Ephesians 3-14-21 (Mp3 File for download)
Well, I hope you guys enjoyed last weeks message from Stephen Crotts. What a great reminder of the synergistic powers of God.
We are going to pick back up in out study of Ephesians today, so if you will turn to Ephesians 3:13, we are going to read through verse 21.
If you recall, Paul was about to begin this sentence back in verse one, but wanted to remind us of something before he finished his sentence, he wanted to remind us that the reason church unity matters is because the church is the means by which God has chosen to reveal his manifold wisdom to the world. He wants us to be reminded of that because he is going to exhort us in the first part of the second half of this book to be united. Being united under Christ, is very important to Paul, and it should be to us. It should be understood also that it does not come easy. In order for us to maintain unity, it requires hard work, and sacrifice. We will get to that, but we need to think about all that he is saying to us in that context, if we are going to get the full weight of his words to us today.
So, what we have here is a couple of things going on, one is that Paul is praying again. Why is he praying? look at verse one, “for this reason” for what reason? look at 2:19-22.
Again, we see that the reason Paul is praying for them is because of the church is being built into a dwelling place for God. The Bride of Christ is so important to the furthering of the Gospel, because it is the vehicle by which the Gospel is transferred. It is also important to note that Paul is not just raying, he is going to him knees in prayer. This is a significant sign that he is very earnest, and has a great sense of the weight of his prayers when he prays. This is not a non-shalont, “throw-up” prayer. this is purposeful, and earnest… He recognizes God’s sovereignty over all families, and all people, and also recognizes that He is asking God for something in the same measure as the Glory of God. SO, he is asking a big prayer.
So what does he ask? What is his end game for his prayer? … Well, if you look towards the end, you will see a familiar word, “that” so, here is the reason, “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God”
That is the goal of his prayer for them. that they would be filled with all the fullness of God. Well, what is the fullness of God, I am tempted to ask. Well, according to this text, it is the fullness of God.
Well, I know that is super helpful right? Well, Paul doesn’t spell it totally out for us here, but what he does, is pray for specific things that will all lead presumably to being filled with all the fullness of God.
So lets look at those things. They are: 1. To be strengthened with power 2. Strength to comprehend the love of Christ.
So lets look at the first one: He is praying that they be strengthened with power. Paul recognizes something that many of us do not, until something happens to remind us. That is this: The Christian walk requires supernatural power. We cannot function as human beings without supernatural power working in our midst. I don’t know about you, but I can very easily fall into the trap of thinking that life as a Christian, or even better, a pastor, is going to be easy. Many people in our day and age are all to prone to give up on people, or on churches, or on God because things get difficult. The fact is, if your walk as a Christian does not require hard work, you may not be walking as a Christian. Now, I am not talking about earning anything, or merit based favor. I am talking about working hard to understand where people are coming from, and working hard to love people who are not easily lovable, or who hurt you. there are so many times in my walk as a Christian, and honestly, my time as a pastor that I have realized I need supernatural power… And the power he is talking about is not superficial, it is in your inner being. It is deep, and sustaining, it brings peace in the midst of a storm. It calms the torrents of a troubled heart, and talks you and I off the preverbal ledge of our minds. It is a deep power. And how does he say it comes to us? Through the Holy Spirit. The third person of the Trinity. The Paraclete, comforter, teacher. The one who takes our prayers to the Lord, and brings His words to life as we read them, and meditate on them.
In our walk as Christians, and as a church, we need this power, in out inner being, from the Holy Spirit.
2. Strength to comprehend the love of Christ. The prerequisite for this prayer is that we are rooted and grounded in love. Then, out of that love, grows strength to comprehend the fullness of Christ’s love. So, if you think of this as a plant for a minute. How much does the soil effect the health of the plant? Well, Paul is reminding us here that whatever we are rooted, and grounded in will dictate the health of the plant… If your Christian life is rooted in works, you will not understand the love of Christ, because you will be one of two things: you will be proud, or defeated… If your Christian walk is rooted in anything else but Jesus, it is deficient in the minerals, and nutrients it needs to survive to understand the Love of Christ… So, as this tree of faith grows, rooted in a basic understanding of Christ’s love, the knowledge that we grow in will be the knowledge of His love. Also, if we were reading this in the Greek, we would see the word knowledge as a familiar for something that in the english really doesn’t have the same similarities. The word for knowledge is one that carries a lot of meaning for the readers in Ephesus. The word can be used for the type of knowledge that married folks have. So, this is not book smarts, this is an experiential, intimate, loving knowledge. The last thing I want to point out about this is again, he is asking for strength. Why do you think you need strength to comprehend this love? Wouldn’t wisdom be better, or understanding? No, because again, the thing that is most needed, is strength, because it is going to take work for this to happen. Even the words that are used in the greek carry the weight of battle against opponents. the word for may have power carries an implication of a difficult task that requires resolution. As well, the word for comprehend is a military term the describes combat with a formidable opponent. This is not a prayer for passivity. This is a prayer for people going into battle.
And the result, as we saw in the beginning is that we are filled with the fullness of God.
You may be asking, great, I need power in my life. I want to see this transforming work of God, I want to know the love of Christ like this, but how?
I think Paul loads the answer in his benediction. He reminds us that God is able to do far more abundantly than anything we ask, or think… so, Ask.
He finishes this section off with a reminder that this is all about the glory of God, both in the church, and in Christ, through ought all generations, this is something for us as much as them.