"If an angel walks besides me it is because ahead of me is a work that only an angel can do!"

(Preached at Fleetwood, 1965)

“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…” Ephesians 3:8.

a. For 37 years I have personally had the privilege of preaching the Gospel of Christ. From numbers between half a dozen to 1500 have been my listeners.
b. If this should be my last sermon, I have already enjoyed enough privilege for one man. To God be thanks.
c. Tonight I shall ask you to consider the opinions and estimates of a preacher of olden time – Paul.
This is what he says: “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…” Ephesians 3:8.

1. Paul Had a Poor Opinion of Himself
“The least of all saints!”

a. This is not mock modesty. No adjective fit to express his opinion – so he does violence to language and talks about “less than the least!”
b. Why did he feel thus?…
i. Many of his colleagues were “in Christ before him.”
ii. He had been a persecutor of Christians – and he never forgave himself.
iii. Note: Not only least of Apostles – but of saints!
c. How very different from the self-advertising of some. They announce themselves with terms like “God’s man for the hour!” – “His Holiness.” etc.

2. Paul Had an Excellent Opinion of his Brethren
A poor opinion of self is a great help to a good opinion of the saints.
Yet Paul was no dreamer –
He had sharp contention with Barnabas over John Mark.
He had rebuked Peter to the face.
Nor was he insensible to the low spirituality of those saints to whom he wrote: “carnal babies!” “When you ought to be teachers, you need to be taught!”
“Oh foolish Galatians!” etc.
They are faulty no doubt, but they are the people of God.
The truly regenerate ones are the real aristocracy.

“My soul shall pray for Zion still
For there my friends and kindred dwell.”

3. Paul Thought Very Highly of his Work
“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…” Ephesians 3:8.

a. He looked upon his ministry as a gift from God – a favour bestowed.
Yet speaking humanly it was a very poor job..
i. He was no Lord Bishop. He had no palace. Not even a house!
ii. His stipend was such that he said: ” I know how to suffer hunger and nakedness.”
iii. His comfort was such that prisons afforded.
Not many clergymen would apply for Paul’s job!
b. His glory was in his dishonour – his boast in his losses:-
“Stripes and imprisonments await me in every city.”
“I have suffered the loss of all things that I might win Christ.”
c. Yet he literally marvelled at his privilege – I see him raising his hands in astonishment… “Unto me – Unto me is this grace given, that I should preach!”
d. Of course, Paul had a very clear idea of what it was that he had to do:- TO PREACH!
Not to sprinkle with holy water.
Not to carry a crucifix and dress in strange millinery.
Not to set himself up as a demi-god, distributing pardons and placing empty hands on empty heads.
e. Wherever he went among the Gentiles this one thing he did – He preached Christ and Him crucified.
You cannot find me one instance where he played at being a priest.
At Athens he did not build another altar.
At Corinth he did not say mass.
At Rome he did not teach ordinands the ins and outs of genuflections – the art of intonation with voice of misery
Nor did he demonstrate the art of waving incense.
What do you say Paul? –

“It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

4. Paul Thought Kindly of his Congregation
“Among the Gentiles.”
Peter had a more respectable sphere; the ancient Hebrew.
Paul thanked God for his call – yet they were an awful crew:-
i. Greeks – full of lust and learning.
ii. Romans – noted for profligacy and power.
iii. Scythians – barbaric, uncouth.
Is it not touching to hear some missionary speak with affection and tenderness of the natives among whom they labour?
Paul had become a Gentile to the Gentiles!

5. Paul Loved his Message Most of all
“The unsearchable riches of Christ.”
To Paul – and to us – no message is comparable to the message of the Gospel…
a. He preached Christ
What riches were in Christ-
The winds knew Him and were still
The waves knew Him and fell at His feet.
The water recognised its Creator and blushed into wine.
Sinners loved Him and washed His feet with tears.
Devils feared and fled Him.
Today He has put off His servant’s form. He has laid aside the towel wherewith Her washed the disciples’ feet – and “all power is given unto Him in Heaven and in Earth.”
He is crowned King of Kings and Lord of Lords – and His Name is “Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”
b. But Paul preached “Chris – and Him crucified!”
Of all unsearchable riches His blood is most precious.
It is the only antidote for your sin:-
Water cannot wash the stain away.
Fire cannot burn it out.
Hammers cannot pound it out.
But His precious blood can wash it out and make you white as snow.
The Saviour every sinner needs is the bleeding Saviour – Those ruby drops are “the unsearchable riches of Christ!”

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