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Sermons

Unspeakable Riches in Christ

May 3, 2015 Speaker: Reid Strahan Series: The New Covenant

Topic: New Covenant Passage: Ephesians 3:14–3:19

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The Atlantic Monthly had an article about a survey of the very wealthy, that reported this astonishing fact: Among multimillionaires who make an average of $78 million—including two billionaires—“most do not consider themselves financially secure; for that, they say, they would require on average one-quarter more wealth than they currently possess.” This article was followed up by this comment: Why do the insanely rich feel poor? What is your reaction to that? Probably to snicker, or scoff and mock these poor people who make 78 million!

But there is something much more pathetic than this: it is for believers in Christ to NOT feel lavishly blessed with the riches of God's grace, to NOT feel lavishly loved, to NOT feel unspeakably privileged and well off! We can be like the insanely rich, who feel poor! I believe many Christians are laboring to live a good Christian life, yet NOT feeling abundantly rich, blessed and privileged.

In Ephesians 3:8, Paul said, “..this grace was given to me to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ..” Our message is a message of riches, of unsearchable riches. This morning I will finish our series on the New Covenant by speaking of these riches of Christ, and to show those who know him how incredibly rich you are.

Your wealth is so extreme, so vast, so inexhaustible, that it is past finding out. Your riches are unsearchable, unfathomable, beyond your ability to comprehend. If you would imagine yourself to be incredibly blessed and loved and accepted, possessing the most fantastic privileges and status and honor, that you ever dreamed of, this would not come close to the riches that are yours in Christ.

You are so wealthy that the only way you can get an understanding of your riches is by way of a supernatural revelation made to your heart and mind and spirit. Paul said; “For this reason...I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, (that you may know) the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.... I pray that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints how wide and long and how high and how deep is the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”.

What are these riches of Christ? Let's begin with the riches of his love. Paul prays that we would be able to grasp the height and the depth, the breadth and the length of the love of Christ. In your own mind, you cannot imagine how much Christ loves you! You may be able to imagine how much your mother loves you or your spouse loves you, but you cannot imagine how much Christ loves you. The extent of his love, the massiveness of his love, the depth of his love can only be revealed to you by His Spirit in your inner being.

The gospel is that Christ died for sins. But it is much more personal than that. Jesus Christ loved you and He gave himself for you. Paul said, “I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me”. You MUST be able to say Jesus Christ loved ME and gave himself for ME!! You must be able to feel that, to know that!

There's an old song I used to hear around the house when I was growing up. “No one ever cared for me like Jesus....There's no other friend so kind as he. No one else could take the sin and darkness from me. Oh, how much he cared for me.” There is that kind of affection in Christ's heart for you. You are rich to have Christ love you. To lay your head down on your pillow at night and know Christs loves you is a kind of wealth that is beyond compare.

John Bunyan “If Satan should make you question whether Christ will look upon you or not, Christ loves you with a love that passes knowledge. If you fall into a sin that lies heavy on your conscience and you fear there is no forgiveness for you, Christ loves you with a love that passes knowledge. Does Satan suggest (to you) that God will not hear your stammering prayers? Chris loves you with a love that passes knowledge. Does Satan suggest that your troubles and afflictions are so many that you shall never get beyond them? Relief is at hand, for Christ loves you with a love that passes knowledge. This is a weapon that will baffle the devil, when all other weapons fail!....You can say, I am a son of love, (I am ) an object of love, (I am ) a monument of love, of free love, of distinguishing love, of peculiar* love, of love that surpasses knowledge.”

*Peculiar love means love that chooses you to be its own. A husband should love his wife with a peculiar love.

Johnathan Edwards said, “(Jesus Christ) is indeed possessed of infinite majesty, to inspire us with reverence an adoration; yet that majesty need not terrify us, for we behold it blended with humility, meekness, and sweet condescension.... (therefore) our hearts (may) be drawn forth sweetly and powerfully into an intimacy the most free, confidential, and delightful. Do you know Christ in that way??

Let me encourage you this morning to “go boldly into this joyful intimacy with Christ. Be audacious enough to believe that he loves you, that you really are accepted in him, that he is not ashamed to call you his brother, that he is your best friend. Dare to approach him, believing he is full of compassion for you, eager to embrace you, believing that he smiles at you with a warmth and tenderness.

Second. You have the riches of forgiveness. Ephesians 1:7,8 “In him we have redemption through his blood, THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, in accordance with the riches of God's grace, that he LAVISHED ON US.” We might say to someone, “Ok, I guess I forgive you”. But God lavishes forgiveness upon us according to the riches of his grace. He not just barely forgives us but gives us more than we need.

The weight of sin is the heaviest weight in the world. When you begin to feel the burden of guilt by the convicting work of the Spirit, it is a burden to heavy to bear. In Pilgrim's Progress, John Bunyan's Christian was carrying a heavy sack of sins tied to his back. It is the forgiveness through Christ's blood, that frees from this burden.

Do we really understand the richness of this forgiveness? We might think, OK I'm forgiven – what is the next point.

Charles Spurgeon said, “There is no sin upon my conscience now, there is no crime upon my breast...my spirit is no more guilty; it is pure, it is holy; there no longer remains the frown of God upon me, but my Father smiles; I see his eyes – they are glancing love; I hear his voice – it is full of sweetness. I am forgiven, I am forgiven, I am forgiven!” …....“Talk of punishment of a believer - there is no such thing! The afflictions of life are not punishments for sins to Christians; they are fatherly chastisements, and not the punishment of a judge.”

Every sin you have ever committed, no matter how dark, or how shameful, every one has been blotted out. “ Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am he who blots our your sins, for my own sake, and remember your sins no more!” In God's books, there is not a single sin remaining against anyone in this room, who trusts in Christ. There is not even a spot or shadow remaining of your sins. They are all gone.

Hebrews 10:18 Their sins and lawless acts, I will remember no more. And WHERE THESES HAVE BEEN FORGIVEN, there is no longer any sacrifice for sins. The very fact that Christ died only once, the fact that he will never go to the cross again, the very fact that God has no more sacrifices, that PROVES that your forgiveness is complete. JESUS ISN'T DOING ANYTHING ELSE FOR YOUR SINS BECAUSE NOTHING ELSE NEEDS TO BE DONE!

Hebrews 10:14 says, “By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy!” Though you are not yet living perfectly, the washing away of your sins is so complete, that, in this sense, you are already made perfect forever! Hebrews10:10 “We have been made HOLY through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus ONCE FOR ALL. You are as clean and holy as an angel who has never sinned!

He not only forgave your sins, he removed your sins from you. He did not just take the punishment for your sin, he took your sins FROM YOU, so that you bear your sin no more. 1 Peter 2:24 “He himself bore our sins in his body”. And Hebrews 9:28 “For Christ was sacrificed to take away the sins of many people...” Your sins are no longer tied to you and who you are. You are no longer identified with your sins! You no longer own them. And here is something even more amazing....

Christ did not just remove your sin, he removed your guilt. Guilt comes from sin, from our real failure to live up to God's standard of righteousness. And our real legal guilt also carries an emotional side effect. It carries a painful sense of shame and condemnation. It carries fear of punishment. The sacrifice of Christ was so complete, that it is able to remove both your legal guilt and your emotional guilt. The very word justified means “NOT guilty”. God says our sins are covered, blotted out, taken away, washed away, remembered no more. He says, we've been purified from our sins, freed from our sins. All these words and phrases show how effectively God has dealt with our guilt. We can have what the Bible calls a “perfect conscience”.

Spurgeon gave this example: “If her Majesty the Queen should spare a murderer by giving him a free pardon, that man could not be punished, but he would still be guilty of his crime, he would still have that to carry that on his conscience for the rest of his life, and he will be branded as a murderer for the rest of his life, even if he received a thousand pardons. But the Christian is NOT ONLY delivered from the punishment of sin, he is absolutely set free from the guilt of his sin. The very guilt of a sinner is taken away.” If we really got this, should we not gasp in awe of the riches of this truth??!!

Hebrews says the Old Testament sacrifices were not able to do this. Hebrews 9:9 “The gifts and sacrifices being offered were NOT able to clear the conscience of the worshiper”. ESV “They were not able to perfect the conscience of the worshiper. Hebrews 10:1-4 says “The same sacrifices, repeated endlessly year after year can never make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would NO LONGER felt guilty for their sins.” ESV “...would no longer have had consciousness of sins”.

What did he just say would be true if worshipers could be cleansed once for all? It says, “they would no longer feel guilty for their sins”. Or as the ESV says, “they would no longer have a consciousness of sins”. The clear logic of this verse is that BECAUSE we are cleaned once for all there no longer needs to be a consciousness of sins or a reminder of sins.

We are to be generally conscious of being clean! Not sin conscious. We are not to deny that we sin! But we are not to live any length of time under the consciousness of that sin. We are not to live any time under the dark cloud of guilt. Francis Schaeffer called this “Living moment by moment on the basis of the finished work of Christ”. He said, “I call the sin, sin, I consciously bring it under the blood of Christ, I say thank you, and my conscience can be at rest.”

Christ has said to you, “I will take your place. I will be the sinner, all your guilt is upon me. Your sins AND your guilt and shame are blotted out! They are not counted against you because they were counted against me”.

Old song by the imperials, “I didn't know how good it could be just to stand in your presence totally free”. “I can see me as a person that's free even when I slip and fall. You are the God who forgives and forgets. Now I want to give you my all.” One of the richest feelings in all the world is to feel free from sin and guilt, to feel forgiven and clean.

**Third, you are Rich in righteousness. There is no possession you need more than righteousness! You need it more than you need your car or your house, or your health! Yet Romans 3:22 says, “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe”. In the gospel Christ not only removed your sins he gave you his very own righteousness. He not only says to you, I will be the sinner for you, he also says to you, “Here is my righteousness, it is all yours.”

Romans 8:33 says, “Who can bring any charge against you? It is God himself who justifies you”. In God's courtroom, God has already said something about you. Do you want to know what he has said about you? He has said, “This person is not guilty!” And he has said something even more amazing bout you. He has said, “This person is righteous”.

Fourth: You are rich in free access to God and acceptance with God. Ephesians 3:18 “For through HIM we have access to the Father..”. You have access to the throne of God!

He opened up a new and living way for you to have intimacy with God. Hebrews 10:19 “We have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place BY THE BLOOD OF JESUS, by a new and living way opened for us... Vs 22 “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in FULL ASSSURANCE of faith.” Jesus made a way for you to come to God with full assurance in your heart, not with a condemning heart.

DMLJ “What do I say to my conscience? When I go into the presence of God I am reminded by my conscience of my sins, of my unworthiness, of the evil I have done and have thought. How can I go to God with a clear conscience? ….How can I be assured that God is well disposed towards me? How can I go in with boldness? How can I be sure that I have an access, that I am accepted? There is only one answer, it is “by faith in him”. It is only when I know that God has taken my sin AND my guilt away, that he has clothed me with the righteousness of his own Son,.... that I can go in with boldness to God”. …. “No matter who you are or the depths of sin to which you may have sunk, nor in what gutters you may have spent your life....if you have that card with the blood-written signature of Christ upon it, the gates of heaven are open to you!!”

Christ brought you with him to the very throne room of heaven. Francis Beven said, “We are not laboring to climb up some ladder of our own feelings to reach God, but already in the person of Christ we are in the bosom of the Father, in the center of that unspeakable love that flows to us from God.”

If you want to talk to God right now you can. Tonight before you go to bed you can talk to him. You may stumble in some way today or say something you regret, you may experience some dark or gloomy feelings, yet you have a right to the Throne. Don't listen to your moods or feelings, you look to Christ. You have to see that he covers you in every way, that he makes you acceptable in every way, in spite of how you feel.

Romans 5:1 tells us that having been justified we have peace with God. You are in a state of peace with God. You are free from all apprehension, from all sense of doubt that you maybe are rejected, free from all sense of being condemned. You are free to be at ease with God.

*Fifth: You are Rich with the very life of Jesus in you. Colossians 1:27 “to (the saints) God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ...in you, the hope of glory.” We are rich because of this experience of him living in our hearts.

Paul prays, in Ephesians 3:17 “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith”. He did not pray that for unbelievers, he prayed that for Christians! That is a prayer for you! He is praying for people like us, that we would experience Christ living in us. Christ is in you, but this is a prayer that you would actually experience that!

Your heart is the center of your personality, your affections, it includes your mind, your will, everything that is the real inner you. That is where Christ is to live. He is to dwell in your heart as he would live in a home. The Christian life is Christ in you, you being a home for Christ, your body being a home for Christ, your heart being a home for Christ to live.

It is possible that you are a Christian and that Christ is in you in but that he is not really dwelling in your heart as a present experience for you. You may be living as though he were a million miles away. Your heart maybe filled with fears, misery, condemnation, worldly attitudes, bitterness, of self-pity. So in reality Christ is not dwelling in your heart, not in the way Paul is praying for. When you are miserable and unhappy, troubled and fearful, you are effectively thinking and living without Christ. And a Christian can do that.

But Paul is praying for you to be so aware of the love of Christ, that your heart would be full and overflowing with the reality of Jesus Christ. So this prayer is that you would be absolutely conscious of Christ in your heart, that you would be as conscious of Christ's presence in you, as you are of your own being and thoughts. When you talk to your wife, when you go to the grocery store, when you sit by yourself with a cup of coffee, you are aware that Christ is dwelling in your heart by faith. When he is dwelling in your heart by faith, then no matter what is happening to you, you have his peace, you have his joy, and you have his strength, to do all things through Christ.

Applications:

One: Pray for revelation to comprehend these riches in Christ until your true, mental and emotional state of mind is that you are unfathomably rich and blessed.

The first priority of the Devil is to make you think you are poor when you are rich. His priority is to turn you away from Christ, or to distort the true image of Christ, to divert your attention from the riches of Christ. Pray and then purposely contemplate or dwell on these riches.

Second: Let the people around you see that you consider yourself to be rich. You do this by the way you talk about yourself, the way you talk about your life, by the absence of grumbling, and by the thanksgiving that flows out of you.

The world is watching you to see if Christ is the answer. Do we give the impression that to have Christ is to have unsearchable and glorious riches? Do we give the impression that the greatest thing in the world is to be a Christian? We can't fake that. We have to really believe that we are rich in Christ.

Third. Worship is our response to this wealth. Worship is singing praises to God but we also worship him with our lives, with our willing obedience, with our glad and cheerful service. AFTER telling us of our riches in Christ, Paul says in Ephesians 4:1 Therefore let us walk in a manner worthy of our calling. Live in a manner consistent with these riches! Your life should match your wealth, your status, your high and holy calling, your privileges as a child of God. Live in a way that matches what you have received!

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