In His Letter to the Ephesians (continued)
Now, mark you, this is what Paul calls the gospel - all this is the gospel! Did you ever get an idea of the gospel like that? Did you ever think of the gospel in such terms? Yes, it is still the gospel, the same gospel; not another, the same. Now, because all this is true as to the gospel, surely the demands are very great. The reaction of so many, when you say things like this, is: "Oh, I cannot rise to that - that is altogether beyond me, that is too much for me, that is overpowering, that is overwhelming! Give me a simple gospel!" But I wonder if we realize what we involve ourselves in when we talk like that. For it is just there that the true nature of the gospel comes in, in this whole letter. Yes, the calling is great, is immense; conduct must be on a high level; the conflict is fierce and bitter. And that makes tremendous demands. If that is the gospel, then how shall we stand up to it, how shall we face it, how shall we rise to it, how shall we get through?
Well, come back to the phrase to which I am gathering the whole of this letter. It is here: "to good-news the unsearchable riches of Christ." It is translated "preach" in our Bibles, but it is the same word, as you know, in the verb form. "To good-news the unsearchable riches of Christ". The good news is that the riches are unsearchable! Oh, this is something for us in which to rejoice, being hard pressed, hard put to it; feeling we shall never rise to it, never go through with it. The superlative riches are for a superlative vocation and for a superlative conflict and for superlative conduct.
"Unsearchable riches". Now that is a characteristic word that you find scattered through this letter. Riches! Riches! In chapter one,verse seven it is "the riches of His grace". That phrase is enlarged in two, verse seven, - "the exceeding riches of His grace". And then in one, verse eighteen, it is the inheritance - "the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints". That just means that the saints are the inheritance of Jesus Christ, and in them, in His Church, He has a tremendous wealth. Now, if He is going to have wealth in this Church, it is He Who must supply the wealth, and it is "according to the riches of His grace" that He will find "the riches of His inheritance" in the Church. There is much more said about that. In three, verse sixteen, the word is used again - "the riches of His glory". Riches! Riches! Very well: if the demands are great, there is a great supply. If the need is superlative, the resources are superlative. All this sets forth and indicates the basis and the resources of the Church for its calling, for its conduct, and for its conflict.
So what is the gospel according to Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians? It is the gospel of the "unsearchable riches" for superlative demands, and when you have said that, you are left swimming in a mighty ocean. Go to the letter again, read it carefully through, note it. Yes, there is a high standard here, there are big demands here, tremendous things in view here; but there are also the riches of His grace, the unsearchable riches of His grace for it all. There are the riches of His glory: it is put like this - "according to the riches of His glory". Now, if you can explore, fathom, exhaust, God's riches in glory, then you put a certain limit upon possibilities and potentialities. But if, after you have said all that you have tried to say in human language, as the Apostle did here, you find that you have not got enough superlatives at your command when you are talking about the resources that are in God by Christ Jesus, then everything is possible - according to the riches of His grace and of His glory.
That is a gospel, is it not? Surely that is good tidings, that is good news! And, dear friends, we shall get through - and we ought not just to scrape through. If it is like that, we ought to get through superlatively. The Lord bring us into the good of the superlatives of the gospel, of the good news. Amen
(continued with # 25 - (In His Letter to the Philippians)