And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.” — Mark 4:24
Here is a parallel of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:33 on seeking first the kingdom. The prosperity gospelists pervert these promises, turning them into the lamest of proverbs, into legalistic voodoo, as if God can be manipulated like the gods of the pagans and as if his kingdom is some kind of vending machine you just need the passwords for. The prosperity gospelists misread the “more added to you” like the kid happy you’ve brought more dirt for his mud pies.
No, the more we get is more of Christ and his multitudinous riches. Our God is no miser. He graciously gives us the best gifts, the ones that last. God is not stingy! Through Christ come a universe of blessings that our hearts might be filled to overflowing!
A sampling of where this thinking comes from:
2 Peter 1:4 – “he has granted to us his precious and very great promises [plural]”
John 1:16 – “from his fullness we receive grace upon grace”
Isaiah 55:7 – we have been “abundantly” pardoned
2 Corinthians 3:18 – we are transformed from one degree of glory to another
John 10:10 – “I have come that they may have life abundant” [emphasis added]
Ephesians 1:7-8 – he has lavished the riches of his grace upon us
Here is what William Hendriksen writes in his commentary on Mark 4:21-25:
God’s gifts are always most generous. He is forever adding gift to gift, favor to favor, blessing to blessing. He gives not only “of” his riches – as a billionaire might do when he gives a dollar to charity – but “according to” the riches of his grace. He imparts grace upon grace. He not only pardons but pardons abundantly. He delights in lovingkindness (Mic. 7:18)… Truly he giveth and giveth and giveth again.
“More besides shall be given to you.” When Abraham’s servant asks Rebekah for a drink, she not only quenches his thirst but in addition also that of the camels. This is only a faint reflection of what God in Christ is doing constantly:
He not only grants Solomon’s wish for wisdom, but in addition promises him riches and lengths of days.
He not only accedes to the centurion’s request to heal the latter’s servant, but in addition pronounces a blessing upon the centurion.
He not only answers the plea of Jairus, restoring to life his daughter, but in addition sees to it that the child gets something to eat.
He the resurrected Christ not only fulfills his promise to meet the disciples in Galilee but in addition meets and blesses them even earlier in Jerusalem.
He not only pardons the sinner—as a governor might grant pardon – but in addition adopts him and grants him peace, holiness, joy, assurance, freedom of access, super-invincibility.
I can’t help but picture the scene of the lost son returning, demoralized and broken. Is his father standing on the porch, arms crossed, tapping his foot? No, he runs to him. Does he hand his son work clothes and make him start at the bottom rung? No, he covers him in fine dress. Does he show him where the refrigerator is? No, he throws him a feast. All the boy wanted was a chance to pay back his debt, to earn his father’s respect again and perhaps a place in the business. His dad gave him back everything and more.
And here we come with our battered, feeble, tattered faith. It isn’t much to look at. But the Father receives it warmly and in exchange gives us the fullness of the riches of the eternal Christ. We are no more secure in Christ in a strong faith than a small faith, so long as that small faith is true faith. Into our empty hand is placed the infinite blessings of our sovereign Savior.
When you have Christ, you have everything. You have him and therefore all: the eternal riches of his glory. So we receive not just that hell insurance and ticket to heaven, but union with Christ by which we are seated with him in the heavenly places and hidden with him in God forever. We receive the adoption as sons and daughters. We receive the indwelling Spirit. We are totally justified. We are cleansed, declared holy, set apart, and we receive in addition the promise of the fruit of the Spirit and more holiness to come. We receive the promise of the blessed hope, the glorification we will share with Christ, and the resurrection of the body to everlasting bliss in the new heavens and new earth.
“He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
So let’s pay attention to what we hear in the gospel If we lend God our ears, he will fill our eyes with the transforming vision of his glorious Son. When he fills our eyes with that vision, he fills our hearts. When he fills our hearts, he fills our souls, till we are overflowing in praise and love and moving out on mission to shine the light of Christ far and wide, that the knowledge of his glory might cover the earth like the waters cover the sea.