The Riches of His Grace
Romans 11:33; Ephesians 3:8
So, with the enablement of the Lord, we are going
to move in these deep waters and seek to discover a little of the unsearchable riches of Christ, the depth of the riches of the wisdom, and the knowledge of Christ. The Apostle Paul, who used these words was striving against the limitations of language to give expression to something of what he had come to realize as to the Christ, as to the salvation in Christ, into which he had been brought. He does use these many superlatives, straining to find words to speak of the unsearchable, inexhaustible, unfathomable, infinite wealth of the riches of Christ.
"O The Depth of the Riches"
This man Paul was able to speak in this way about the riches of Christ just for one reason: his sufferings in Christ; and you and I will never be able rightly to use such language unless we go the way that he went, the way of the Cross. You see, in order to find things which are deep, you have to go into the depth. You will never find deep things in the shallows. You have to go down and down, and get very low. And that in itself explains the Lord's dealings with His people - it is the answer to the crisis of the heart in deep and dark and difficult places and times. Why? If we could but realize it, we should hear the answer coming back to us: that you may discover and appropriate spiritual wealth. These riches do not lie on the surface at all: they are the hidden treasures of dark and secret places. And wealthy souls are ever and always those who have touched something of the depth in their walk with God.
Now here is a man whom you know from the many things that he has placed on record, a man who had many - otherwise - inexplicable experiences. His catalogue of sufferings and adversities of every kind is written for us largely in his Second Letter to the Corinthians. We know that half of chapter six is taken up with the things which befell him. -
"Giving no offence in anything, that the ministry be not blamed: but in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in watchings, in fastings; by pureness, by knowledge, by long-suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; as unknown, and yet will known; as dying, and behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; as sorrowful, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things" (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)
And in other places too, he makes reference to his sufferings in Christ: -
"Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in deaths oft. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness. Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches" (2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
(continued with # 2)