Life-Study of Ephesiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Ephesians 3:8 speaks of the unsearchable riches of Christ, and 3:17, of Christ making His home in our hearts. This indicates that the very Christ who is making His home in us is the Christ with the unsearchable riches. The unsearchable riches of Christ are for our enjoyment. Day by day and even hour by hour we need to enjoy these marvelous, wonderful, immeasurable, unlimited, and all-inclusive riches.
It is difficult to list all the items of the riches of Christ. If these items were few in number, it would be easy for us to point them out. But Christ’s riches are beyond our ability to speak of them or to enumerate them. In order to get into the riches of Christ in Ephesians, it will be helpful to consider Paul’s experience of these riches as revealed in the book of 2 Corinthians.
The book of 2 Corinthians deals with grace, in contrast to 1 Corinthians, which deals with gifts. Paul concludes 2 Corinthians with the words, “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (13:14, Gk.). Because 2 Corinthians is a book of grace, in the concluding verse Paul mentions grace first. Grace is deeper and more subjective than gifts. Gifts are outward, but grace is inward. Furthermore, gifts are related to what we do, but grace is related to inward enjoyment.
It is significant that it is in 2 Corinthians, not in 1 Corinthians, that Paul says that we are transformed as we behold the glory of the Lord with an unveiled face (2 Cor. 3:18). To be gifted is one thing, but to be transformed is another. Although many Christians pay attention to gifts, not many concentrate on transformation.
Do you prefer to be gifted or to be transformed? Before you answer this question, consider the example of Balaam’s donkey (Num. 22:23-33). Suddenly this donkey spoke to Balaam. How miraculous for a donkey to speak a human language! However, the donkey was not transformed into a human being. There was the gift of speaking, but there was not any transformation.
Transformation takes place slowly through the growth in life. It transpires so slowly that it may seem as if nothing is happening. For example, to a mother, her young child may look the same every day. Actually, the child is gradually growing.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says, “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.” The treasure in the earthen vessels does not refer to gifts. Rather, it denotes something precious that is hidden. The vessel is outward, but the treasure is inward. Through the process of transformation over a period of time, the treasure takes over the vessel and swallows it up.
Another difference between 2 Corinthians and 1 Corinthians is that 2 Corinthians speaks a great deal about suffering, but there is no need for suffering in order to have spiritual gifts. It was not necessary for Balaam’s donkey to suffer to have the ability to speak a human language. Transformation, on the contrary, requires a certain amount of suffering. For this reason, 2 Corinthians speaks not only of the grace of Christ, but also of the sufferings of Christ. In 2 Corinthians 1:5 Paul says that “the sufferings of Christ abound in us.” The grace of Christ with the sufferings of Christ produces transformation. Transformation is not a matter of our gifts or abilities; it is a matter of what we are in our inward being.
In 2 Corinthians 4:5 Paul declared, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.” Although Paul did not preach himself or write an autobiography, occasionally he found it necessary to disclose certain aspects of his experience of Christ. In 2 Corinthians there are a number of such disclosures by which we can see how Paul enjoyed particular aspects of the riches of Christ. Later on in this message we shall consider these particular aspects.
Certain aspects of the riches of Christ are very great. Some of these are the fact that Christ is God, the Creator, the Son of God, the Redeemer, the Savior, the Father, and the life-giving Spirit. Other major aspects are related to incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection, ascension, descension, and indwelling. Furthermore, there are the aspects of Christ as life, love, power, holiness, and righteousness. All these are great items, and, to some degree at least. Christians do know them. However, Christians may have just a doctrinal knowledge of these riches of Christ without the experience of them. May the Lord have mercy on us so that we may not only know the various aspects of the riches of Christ, but also experience them and enjoy them.
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