a ministry of washing the disciples’ feet, girded about with a towel [John 13:1-20]; took upon Himself all of the indignities to which humanity could subject one who is bearing the sins of many [Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 2:24]. Eyes that He had created, eyes to whom He had given sight, now looked upon Him with despicable scorn [John 1:11]. Tongues to which He had given utterance now blasphemed Him and cursed Him to His face [John 10:31-33]. Men that He had made in His own image [Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6], in the image of God, rose up and smote Him and nailed Him to the tree [Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24; John 19:23; Acts 2:23; Galatians 3:13].
He was rich, yet He became poor, and He died like a criminal dies [Matthew 27:38, 44; Mark 15:27, 32; Luke 23:33], like a malefactor dies, like a seditionist dies, like a murderer dies; and He died nailed to the cross. He died on a hill called the Hill of a Skull [Matthew 27:33; Mark 15:22; Luke 23:33; John 19:17] where dead people were cast out, where criminals were crucified, covered with skulls. He was rich. He became poor and became subject unto death, even the death of the cross [Philippians 2:8].
For why? "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" [2 Corinthians 8:9]. He divested Himself of all of the grandeur and glory of God Himself that He might clothe us with the garments of life, that we might inherit all the rich treasures of heaven [Philippians 2:5-8]. He did it for your sakes. "Yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" [2 Corinthians 8:9]. He did it for your sakes.
When John the Baptist came preaching and calling to repentance, He went down to the Jordan River and was baptized by John in the Jordan [Matthew 3:1-17; Mark 1:1-13; Luke 3:1-22; John 1:19-34]. That is, He didn’t hold Himself aloof from John. He didn’t hold Himself aloof from the great preaching of the kingdom of God like some of us do – like some of us here tonight do. The preacher preaches; you don’t come down that aisle. The church pleads; you don’t respond. The Holy Spirit woos and invites; you haven’t come. The message is lifted high. The kingdom of God is at hand. Why don’t you come? He did. He did.
When John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judaea and saying, "Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand," [Matthew 3:2], He heard the call, and He identified himself with the great religious kingdom of God movement of John the Baptist. "And when He came to be baptized, John forbad Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? I’m not worthy to baptize You.’ And Jesus said, ‘Suffer it to be so now, for thus it becometh us to fulfill all of the righteous things God hath ordained for us’" [Matthew 3:13-15]. Will you do that? Will you do that?
When John the Baptist preached, when he baptized in the Jordan River, there the Son of God was. There the Savior of the world was, there the Creator of the heavens was to be baptized at the hands of John the Baptist. He did that for you. He did that for us. That was the great beginning of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ: baptized into the body of Christ, baptized into the fellowship of Jesus. Baptized. He did it for you, for us. He was rich; He became poor [2 Corinthians 8:9]. He was baptized like any other sinner just to identify Himself with the great movement of the kingdom of God.
If there was a man in this earth that could have held himself aloof, Jesus could have. That’s for you to be baptized. That’s for you to confess your sins. That’s for you to follow John the Baptist, not the Lord Jesus. But the Lord Jesus, when John came preaching and calling to repentance, He responded – had nothing to repent of [2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 1:19]. When John the Baptist baptized, He was baptized. Though it was for the remission of sins, He did it for us, for us – the great example for us. He did it for your sakes, and He – and He began His ministry for your sakes.
And He began His ministry. Isaiah, prophesying of Him, said, "He’ll not fail nor be discouraged" [Isaiah 42:4]. He’ll not fail nor be discouraged. Oh, how was He received in His ministry? How is He received today? How do you receive Him? Some of them looked with contumely upon Him, sarcastically refer: "vista, vista, this fellow, this despised Nazarene!" Some of them found all kinds of fault against Him [Matthew 13:54-57; John 6:54-66, 10:31-33].
And you can do that. You can sit out there where you are tonight, and you can think five thousand reasons why it is that you’re not going to come and not going to respond. That’s the devil, and he does it endlessly. He can put in your mind, in your head, in your heart, in your soul, this reason, this reason, this reason: "Why, look at that church full of hypocrites. Why, look at those people, they’re all sinners. Why, look at . . ." – and on and on and on and on and on. And that’s the way they did the Lord Jesus. They found fault with everything that He did [Matthew 11:16-19]. They found every reason to spurn Him and refuse Him. He wasn’t discouraged, and I wonder why He wasn’t.
The reason why is this. He said, "The sower went forth to sow, and some fell on stony ground, and it does; and some fell by the wayside, and it does; and some spring up for a moment, a day’s interest, then it dies away; but some fell on good ground and grew and brought forth an hundredfold unto God" [Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23], and it does today. It does today.
There may be some who pass it by, some who spurn, some who ridicule, some who mock, some who are indifferent, some who turn away. But there’ll always be some who’ll receive it as the very word and salvation of God Himself. He did it for you, for you, for you. And to us who will respond, there is a richness beyond what this poor, lisping, stammering tongue could ever describe [1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 9:15]. He was rich. "For your sakes, He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich" [2 Corinthians 8:9].
"How you mean rich, Preacher? How you mean? I don’t see millionaires all around me here tonight; yet you say we’re rich. What do you mean ‘rich’?" I mean rich in the only riches that could ever ultimately abide and endow – riches that are unfading, that never pass away [Matthew 6:19-20; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 1 Peter 1:3-4, 5:4]. "For all things are yours. Things present, things to come, life, death" [1 Corinthians 3:21-22], all are yours when you’re Christ’s and Christ is God’s. Forgiveness is yours [Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14, 2:13-14]. Justification is yours [Romans 5:1]. Redemption is yours [Galatians 3:13; Revelation 5:9]. All of the promises of God in heaven are yours [2 Corinthians 1:20]. They’re all yours – every one of them. "But, Preacher, I don’t have them." Ah, but we have them in promise. It all depends on this and this alone.
When I have a bill of the United States government – old times, long time ago, it might be a gold certificate. That meant the United States government would give you a ten‑dollar gold piece in exchange for that piece of paper. Now that we’re not on the gold standard – it’s all buried there in Fort Knox – why, they print silver certificates. And I have in my hand a silver certificate – a greenback. What it means is that the United States government says, "You’ll give me that piece of paper, and any day you want it, go to the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas, Texas, and any day you want it, for every promise, that Uncle Sam’s government will give you solid silver." And if I can believe in the United States government, I can take the silver certificates, the greenback, and I do business with it on that basis of the promise of the United States government. Uncle Sam says there’s a ten‑dollar piece of silver that backs up this green piece of paper. I believe it, and go out and trade upon it, and live upon it, and exchange it for the real coin of the realm.
That’s the way you and I can do in the Lord Jesus Christ. I’ve got His promises, and they are as real and as true as if I held the actual thing in my hands. And I can trade upon it, and I can live upon it, and I can build upon it, and I can believe in it and trust it and give my life to it. We’ve got the promises. Bless your heart, if I had another hour, might say some of those promises. But it would take an hour – take a night, take a day – I don’t know how long it woud take if we were just to sit here and listen to this preacher as he describes the glory and the riches of God in Christ Jesus and His promises.
This life and His promise to be with us: "I’ll never leave you, nor forsake you" [Hebrews 13:5]. I’ll go with you to the end of the way, this life [Matthew 28:20]; and in death, I’ll stand by you [Psalm 23:4; Isaiah 43:2]; and in the life that is to come, I am the resurrection to those who die. I am the life," to those who are alive when He comes again. "I am the resurrection and the life . . . For He that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die" [John 11:25-26]. Never. Just trade this old body for a better one [1 Corinthians 15:51-53]. Transfigured. Immortalized [1 Corinthians 15:54]. Glorified [Philippians 3:21].
And then what could I say about heaven and the world that is to come? All are ours in Christ Jesus, a part of the incomparable riches we have in Him. "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty," – through His blood and sufferings, through His cross, through the outpouring of His life – that we in Him might be rich [2 Corinthians 8:9], might be rich: an heir of the king; a joint heir with Jesus Christ [Romans 8:16-17]. All that God has is ours in Him.
Would you take Him tonight? "Preacher, here I am, and here I come." Into that aisle, down here by My side: "By faith, by trust, by believing in Him, here I am, and here I come." Anywhere, somebody you, would you make it tonight? Into the fellowship of His church by letter, by promise of letter, by baptism, or statement – however God should say the word and make the appeal, would you come tonight? "Here I am, Pastor, and here I come." As God shall say this word, shall lay the appeal upon your heart, would you make it now? Would you make it tonight?
This is God’s time, God’s hour. "Behold, now is his accepted time. Now is the day of salvation" [2 Corinthians 6:2]. Would you make it now? Would you make it now? Anywhere in that great balcony around, this vast host of people on this lower floor: "Preacher, not that I understand it all, but I’ll trust God for the rest – not that I’m worthy but that He’s worthy. I’ll look to Him. I’ll trust Him." Would you do it? Would you make it now? Into the aisle, down here to the front, by my side: "Here I come, Preacher, and here I am" while we stand and while we sing.
THE RICHES OF CHRIST
Dr. W. A. Criswell
2 Corinthians 8:9
I. He wasâ€¦He became (John 1:1)
II. He was rich
A. Pre-existent – there never was any time when Jesus was not
B. Creator (John 1:3, Colossians 1:15-17, Haggai 2:8, Psalm 24:1, 50:10)
C. Honor, adoration
III. He became poor(Philippians 2:6-8)
A. How amazed the angels must have been to see the Prince of Glory wrap Himself in mortal clay(1 Timothy 3:10, 16)
1. Hung a new star and sang a new song
B. Born not in Caesar’s palace, but a manger filled with hay, to peasant parents
1. The tremendous value God places upon plain, ordinary humanity
C. He was subject to His parents thirty years
1. Seemingly assumed responsibility of the family; worked with His hands (John 19:27)
D. His life one of humility, poverty, need, want(Philippians 2:8)
1. The shame of the cross
IV. For your sakes
A. Identified Himself with cause of religion(Matthew 3:13-15, 4:17)
B. Never lost faith (Isaiah 42:4, Matthew 13:23)
C. All for us – rich with the true riches (1 Corinthians 3:22)
1. The promises of God(John 11:25)