The Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Ephesians: Jesus Only  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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There’s a story about an Amish boy and his father who went to the big city for the very first time. They were amazed by everything they saw. Having grown up and lived all their lives on a rural farm everything was completely new to them. The Father and son left Ma in the horse buggy and went into this huge skyscraper. As the boy and father entered the building two shinny doors that could move apart and back together again left them spellbound. They stood watching these doors until the son asked his father, “What is this, Father?” The father, never having seen an elevator before, responded, “Son, I have never seen anything like this in my life, I don’t know what it is.”
While the boy and his father were watching, an old lady with a walker came up and pressed the button. The doors opened and the lady walked inside. The doors closed and the boy and his father watched small circles with numbers in them light up above the doors. They continued to watch the numbers light up in the reverse direction. The doors opened up again and a beautiful 24-year-old woman stepped out.
To which, the father said to his son, “Son, go get your mother.”
Our new life in Christ is transformative and a mystery. Over the last several months, we have navigated through some of the most profound portions of Scripture found in the Bible. In no small terms, the Apostle Paul revealed overwhelming mysteries of God - all tying back to what I call Paul’s thesis statement in Ephesians that God our Father Ephesians 1:3 “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,”
From that point the Apostle Paul took us through the revelations of the Gospel centered around the the work that Christ Jesus did for our redemption. We learned that Jesus saved us from sin, by love, into life, for glory, through faith alone. We’ve learned about the mystery and unity of the Body of Christ and the boundless grace that God bestows on us every day.
Now, we are approaching a transition in Ephesians and it is important to understand why. All of this that Paul is teaching us is for an important purpose. After this week, we are going to start understanding how we apply these riches in our new identity in Christ to our lives. What does this mean to how we function as a church? What odes this mean to the kind of decisions we make, how we run our businesses, treat others around us? As a result of the Gospel in our lives, how do we related to our children? How are husbands and wives supposed to live? What about spiritual warfare? If we don’t understand our identity in Christ and our relationship to Him, the other things won’t make sense.
Ephesians 3:7–13 ESV
7 Of this gospel I was made a minister according to the gift of God’s grace, which was given me by the working of his power. 8 To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

The Ministry of the Gospel is for All People (vv. 7-8)

It is important for us to understand a couple of things as we move into this portion of Scripture. First, the Apostle Paul was once a powerful Jewish religious leader who persecuted Christians and now is called by Christ to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. Talk about transformation.
2 Corinthians 3:18 ESV
18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.
Most people want just enough God to keep them happy here on earth and to make it into heaven. “I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don’t want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please.”
A businessman was troubled about an upcoming important deal for his company and so he went to church to pray for God to help him. By chance, he knelt down next to a man who was praying for $100 to pay an urgent debt. When he overheard the poor man’s prayer, the businessman took out his wallet and pressed $100 into the other man’s hand. Overjoyed, the man got up and left the church.
The businessman then closed his eyes and prayed, "And now, Lord, that I have your undivided attention...." (Jeff Strite)
That was not the kind of transformation that took place in the Apostle Paul’s life and that’s not the kind of transformation Jesus has on his followers.
The other thing to remember is that during Pau’s time, there was tremendous hostility and hatred between the Jews and the Gentiles. There were historical reasons for that. So when the New Testament Church arrived on the scene, Paul had the very difficult task reconciling that division in the God’s people. No longer was the way to God through conversion to judaism, but rather Jew and Gentile were equal in one body in Christ, and all the unfathomable riches in Christ were available to the Gentiles to the same extent that they were available to the Jews. This was very difficult for Gentiles to understand because they saw Jews as a bizarre kind of religious cult and even harder for the Jews because they saw Gentiles as blasphemers and enemies of God.
Galatians 3:26–28 ESV
26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Paul was called to preach "the unsearchable riches of Christ" (3:8b). The Greek word for "unsearchable" (anexichniastos) literally means "impossible to be traced out." John Stott writes, "Translators and commentators compete with one another in their attempt to find a dynamic equivalent in English. The riches of Christ, they say, are 'unsearchable,' 'inexplorable,' 'untraceable,' 'unfathomable,' 'inexhaustible,' 'illimitable,' 'inscrutable' and 'incalculable.' (Freddy Fritz).
At the same time we must strongly resist the temptation or tendency to look down on those who are struggling or even resistant to the work of the Holy Spirit. We must be careful not to replace the gospel with current events, politics, business strategies, self-help, psychology, or even religion.
Paul did not preach on the dignity of man or the satisfaction of man’s fallen heart desires, but man’s Redeemer and Savior. He did not preach about pathways to human success or even moral reform; he preached salvation from sin through Jesus Christ. Paul did not preach to please people; he preached to convict them of their sin and convince them of all the glories available to them in Christ that would everlastingly overcome their sin and its sentence of eternal death. Paul did not preach to make people better in this life, but to introduce them to the Savior who would rescue them from hell and bring them into the glory of the life to come in eternal heaven. (MacArthur)
1 Corinthians 1:18 ESV
18 For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
The gospel is not about what we do, but about what Christ did for us. Preaching the unsearchable riches of Christ is not found in some name-it; claim-it scheme. It is not found in social movements. It is unveiling of how God has taken the initiative and done everything necessary to save sinners. It is preaching how by the power of the Holy Spirit, God then takes the sinner and continually refines and regenerates us so that every day we die to sin and become more like Christ. That is what unifies the church and that is what we must rally around.

The Ministry of the Gospel is for the Church (v. 9)

Ephesians 3:9 ESV
9 and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things,
I’ve said it many, many times over the years that many in the church and many churches are losing their way because they lose sight of the richness of the gospel. Too many today that come to church are either deceived by the assumption they are ok by the mere fact that they are coming to church, or they are being led astray by false teachings because they do not know their Bible. There are “christian” songs and worship songs that are littered with false theology.
Colossians 2:8 ESV
8 See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
It is imperative that we come to know the truth of Scripture because it is the saving knowledge of truth that keeps us grounded in Christ. I’m talking about something more than coming to church on a Sunday or more than raising your hands while singing a few worship songs. I’m talking about allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you live in the plans God has established for you. Someone once said, “your greatest victory is straight through your biggest fears.” More times than not, I find that people are afraid to let go of the sinking sand of this world for the treasures of the Kingdom of God.
In Christ, the truth that grants us the knowledge of God’s mystery are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge we need in our lives. That’s why Paul writes,
Colossians 3:16 ESV
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
Is that what dominates your mind? Is Christ your preoccupation? When the Word of Christ dwells in you richly, when the riches of Christ are deposited in your mind and in your life, what happens is you begin to be able to speak with all wisdom in teaching and admonishing. You begin to worship like you didn’t know what possible; as if heaven has come down to earth. You begin to live your life differently, see the world differently, treat your family differently.
All the richness of Christ is only deposited in your life when you understand the Word of God. That’s what makes you wise. That’s what makes you a true worshiper. That’s what gives you joy and gratitude and helps you to live to His glory. This is what Christ wants for his bride, the church, was we await his glorious return.
Now, look at verses 10-13. What is the purpose for all of this?

The Ministry of the Gospel is for Spiritual Powers (vv. 10-13)

Ephesians 3:10–13 ESV
10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him. 13 So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.
The purpose of the ministry of the gospel, as Paul wrote in verses 10-11, was "so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord." This really is also an astonishing statement.
There is only one way Satan is going to be defeated in your life, family, or this community. Do you know what it is? You are not going to defeat Satan through religious ceremony. You are not going to defeat spiritual forces through special incantations. You are not going to defeat sin and darkness in your life by trying harder or meaning it more. The only way you are going to defeat the enemies works and lies over your life and your family is through the power of the Word of God. That’s how Jesus did it in the wilderness and the same is true for you. Because it is not you, it is Christ. Is the power of God that will fight for you and it is, as Paul writes here, the manifold wisdom of God that gives you revelation to your life and spiritual forces operating around you in this world.
Now, there has been some discussion about when Paul is talking about whether the heavenly authorities mentioned here in verse 10 are angels or demonic principalities. Some argue that because chapter 6 focuses in on demonic forces that this is probably related to that sentiment. What is clear is that God uses the Spirit-filled church to display His glory to these heavenly forces.
The words “manifold wisdom” reflect the idea of something that is multicolored or diverse. The word “manifold” was used to describe Joseph’s coat in the Septuagint. (Chapell). Everything that God has ever done is, at its ultimate end, to give Him glory. The reason for the church is not just to save people but also that the angels will see the incredible miracle of the church and that they will glorify the wisdom of God. In fact, that is the theme of the entire universe. The church is not an end in itself; it is a means to an end. And the end is that God would be glorified and God will be glorified by us and also the angels.


You see, Paul was living and preaching the gospel of Christ and the unity of the church for the Jew and the Gentile when a riot was started at the Temple that ultimately landed him in and Jail and him facing trial by Caesar himself. Some in the church were saying, “Oh, poor Paul” And he says, “When you understand this incredible truth of what it is to be in the church and what a privilege it is to be in chains for Christ. Don’t let this shake your faith.” It’s bringing God glory. Don’t worry about the things that can harm the flesh when the gospel is being preached. It’s worth it.
He always felt that way whatever it cost him to get us the message was a cheap price in comparison to the suffering of Christ and the riches afforded to us from heaven.
Do you feel that way? Do you feel crushed by this world that you question if it is worth it all? Are you willing to give it all up to have the riches of Christ and the manifold wisdom of God in every part of your life. It starts by coming to him and surrendering your life at his feet. From there you allow him to work in your life through the power of his word and the teaching of others as they pour God’s wisdom into your life. All the while, the Holy Spirit works in you and through you to mold you and shape you. Will you come to him that way today.
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