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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 10 - Ephesians 3:8 - The Unsearchable Riches of Christ Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




The Unsearchable Riches Of Christ.


"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 3:8.



     Here we have the keynote of Paul's ministry. The burden of the good news which he proclaimed among the Gentiles (such is the full meaning of the word 'preached') was this, 'The unsearchable riches of Christ.' The treasure-house, which 'had been hitherto only opened to the Jew, was now thrown open to the Gentile,-to the whole world. 'Ho, every one!' was the apostolic trumpet-blast. 'Come, partake of the riches, all ye Gentile poor. Gold, silver, precious stones are all here for you.'

     The connection of riches with Christ strikes us greatly when we remember that in the Psalms Messiah is always spoken of as the 'poor and needy' One; though rich, for our sakes becoming poor; His riches being hidden; men seeing no beauty in Him, no form nor comeliness.

     This was Paul's estimate of Christ after he had known Him at least twenty-five years,-his calm, deliberate estimate; not the excited language of a new convert. These years had raised, not lowered his estimate; and, more than ever, he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord.

     'Riches,' 'richly,' 'rich,' are favorite words with Paul. Again, and again, and again does he use them in connection with God and His love, with Christ and His fullness. For all is 'riches,' infinite and endless fullness of every excellency and blessing in the Godhead,-Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. There is no poverty with God.

     The word 'unsearchable' carries us back to Job 11:7, 'Canst thou by searching find out God? Psalm 145:3, 'His greatness is unsearchable;' Isaiah 40:28, 'There is no searching of His understanding.' It does not mean that the riches of Christ are as forbidden fruit, which it would be profanity to search; nor that they are so mysterious and unintelligible that searching is useless; but that, in regard to them, such search is illimitable, absolutely endless and inexhaustible. Every hour we may dig up or pick up new treasure, but the end of such discoveries can never be reached. The 'treasure-trove' in this field is eternal.

     We may take a comparison from the three following objects, or regions of creation: (1) Time unfathomable ocean, not the ten-thousandth part of which has been measured or searched by man; (2) the mines of earth, full of gold and silver and precious stones, of which but a few fragments have as yet come to the surface; (3) the immeasurable firmament, with its vast depths of blue, and its innumerable stars. These may convey some idea of the 'unsearchable riches;' though, after all, what do even such glorious resemblances convey to us?

     Words like these take for granted our world's poverty. Yes, our world is poor; humanity is poor; the sinner is poor. We are far poorer than we have the least conception of. Laodiceans are we all,-'wretched, poor, miserable, blind, and naked.' It is to such a poverty-stricken race that the apostolic message goes out concerning the unsearchable riches of Christ; it is to such a world that He says, 'I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich.'

     We cannot speak fully of these unsearchable riches. Let us merely note a few things:-

I. The unsearchable riches of His person.-He is the one possessor of all that is excellent in both God and man. All uncreated perfection is in Him, and all created perfection too. Everything in the universe that can be called 'riches' is in Him,-riches of beauty, riches of wisdom, riches of holiness and power and truth. There are two special parts of Scripture where the excellency of His person is celebrated,-the forty-fifth Psalm and the Song of Solomon. 'Thou art fairer than the children of men;' 'All thy garments smell of myrrh, and aloes, and cassia;' 'Thy name is as ointment poured forth;' 'I am the Rose of Sharon;' 'My beloved is white and ruddy, the chiefest among ten thousand;' 'His countenance is as Lebanon, excellent as the cedars;' 'His mouth is most sweet; yea, He is altogether lovely.' The riches of His person are unsearchable; they cannot be numbered, nor measured.

     II. The unsearchable riches of His work.-The work which was given Him to do was one which contained in it materials of infinite value; of infinite suitableness for our lost world, nay, for the universe; for all beings and things in heaven and in earth. His great work in life and death and resurrection was the work of the surety, the substitute, the sacrifice, the sin-bearer. In this sin bearing work, which began at the cradle, and ended at the cross, when He said, 'It is finished,' is the work which contains unsearchable riches. From Leviticus and the Psalms the Jews must have known something of the riches of Messiah's work; and we, from the Epistles to the Romans and the Hebrews, gather much more. The riches contained in that work for the needy sinner are beyond measure. All, all he needs is there,-pardon, cleansing, peace; life, healing, strength, holiness, and joy.

     III. The unsearchable riches of ills glory.-He is now crowned with glory and honour. All power is His in heaven and earth; and hereafter this shall be unfolded when He comes as Judge and King. That glory to be revealed is the unfolding of His unsearchable riches; and the book of Revelation gives us glimpses of that glory. What the glorified Christ is, and what He is yet to be, the heart of man cannot comprehend. There will be unsearchable riches of glory.

     But we cannot enumerate the many things which go to make up these riches, or in which these riches are seen. They are 'numbers without number.'

     There are riches of love, riches of grace, riches of kindness, riches of wisdom. And all these riches are for us. We preach this to all. 'To them that believe, Christ is precious,' or, 'this preciousness belongs.' To him that worketh not, but believeth, all these riches appertain. He presents them to a needy world. He counsels each poor Laodicean sinner to take them freely.