The unsearchable riches of Christ
What is the message of Christianity for the world? If you could boil it down, what is the proclamation of the church? Paul has a wonderful summary in Ephesians 3:8.
John Wycliffe translated it: “the vnserchable richessis of Crist”.
William Tyndale put it as: “the unsearchable ryches of Christ.”
And, in that tradition, the King James Bible rendered the verse like this:
“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.”
This is the subject of Paul’s preaching: “Christ’s riches.”
He uses the word “riches” six times in Ephesians (1:7,18; 2:4,7; 3:8,16). It’s the word that describes Abraham’s wealth (Genesis 13:2), and Solomon’s (1 Kings 3:13), and ‘the rich man’s’ (Mark 10:25). Yet Christ’s abundance far surpasses these “rich men.” It is “unsearchable.”
How do we feel about the super-rich? Envy? Contempt? Fear? Well Christ has “unsearchable riches”. He’s not just “the 1%,” He’s the 0.000000000000001%. What do we feel about His fabulous wealth?
Actually Paul feels brim full of joy and gratitude. Because these riches are riches of grace and mercy. Christ is not only stinking rich, He is a profligate philanthropist, as we shall see.
Let’s trace through Paul’s use of “riches” in Ephesians.
We begin before the foundation of the world with Christ, the Father’s heavenly storehouse (Ephesians 1:3). From eternity He commits all things into the Son’s hands (John 3:35). The nations are His inheritance (Psalm 2:8). The whole creation is a love gift for Him (Colossians 1:15-16). Christ has unsearchable riches because He is the Father’s Firstborn, the Heir Apparent, the Beloved Son. But just as these riches flow from Father to Son, so they overflow from Christ to the world. Such riches are a super-abundance of divine love and generosity, and so…
“God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).” (Ephesians 2:4-5)
God’s riches are riches of mercy. And they are lavished on we, the dirt poor. We weren’t just “in the gutter” we had “bitten the dust” – dead in sins. Yet the Father’s fabulous wealth is employed in raising us up with Christ. This wealth is expended in a costly “redemption”…
“In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;” (Ephesians 1:7-8)
These divine riches are not drawn down without cost. The astonishing mercy of Christ is purchased with His own blood. Yet, in His grace, He pays this ultimate price for our freedom and forgiveness.
Now we stand as witnesses to heaven and earth of our generous Father:
“God hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:6-7)
God is rich and will be known as rich.
But perhaps you don’t feel able to appreciate this wealth. Maybe you’re not feeling the benefits of this incredible union with Christ? Well God’s riches don’t just bestow grace, they also enable you to appreciate such grace:
“[I pray that the Father] 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.” (Ephesians 3:16-17)
Here is a wonderful truth: God even has riches that awaken us to the riches that He’s already bestowed! Talk about grace upon grace.
So God’s present riches make us appreciate His past riches. But, more than this, Paul prays we would know His future riches too…
“[I pray] that ye may know… the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)
What a day of sumptuous opulence! What overwhelming prosperity we will enjoy when we are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ of the whole cosmos. To cap it all off, that day will be the day that the Lord inherits us, His saints. How incredible – the riches that will flow when Christ returns!
What can we do in the meantime except…
“…to preach among the nations the unsearchable riches of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:8)
Christ is the storehouse of the Father’s overflowing bounty. We are beggars, more than destitute in our sins. Yet, through Christ, we have been adopted as heirs into that eternal royal Family.
We call on an “Abba, Father” who is mind-blowingly rich and who, literally, loves us to death! Does that change the way you approach your day today?
Maybe your earthly father had short arms and deep pockets. Or long arms and shallow pockets. Or crossed arms and closed pockets.
Your Father in heaven is different. In Jesus we have come to a Father who is both super-wealthy and over-flowingly kind. So rejoice in your generous God. And preach to the world “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”
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