We saw in Lesson #5 that Paul wanted the believers in Ephesus to know God’s power at work for and in them. In that same passage (Ephesians 1:17-19), he also prayed that they would know “the riches of His glorious inheritance.” Today’s message reflects the core theme of this study series — “Riches Beyond Measure!” As we listen to Paul tell of the many ways God has made his treasure and wealth available to us, we should recognize how rich we truly are in Christ.
But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. – (Ephesians 2:4-7, ESV)
- The citizens of Ephesus, the populace of Asia, and much of the Roman Empire knew the great riches attached to the Temple of Artemis
- The earlier version of the temple (550 BC) had been built by Croesus, the richest man in the world in his day.
- It was burned then rebuilt about 356 BC by the generous donations of the citizens of Ephesus.
- It was maintained over the centuries by gifts of devotees of Artemis until if final destruction some 200 years after the new Testament.
- Roman law declared robbery of a temple as a capital crime; therefore, many wealthy individuals used the Temple as a kind of bank to protect their own wealth.
- Yet, it was all in honor of an imaginary deity – a falsehood and cruel hoax perpretrated by the “Ruler of this Dark World” as a way to mislead mankind and rob the True God of the worship and glory He alone deserved.
- In the Gospel, the Ephesian believers had learned of the true wealth from the true God as contained in Christ.
NOTICE FIRST, PAUL’S STATEMENTS IN THE EPISTLE:
- 1:7-8 – We have redemption and forgiveness according to the riches of His grace which He has lavished on us.
- 1:18 – We can know the hope of the riches of His glorious inheritance for us.
- 2:2-5 – God’s rich mercy and love made us alive in Christ when we were before dead in our sins.
- 2:7 – In the coming ages He will show us the immeasurable riches of His grace.
- 3:8 – Paul by God’s grace was given the privilege of preaching to the Gentiles about the unsearchable riches in Christ.
- 3:16 – God through the riches of His glory will grant that we be strengthened with power through His Spirit in our inner being.
SECOND, WE SEE GOD’S LAVISH RICHES IS A COMMON THEME IN ALL SCRIPTURE:
- John 1:16 – From His fullness we have received grace after grace
- Proverbs 3:13-15 – Wisdom is more precious than silver, gold and jewels, and nothing you desire can compare with having it.
- Romans 11:33 – “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”
- I Corinthians 2:9 – “However, as it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him'”
- Colossians 2:1-3 – “…so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
- I Peter 1:3-7 – “…In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you…”
- Revelation 3:18 – “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich…”
What is of greater value? Knowledge, wisdom and understanding? Or money? In our culture we pay money to gain knowledge and wisdom – through education, books, seminars, etc. Clearly most would say knowledge and wisdom is of more worth.
What is of greater value? The assurance of forgiveness, peace with God, hope for eternity? Or gold?
FINALLY, CONSIDER THE NATURE OF THESE RICHES:
- Consider who the provider is – It is the Eternal, All-Powerful God; who is Creator, Sustainer, and the Holy One. King Croesus may have built the Temple to Artemis, but the King of All Kings is building His Own Temple!
- Consider His motives for providing these riches:
- Grace – Ephesians 1:7; 2:8; 3:8 – not based on our worth or ability
- Mercy – Ephesians 2:4
- Love – Ephesians 2:4
- Consider the nature of these riches:
- Forgiveness before God
- Eternal inheritance
- Access to Throne of God
- Eternal life in Christ
- Consider the limitless amount of these riches:
- Immeasurable (ESV); incomparable (NIV); surpassing (NASB) – Ephesians 2:7
- Manifold (Gk. polupoikilos – many colored, multifaceted) – Ephesians 3:10
- Unsearchable (Gk. anexichniastos – unfathomable, depths beyond measure) – Ephesians 3:8
- Indescribable – II Corinthians 9:15
- Philippians 4:19 – able to supply all your needs
- II Corinthians 9:8-11 – God is able to make all grace abound to you
- Ephesians 3:20-21 – He alone “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.”