Yea, before the day was I am he; and there is none that can deliver out of my hand: I will work, and who shall let it?
~ Isaiah 43:13
Surely I am more brutish than any man, and have not the understanding of a man. I neither learned wisdom, nor have the knowledge of the holy. And David the king came and sat before the LORD, and said, Who am I, O LORD God, and what is mine house, that thou hast brought me hitherto?
~ Proverbs 30:2-3, 1 Chronicles 17:16
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh; And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead: By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for his name: That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
~ Romans 1:3-5, Romans 15:16, Ephesians 1:19
Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men! O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!
~ Psalm 31:19, Romans 11:33
I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
~ Revelation 3:18
For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
~ Ephesians 3:1-21
The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, by D.Martyn Lloyd-Jones. The following is an excerpt from his work, An Exposition of Ephesians 3:1-21.
Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ;
~ Ephesians 3:7-8
Having described the nature of the message which the Lord God revealed to him, and commissioned him to preach, the Apostle Paul goes on to deal with this in a yet more profound manner and in a most moving statement. He begins by saying that he has been made ‘a minister’ of the gospel. A minister is one who serves in the interests and for the benefit of others; so what Paul is saying is that the ‘mystery’ had been revealed to him by God in order that he might teach the Gentiles, that he might bring to them this great benefit. They were as ‘aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, without hope and without God in the world’; they were in the darkness of paganism, and he had been given this dispensation of the grace of God in order that he might bring to them great blessing. So he went and he preached to them. He was called to do so, and was enabled to do so.
The Apostle is particularly concerned that the Ephesian Christians should realise that all the benefits which they were now enjoying as fellow-heirs with the Jews had come to them through the gospel which he had preached, and of which he was a minister. And here he gives a wonderful picture of the Christian ministry as a divine calling.
Conceivably this is perhaps the first thing the Christian Church needs to recapture at this present time. That the Church counts for so little in the modern world is largely the result of her failure to realise the origin and character of the ministerial calling. The whole idea of the ministry has become debased. It has often been regarded as a profession. The eldest son in a family goes perhaps into the Navy, another son into the Army, another into Parliament; and then the remaining son ‘goes into’ the Christian ministry. Others think of a minister as a man who organises games and pleasant entertainments for young people; one who visits and has a pleasant cup of tea with older people. Such conceptions of the Christian ministry have become far too current. But they are a travesty. The minister is a herald of the glad tidings, he is a preacher of the gospel. It is largely because the true conception of the work of a minister has become debased that the ministry has lost its authority and counts for so little at the present time. Pray God that at a time such as this men may be brought back to this old, this New Testament conception of the ministry. The world needs a Savonarola today. Men and women need to be shaken out of their lethargy, their sinfulness, their indulgence and their slackness. Ministers are called primarily to teach men and women God’s great revelation concerning Himself, concerning man, concerning the only way of reconciliation, concerning the kind of life mankind is meant to live.
The Apostle then goes on to express his amazement that this call to the ministry should ever have come to him. Note the way in which he does so. ‘Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given’. This is not ‘mock modesty’ or affectation or hypocrisy. At the same time it is in no sense a contradiction of what he says elsewhere about himself when he claims that he is ‘not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles’ (2 Cor 11:5). How do we reconcile such statements? The answer is that he never ceased to be amazed at the fact that the blaspheming and injurious Saul of Tarsus had ever been called, not only into the Christian life, but also to be an apostle, and given the unique privilege of being in a very special manner ‘the Apostle to the Gentiles’. It is a bad day in the life of any Christian when he forgets his origin, when he forgets ‘the hole of the pit out of which he has been digged’. This does not mean that we should look perpetually backwards and become morbid, and for ever be reminding ourselves of our sins. The essence of the Christian position is that we should always realise that it is by grace we are saved, that we are what we are solely and entirely by the grace of God. If we fail to do so we shall lose the element of thanksgiving and praise in our Christian witness. The Apostle never lapsed into that condition. He never forgot that he was what he was ‘by the grace of God’. Oh, the privilege of it all!
But there was another element also in this situation. Paul was a man who lived so near to his Lord that he was conscious of his deficiencies and shortcomings. Labouring as he did indefatigably, he was nevertheless conscious of how little he had done, and of how much more he might have done. He expresses this in many places, thereby demonstrating true humility, true Christian meekness. If a man is not always conscious of the honour and dignity of being a Christian at all, and especially of having the privilege of preaching the gospel and of his own inadequacy and insufficiency, he is in a very false position. The more we realise these things, the more we shall be amazed, with the Apostle, at the grace and goodness and kindness of God.
Furthermore the Apostle explains to the Ephesians, and to us, how all this had happened to him; and once more his explanation is that it is all ‘of the grace of God’. Note how he keeps on repeating this word ‘given’: ‘Whereof, he says in verse 7, I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given’. This is the word that introduces the gospel and salvation — ‘given’. It is all of grace, it is all ‘given’. The Apostle did not feel worthy of anything; everything had been given to him freely in God’s love and mercy and compassion. I say again that if we do not realize this it is because our whole understanding of salvation is defective.
But Paul goes on to tell us that the gift was given in a particular manner: it was ‘by the effectual working of his power’. Unfortunately the Revised Standard Version which is so popular today, is very weak at this point. It simply has ‘by the working of his power’. But the word is much stronger; and the Authorised Version rightly translates, ‘by the effectual working of his power’. We might also translate it as ‘by the energetic working of his power’. The word used conveys that idea; and the Apostle used it in order to explain what it was that turned that persecuting, blaspheming hater of Christ into one of His foremost preachers and apostles. Nothing else can produce such a change.
One of the most fundamental questions confronting us as we preach the gospel is, What can turn any man from being a hater of God into one who loves God? What is it that can turn the natural man, to whom the things of God are ‘foolishness’, into a man who delights in them, and enjoys them, and lives for them, and whose highest ambition is to know them more and more? According to the Apostle there is only one answer; it is the ‘effectual working’ of the power of God — nothing else!
The Apostle Paul himself was very conscious of this power. Had he been left to himself he would still have been the persecuting, blaspheming Pharisee. He had heard about the preaching of Christ, he had heard the preaching of Stephen; he knew all that Christians claimed. But he hated the ‘good news’: he saw nothing in it except blasphemy. What happened to this man? There is only one answer; he had been made a new man. He had been regenerated, born again, ‘a new creation’, nothing less than that! And this was the result of the ‘effectual working’ of the power of God.
It is the effectual working of the power of God that makes anyone a Christian. It means a rebirth, a regeneration. It is not the result of our decision, it is not something that you and I decide to do; it is what is done to us! ‘The effectual working of his power!’ Paul would never have been a Christian at all were it not for this power. But even after becoming a Christian he would have been ineffective apart from this same power. It is this working, it is this power of God, that not only transformed his whole outlook, but it called him into the ministry and gave him the gifts that are requisite to the ministry, the understanding of the truth, the power to speak, the power to write, the power to teach. It was all of God. The Apostle deals with this in detail in the next chapter and says that when Christ rose from the dead and ascended up on high He ‘gave gifts unto men’, to some, apostles, to some, prophets, to some, evangelists; and to some, pastors and teachers.
All is given by God. Ministers are given to the Church by God, and every gift and help in the Church is given by God. We are helpless in and of ourselves. No man can truly preach the gospel in his own strength and power. He can talk perhaps and talk eloquently; but talk is not preaching, and it will lead to nothing. Whenever there is an effectual ministry it is because of this ‘working’, this ‘energetic working’ of the power of God through the Holy Spirit. As the Apostle tells us in 1 Corinthians chapter 2, his preaching was ‘not with enticing words of man’s wisdom’. He did not depend upon any human gifts or methods or contrivances. It was ‘in demonstration of the Spirit and of power’. So here, again, he emphasises that he has received his ministry, and has been put into his position by the ‘energetic working’ of divine power. Do we know anything about this? Have you felt the hand of God upon you? Do you know God’s working in your own life and in your own soul? Do you know what it is to be dealt with and to be moulded and to be fashioned? This is involved in true Christianity. It is all the result of ‘the energetic working of his power’. The Apostle sums this up perfectly in a great phrase in the first chapter of the Epistle to the Colossians (v. 29). He has been saying that he preaches, ‘warning every man, teaching every man, that he may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus’, and then adds, ‘Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily’. I am labouring, says Paul, I am working, as it were agonizing in my labours. Yes, but this is the result of what He is doing to me and working in me! I am working out what He is working in. I am labouring, yes, but according to this tremendous working of God which worketh in me mightily. So we have this perfect blending of the divine and the human, the power of God energising a man and enabling him to carry on his work in the ministry.
The Apostle says that in this way he has been prepared and equipped and called in order that he might preach among the Gentiles ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’. What a phrase! what a profound, what a sublime statement! But it is also a statement that tests us and examines us. I do not hesitate to assert that the test of all preaching is its conformity to this definition of the message, and to this standard. The business of any man who claims to have been called to be a minister of the gospel is to preach ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’.
Let us look at this task and calling of the minister, first of all negatively. He is not simply to preach about current events. There are those who would criticise the spending of our time Sunday by Sunday in this examination of Ephesians 3, because of the world situation and the many pressing international, political, industrial and economic problems. They feel that preaching, to be relevant, should deal directly with such matters. But is that the business of the Christian minister? Is it his business to express his view as to what the Government should have done last week or what it should not have done? Is it the business of the Church to be sending perpetual resolutions to governments and statesmen, and proffering their detailed advice on many specific issues? My answer is that I do not claim that I know any more about the international situation than any other church member. I do not have all the facts before me; so for me to express an opinion would be an impertinence. I have my views, as we all have, but I am in no position to stand and address a company of Christian people as to whether I think the Government has acted rightly or wrongly. That, I repeat, is not the primary business of the Christian minister. And I have a feeling that it is because the Church has so often done that kind of thing that not only is the Church as she is, but the world is as it is today. There is very powerful evidence to suggest that it was the action of the ‘Church’, and certain people in the Church in particular in the 1930s, that directly led to the war of 1939-1945. An impression was given to Hitler and others in Germany that his country had gone completely pacifist and would on no account engage in another war. It is dangerous for ministers, whether their position in the Church be exalted or otherwise, to express their opinions on these matters. The Christian minister is called to preach ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’.
But again, it is not the business of the Christian Church to preach patriotism. It has often done so. The Church has often been nothing but a recruiting agency, a recruiting station in times of war. That is a travesty of the Christian ministry. The world was in great trouble when Paul wrote these things; the world has always been in trouble; but the peculiar business and task of the Church and its ministers is to do what the Apostle tells us here. Far too often Christian ministers have been nothing but some kind of Court Chaplain, mouthing vague generalities.
Neither is it the business of preaching simply to preach and to inculcate a general public morality or some general ethic. There has been much of this during the last hundred years, and the ministry has become less and less prophetic. Christianity has become more and more diluted and consequently ineffective. The business of Christianity is not to produce ‘perfect little gentlemen’. The world can preach morality and ethics, and it has done so in various ways. The philosophers can do so and have done so. The Jews of the first century A.D. were teaching morality; and the pagan philosophers had been preaching morality before Paul was ever called into the ministry. But Paul was called to preach ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’.
Yet further, the business of the preacher of the gospel is not merely to preach religion. Not even religion! Not even godliness in general! Judaism had been preaching the importance of religion and the vital importance of godliness. Let me go further. It is not the primary business of the preacher of the gospel even to tell people to pray and to conform to certain standards and to discipline themselves. Mohammedanism does that, and does so very effectively indeed. It preaches a very stern discipline. It preaches a worship of God. But that is not Christianity. In a sense you can have godliness without Christianity. It is a false godliness, I know, but it is a kind of godliness. Likewise you can have religion, and be very zealous in it. But that is not what Paul had been called to preach. He had been doing all that as a Pharisee.
I go one step further; it is not the primary business of Christian ministers to teach and to preach even the teaching of Christ with regard to certain specific matters. There are men who seem to reduce ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ to nothing more than pacifism. They preach it every Sunday: war is the absolute sin, and if we only behaved in a nice way to other people, and refused to fight about anything we would be much happier. To them that is the sum total of Christianity. All these things fall hopelessly short of this great wondrous definition of the gospel which is given here by the Apostle. Think of all the pompous pronouncements upon the international situation which are made by ministers Sunday by Sunday. Where do ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’ come in? Think of all the ethical moral appeals, and appeals in the name of the country so regularly repeated. Where does Christ and His unsearchable riches come into it all? It is a travesty of the gospel; it is a waste of time. It is an abnegation of the duty and the task given to us.
What then does Paul preach? What are we to preach? Primarily and essentially, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. The riches are ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’! The essence of the gospel is Christ and what He gives to us. Not what we do, not what He asks us to do. That comes later. The obvious beginning and essence of the gospel is what He gives us, what we receive from Him. Paul is thrilled at the very thought of this. He says in effect: I was given this great privilege of coming to you, and I have given you the good news, the marvellous and thrilling good news concerning the riches of Christ, what Christ has given to you, and what He can, and what He will give to you, ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’. The first message, then, is about the gift of God, before there is any call to us to do anything.
Next we must try to analyse this gospel — ‘try’ because the very attempt is almost ridiculous. Ultimately we cannot analyse it but because there is such a tendency in us merely to repeat these resounding phrases without considering what they mean, we must at least venture upon the work. Fortunately the Apostle himself goes on to analyse the ‘good news’ in the remainder of the chapter.
The first thing we must emphasise is that the gospel is Christ Himself. ‘The unsearchable riches of Christ’. Not first of all the unsearchable riches that He has to give us, but Christ Himself as the unsearchable riches. This includes, of course, what we have already considered under the term mystery — ‘the mystery of Christ’. The ‘riches’ are in Him because of the mystery of His incarnation and His taking unto Himself human nature and becoming truly man. The message of Christianity is Christ Himself. As has often been pointed out, ‘Christianity is Christ’. Everything is in Him, and there is nothing apart from Him. God has treasured up all His riches in His Son; and everything that you and I ever derive in the Christian life is derived from Him directly. Without contact with Him we have nothing. ‘Apart from me’, He said, ‘ye can do nothing’. John in the first chapter of his Gospel says: ‘Of his fulness have all we received, and grace upon grace’ (v. 16) — ‘of his fulness’! We are united to Him and we draw from Him; He is the fountain head. So, then, the message of the gospel is Christ Himself; what He gives, though of vast importance, takes second place.
But look at Paul’s second word, the word unsearchable. If we could but see what is in Christ! But it is unsearchable, untraceable. This reminds us of our definition of the word mystery. It is a mystery, but it has been revealed. Thank God that this is so, otherwise we would know nothing at all about it. It follows that no man can ever find and lay hold on those riches in and of himself. Many a man has tried to do so. Many a man has approached Christianity philosophically, and he has tried to understand it from the outside. He might as well have given up at the beginning for it can never be done. The riches are untraceable, they are unsearchable; of himself man is incapable of getting at them.
But, further, the riches that are in Christ are unsearchable in this respect, that no man, not even a Christian, can ever fully comprehend them. As Paul continued in the Christian life he was more and more amazed at these riches. He may have thought at times that he had been to every room in this great treasury, but then he found another. There is always some further inner room, and yet another and another. We shall spend our eternity in discovering fresh aspects and facets of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Unsearchable, untraceable!
Another meaning of this term is that the riches can never be fully described. Hence Paul has to pile superlative on superlative — language fails him. The ‘unsearchable riches’, the ‘exceeding riches’ of His grace, he says. Now and again he talks about superabundance, and says that ‘God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think’ (3:20). These are his terms, and they mean that the riches cannot be described because they are glorious and endless in the extreme. The next thing the term means is that the riches of Christ are inexhaustible; they can never fail. Though men and women for centuries have been drawing from them, there is still as much remaining as there was at the beginning. They can never be diminished. They are ‘a never-ebbing sea’, as one of our hymns reminds us. The unsearchable riches of Christ! How much do we know about them? Are we thrilled by the very term? Does it mean something concrete and real to you?
What are these unsearchable riches of Christ? Although they cannot be described we must try to mention some of them. What is there in Christ for any one of us at this moment? Let us look at it in the following manner. I am poor, I am empty-handed, I am a pauper; what do I need? Christ has everything that I need. What are the things I need most of all? The answer is found in a sentence of Paul’s in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, where he says, ‘. . . who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption’ (1:30). These are the riches, the ‘unsearchable riches’.
The first thing we need is ‘wisdom’, that is, knowledge and understanding. Here we are in this great world, perplexing in its problems and possibilities. The first questions to be answered are, What is it all about? Why is man as he is? Is there a God? Why is not God doing something about it all? How can I know God? As I see the world collapsing around and about me is there no place of steadiness and steadfastness? That is our fundamental and primary need. And that is why I am not preaching directly about the international situation. I could not help you if I did so. But this is the Christian way of helping you. If you and I know God, well then, what we read in Psalm 112 is true of us. ‘He shall not be afraid of evil tidings: his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord’ (v. 7). How then can we arrive at this knowledge and this wisdom? Note the Apostle’s answer: it is in Christ. ‘(He) of God is made unto us wisdom’.
The Lord Jesus Christ teaches me about God, but that makes me conscious of my sinfulness. I feel that I dare not approach such a God. I am in agony, I am in a crisis; because I may die at any moment and have to stand before God. How can a sinful man stand before God? ‘How should man be just with God?’ (Job 9:2). Christ is made unto us ‘righteousness’. Though you have lived a life of sin till this moment, if you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ your sins will be forgiven, and you will be clothed with the righteousness of Jesus Christ at this very moment, and you can stand in the presence of God! Righteousness is part of ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’.
But it does not end there; I want to go on. How can I continue with God? Though I know I am forgiven, and given the righteousness of Christ, I know that sin is still within me, and I know that the devil is still my enemy. How can I stand up in the fight against evil and sin? Paul answers: Christ is made unto us not only wisdom and righteousness, but also sanctification. Whenever we come to die we can be sure of this, that in Christ we shall stand before God ‘faultless and blameless’. He is our sanctification, and He helps us to work it out in our daily lives by putting His Holy Spirit within us.
And Christ is also redemption, which means that He will raise my body and glorify it and change it. The redemption is complete and entire, there will be nothing lacking in body, mind or spirit. In your poverty, in your need, you are confronted by ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’. He is everything you need.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
Who like thee His praise should sing?
Or look at it thus: What do we really need, what is our greatest need? Our greatest need is life. Most people today are but existing; they have no life. When their pleasures are shut off, when because of war the cinemas and theatres and public houses and dance halls have to be closed they have nothing. They have not got life; they are but existing, and dependent upon things outside themselves; they need life. But where can life be found? It is Christ again who has said, ‘I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly’ (John 10:10). Life means spiritual life; life means a relationship to God and an enjoyment of His fellowship; and Christ our Lord has it in all its fulness. He says, ‘He that cometh unto me shall never hunger, and he that believeth on me shall never thirst’ (John 6:35). ‘The water that I shall give you’, He says to the woman of Samaria, ‘shall be in you a well of water springing up into everlasting life’. Though the world may take everything from you, though you may be naked and bereft of all things, this life from Christ will still go on springing up eternally within you.
The Apostle works this out still further at the end of this third chapter, but I must emphasize again that Christ Himself is the riches, and it is as I know Him and possess Him that I am a participator in the riches. The Apostle had a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the greatest treasure in the world. We often say, and it is true, that the greatest blessing that we can have in this world is to have a good husband or wife or friend. We say that that is a priceless possession. But in the gospel we are offered this knowledge of, and this companionship with, Christ. The Apostle in writing to the Philippians says, ‘To me to live is Christ’ (Phil 1:21). It is life to him — to know Christ. Then he proceeds to say that his greatest ambition is ‘that I may know him’. He does not mean simply to know about Him, he means to know Him, so that he can go and talk to Him and listen to Him. That is how the Apostle Paul lived. He was in this state of communion with Christ. Christ was nearer to him and dearer to him, and more real to him, than anything in the world. He is enjoying this already, and he wants more and more of it.
He prays for others ‘that Christ may dwell in (their) hearts by faith’. Our Lord comes into the heart and He dwells there. He Himself says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me’ (Rev 3:20). All the riches and treasures of God are in Christ, and He comes into the life and into the heart, and He dwells there, ‘Christ in you the hope of glory’ (Col 1:27). The Apostle goes on to pray for these Ephesians that they might be ‘strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith’. And the object of this is that they may know ‘the breadth and length and depth and height; and to know the love of Christ which passeth knowledge’. Nothing in the whole world is comparable to that, to be loved by Christ, to feel it and to know it. What are the riches of the whole universe in comparison with this! To be loved by the Son of God! ‘The unsearchable riches of Christ.’
But apart from the gift of Himself Christ also gives us His own Holy Spirit. ‘I indeed baptize you with water’, says John the Baptist; ‘He shall baptise you with the Holy Ghost and with fire’ (Matt 3:11). We receive the gift of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit resident within us; and, further, His power activating us and enabling us to ‘work out our own salvation’ and to be witnesses of all this to others.
But there are also certain particular riches which result from this. The first that Christ gives us is rest: ‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest’ (Matt 11:28). Do you know this? He is able to give it superabundantly. Then there is peace. This is what He says: ‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’ (John 14:27). I cannot help any needy troubled soul by preaching about the international situation, but here is His message to you: ‘Peace I give unto you’, no matter what may be happening to you. Young men may be called to fight, I do not know; calamities may come, I do not know, but I do know that what we always need is peace within. Whatever may happen in the world outside He gives us His peace. ‘In nothing be anxious, therefore’, says Paul; that is, ‘In nothing be crushed with anxious care’; whatever may happen to your husband or to your children, do not be anxious, ‘But in all things by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God’. And then, ‘the peace of God that passeth all understanding shall keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus’ (Phil 4:6-7). All this is included in the riches.
Then think of the joy. ‘Hitherto’, the Lord says, ‘ye have asked nothing in my name; ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full’. That was said in the context, ‘In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world’ (John 16:24, 33). Or do you need wisdom? ‘If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not’, says James in his Epistle (1:5). The Lord offers us guidance, understanding, wisdom and discretion. This leads to one of the most wonderful things of all, namely, the ability to be content with our lot whatever may take place. Paul tells the Philippians, ‘I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased and I know how to abound…. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’ (4:11-13). What a way to face the future, dark and troublesome though it may be! Whatever may happen we can face it quietly and steadily. ‘I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me’.
The Lord is able also even to transfigure death. ‘To me to live is Christ, and to die is gain’, says Paul to the Philippians (1:21). Oh, ‘the riches of His grace’! The blessed hope He holds out before us because we are children of God, and ‘if children then in us, heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ’, enables us to smile even in the face of death. Though atomic and hydrogen bombs may be used, and our world blasted to nothing, there remains for us ‘an inheritance which is incorruptible and undefiled and that fadeth not away’ (1 Peter 1:3-5).
I have but started telling you about the riches, but these are some of the things that are found in the treasure-house of God’s grace. Are you enjoying these riches, ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’? Are you unhappy? Are you miserable? Are you troubled and perplexed? Do you feel that you are bereft of everything? May God have mercy upon you! With all these treasures that are freely given we have no right to be in need; and we are a disgrace to Christ if we are in that condition. Are you enjoying Christ Himself? He stands at the door and knocks. That is not a text for the unconverted, but for the converted. It is a message to the church of Laodicea (Rev 3:20). He is standing at your door and knocking; He wants to come in and fill you with peace and joy and all you need. Let Him in! Do we contemplate these riches? Do we dwell upon them? Are we thrilled as we think of them? Are we receiving them more and more? Is your desire for them becoming greater and greater and greater? Do you live for these things? How are you going to spend the rest of this day? Is it in terms of ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’, or are you going to fall back on the newspapers or on some novel or on the Radio or Television? It is in Christ that riches abound. God forbid that we should be like the Laodiceans, who thought that they had everything and were very rich! The message of the Son of God to such is, ‘Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods . . .’ If you tend to say, I am converted, I am not like those unbelievers; I am a fundamentalist and not a modernist; I am ‘all right’ and I can sit down and relax; if you think so and believe that you have need of nothing, the truth about you is, ‘Thou knowest not that thou art wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked’. Or are you doubtful about yourself and what you have? If so, this is the Lord’s word to you: ‘I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you mayest be rich; and white raiment that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve that thou mayest see’ (Rev 3:18). Thus He offers to all who believe in Him His ‘unsearchable riches’.
God forbid that any of us should live like paupers! God forbid that any of us should be in penury and need and want and trouble and alarm and unsteadiness! The world today is presenting us with a unique opportunity of telling men and women about ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ’. We are being watched, we are being observed; and many in their spiritual bankruptcy are wondering whether, after all, the answer is in Christ. The world judges Him by what it sees in us. If we give the impression that, after all, to be a Christian does not help very much when there is a crisis, they will not listen to our message or look to Him. But if they find that we are entirely different from them, and able to maintain a calm and balance and peace and poise, and even joy in the midst of the hurricane of life, under God that may be the means of opening their eyes, and leading them to repentance, and bringing them to the Lord Jesus Christ and His ‘unsearchable riches’.