October 21, 2022 Jubilee Community Church

Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Unsearchable Riches of Christ

Jubilee Fam,

How does Paul do it? How does he keep going? With the topic of our Women’s Bible Study on Sunday mornings in mind, how does Paul persevere time and time again when he suffers for his gospel witness? In one of his letters, once again defending his apostleship, Paul unpacks all the trials that came to him as an apostle of the good news of Jesus Christ — 

But whatever anyone else dares to boast of—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches ( 2 Co 11:21–28).

Once again, I ask, how in the world does a person keep going as a witness to King Jesus, and these things happen? How tempting would it be to give up? There is a new book connected to the same series that produced Gentle and Lowly: The Heart of Christ for Sinners and Sufferers called God Shines Forth: How the Nature of God Shapes and Drives the Mission of the Church. In this book, the authors' introductory chapter, entitled The Great Admission, describes what they see as a genuine struggle and discouragement for evangelism that many Christians experience. They write, “Here is the great admission that many of us need to make: when it comes to the Great Commission, our hearts aren’t really in it.” Their thesis is that “the problem at the root of all our struggles with mission is almost certainly right at the beginning: with our view of God…unless we honestly find God to be beautiful and enjoyable, we’ll have nothing worth saying to the people around us.” Their thesis may not cover every reason a Christian might struggle with evangelism, but their diagnosis and suggested remedy are worthy of engagement. Is it a sight problem? Is it a taste problem? Have we tasted and seen that God is good to such a degree that we, by nature, bubble forth with words that call people to taste and see what we have? 

Let me end where I started and go back to the questions concerning Paul’s perseverance through persecution stemming from his Gospel witness. How does Paul keep going in his witness despite the many challenges? I think the authors of God Shines Forth are on to something. Paul has tasted and seen the goodness of Christ. This is what makes his testimony so striking. His gospel work flows from his experience with Jesus. In Ephesians, he calls it the unsearchable riches of Christ! In Philippians, he says, "Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, so that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” He was so enamored with Jesus that what naturally flowed out was his desire for others to be enamored with him also, even as he experienced trouble after trouble after trouble due to his witness. He was so taken up with Jesus that endurance through the persecution was the way forward versus hitting the sidelines in resignation. This is profoundly encouraging to me. There is no need to guilt one another into sharing the gospel because it is our “duty” as a Great Commission Christian. No times ten thousand! The much more beautiful work is to feast our eyes on King Jesus and, in joy and satisfaction, join him in enacting his reign. When you taste a good meal, it is natural to want to tell someone about it.

So Jubilee, let’s keep deeply drinking from the unsearchably rich fountain found in Jesus. Let’s keep feasting on him as the greatest of all meals. Let’s keep aiming to taste and see that our Jesus is good. It is from our experience of Jesus that gospel conversations will naturally overflow as we encourage people to enjoy the same meal that we do in our beautiful Lord. 

Pastor Lew