The Gospel: The Ultimate Rags-to-Riches Story

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Everybody loves a good rags to riches story.  Hollywood is full of them.  However, there is one rags to riches story that is far better than any story Hollywood or anyone else could write.  This story is completely true and if you are a believer in Jesus Christ this will sound very familiar to you.  This is your story and mine, because we are the ultimate rags to riches story

What You Were

Ephesians 2:1-3 – As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our fleshand following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.

Life begins the same way for everyone. We are all born through natural birth. However, the result of this natural birth is that you are born in sin, just like everyone else. Romans reminds us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. This sin made you an outsider. You were separated from Christ. You were outside of God’s will and subject to receive God’s judgement. You followed your own desires and did what you wanted. This is what you were. This is where you were.

Can you remember your life before you found Christ? The places you were. The things you did. The way life felt incomplete. The feeling that something was missing or that there was something more. The search for meaning or fulfillment. That’s what you used to be.

Paul states in Romans 6:21 – “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of?  Those things result in death?” Let’s be real, outside of Christ you were not in a good place. You were standing on the other side of God’s purpose and plan for your life. These were the rags of your life.

What You Are

Here is where the story changes and it changes with two of the most important words in all of Scripture: but God.

Ephesians 2:4-5 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

You were not deserving of forgiveness … but God.
You were deserving of judgement … but God.
You were hopeless and lost … but God.
You had no hope of salvation … but God.

God in his great love and mercy for you reached down and grabbed you not when you were at your best point, but when you were at your worst. He didn’t wait for you to get clean and then rescued you.  He rescued you and then cleaned you. You were like a beggar clothed in sinful rags with nothing to offer.

However, when God looked at you, he didn’t see beggar. He didn’t see filth. He looked at you through eyes of mercy and grace and saw beautiful. He saw redeemable. He saw value. He saw worth. This is what makes the message of the gospel so wonderful and beautiful.

The Bible reminds us that Christ died for you while you were still a sinner. It was through Christ’s death that God showed how much he loves you and how much he believes your life is worth. This is truly an amazing gospel – God taking broken, hurting, incomplete, unfulfilled lives and transforming them by his grace. You are a byproduct of his grace. You are no longer an outsider. You are no longer separated. You are now part of God’s family. You belong to him.

You have been redeemed, or bought back, by the precious blood of Jesus Christ. You are washed and clean and are now a son or daughter of the most-high God.  He now lays claim to you as his very own. You have traded the rags of sin and shame for the riches that come through redemption.  You have been upgraded.

Ephesians 2:6 – And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus.

Imagine that you who were once far from Christ are now seated with him. This truly is amazing.

What You Will Be

The beauty of your story is that it doesn’t end there. Romans reminds us that the gift of God, which is salvation through Jesus Christ, is eternal life. As a child of God, you also have an inheritance waiting for you.

1 Peter 1:3-5 – Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Here is what you now have. New birth. Living hope. An inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. An inheritance kept safe in heaven for you. The protection of God’s power until the salvation by faith is revealed. If I stopped there that would be enough. But wait, there’s more.

1 John 3:2 – Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

One day your body, which is perishable and gets weak and doesn’t always work the way you want it to, will be exchanged. You will receive a new body. I’m not sure what that body will look like or what it will feel like. What I know is it will be like Christ’s body, because you will be able to see Christ in all of his glory. Your eternal home will be with the one who loved you from the very beginning. He loved you through all of your trials, challenges, failures and shortcomings. Now you will be forever with him, never to be separated.

Revelation 21:1-4 – Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more deathor mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

This is the ultimate rags to riches story.

Clarence Haynes

Clarence Haynes