The wealth of the Father is the Father.
You will remember that in the preceding, we began by looking at my request before God for the treasure of holiness. In the process, we got trapped into figuring out why this heart of ours (at least of mine) is so prone to wander and so eager to leave the God we claim to love. We then went on to discuss why we have this burning desire to establish a freedom from God instead of pursuing a freedom for God. Often it is because of our inability to understand that love arises from the command. In those moments of flight, even from Eden, freedom from God is all we can think about. We cannot conceive of a freedom for God.
Having talked about the desire, now let us talk about the request I made. I asked God for holiness, righteousness or sanctification. Why did I do this? I did this because, like every prodigal son, I understand that freedom without power (potential) is meaningless. Every child knows this. Little children with all seriousness, in a manner funny to adults, will often threaten to run away. Some of them even do run away ... and then hopefully have the grace to defiantly slink back home when they’re hungry for lunch. Since we were babies, we have always asserted our independence from our parents and desire freedom from them. Yet we quickly learn that “freedom”, without the power to remain free, is useless.
Besides wanting the power to remain free from the Father, why does the prodigal always desire the wealth of the Father? Oddly enough, it is because all his life, this prodigal son has only had one image to look up to: his Father. Therefore, the prodigal son mistakenly sees the Father and His Wealth as two different things and thinks that if he can have the Father’s wealth, then he can begin to become like the Father (sicut deus). He wants to emulate the father away from the father. He wants to be his own man but he has only been a child and therefore, he wants the freedom and power (wealth) to become a man and shape himself into the image of his Father.
So somewhere in my heart, I desire to be free from God even though, from the beginning, God had already created me with this freedom from Himself. Yet I also understand that even with freedom from God, to truly navigate this world, I must possess the power to be free from God. I want the power (and this is where the madness becomes visible) to shape and fashion myself into the image of the God ... Who already made me in His Image! Now others may think that money will be enough but you will soon see the depths of my foolishness. The first treasure I hoped to take with me in my flight from Him is righteousness. At this point, let us assume that God has answered my prayer. He has given me my inheritance of righteousness
The Wealth Of The Father
When we say, that God has wealth, we do include physical wealth. I mean He made the entire universe. He has called Himself the owner of cattle on a thousand hills. Although today this analogy may be somewhat lost on our way of thinking, consider how much money someone would have if they were the largest provider of meat, fertilizer and wool in the whole world. Yet, if a son or daughter were to go before God and only ask for all of God’s “money”, then he or she would only be asking for the least of God’s treasure. Money in many ways is like manna
Yet God who made the physical is Spirit. Therefore, He also possesses Spiritual wealth. Spiritual wealth is different from physical wealth. Physical wealth is subject to the laws of time and space. Spiritual wealth is subject only to the laws of eternity. Physical wealth is visible and tangible. Spiritual wealth is invisible and intangible. Physical wealth, when possessed according to the laws of God, can never possess you. Spiritual wealth, on the other hand, is like love: it can only be possessed as much as it possesses you. Now there are many spiritual gifts
Again, you will find me here being something of a word activist. I am interested in finding and saving words that have suffered abuse under the tyranny of man for many years. And few words have suffered as much as "righteousness”. What is righteousness? What does it mean and why is it so important? Well just look around you. The temporary success of every nation is directly dependent on how well they can establish the rule of law and a culture of justice and fairness. In the absence of these things, wealth and power will concentrate in the hands of a few, the many will suffer and the nation will collapse. Yet to quote Job, these notions of justice, fairness and the rule of law are just the fringes of righteousness.
The devil would have us believe that being righteous is about choosing to do good over evil. This has been one of his greatest tricks. Few will openly say that they desire to be free from God so that they can do evil. Nope. Every prodigal son or daughter not only wants to be free from their father but also wants to be as good as or even better than their father. For this reason, when the devil deceived Adam and Eve, he offered to them a new source of righteousness: the knowledge of good and evil
What then is this righteousness I am talking about? How can it be greater than the ability to do good over evil? Righteousness is just like the obedience we previously talked about. Righteousness is far far more than a series of right actions. Righteousness is a state and a nature. Righteousness is not just about doing the right thing. Righteousness is about being a right person. A wrong person can often do a right thing and thereby think herself righteous. But doing the right thing does not make anyone righteous and God believed this so much, that He sent His Son to die. A righteous person, on the other hand, will always be able to do the right thing and more
Returning To Return
Thank God for James. In all this talk about righteousness, we might almost forget that those who believe in Jesus already have it. It is the one gift that all His servants receive when they believe in Him. I believe in Jesus Christ. I know that I am a Christian. Yet I keep coming back to God to ask Him for that thing which He has already given to me. I am as the woman who lost her precious coin
Confession and repentance are inevitable and crucial parts of the Christian walk. Confession is an acknowledgement of a distance between you and God. Repentance is love as we defined it in the previous article. Repentance is when I use the distance I sinfully created between me and God to return to God. Yet we must ask why. Why is it that I so often have to come back? In my case, all too often I go back to God, not because I feel the separation from Him, but because sin has been cramping my style. I do not want the burden of sin but only because it is evidence of my inability to be my own lord, to be like God (sicut deus). My sins reveal to me that my knowledge of good and evil (tob and ra) is inadequate and insufficient to even allow me to choose good over evil. Unlike the prodigal son in the parable who returned in repentance, I often return because my wealth of righteousness ran out and I need some more ... so that I can run away again.
One of two things must therefore be true: Either I keep losing my righteousness when I run from the Presence of God or I have the wrong idea about what righteousness is and so I haven’t lost it at all. Actually, it turns out that both are likely true. First of all, I do have the wrong idea about righteousness. Let us look at what the Bible says about righteousness and holiness. God defines righteousness in
An Audience Of One
Let us unpack this a little more to make it clear. God gives only one criteria for determining the rightness or the blamelessness of my action: I must perform the action beholding Him as my Only Audience and Spectator
You will often hear a question that goes like this: If there was a man or woman who did good all their lives but never believed in God, will they go to heaven? It is a good question but there are many subtle misunderstandings behind it. Let us say for a second that heaven is nothing more than God’s reward to those who do good things. Well, based on what God said to Abraham and what Jesus said in His Sermon, the question God will ask is, “Who you were performing for?” Someone who “did good” but did not do it before God will NOT receive God’s reward. To beat a living horse: righteousness is not just about what you did but also about who you did it before. There is no heavenly reward for actions performed to the standards of men and for their approval. The heavenly reward is only for those actions performed so that God may be pleased.
But let’s be realistic. No one does good all their lives so there goes getting into heaven because I was perfect in action. Furthermore, the judgment of the crowd is like the judgment of the mob: it is evil and only wavers in the degree of evil from one sunrise to the other. How many a politician has later lamented that they “had to get their hands dirty for the “greater” good”? Trying to seek the approval of the crowd (i.e. facebook, twitter, your friends and so on) will drive you crazy. God, on the other hand, does not waver. There is no shadow of turning with Him. He is the only One you can strive to please and gain your soul in the process.
A Righteous Nature
Yet actions performed that God may see are not enough. These actions must be performed by someone who possesses a blameless nature. Here is the equivalence to help keep this straight: only those who are righteous can do righteous. So how does one become righteous? Aha. The beauty of it all. First let us talk about growth in righteousness. You grow in righteousness by walking before God. In this you can think of God as an acting coach
Yet growth in righteousness is like the growth of a tree from a seed. Before a particular tree can grow from a particular seed, that seed must possess the nature of the tree. Therefore, even before this process growing in righteousness, I must already be righteous. Not only this, I cannot have just any righteous nature, I must have His Righteous Nature. A grape vine does not grow apples because the vine does does not have the nature the apple tree. So also, a person with an unrighteous nature cannot produce righteous actions. From another perspective, if righteous actions are those performed before God, how can I ever get into His Presence without a righteous nature? How could I even see Him when He Is Righteous and I am not? Light has nothing to do with darkness, good cannot marry evil. Being a son, a seed, and image of God means I must have the nature of God.
And so before the marriage comes the wedding. Before sanctification, comes salvation
The Treasure Is The Owner
Now that we have discussed what righteousness is, a few things make a lot more sense. The reason why my righteousness keeps seeming to disappear is because I am trying to be righteous and do righteous out of the presence of God and without a relationship with God. Righteousness, as physics would say, is a vector quantity. It has both magnitude (good actions) and direction (orientation towards God). The devil’s trick was to separate the two aspects of righteousness and make us think that righteousness means only doing good actions. If that was the case then you don’t need God. All you need is a knowledge of good and evil. We only need to look at our world to see the evidence that we need more than our knowledge of good and evil. The most important part of righteousness is being in the Presence of God, being oriented towards God. In terms of action, righteousness is about doing good before God. In terms of nature, you become righteous and grow in righteousness by doing good before God. Therefore, by God’s definition, it is impossible to either be righteous or do righteous outside of His Presence.
The most important thing I can ever do then is get into the Presence of God and the only way to do that is by believing in Jesus Christ. Praise God that I have already done that when He made me a Christian. Now that I think on it a little more, the first and the only good thing anyone can ever do is believe in Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus said
So let us sum up in one sentence what I have learned so far. For me to stop being prodigal and start being a son, I must use my freedom from God for God in the Presence of God. To make it even shorter: I must believe in Jesus Christ and do what He says. So when I think to take an inheritance of His Righteousness so that I can run away from God and be like God (sicut deus), I am fooling myself. There is no such thing as righteousness outside of the Presence of God. There is no such thing as holiness without a deep living relationship with God. The wealth of the Father cannot be taken out of His Presence. The Wealth of the Father, His Righteousness, is His Presence.