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November 20, 2015

UNSEARCHABLE RICHES IN CHRIST

by Leslie John

 

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; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (Ephesians 3:8-9)

 

Leslie M. John

THE FOUNDATION LAID

“And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20)

The Church is not a building but it constitutes believers in the Christ. In the Old Testament period God came and dwelt in the Tabernacle and in the Temple and therefore, the church is often compared with a building in the New Testament.

Apostle Paul speaks of the church which is firmly founded on the apostolic doctrines, and the prophets, whose corner stone, is Lord Jesus Christ. He also wrote that the Church is the body of Christ, whose head is Jesus Christ. Also the Church is compared as the bride whose marriage with the Lord takes place in heaven and marriage feast on the earth.

When it comes to laying the foundation of the church the work was already done and complete. No no more foundation is required because never a foundation is laid on another foundation. The church grows, and expands until the second advent of Lord Jesus Christ.

APOSTLE

The literal meaning of “apostle” is “one sent forth,” an envoy, missionary. The followers of the teachings of Lord Jesus grew greatly in number before Apostle Paul commenced his ministry for the Lord. Saul, who was called Paul, was terribly persecuting the followers of Jesus, but very quickly stopped by the Lord calling Him to be an apostle to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.

The commission given by Lord Jesus Christ as it is written in Matthew 28:16-20, commenced officially only after the commission given in Acts 1:8 was put into practice. The disciples of Jesus Christ preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ even before Apostle Paul preached.

Apostle Paul was a great instrument in the hands of God to reveal the mystery of the Church and provision of salvation to the Gentiles. Fourteen books (including Hebrews), which form the chunk of the New Testament, are written by him.

PROPHET

The Biblical definition of ‘Prophet’ is that if the prophecy spoken by him in the name of he LORD does not come to pass, then he is not a prophet, but if the word spoken by him in the name of the LORD comes to pass, then he is a prophet of God.

“When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22)

UNSEARCHABLE RICHES

The unsearchable riches of Christ that Paul taught were similar to the unsearchable depths of the sea, the limits of which cannot be accurately measured. Those riches in Christ were the provision of salvation to Gentiles and their status being considered on par with the Jews.

THE MYSTERY REVEALED

It is the Church age and it was a mystery in the Old Testament period. It was revealed to Apostle Paul by Lord Jesus Christ, and the mystery revealed was that “the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:2-6)

Paul writes…

“If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” (Ephesians 3:2-6)

Barnabas, who was also sent forth to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, brought Paul to the apostles and “declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus”. (cf. Acts 9:27; 11:22)

It is that reason that Paul says he was given the responsibility of preaching the unsearchable riches in Christ to the Gentiles. It is this office of an apostle that was given to him of which he mentions in Ephesians 3:8-11

BY GOD’S GRACE

“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; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Ephesians 3:8-11)

HONOR TO THE APOSTLES

Bible gives enormous glory and honor to the twelve disciples chosen by Lord Jesus Christ during His ministry on the earth in order that they may carry forward His legacy and His teachings to the people of this world.

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14)

Out of the twelve chosen, one betrayed Him and in order to fill in the position fell vacant, the disciples of Jesus, after praying chose Matthias. However, after he was chosen, and within a short time, there was another, named Saul, who persecuted the church, came into the Ministry. He was called Pau (cf. Acts 13:9)

“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1)

Paul’s entrance into preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles was after thousands had already followed Jesus’s teachings which were proclaimed by the disciples of Jesus. The question remains as to who would be the twelfth apostle whose name will be along with other eleven on twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem.

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14)

The twelve tribes of Israel also have equal glory and honor as that of the twelve apostles, and their names will be on the twelve gates of a wall great and high and at the gates of twelve angels,

THE CITY OF NEW JERUSALEM

“And had a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (Revelation 21:12)

The city in itself will be so beautiful that there will be no temple in it, and no ordinary light that we currently see. But “the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it” and “the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”

“And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”. (Revelation 21:22-23)

“And the foundations of the wall of the city were garnished with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, a chalcedony; the fourth, an emerald; The fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, a topaz; the tenth, a chrysoprasus; the eleventh, a jacinth; the twelfth, an amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city was pure gold, as it were transparent glass” (Revelation 21:19-21)

CHOSING OF TWELFTH APOSTLE

Judas Iscariot committed suicide and it created a void for few days until the composition of twelve is restored by choosing Mathias in the upper room at Jerusalem, where the disciples lived.

The names of eleven disciples of Lord Jesus Christ are…

1.Peter, 2. James, 3. John, 4. Andrew, 5. Philip, 6. Thomas, 7. Bartholomew, 8. Matthew, 9. James the son of Alphaeus, 10. Simon Zelotes, 11. Judas the brother of James

Lord Jesus Christ showed Himself alive to many forty days, after His resurrection from the dead, reiterating about the kingdom of God. He also appeared to His disciples and commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem but wait there for the Promise of the Father (Holy Spirit). He said to them that they will receive the power of Holy Spirit, and then after they have received the power, they will be witnesses unto Him in Jerusalem, and in Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto uttermost part of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8)

After He spoke to His disciples He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight. The disciples returned from mount of Olivet to Jerusalem.

The disciples of Jesus Christ and women including Mary the mother of Jesus, and with the Lord’s half-brothers, prayed and made supplications with one accord. They were altogether one hundred and twenty in the upper room, where Peter preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ concerning the Lord’s death, burial and resurrection, for the first time. He also mentioned about Judas Iscariot, who was numbered with them had obtained part of the ministry of discipleship, but committed suicide after he betrayed Jesus Christ.

With the thirty pieces of silver Judas Iscariot received as payment for betraying Jesus, he bought a field of blood. The Scripture calls it as the “reward of iniquity”. Judas Iscariot cast down the thirty pieces of silver in the temple, and went and hanged himself; he fell headlong and burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out” and thus a void was created by the death of Judas Iscariot.

The chief priests took the thirty pieces of silver pieces from the temple and bought with the money a potter’s field to bury strangers in. It was a prophecy fulfilled (cf. (Psalms 41:9; Acts 1:16).

“Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me” (Psalms 41:9)

“And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood. And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in” (Matthew 27:5-7)

“Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day”. (Matthew 27:8)

“And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood” (Acts 1:19)

Thus scripture provides a place for Gentiles as well and it was a mystery that the “Gentiles should be fellow-heirs and of the same body and partakers of His promise in Christ by the Gospel”

While Peter was still speaking, others suggested the names of two individuals, who accompanied them and Jesus from the time of Baptism of John until the ascension of Him in order that one of them, who would be chosen as the twelfth disciple, would become a witness such as they are. Those two names were Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.

They prayed and said and said to the Lord that he knows the hearts of all and sought the Lord to show who, out the two selected, may be given be place of twelfth apostle. Then, they cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias and he was numbered as the twelfth disciple along with the eleven apostles.

“And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:24-26)

Thus Matthias was chosen to be numbered along with them. However, he was not mentioned by name in the Scriptures working for the Lord; yet according Acts 2:42-43 he was with rest of the apostles and the church “continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles”. (Acts 2:42-43)

Matthias was the one whom Peter and other disciples chose by casting lots. The method of choosing by casting lots is not new in the Bible. In Leviticus Chapter we see how two goats are chosen by high priest; one to be the named as the Lord’s goat and other was “scapegoat”. Therefore, Mathias takes the legitimate positon of the twelfth apostle.

Some argue vehemently that Apostle Paul was the twelfth Apostle, but one that was numbered along with other eleven was Matthias, who would in future be given the honor and glory as declared in Revelation 21:14; nevertheless Apostle Paul will receive great rewards unknown to us, and unfathomable riches in Christ, and the Lord knows the details thereof. Even though he worked greatly for God he could not take place the twelfth disciple.

If the ministry of Paul were the criterion to name Paul as twelfth apostle Barnabas’s ministry would also perhaps contend for the thirteenth position. How would we ignore great preaching by Apostle Paul who wrote…

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:19-20)

“And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Revelation 21:14)

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