Jack Carroll - Life and Ministry of Paul - Madera, California - 1956

Hymn 263, “Thou Sweet Beloved Will of God.” The life and ministry of Paul the servant of Christ. He preached the gospel for thirty years. The fourteen letters he wrote are also filled with Christ.  Christ to him was fairest of ten thousand. He said, “To me, to Live is Christ.” The Christ he knew was Christ of this side of the cross, and resurrection. He did not have the privilege of Peter, James, and John to walk with Him in his flesh, yet he carried to the end this fellowship.  So that in his life and ministry he answers questions of the servants today, “How can I get to know Christ as the first disciples did?” Some say it is impossible today. That is the language of unbelief. This man never saw, walked, and talked with Christ, yet as we study his life and letters, we see that he enjoyed a very wonderful intimate fellowship with Him, the risen, glorified, indwelling, all powerful, all knowing, all present Christ. The same yesterday, today, and forever. I would like to have my faith increased in this Christ. My prayer is, “Lord, increase my faith.”

 

I practically bury myself in the New Testament, in the letters of Paul.  We all like to get a letter; many bring a great deal of comfort. There are four of Paul’s letters that mean a great deal to me:  Galatians - Gospel of the indwelling Christ; Ephesians - Gospel of the unsearchable riches of Christ; Philippians - Gospel of the manifestation of Christ; Colossians - Gospel of the fullness of Christ. Many people make a distinction between the gospels and the epistles.  I have ceased to do this because the teachings of the gospels are found in the epistles and the teachings of the epistles are found in the gospels.  Gospel means good news, good news that Christ is willing to live in us, good news of His riches are unsearchable, good news that Christ is manifested in us, good news that every need in us can be fully met in Christ.

 

I would like to speak of the letter to the Ephesians. This is one of the most wonderful letters ever written.  It was a circular letter to the Christians everywhere. It speaks of the unsearchable riches of Christ. Immeasurable wealth that cannot be estimated is to be found in Christ.  People are rich and don’t know it. Many of God’s children are discontented, want to move and get out, not knowing that within their reach is this immeasurable wealth. (He gave the illustration of a family living in poverty in the midst of a diamond field in South Africa.) This wealth is ours, but we have to wake up to the fact that we can make use of it. Paul was living in the enjoyment of this wealth in Christ. There is nothing I desire more than to share with others a little of this wealth I have begun to enjoy; we cannot exhaust it.  Ephesians 3:8, this is a preacher’s verse. The servants of God are separated unto the gospel and are in the position to concentrate on one thing. This is a preacher’s testimony, of Paul, a servant in prison, in chains, not at liberty to go and preach. “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.” The greatest privilege is preaching the Gospel. None ever deserve or merit it - “Who am less than the least of all saints.” The need was never greater, the harvest never whiter, the difficulties never greater. Lift up your eyes, the field is ready. Pray the Lord of the harvest that He will send laborers.  I have great admiration for fellow laborers who have given their lives to preach and who do not murmur or complain when difficulties come, but face them. I wish I could dig out some of these riches and by faith lay hold on some of this wealth.

 

Ephesians 1:3 (a verse to memorize), “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” The verse in I Peter 1:3 is a parallel verse, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Peter was looking into the future and Paul the present.  Paul had in mind blessings to enjoy now in our everyday life.  There are people today who are choosing material, physical blessings.  Paul is thinking of spiritual blessings which can and will enrich people of God today.

 

The first three chapters of this letter give two very clear pictures that are worth thinking of.  First, what men and women were before the gospel came. Second, what they became after the gospel came. The first picture is given clearly in 2:11. Remember what you used to be - the pit out of which you were digged.  It is 56 or 57 years ago when I said, “It is Christ for me tonight, and Christ for me forever.” Oh, what I might have been. I have been lifted out of the pit, my feet planted on the rock, and a new song in my heart.  We were dead in trespasses and sin, children of disobedience.  He also includes himself. There is no difference. 2:12, without God, without Christ, no hope in the world. This is an awful condition to be in. I have no difficulty in reading myself into this passage.

 

“And you hath he quickened who were in death” - spiritual death.  This spiritual death is alarming - it is progressive.  The people don’t grow better as they grow older, they grow worse.  We have examples of this in the people Christ raised from the dead. The little girl was dead, the young man was on the way to the tomb, and Lazarus was in the tomb for days. Spiritual death and corruption is progressive, it grows worse.  Nothing terrifies me more than when people release the brakes.  There is no depth to which they can go.  This is the picture of these people before the gospel came.

 

When the Gospel came they were quickened, made alive by God.  God came to live in them, sealed them by His Spirit. Now they had understanding of the mystery of the Will of God. They were far, but now are brought nigh…Son-ship in the family of God, and Citizenship in the kingdom of God.  Ephesians 2:18, 19, “For through Him, we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” Song - “I am now a Child of God.”

 

I John 3:1-3, John took a long look back over his life - 60 years of fellowship with God. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” Looking into the future, he said, “Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure.” You may ask, “How can I become a son?” The door is wide open - a welcome awaits you. John 1:10-11, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not.” We may say that if we lived then, we wouldn’t have treated him such. Be careful; if there is rebellion in your heart today, you are no different in the sight of God and are no better than those who cried, “Away with Him, crucify Him.” It is God that takes sinful men just as they are and makes them His children. The responsibility rests upon you.

 

God is now willing in Christ reconciled,

Willing to pardon and cleanse the defiled,

Willing to take you and make you His child,

God is now willing, are you?

 

These blessings, unsearchable riches are wrapped up in Son-ship in the family of God and Citizenship in the kingdom of God. We are members of the family of God through willingness to let God live in us.  If you are outside, don’t allow possessions, business, or relatives to any longer keep you outside. Don’t allow these to take the invitation from you to sit inside the kingdom of God. Some people allow wrong things to keep them outside; the others, just mentioned, were right legitimate things. If your foot or hand would keep you outside, get rid of it. Do you want to share in these riches? We surely should be moved to settle this question.