12 February 2008

Verse by verse through Ephesians (3:14-3:21)

Ephesians 3:14-21

14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Paul has taken the first three chapters of this epistle to tell us just who we are in Christ—we were adopted as sons, we have been redeemed, we have been forgiven, we have obtained an inheritance (1:1-14). We have love for all the saints, the eyes of our understanding will be enlightened, we may know the hope of His calling and what is the exceeding greatness of his power, and we are the body of Christ, who fills all in all. (1:15-22). We were made alive together with Christ, we have been made to sit in the heavenly places, by grace we have been saved through faith, and we have been prepared for good works (2:1-10). We who were once the Uncircumcision have been made of one body with the Circumcision, we have Christ as our peace, the middle wall of separation between Jew and Gentile has been torn down, we are no longer strangers but fellowcitizens with the Nation Israel (2:11-22). And we have been shown the hidden mysteries of Christ which heretofore had been hidden from our eyes (3:1-13).

And Paul begins this last paragraph about who we are in Christ by referring back to verse one of this chapter. For this reason… If you recall, this is exactly how he started verse 1. For this reason… What we can assume from this structure is that the last thirteen verses have been one big glory spell, and now Paul has to bring the reader back to the main thrust of this section. And in order to do that, we have to reach back into the last part of chapter 2. So, a condensed version of what Paul is saying. Ephesians 2:19-3:1, 14-15Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone…in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles… For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named… We are all of one blood in Christ Jesus our Lord. Because of this glorious truth, Paul humbles himself before the Lord of Glory, that we are no longer "Jew and Gentile," that the wall of separation has been broken down, and that we may all come boldly before our God and Savior.

…from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named… Notice this also: the whole family on heaven and earth is named by Christ Jesus our Lord. It is no longer that one is "of the tribe of Levi" and another is "of the nation of Cush" or even that "I am of Apollos, and I am of Cephas." If we are in Christ, we are above a servant, a brother beloved, specially to me, but how much more unto thee, both in the flesh, and in the Lord? (Philemon 1:16). We no longer belong even to our families here on earth! We are in the family of the one who called us to that family, our Master and Lord! For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me (Hebrews 2:11-13).

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man… Forget what you see in movies, or hear from the latest pop psychologist. We have no "inner strength." We have no "reservoir" that we can call upon when things get rough. If you recall, in chapter 2, Paul tells us we are "dead." Dead men have no strength beyond themselves. And in order to follow Christ, in order to live the life He has called us to, we need more strength that we were born with—in fact, more strength that we could ever develop through our own efforts or even the cajoling of another.

Jesus told us we are to "Be perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). Tell me, how are you going to be perfect? Are you going to keep the law? James 2:10 says whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. Are you going to ask someone to help you grow spiritually? 1st Corinthians 3:6-7I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Tell me, then, how you plan to mature into the perfect man of God through your own "inner strength." The answer is quite simple, actually. You won't. Unless you bow your knee to the Father, you are not born again. You can try to do all the good you can do. You can try and pray all the prayers you want. But until God grants according to the riches of His glory for you to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, and unless your life is a constant pattern of submission to God, then that which you call "life" will eventually lead to death.

You may hear the phrase "man-centered salvation." Friend, that is not a thing you should seek. For no true salvation can come except by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. If you hear someone preaching a "man-centered salvation," run as quickly and far away from it as you possibly can. Because it is a lie. You cannot "save yourself." Only God can save you.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith… Jesus is not going to take up residence within us just because we "pray a little prayer and ask Jesus to come into your heart." That is not "following Christ," that's called Decisionism. It is an American invention borne out of a desire to increase numbers while allowing those people to continue merrily on their way to Hell. When Jesus tells the Laodiceans that He is standing and knocking at the door, He IS NOT talking about "standing at the door of our heart." Get that fanciful thought out of your head. Because when Jesus wants in, He ain't going to stand their tapping on the door. He is going to bang on that door, and He will bust it down if must needs be.

We who have been shown the grace of God are to go to him repeatedly that He would not just change someone's heart, but that He would reach down, take hold of that person's will, grab onto it and squeeze the life out of it and crush it into a fine powder. Then that He would take that will and re-form it, re-mold it, re-build it until it looks like His very own. For what did our Lord tell us to pray? "Father…THY will be done." Do not pray that they will "make a decision." Do not pray that they will "pray a prayer." Do not pray that they will "get right with God." (How can you "get right with God" when you don’t know how?) Do not pray that they will "ask Jesus into their heart." Rather, throw yourself before the throne of grace and beat your breast, pleading that God will make that person into one who will glorify God and show forth the beauty of Christ to a world that is dying and decaying and "making decisions" every day.

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory…that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge… How could God love us when we spent all of our days hating Him and rebuking Him and blaspheming His name and rebelling against His sovereignty? Can we comprehend it? I don’t know how we could, since this "love of Christ" is far greater than our ability to comprehend it. Much like the peace of God, which passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). We will never know just how deep that love goes.

O the deep, deep love of Jesus/Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free!
Rolling as a mighty ocean/In its fullness over me!
Underneath me, all around me/Is the current of Thy love
Leading onward, leading homeward/To Thy glorious rest above!

O the deep, deep love of Jesus/Love of every love the best!
’Tis an ocean vast of blessing/’Tis a haven sweet of rest!
O the deep, deep love of Jesus/’Tis a heaven of heavens to me;
And it lifts me up to glory/For it lifts me up to Thee!


Tell me something: if I stood outside of your door, every day and every night, yelling and screaming at you, telling you how I hated your guts and how little I thought of you and your family, and how if I could I would kill you and everyone you love. If I practiced all kinds of lewd and perverted acts on your doorstep every day and night, and I dared you to do something about it. If I cursed you and spray painted swastikas and 666 and all other kinds of wicked graffiti all over your house, and defied you to come out and stop me. If I did all these things, would you send out your child, and allow me to put that child to death in order to make peace with me? I dare say at this point you are calling me insane. But that is exactly what God did for us.

In Isaiah 66:1, God says, "Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool." Every time we sinned, every time we lusted and got high and watched pornography and stole and shed innocent blood and did all other sorts of uncleanness, we did not do these things in a secret place. We did not do them in a land far away from the watchful eye of God. Every time we sin, we do it right in front of God Himself. We commit our acts of lewdness right on His front porch. And yet He said to this wicked and adulterous generation, "I love you! And I will not stand for you to be destroyed! For if I do not make peace with you, you will not make peace with Me! Therefore, I will send out my Son, that He may shed His blood as a sacrifice for your sins that you committed against Me! "

What is the width and length and depth and height? What is the love of Christ which passes knowledge? It is nothing less than the Cross. It is Jesus interceding for us, pleading with the Father, "No, please do not destroy him yet. He is one of My sheep. I will call out to him again. I shall open the door for him one more time. He is blind, his eyes are closed, he knows who I AM but he does not know Me yet. Stay, I beseech you, Your anger lest one of My sheep perish."

For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ…that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory…that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. The fulness of God. This is the point that Paul has been trying to get across to us through these first three chapters. He has spent these first three chapters telling us who we are! We who are in Christ are not "poor ol' sinners saved by grace." Get that out of your head, that's heresy. We are saints! We are children of God! We have the fulness of God within us! Colossians 1:27Christ in you, the hope of glory. 1st Corinthians 6:19your body is a temple for the Holy Spirit which is in you. You are not a sinner! You are not a poor, pitiful ol' thing. You are a child of God! You are more than a conqueror (Romans 8:37)! No weapon shall prosper against you (Isaiah 54:17)! Psalm 91:1-7He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust.” Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the perilous pestilence. He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler. You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you.

There are so many who do not understand. There are many who still think they're not good enough. It's natural. We don’t think we deserve something we didn’t earn. And you know what? We didn’t deserve it. We do not deserve to expect God's protection. We did not deserve His salvation. My friend, that's why it's called "grace." And here, Paul says that it is his fervent prayer, one for which he bows his knees and bends himself over that you would know the fulness of God that comes by grace through faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t walk around like you're still the same person you were before! Because you're not! You are a new creation in Christ (2nd Corinthians 5:17). You were purchased by God (Ephesians 1:14). Therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s (1st Corinthians 6:20), endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2nd Timothy 2:3), Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage (Joshua 10:25), and Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses (1st Timothy 6:12).

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Not just "abundantly." But rather, "exceedingly abundantly." There is no comma between the two words. It's not "exceedingly and abundantly." But the abundance of what God can do exceeds any human measurement. Consider the fact that astronomers measure distances in light years. God is not bound by such minuscule distances. We look at an inch. It's not that big, 'bout yay long. To God, a light year is an inch. Or, as Peter said, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day (2nd Peter 3:8). We can't see five seconds into the future. Then when it's passed, it is as if it never happened. But God sees not only what IS happening, but what HAS happened, and what WILL happen thousands of years from now.

Do you think there's something in your life He can fix? Do you think there is some pit you are in that He can't get you out of? He can do "exceedingly abundantly" beyond anything you can imagine. After all, He did create the universe out of nothing. You want to know the truth about the "Big Bang?" Here it is: God spoke, and **BANG** it happened. Thus, all glory in the church belongs to Him, forever and ever. Amen.

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