Ephesians 3_ 7-21      The Love of the Gospel

Rev. David Holwick  ZH

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

October 6, 1991

Ephesians 3:14-21


THE DEPTHS OF CHRISTIAN LOVE



  I. A prayer for avoiding discouragement.            3:13

      A. Paul's prayer of intercession.

          1) He has told us we can approach God with freedom and

                 confidence.            3:12

          2) He now prays for our power, for our not losing heart.


      B. It is easy to get spiritually discouraged.           3:13

          1) Athletes need "heart" to stay in the race.

          2) Believers need "heart" to remain vital Christians.

          3) We you feel you or someone you love are slipping, pray.


      C. Bow on my knees...

          1) Standing was normal posture.                 Luke 18:11,13

          2) Kneeling indicates an exceptional degree of earnestness.

              a) Ezra's confession of national sins.

              b) Jesus in Gethsemane.

              c) Stephen at martyrdom.

              d) (Catholics and kneeling rails?)

          3) Any posture can honor God.

              a) Just don't slouch!


II. The One we pray to:  God the Father.

      A. "I bow before the Father from whom (literally:) all fatherhood

           is named."

          1) In other words, God is a father.

          2) He is the very epitome of fatherhood, the archtype.

          3) Fatherhood implies the thought of concern and provision and

                loving guidance.


      B. When you are despairing over your spiritual life, when you are

            feeling cold and about to lose heart, turn to your Father.

          1) He is a father with resources:  "glorious riches".


III. The course of recovery from spiritual depression:  Six Steps.

      A. "Strengthened with power by Spirit in your inner being."

          1) Inner being - our spiritual nature, created at salvation.

              a) Puzzling since Paul is praying for Christians.

                  1> Isn't Christ already in believers?

              b) The indwelling of Christ is a thing of degrees.

                  1> The word for "dwelling" denotes residence as against

                        lodging.

                  2> Thus Paul prays to the Father that Christ by his

                       Spirit will be allowed to settle down in their

                       hearts, and from his throne there both control

                       and strengthen them.

          2) God begins the work of recovery here.

              a) Not in our feelings or subconscious.

              b) We seek instant sense of relief, but God starts deeper.

              c) Essence of prayer:  "God, help me."


      B. "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

          1) Faith is the key.

          2) Believe that God is in you, and able to help you.


      C. "Being rooted and established in love."

          1) Mixed metaphors - plants and buildings.

              a) Tied together as figures of security.

              b) (Tree roots cut for sewer, not as stable)

          2) We need foundations for our experiences.

              a) God loves us and we are precious to him.


      D. "That you may have power to grasp the dimensions of God's love."

          1) The price of privacy:  loneliness.

              a) Christians are called to be together - with saints.   3:18

          2) The dimensions of love.      (Ephesians 1-3)

              a) Broad enough to encompass all mankind.

              b) Long enough to last for eternity.

              c) Deep enough to reach the most degraded sinner.

              d) High enough to exalt that sinner to heaven.

          3) Human love tends to be one-dimensional. (hormones, manipulative).


      E. "Know the love that surpasses knowledge."              3:19

          1) Know the unknowable.

              a) We can feel things we cannot comprehend.

          2) See Christ in all the circumstances of our lives.


      F. "Filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."    3:19

          1) We realize why God has placed us here.

          2) We realize he is able - more than able to answer our prayers.

                                                               3:20-21



*************************************************************************

Rev. David Holwick               (study notes)

October 3, 1991

     John Stott.    "Confidence in God's Power"  Eph 3:14-21


  I. Our prayers show our anxiety and ambitions.

      A. We pray about what concerns us.


      B. Paul here turns from exposition to intercession.


II. Introduction to his prayer.    3:14-16a

      A. For this reason...

          1) Reason must be Christ's reconciling work and Paul's

               understanding of it by revelation.

          2) The basis of Paul's prayer was his knowledge of God's

              purpose.

              a) We have no authority to pray for anything which God

                   has not revealed to be his will.

              b) Bible reading goes with prayer.

                  1> Scripture discloses God's will.

                  2> Prayer asks God to do his will.


      B. Bow on my knees...

          1) Normal posture was standing.     Luke 18:11,13

          2) Kneeling indicates an exceptional degree of earnestness.

              a) Ezra's confession of national sins.    Ezr 9:5

              b) Jesus in Gethsemane.

              c) Stephen at martyrdom.

          3) Any posture can honor God.

              a) But slouching can be close to abomination. (Hendriksen)


      C. Before the Father, whom every family...

          1) NIV is best - the whole family of believers.

              a) Ephesians stresses God as ultimate Father who has one

                   family.    4:6

          2) "Family" may imply "fatherhood."

          3) God as a Father:

              a) Not from analogy, or projection, but derivation.

      D. According to his riches...

          1) Paul knows God is not limited.

          2) Paul knows God can answer prayer.


III. Substance of his prayer.

      A. Staircase of petitions:  To know Christ's -.

          1) Strength.

          2) Love.

          3) Knowledge.

          4) Fullness.


      B. Strengthened with might in the inner man...

          1) Puzzling since Paul is praying for Christians.

              a) Isn't he already in them?

          2) The indwelling of Christ is a thing of degrees.   (Hodge)

              a) The word for "dwelling" denotes residence as against

                    lodging.

              b) Thus Paul prays to the Father that Christ by his Spirit

                 will be allowed to settle down in their hearts, and from

                 his throne there both control and strengthen them.


      C. Rooted and grounded in love...

          1) Paul's purpose is that they be grounded in love.

              a) They need God's strength to love one another.

          2) Two metaphors:  tree and house.

      D. Knowing Christ's love...

          1) Paul passes from our love to Christ's love.

          2) The dimensions of love.

              a) Literal or rhetorical?

              b) One literal possibility:

                  1> Broad enough to encompass all mankind.

                  2> Long enough to last for eternity.

                  3> Deep enough to reach the most degraded sinner.

                  4> High enough to exalt that sinner to heaven.

          3) "With all the saints"

              a) The isolated Christian can indeed know something of the

                    love of Jesus.

                  1> But his grasp of it is bound to be limited by his

                      limited experience.

              b) Love needs the whole people of God to understand the

                    whole love of God.

                  1> Our varied backgrounds and experiences work together.

          4) Comprehension vs. experience.

              a) Even with the help of other saints, love may not be

                   "known" by experience.

              b) God's love surpasses knowledge.

      E. Filled up to God's fullness.

          1) Use of genitive:

              a) Objective:   abundance of grace God gives.

              b) Subjective:  God's perfection.  (preferable)

          2) God's perfection becomes the standard or level up to which we

               pray to be filled.

              a) The fullness of love ultimately must wait for heaven.


IV. The conclusion of the prayer.       3:20-21

      A. The four petitions are sandwiched between two references to God.


      B. God's ability to answer prayer is stated in a composite of

           seven stages.

          1) God is able to "do" or to work.

          2) He is able to do "what we ask".

          3) He is able to do what we ask or "think".

          4) He is able to do what we ask or think, for he knows it all

               and can perform it all.

          5) He is able to do "more...than" all that we can ask or think.

          6) He is able to do much more, or "more abundantly" because he

               does not give his grace by calculated measure.

          7) He is able to do it "far more abundantly" for he is a God

               of super-abundance.

              a) (Paul coined this word himself.)


      C. Only divine power can generate divine love in the divine society.


*************************************************************

Rev. Ray Stedman


  I. Being in danger of losing heart.              3:13

      A. Athletes need "heart" to stay in the race.


      B. We need knowledge to begin (prayer in Eph 1) and

           power to continue (prayer here in Eph 3).


II. Coming back to God.

      A. He addresses those about to lose heart.


      B. He wants to lead them back to vital Christianity.


      C. He begins with prayer.

          1) When someone's faith is failing, pray for them.

          2) The position for prayer.

              a) "Bow."

              b) Any position works, as long as you do it.

      D. The One we pray to:  God the Father.

          1) "I bow before the Father from whom (literally:) all fatherhood

               is named."

              a) In other words, God is a father.

              b) He is the very epitome of fatherhood, the archtype.

              c) Fatherhood implies the thought of concern and provision and

                    loving guidance.

          2) When you are despairing over your spiritual life,

               when you are feeling cold and about to lose heart,

                  turn to a Father.

              a) He is a father with resources:  "glorious riches".

      E. The course of recovery from spiritual depression:  Six Steps.

          1) "Strengthened with power by Spirit in your inner being."

              a) Inner being - our spiritual nature, created at salvation.

                  1> Spirit comes in at conversion.

                  2> Paul calling for them to get saved?

                      A> No, he is asking for them to more committed to Spirit.

              b) God begins the work of recovery here.

                  1> Not in our feelings or subconscious.

                  2> We seek instant sense of relief, but God starts deeper.

                  3> Essence of prayer:  "God, help me."

          2) "That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith."

              a) Faith is the key.

                  1> Are you believing God?

                  2> Believe that God is in you, and can help you.

          3) "Being rooted and established in love."

              a) Mixed metaphors - plants and buildings.

                  1> Tied together as figures of security.

                  2> (Tree roots cut for sewer, not as stable)

              b) We need foundations for our experiences.

                  1> God loves us and we are precious to him.

          4) "That you may have power to grasp the dimensions of God's love."

              a) The price of privacy:  loneliness.

                  1> Christians are called to be together - with saints.   3:18

              b) The dimensions of love.

                  1> The cross?

                  2> The love of God?

                  3> Best - themes in Ephesians 1-3:

                      A> Length  our Christian hope from creation to eternity.

                      B> Breadth = all people, Jew and Gentile, are gathered

                                      into church.

                      C> Height  where we are in Christ, in heavenly places.

                      D> Depth   the living death out of which Christ called

                                      us.

              c) All of this comes by relating to one another.

          5) "Know the love that surpasses knowledge."           3:19

          6) "Filled with the fullness of God."

              a) We realize why God has placed us here.

              b) Know that God can do more than we can imagine.



Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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