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Unsearchable Riches


To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ

—Ephesians 3:8

Paul referred to the message he was entrusted to deliver as “unfathomable [unsearchable, KJV] riches.” What is it about this message, that he would describe it in such lofty terms?


No doubt he saw in Christ such a boundless provision for all the wants of man’s soul that he knew no other phrase to convey his meaning. From whatever standpoint he beheld Jesus, he saw in Him far more than mind could conceive, or tongue could tell. What he precisely intended must necessarily be matter of conjecture. But it may be useful to set down in detail some of the things which most probably were in his mind. . . . Let us glance briefly at some of them.

(a) Set down, first and foremost, in your minds that there are unsearchable riches in Christ’s person. That miraculous union of perfect Man and perfect God in our Lord Jesus Christ is a great mystery, no doubt, which we have no line to fathom. . . . Infinite power and infinite sympathy are met together and combined in our Saviour. If He had been only Man He could not have saved us. If He had been only God (I speak with reverence) He could not have been ‘touched with the feeling of our infirmities,’ nor ‘suffered Himself being tempted’ (Heb. 2:18; 4:15). As God, He is mighty to save; and as Man, He is exactly suited to be our Head, Representative, and Friend. . . . It is a rich and precious truth that our Lord Jesus Christ is both ‘God and Man.’

(b) Set down, next, in your minds that there are unsearchable riches in the work which Christ accomplished for us, when He lived on earth, died, and rose again. Truly and indeed, ‘He finished the work which His Father gave Him to do’ (John 17:4)—the work of atonement for sin, the work of reconciliation, the work of redemption, the work of satisfaction, the work of substitution as ‘the just for the unjust.’ . . .

(c) Set down, next, in your minds that there are unsearchable riches in the offices which Christ at this moment fills, as He lives for us at the right hand of God. He is at once our Mediator, our Advocate, our Priest, our Intercessor, our Shepherd, our Bishop, our Physician, our Captain, our King, our Master, our Head, our Forerunner, our Elder Brother, the Bridegroom of our souls. . . .

(d) Set down, next, in your minds that there are unsearchable riches in the names and titles which are applied to Christ in the Scriptures. . . . Think for a moment of such titles as the Lamb of God—the bread of life—the fountain of living waters—the light of the world—the door—the way—the vine—the rock—the corner stone—the Christian’s robe—the Christian’s altar. Think of all these names, I say, and consider how much they contain. To the careless, worldly man they are mere ‘words,’ and nothing more; but to the true Christian each title, if beaten out and developed, will be found to have within its bosom a wealth of blessed truth.

(e) Set down, lastly, in your minds that there are unsearchable riches in the characteristic qualities, attributes, dispositions, and intentions of Christ’s mind towards man, as we find them revealed in the New Testament. In Him there are riches of mercy, love, and compassion for sinners—riches of power to cleanse, pardon, forgive, and to save to the uttermost—riches of willingness to receive all who come to Him repenting and believing—riches of ability to change by His Spirit the hardest hearts and worst characters—riches of tender patience to bear with the weakest believer—riches of strength to help His people to the end, notwithstanding every foe without and within—riches of sympathy for all who are cast down and bring their troubles to Him—and last, but not least, riches of glory to reward, when He comes again to raise the dead and gather His people to be with Him in His kingdom. Who can estimate these riches? The children of this world may regard them with indifference, or turn away from them with disdain; but those who feel the value of their souls know better. They will say with one voice, ‘There are no riches like those which are laid up in Christ for His people.’

For, best of all, these riches are unsearchable. They are a mine which, however long it may be worked, is never exhausted. They are a fountain which, however many draw its waters, never runs dry. . . . Millions have drawn from Him in days gone by, and looking to Him have lived with comfort, and with comfort died. Myriads at this moment are drawing from Him daily supplies of mercy, grace, peace, strength, and help, and find ‘all fulness’ dwelling in Him. And yet the half of the riches laid up in Him for mankind, I doubt not, is utterly unknown! Surely the Apostle might well use that phrase, ‘the unsearchable riches of Christ.’

—J. C. Ryle, Holiness (Banner of Truth, 2014), 384–387.

Posted 2017·03·31 by David Kjos
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Posted in: Christology · Holiness (Ryle) · J C Ryle

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