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PREACHING THE UNSEARCHABLE RICHES OF CHRIST

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, May 4, 2014

“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).


The older I get the more I love the Apostle Paul. He is such a humble man, and he opens for us the treasures of Christ. In our text he tells us he is “less than the least of all saints.” Paul always took a very humble view of his Apostleship. In I Corinthians 15:9 he says he is the least of the Apostles because he “persecuted the church of God” before his conversion. He repeats that in I Timothy 1:12, 13.

But then Paul tells us that grace was given to him to preach “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Kenneth Wuest pointed out that the word “unsearchable” is translated from a Greek word that means, “that which cannot be traced out.” The riches of Christ are thus said to be unfathomable, “such as cannot be fully comprehended by men” (Kenneth S. Wuest, Ph.D., Wuest’s Word Studies, Eerdmans, 1975, volume I, p. 84).

For many years I was told by well meaning pastors and teachers that I must not simply preach the Gospel, or my people would be shallow Christians. I believed that for a long time – actually until I was given a complete set of Spurgeon’s sermons. After reading Spurgeon for a while, I began to be amazed at the depth of his preaching on Christ. So I thought that I would try to preach the Gospel in as many different ways, from as many different angles, as Spurgeon did. I remember thinking, “I won’t be able to do this too long. I’ll run out of material, and our people will get bored.”

How wrong I was! I have been preaching the Gospel in the Sunday morning and the Sunday evening services for several years now. And it feels like I’m only scratching the surface! Now I don’t think I will ever run out of sermon material, because I am now preaching the unsearchable, the unfathomable, the “you’ll-never-get-to-the-bottom-of-it” riches of Christ! Help! There’s so much to say about the riches of Christ that I’ll never be able to finish all of it – not in a hundred years!

Will constantly hearing the Gospel of Christ make our people shallow – as I was told? ABSOLUTELY NOT! We have some of the finest Christians that you will find anywhere in the world! That’s not bragging. It’s simply the truth! We have some of the strongest Christians in the world today. And they were converted on Gospel preaching. They were fed on Gospel preaching. And they grew strong on Gospel preaching! I am now beginning to understand what Paul meant when he said,

“I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2).

We are saved by faith in Christ and Him crucified. We grow in grace by faith in Christ crucified. We are sanctified by faith in Christ crucified. Christ is the “Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending” (Revelation 1:8). Christ is “the author and [the] finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). As I preached last night, Christ “...is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption” (I Corinthians 1:30). Since the whole scope of our redemption, sanctification, and glorification lies in Christ – there really isn’t a whole lot more we need to preach about! Mr. Griffith just sang an old German song translated into English,

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
   May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
   May Jesus Christ be praised!

When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
   May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
   May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
   May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
   May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, my [song of joy] divine:
   May Jesus Christ be praised!
Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
   May Jesus Christ be praised!
(“May Jesus Christ Be Praised,” author unknown; translated from the
       German by Edward Caswall, 1814-1878).

Or, as Mr. Griffith sang last night,

Jesus Christ is made to me, All I need, all I need.
   He alone is all my plea, He is all I need.
Wisdom, righteousness and power, Holiness this very hour,
   My redemption full and free, He is all I need!
(“All I Need,” author unknown; copyright 1965 by Dr. John R. Rice in
        “Revival Specials No. 2”).

As I took up this project of trying to preach the Gospel from many angles, I was afraid that my sermons would have little appeal on the Internet. But I have been encouraged by so many who now read my sermons. For instance, last month there were 100,989 “hits” on our website, and we have had many encouraging e-mails. One missionary in Indonesia sent the following message to me last month, on the occasion of my seventy-third birthday. I hesitated to read it to you because it might seem I was boasting. But it was so beautiful I felt I had to share it. English is not his first language. He speaks Indonesian. So I know he took a lot of time to write this charming tribute

       Your sermons have a recurring theme like a symphony, like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The theme occurs again and again. The importance of preaching on the Blood and the atonement of Christ, and on conversion, appear again and again in your sermons. You also preach against “decisionism” and today’s apostasy in the churches again and again. These themes are repeated over and over like Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. They occur again and again and again.
       Your sermons resonate in our ears and remind us again and again that life and opportunities will soon pass. Therefore we must continue to preach Christ while the opportunity is still here. Our lives and opportunities are like dry leaves which are separated from their stems, free from their shackles, and flying to enjoy their freedom, snake dancing, following the rhythm of the wind, and then falling to decay forever. At first we see and enjoy the freedom, but the time will soon pass and freedom will disappear, until we realize that our lives are not productive anymore and we have lost the opportunity to work for God.
       Your sermons resonate in our ears and remind us again and again not just to be spectators and hearers, but doers of the Word, doers in preaching the Gospel of Christ. Our lives and opportunities are like a beautiful rainbow with colors that make our eyes stare in bewilderment; but storms blow away all of its beauty and existence. We often see wonderful opportunities to preach the Gospel, but we are complacent and just stare at the beauty of it, until awareness comes to us. But the beautiful occasion has passed and nothing is left but emptiness. Our time is given to us to reach lost souls now. Although there are many obstacles, still many are open. From among those who reject our preaching, certainly there will always be some who receive Christ.
       Your sermons resonate in our ears and remind us again and again to realize that our strength to work has been weakened. Our lives and opportunities are like the waves roaring, to challenge us, but our strength soon disappears and turns into the soft rustle of small waves when they touch the shore – like our determination to work, which is not stable at all times. Sometimes we are very excited, but often we feel desperate and abandon the job. While the Spirit is burning in our souls, let the fire continue to inflame our preaching and our service. Your sermons resonate in our ears to inspire us, as the Apostle said, “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord” (Romans 12:11).
       Your sermons always remind us that the Word of God said, “As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more” (Psalm 103:15-16).
       Thank you for your sermons. Thank you for the passion that you always inject, telling us to continue to preach the Gospel. Thank you for all that you do for our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
       Happy birthday, Pastor. God bless you and your family and your people.
       Your Son in the Ministry,
       Edi.

That heartfelt message was sent to me by a faithful missionary in Indonesia. It touched my heart, and I wanted to share it with you.

Yes, we must continue to preach Gospel messages. And we must labour with zeal to proclaim “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

I believe that every Christian needs to hear the Gospel often. The “unsearchable riches of Christ” are not just given for unbelievers. In fact, the Epistle to the Ephesians was written to “the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:1). The Apostle Paul gives many points of the Gospel in this great epistle. It is one of my favorite books in the Bible because it glorifies Jesus so well, and proclaims the Gospel so clearly. And the Apostle encouraged these Christians by reminding them what Jesus did to save them. Here are two of my favorite verses.

“That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:12-13).

Every Christian needs to hear the Gospel repeatedly. We need to be reminded that we had no hope, and were without God in the world. We need to be reminded that we “are made nigh by the blood of Christ.”

I have been reading a wonderful sermon by Rev. Warren Peel, pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Newtownabbey, Northern Ireland. In a sermon printed in the Banner of Truth Magazine Rev. Peel pointed out that all Christians, even pastors, need to hear the Gospel often. He said, “We must hear the gospel and believe it every single day of our lives” (Banner of Truth Magazine, August/September 2013, p. 4). Wow! He said that to preachers in a Bible conference! “We must hear the gospel and believe it every day of our lives.” That’s good stuff, preacher! Thank you for saying it! When I read that sermon of his, I jotted down eight reasons why born again Christians need to hear the Gospel often, and think about it every day! Here they are. They are not given in any particular order. They are just written down as I thought of them. Perhaps you will think of more. Here is my list of reasons why Christian people need to hear Gospel preaching.


1.  The Gospel frees us from feeling guilty. (Pastor Peel gave this one in his message).

2.  The Gospel gives us hope for the future – because Christ rose from the dead and is coming again!

3.  The Gospel gives us rest. (Jesus said, “I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28).

4.  The Gospel gives us power over Satan. (“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb,” Revelation 12:11).

5.  The Gospel gives us assurance in prayer. (“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” Hebrews 10:19).

6.  The Gospel gives us strength in times of suffering. (“But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you,” I Peter 5:10).

7.  The Gospel gives us strength to accomplish things we never thought possible. (“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,” Philippians 4:13).

8.  The Gospel gives us confidence that we will grow in grace. (“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Philippians 1:6).


A few weeks ago I preached a sermon called “My Early Life.” I told about some of the hardships I went through as a young person. The Devil twisted that message in one young man’s mind. The young man told me later that he was afraid to trust Jesus for fear he would have go to through those same hardships. See how the Devil twists things! The point of my sermon was that the Lord Jesus Christ gave me strength to go through all those things. And Christ will give you strength to meet the challenges of life as well! Repent of your sin, and trust Jesus! He will wash away your sins with His Blood and give you a new and better life than you would ever have without Him! Here is a song I learned to sing as a boy,

I am resolved to go to the Saviour,
   Leaving my sin and strife;
He is the true One, He is the just One,
   He hath the words of life.
I will hasten to Him, Hasten so glad and free,
   Jesus, Greatest, Highest, I will come to Thee.
(“I Am Resolved” by Palmer Hartsough, 1844-1932).

Turn from your sin and trust Jesus today! You will never regret it! And then think about the Gospel every day for the rest of your life. Jesus died on the Cross to pay the penalty for your sin. Jesus shed His Blood to cleanse us from all sin. Jesus rose physically from the dead to give us life! Turn from sin and trust Him! You will never regret it!

If you would like to speak with us about trusting Jesus, and becoming a real Christian, please leave your seat now and walk to the back of this auditorium. Dr. Cagan will take you to another room where we can pray and talk. Dr. Chan, please pray that someone will trust Jesus this morning. Amen.

(END OF SERMON)
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Ephesians 3:1-8.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“May Jesus Christ Be Praised” (author unknown;
translated by Edward Caswall, 1814-1878).