It is time for men and women who love God and His Word to remind themselves of the greatness of our God. We have a great, big, wonderful God, big enough and capable enough to reach down and meet our needs right where we are. Notice this exhortation from Psalm 34:3: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” The word “magnify” means to make Him great, but can we make God any greater than He is? No, He is great. But in our thinking, in our estimation of Him, we can magnify God. And of course our actions will reflect our thinking.
The Psalmist knew God was a great big wonderful God but he is saying, “O magnify [in your thinking] the Lord with me, and let us exalt [lift up to the place where it rightfully belongs] his name together.” The same thing is given in Psalm 35:27: “Let them shout for joy, and be glad, that favor my righteous cause: yea, let them say continually, Let the Lord be magnified.” God was as great as He always had been, but it was up to them to put Him in the place where He rightfully belonged.
The average Christian does not magnify God. We keep Him in a small well-defined area of our lives, instead of realizing that He is a great, big, wonderful God. How big is He? If we are going to magnify Him we ought to have at least some idea of the greatness of our God. There must be some statements in the Bible that will give us a picture of God’s greatness. I will examine verses that have such words as “the riches of God,” “the abundance of God,” or “the exceeding greatness of God.” All of these words are what we might call superlatives, in that they are descriptive and limitless. A statement is made, but it still does not limit God to a certain area.
“Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4). Just think about the statement this verse makes about God: “the riches of his goodness.” How good is God? God is totally good; the devil is totally bad. There is no badness in God and no goodness in the devil. It would have been accurate enough just to say “his goodness,” without adding any superlative. But to say “the riches of his goodness” shows the greatness, the unlimited goodness that there is in our God and Father.
The verse concludes, “… not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” I was always taught that godly sorrow led to repentance, and that we had to come down to the mourners bench or altar or the prayer room with weeping and tears. I was taught that if we didn’t feel sorry enough God would not bless us. How much better to set before people the goodness of God: that God is a great God, and that He wants the best for us. This verse speaks of the riches of His goodness or, as it is also translated, the wealth of His goodness.
The people were despising the goodness of God because to them it seemed to be exhaustless. He is talking here about people who are not sons and daughters of God. They say, “God is always good and it doesn’t matter what I do wrong: I’ll just whisper a prayer and everything will be taken care of.” One translation reads: “Despiseth thou the goodness of God because it seems exhaustless, it seems there is no end to it.” Thank God “there is no end to it” for the children of God. But God has certain conditions set in His Word concerning the enjoyment of His goodness.
“For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one: much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:17). Here it speaks of an abundance of grace; not just grace but an abundance, something that is over and beyond. God’s grace in itself is great, but for us to comprehend it the superlative term “abundance of grace” is used. Those who receive the over-and-above measure of grace shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. “The measureless overflowings of the fountain of the grace of God” is a beautiful paraphrase of this statement.
In Romans 9:23 the word “riches” is used regarding the glory of God. Romans sets before us the great theme of justification by faith. Later in Ephesians we learn what we are in Christ Jesus. Romans, in laying the basis of salvation, teaches us the greatness of God. “And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (Romans 9:23). Again we notice the emphasis: “His glory” would be great enough, but it says He wants to make known the riches of His glory, the boundless resources of His glory. What a superlative!
In Romans 10:12 we read: “For there is no difference between the Jew and Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.” What is God’s attitude towards all of them? He is rich. God is not mean; God is not poverty stricken; God is rich unto all who call upon Him. His boundless resources are available to all. Romans 10:9-10 tells us exactly how to call upon God, and verse 11 guarantees us that we will not be disappointed — we will find God to be rich.
It seems it is absolutely impossible to fully describe the riches of God in any language, because in Romans 11:33 we read these words, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” This is an exclamation of “How can I ever tell what is the greatness of the riches of my God.” “O the unfathomable complexities of our God.”
Are you beginning to get an idea of how great is our God? The Word declares He is a great, big, wonderful God. We need to remind ourselves of this constantly, because as we struggle on we forget that God is working on our behalf. Remember it is not only God with us, but it is God in Christ in us, the expectation of glory, the mystery revealed in Colossians 1:27.
“For even that which was made more glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth” (II Corinthians 3:10). We have here something much better than the old covenant. To many of the people in the Old Testament God was great and wonderful in His dealings with them. To them it was glorious to know and to be able to worship God. They were just servants; you and I are sons and daughters of God; we have the glory that excelleth. If the old administration looked glorious, what is the new like? “The overwhelming glory that exceeds and excels” is how the Amplified Bible translates this wonderful verse. It is a glory that is transcendent, a glory that excelleth, and it only transcends and excels because it is the glory of God.
In II Corinthians 4:7 Paul makes this strong statement: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The word “excellency” is the same Greek word as “excelleth” in I Corinthians 3:10. We should know that the grandeur, the exceeding greatness of the power in our lives is of God and not of us. We are earthen vessels, but when we have God’s power in our lives things really start to move. It is God at work, but it is according to the power that worketh in us (Ephesians 3:20). The glory and praise for the results belong to God.
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). It is not just according to His grace but according to the riches of His grace. Some modern translations have “out of the riches of His grace.” If the text said “out of” then God could run out! By the time you and I believe in the 20th or 21st century, He might be running a little short. But the Word is clear when it states “according to.” Our remission of sins is on the same great level as the riches of His grace which He lavishes on us. In the next verse it says, “Wherein he hath abounded toward us [which He lavishes upon us] …”
In verse 18 of this same chapter the word “riches” is used again: “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” Not what is the inheritance of the saints. That alone would be tremendous. But the Word says, “What [is] the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” How magnificent the inheritance is that God has for you and me! Do you realize that you became a partaker of all this when you confessed Jesus as Lord and believed in your heart that God raised Him from the dead? It may take a lifetime to discover from the Word all that happened at that moment.
In verse 19 another tremendous statement is made, “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power.” Not just what is His power, or what is the greatness of His power, but what is the exceeding greatness of His power. The superlative is used so we can understand the immeasurable, unlimited, and surpassing greatness of the power of God. God gives us an insight by saying it is “according to the working [the energy] of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places” (verses 19, 20). Stop and think: raising Christ from the dead and setting Him at His own right hand was a tremendous event. But how great is the power of God? Was that the very limit of His power? Everything about our God is great.
Ephesians 2:4 is another example of the usage of the superlative in connection with God: “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us.” Why did it not just say “God who is merciful.” That would have blessed me mightily. But again to bring out the tremendous magnitude of the mercy of God, the word “rich” is used.
“That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through [in] Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). Not just the riches of His grace but the “exceeding” riches: that He might show how immense are the resources of His grace.
“That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might [dunamis] by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16). The rich treasury of His glory is the standard by which we can measure His strengthening in the inner man. Wouldn’t it be great to take inventory of the riches of His glory? Any earthly language is such a poor vehicle of expression to catalog the greatness of our God.
“But my God shall [absolutely] supply all your need according to his riches in glory by [in] Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). “According to his riches” is the law of standard again, comparing the supply of God for my need on the basis of the greatness of His riches in glory.
“To whom [the saints, verse 26] God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Notice again the tremendous expressiveness. It would be sufficient to say, “To whom God would make known this mystery…” But to show how great is our God, and how great is the mystery, the added superlative words are given: He says to make known “the riches of the glory of this mystery.” To a believer, it is “out of this world” to know it is “Christ in you, the hope [expectation] of glory.” And yet God always goes that one step more. There are riches of the glory of this mystery that God would have us to know. Do you know them?
In Colossians 2:2, the same truth is stated regarding the mystery: “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God.” There are riches of the full assurance of understanding the mystery, Christ in you. You and I may take a lifetime of working the Word to find out and convince ourselves of how great is this mystery.
In I Timothy 1:14 Paul makes a statement about the grace of God coming into his life at the new birth. “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.” The Amplified Bible says, “The grace of our Lord flowed out superabundantly and beyond measure for me.” This is what Paul says happened to him at the time of the new birth. He felt that wonderful grace of God that was lavished upon him.
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God who giveth us richly all things to enjoy” (I Timothy 6:17). It would be great enough if He had given us all things to enjoy. But God does not just give, He gives us richly all things to enjoy. What is the definition of a rich man? It is somebody who has sufficient to supply everything he needs and have some left over. Our God is a rich God. He is not only our God but our Father. The Word tells us we will share with Christ the wonderful inheritance that our Father has for us. I am thankful that am in the family. I am rich; I have all things to enjoy.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of [by] the Holy Ghost, Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Titus 3: 5, 6). The new birth is the subject of this section. The magnitude of God’s gift to us is emphasized by the word “abundantly.” This is the same Greek word we have seen in many verses translated “riches”. God is not a respecter of persons, thus every believer has received richly of God’s gift.
“That in every thing ye are enriched in him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge” (I Corinthians 1:5). It is an established fact that the believer is “enriched.” The word refers to the act of being made rich. It is unfortunate that the word is used of the additives in a loaf of bread, thus we speak of “enriched” bread. This is an extremely poor usage of the word, since the baker is merely attempting to replace the nutritional value lost through processing. Enriched in this verse is used to mean “over and above”.
We are made rich by God’s gift of eternal life. “…The grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (verse 4). This gift is complete richness in everything in the realm in which it is given, the spiritual realm. By the act of making us rich, God placed the responsibility in our hands to manifest and enjoy this richness in our daily life.
“Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:5). The believer is described as one who is “rich in faith”. It doesn’t matter if he has only one coin in his pocket or if he has ten million dollars in the bank. The great truth is that he is spiritually rich. It is regrettable that some Christians have only one coin in their pocket. This could be changed by right teaching, for the Word promises prosperity. But people who are poor are still richer than anybody else in the world when they are enriched in Him.
In II Corinthians 8:9 there is another wonderful verse: “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.” There is no other way to understand this verse except in the light of what God in Christ Jesus did for us on the cross of Calvary. Jesus Christ being born as a baby could not save me. It was when He died on the cross and rose from the dead that salvation became possible. Christ certainly manifested a spiritual richness in His walk and teaching. His poverty was the voluntary laying down of His life to satisfy the demands of eternal justice, in order that we might become rich. You became rich the moment you accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, as we have already noted in many verses.
“Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God” (II Corinthians 9:11). The believer is not poverty stricken but enriched in everything to all bountifulness. The “bountifulness” is our manifestation of the richness of God’s gift.
Having seen that God is a great God and that the riches of God have become ours, there is one other aspect we need to examine. We are to share what we have with other people. II Corinthians 1:12 states: “For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.”
In other passages Paul has taught us how great is the fellowship which we have with the Father, how great are the riches of God’s grace, and how we are enriched in Him. However, in this verse the truth is expressed that we live this life and we are to express it towards others. One aspect of the greatness of the Christ-life is the sharing of it with other people. It is your privilege and responsibility to share the goodness of God and what He has done for you. Even the writing of a letter or a quick telephone call will help in this regard. Notice II Corinthians 2:4: “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which have more abundantly unto you.”
“As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (II Corinthians 6:10). These statements are part of a list of items concerning Paul’s ministry. He knew that God was a great, big, wonderful God, and had done great things for him. Therefore Paul went about making many rich; sharing great, big, wonderful truths with other people.
The foundation of any real, vibrant Christian life has to be the fact of who God is. I have shared with you some verses regarding this great truth. The riches of God became available to us by the finished work of Christ. In conclusion, the words recorded in Revelation 5:12 would be fitting words of praise from our lips also: “…Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
This article is Chapter 4 of the book, Exploring God’s Amazing Word.
Copyright © 1998 Peter Wade. The Bible text in this publication, except where otherwise indicated, is from the King James Version. This article appears on the site: https://www.peterwade.com/.
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