Date: July 31, 2022
Speaker: Trent Thompson
Scripture: Ephesians 3:14-21
Series: Praying For Your Church
Good morning church. Got a Bible turn with me to Ephesians chapter 3. We’re going to look at verses 14 through 21. While you’re turning there, just wanna say thank you to you all. My family had the opportunity to be away for a couple of weeks, just a little vacation time for us to connect. We’re always trying to build experiences with our kids, where we are growing closer together and part off my vocational ministry here, you all grant me that opportunity to have a little time away. So thank you for that that’s really meaningful. I don’t want to let that go unspoken, we’re very thankful that we get to be called here. Because of your support, we’re able to have that time. So thanks for that. I hope that one of the things that happened for us over vacation is we’ve been going through this series. Now, if you’ve been with us throughout the summer, and I know we’re in and out kind of during the summer a lot of times, but we’ve been trying to. Hope you’ve been tracking along and hope you’ve been praying, have you been praying for our church? I hope you have been and if you haven’t, it’s never too late to start. One of the great joys for me was that while we were gone, we miss you guys. But I felt so connected to you through prayer. I felt so enriched in my prayers as we’ve been this summer going through what the scriptures call us to pray for one another. So while I was gone, I was praying for you all, like John 17 instructs us that you would have eyes to see the glory of Jesus, that his glory and your life would be more important to you than any other thing and that you would see his co-eternity with the Father. That you would just love the splendor of His glory. Then like John 17, also instructed us, I was praying for you all that we would be one together. We would be one of purpose and one in our affection for one another. We’ve been praying that and praying that for you. Then praying also, like Acts chapter 4 guides us that we’d be bold and the proclamation of the gospel, that the gospel would be on your lips that you would not be ashamed to proclaim that is through Jesus in His death and resurrection, that others would find life and that you would find that God gives you opportunity after opportunity to proclaim that and with boldness, with conviction with certainty. That and with humility, to know that boldness and humility are not contradictory of one another. You know that right? Boldness and humility are not in contradiction to one another. They were praying that Matthew 6 prayer. In particular the things that God has kind of got me praying for you all is for daily bread. I was praying while we were gone these two weeks all the time, just praying God give them their daily bread, given what they need today. I was praying that you would have forgiveness, and that you forgive others. Let’s pray that you would have forgiveness and that you would forgive others and as Russ so aptly taught us last week, I was praying that you would have a spirit of wisdom and revelation into the knowledge of God. Praying that you know God for who he is. Not as you’d imagine him to be, or even want him to be in your own kind of makeup. But you would adore God as He is. I have felt so enriched in this friends, I hope that you are joining me and praying that way for one another because just imagine who we will be, as we increasingly become the church God wants us to be and that will never stop. Will always be becoming who God wants us to be together as a body. But just imagine a church where God is answering those kinds of prayers. Yeah. So we come this week to another prayer and the application is going to be the same as every week. Pray this way, pray this way. So the prayer, we come to today’s in Ephesians, 3: 14- 21. Here’s the crux of it, is that Paul’s instructing us in this passage, to pray for one another, that we would understand how much God loves us, that we would understand how much God loves us. Now, let me say that this runs counter sometimes to our impulse, because we know that in our nature, we are sinners. So there’s a part of us that certainly biblically true. So there’s this part of us that almost feels like we need to at least I think that we need to kind of beat ourselves up, or we need to think, you know, lower thoughts of ourselves. It almost feels inappropriate to dwell upon how much God loves us. What I want to tell you today is that this prayer, I hope will absolutely radically change the way you think about that. That you will know that it’s right and good that you would dwell upon ponder and pursue a greater understanding of how much God loves you. In Christ Jesus, His love for you is so wide and long and high and deep, as we’re gonna see that in just a moment that you can’t possibly fathom it. It’s the foundation. It’s the root of every good thing you will ever do or be is believing God loves you. If you are in Christ, Jesus. So it’s been my prayer for you this week, because I’ve been praying and so I want to walk you through and we’re going to keep it really simple. Okay, here’s the outline. What do we pray and why do we pray it? Okay, what do we pray and why do we pray? I’m gonna give you two sort of what to praise that the text guide us towards? And then I’m gonna give you four reasons why we pray that I think they’re just really they help us marshal, if you will, the energy to come before the Lord in this way and to pray now I have in mind also kind of two groups of folks As I’ve been preparing this week is one, I imagine that there’s some of you, when I say that God loves you, you are maybe a person who because of family background maybe or just because of your natural predisposition, really struggled to believe that you are loved. Like when someone says that you are that you are loved by God, it just feels either like a cliche, or it feels kind of empty, or maybe you just cannot bring yourself to fathom that that could be true, doesn’t hit doesn’t hit you. You know, and there’s some reason why that barrier is there, I have in mind you and just that you would be overwhelmed today by God’s word about how much he loves you. That you would stop believing that lie, which he that’s what it is, it’s a lie, that you would not be loved by Him. The other side of that is perhaps that there’s some of us who find ourselves thinking that we’re pretty worthy of love, we find ourselves to be pretty lovable, at least our own estimation. My prayer for you is that you would stop believing the lie that you are loved, because you’re lovely, you are indeed loved. But it is not because you are lovely, or lovable. That also is a lie that has to be put to bed, put to death, because it’s not until you really fathom that God, His love for you comes to you at your very worst. I mean, at your absolute low, at the moment when you have betrayed at the moment when you have lied, when you have deceived when you have cheated, when you have been anything but a right and good representation of the nature of God, His love meets you there in that moment, not just when you’re well behaved, not just when you are at least on the outside, pretty lovely looking at his love comes to you more deeply than you can imagine more deeply than you can actually know, the scripture will tell us. It is the root and the foundation of every other good action on the part of those who are in Christ. If you’re not in Christ, if you’re not a follower of Jesus, my prayer for you today is very simple as that you would know that you can be the object of his love, not the object of his wrath in Christ Jesus that is available to you. So let’s look at Ephesians 3:14-21. Let me just say, this is one of Paul’s famous run on sentences. All right? If you’re familiar with the New Testament, and you read much of Paul, you recognize that he loves a good run on sentence with a lot of different clauses in it and praise God, you don’t have to be good at grammar to be used of God. That’s what I take from that. All right, so here’s the challenge of this, there’s going to be all these clauses kind of rammed together and then just running on and so what happens is, as you read it, you might get lost in the connective tissue of it all like, what, how does this phrase connect with this phrase connected this phrase, I’m gonna try and make it really simple for us today. Okay, as we read it, we’ll just try and track in the word and make it really simple how these clauses relate to one another. There’s really two things that he is getting at in his prayer today. So look with me, verse 14, chapter 3 book of Ephesians, says this. For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit and your inner being. so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. That you being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints, what is the breadth, and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask, or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever. And the church’s response to that is to say what? Amen. Amen.
So let’s start with that first question. I said, What do we pray? What is this text telling us to pray? Now, broadly, I’ve already said he’s telling us to pray that we would have strength to comprehend and we have strength to understand how much God loves us. That’s the simple version. Let me break that down into two parts for you, okay, into two parts. So the first is that we would have strength to root and ground ourselves in God’s love. You saw those phrases there that we would have strength to root and to ground ourselves in God’s love. So when you pray this week, I want you to pray that I want you to say can I be selfish, you won’t pray for me. Okay. I’m gonna pray for you when you pray for me this week. Pray God, give Trent the ability to root and ground yourself in your love. Let’s think about what that means. Actually, that’s really selfish because I just basically asked him, you know, hundreds of y’all to pray for me. How about who else who else wants hundreds of people to pray for him? Raise your hand. All right, there we go. You all raise your hands? All right, look to your left, look to your right. That’s what you’re praying for this week. All right. So listen, here’s what to look out to verse 16, we’re gonna look at verse 14 and 15 in a moment, but go to 16. And look at what we see there. Now in verse 16, here’s what he says. He says, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant you to be strengthened with power. Okay, so here, we’re gonna get three clauses, three phrases together, and they all are going to lead to the last one, okay, so that’s gonna be the key, they’re all going to lead to that rooted and grounded in love clause. But let’s start at the beginning and connect and do all the connective tissue here. So the first thing he says that you would be strengthened with power. So that’s, he’s repeating himself there, when he says strengthen with power. He’s saying literally, that you would have power upon power, he could just say that you’d have strength to get this. But he says, No, that you’d be strengthened with power, he’s repeating himself, because he’s going, the thing that you’re going to need is so beyond your capability to grasp that I’m going to ask God, that he would strengthen you with strength upon strength. Does that make sense? Yes. So that’s where we start. That’s the first phrase, I want you to have strength upon strength. Then this could be a sermon unto itself, he gives us the source of that strength, which is already residing in us. And he know, we know he’s talking to believers, in part because of what he says here through His Spirit, which is in your inner being or who is in your inner being. In other words, he’s saying the, the source of the thing that the strength that I’m praying for you to have, it’s already in you. Think about that for a moment, he is not praying for something we do not have the resource already available to us to have. He is saying, you’ve already got this in your account, it’s already in the bank, the spirits already there. He’s the one that will bring this about. So I’m praying that through the spirit and your inner being, that you’d be strengthened. And now we get to verse 17, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Now, again, we already saw these are already believers. So what Paul is saying there is not so that you will come to faith in Jesus for the first time. What he’s saying is, so that Christ would dwell in your hearts that were dwell is a really interesting term. There are two Greek words for dwell. They mean similar but different things. One of them means to dwell with someone like a visitor, you come and you stay for a while, and then you go, Alright, how many of you have visitors over the course of the summer? Right? Are you staying at an Airbnb or something like that you were a, you were a guest, right? And that could be the term he uses, hey, that Christ would come and visit you and be with you. But that’s not the term he uses. He uses a different Greek term. And that term means to come and make your home in that place. To dwell there is to say, I’m taking up permanent residence here I’m moving in. So when he says so that Christ would dwell in your hearts through faith, he says, I’m praying that you have strength to comprehend something by the Spirit, which is in you, so that Christ would become more and more at home in you. Okay, so then now, here’s the final phrases, what all of this leads to all those connectors, now lead to this, go to the end of verse 17, when he says this, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts to faith so that you would be rooted and grounded in love. Now in verse 18, in a moment, what we’re going to see is that you if you if you look at the grammar, what you really could do there is say, you could insert the phrase, and I also pray, so he’s praying one thing, and then in verse 18, he’s going to start another prayer. Okay?
But verse 17, is the first thing I’m praying that you’d have strength to comprehend, through the Spirit in your inner being. So that Christ would be more and more at home. And all of that would lead you to be rooted and grounded in love. So if we had to say what is the thing is actually praying, that’s it, that you will be rooted and grounded in loves with all these phrases put together is really driving it. So what does that mean? If I’m going to pray for you, and you’re going to pray for me that we will be rooted and grounded and level there’s two metaphors that Paul’s making use of there. The first is an agricultural metaphor. The second is a building metaphor, you can probably see that right. Instead, I want you to be what rooted agricultural. Right? What grounded, building metaphor. So let’s just look at each one of those. He could have just used one he could have just said hey, be rooted in his love or he’d be grounded in his love, but he doesn’t. He uses both because he wants to make two nuanced points about what he’s wanting to happen? Right? So the first is, let’s think about what does it mean to be rooted in his love? Well, again, it’s the idea of roots going down deep into the soil, and drawing all their nourishment from that soil, soaking up all the water, all the nutrients, all the things that plant needs to be able to grow and thrive. What he’s saying is, the love of God in Christ is the thing that you need to nourish you. It is your source for all of life, there is no other thing from which you derive your ability to grow, and to thrive, and to become all that God intends you to be. So he said, I want you to be rooted in that love. I want the first thing that you think about when someone says, Who are you? The first question, the first thing that should come to mind in response, that question is, I’m someone who God loves. That’s the first thing you should think he says when he means I want you to be rooted in it. I want you I want to grow down deep. Now listen, I know that sometimes I hear Pennsylvanians complain about the soil here, but stuff grows when you put it in the ground here. I grew up in Texas, do you know that in order to put some bushes in my yard in Texas, I needed a rock bar to break up the limestone, because it’s that far under the surface, and it is everywhere, and nothing grows there. Then you’ve got a watering schedule, because the city is in drought 90% of the time. So you’re constantly Do I need to water today, I get to when I moved here, I asked about our house, is there a sprinkler system? to it? Somebody said why would you need a sprinkler system? To which I said how would you not need a sprinkler system. Because you have to water everything, it’s a battle against the sun. In Texas, just try to figure out how to make anything grow, how to keep anything alive, you put stuff in the ground, here it grows, I’m amazed by it, still amazed by it. What Paul is saying is, man, I want you to be able to draw on all the nutrients and all the resource that is Christ’s love God’s love for you in Christ. Imagine what it would look like. If the thing you constantly went back to over and over and over. He said, What is the thing that is going to get me up today? What is the thing that’s going to motivate me today? What’s things going to move me? What’s the thing that’s going to supply my mind that’s going to supply my heart with the ability to feel what I should feel? With the ability to move forward? What is that thing? What if your answer that question was every day, I’m reminded that God loves me. He loves me, He loves me and it becomes your source. To greater thing to fathom, but it’s true. That’s what he’s saying when he says I want you to be I want you to be routed the visual picture, as silly as it is that I had in my mind was just imagining myself, like if I went my yard and dug a hole, you know, you bury yourself in the beach at the sand. I just imagined myself like buried to the waist, like in my yard. So that like everything, if you were buried waist deep, you couldn’t do anything that wasn’t controlled by the fact that you were buried in that ground, right? That ground would dictate everything about what you’re able to do and not able to do and that’s what it is to be rooted in the love of God. Then he says I want you to be grounded, not just rooted, also grounded, and it transfers to a building metaphor. What he’s essentially saying is the same idea this in 1 Corinthians 3, when Paul says there’s this foundation in your life, and it’s Christ Jesus. If anyone builds upon that foundation, with materials that don’t fit that foundation, wood, hay stubble, it’s going to be burned up, gonna suffer loss, it’s not going to be worth anything. But if you build on that foundation, with precious stones and jewels, in other words, with the kind of materials that fit the foundation that you have, that of the same type, if you build upon that, you will receive reward is what he says. So the idea here when Paul says, I want you to be rooted, I want you to be grounded. I want everything in your life to be built on top of the knowledge that God loves you. Anything you do, that is not derived directly from the knowledge that God loves you is not the right action. By definition. Everything must come from this. Again, not because we’re lovely or lovable, but because God in his free choice chose us in Christ Jesus before the foundations of the earth. He loves us with a pursuing love with an initiating law like if you have family members who withheld love or never said I love you. Or like just it just wasn’t like comfortable. You know that God is not shy about saying I love you. You know that God is not shy about pursuing you with His love. At all. There’s no qualms like our version of masculinity guys in particular, that doesn’t include verbalizing affection is completely, completely wrong. There is nothing hindering God from expressing his love. In fact, Zephaniah 3:17 says he sings and dances over the people that he loves. Imagine singing and dancing in your love for someone, you might feel a little silly, God doesn’t feel silly. Any action that is not built upon the foundation of the knowledge that God loves you is not the right action. Any action counter to the knowledge of God’s love, anything that shrinks that back, or works against it is counter to the purpose of God. Now, again, that doesn’t preclude discipline, right. It doesn’t preclude correction doesn’t preclude any of those things. That’s part of love. Absolutely. But love is the foundation. So we are to be rooted and grounded in love. So that’s the first what do we pray this week, I want you to pray, man, God, be the let your love be the source for them today, the thing that motivates them and moves them and gives them nourishment, energy, right? Supplies their mind.
Then the second part. The second thing is that we have strength to increasingly comprehend Christ’s love. So if there’s a rooting and grounding. Now, the second prayer is not just rooting and grounding is like the foundation. It is that the rest of life would be spent exploring all the nuances of that love, which can never be fully comprehended. So look at what he goes into next again, verse 18. Now in verse 18, after saying rooted and grounded in love, again, we could grammatically, insert here, the idea like and I also pray, all right, and I also pray that you may have strength to comprehend again, there’s that idea of strength, again, we’re going to come to that moment, the inner strength to comprehend with all the saints in other words, we need each other to help us experience this in that good news. What is the breadth, and length, and height, and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, you want to give a preacher a real headache, tell him you got to preach something that surpasses knowledge. Then all you’re left with is pray for your people, pray for your people, pray for your people.So listen, here’s what he’s just said, not only do I want you to be rooted and grounded in the love of God, that’s in Christ Jesus, and don’t make too much of a distinction between the fact that he says, rooted and grounded in God’s love. That you would know the height, you know, breadth link depth of Christ’s love. Christ’s love and God’s love are one in the same, okay, here, he’s not meaning to create some distinction there. He’s just using the both. Both are the expression, both would bring their expression of love to you. So he says that you would have strength to comprehend now a couple things I want you to know that word comprehend, when he says I want you to have strength to comprehend that sounds like a that you would sort of study it and know it. That’s not what that word means. That word comprehend is a military term, it means that you would conquer your enemy. So when Israel goes to battle, New Testament speaks about it is that if they comprehended, it means they like they took hold of them, and they captured them. So what he’s saying is, I want you with violent ferocity, to take hold of the understanding of God’s love. This is a an aggressive pursuit of an understanding of this when he says, comprehend, get out of your mind, just like yeah, I need to kind of study this and know what he’s saying, I want you to go after it fistful by fist full. I want you to grab hold of it with such aggressiveness, that you hold it so tight, that it cannot be reached from your grasp. That’s what he means when he says, I pray that you’d have strength to comprehend. Then he says, what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ? Now, those dimensions, every commentator will essentially write something like, Hey, don’t make much too much of the dimensions. He’s not meaning to say that the love of Christ is like in the spatial realm. But I love John Stott says here, he says, even though that’s true, that you shouldn’t think of the love of God as literally being high or literally being wide. You know, he’s saying something about this. I think we can at least derive this and let me just borrow this from him. He says, the love of Christ is certainly as we think about these dimensions wide enough to include all mankind. Anyone who will come it is long enough to last forever into eternity, it is deep enough to reach to the worst of sinners. It is high enough to carry that worst of sinners into the very presence of God. That is a beautiful expression of the love of God. Now then he says it surpasses knowledge, which is to say, it’s so good, it’s so enjoyable. It’s so sacrificial, it’s so interested in our well being, it is so emotionally moved, it is so willing to identify with us emotionally where we are, it takes such unadulterated pleasure in us, it is so proactive, so patient, so kind that we will spend all of eternity growing in the knowledge of what this love is like. Are we alive? Hello? I mean, come on, see what he is saying, the breadth and length and height and depth. Why are we so reserved in our expressions of love? Have you ever wondered, if we’ve just been invited to consider the love of God and its breadth, length, height and depth for the rest of our lives, and that will never comprehend it. But we will grow in the understanding of it. It is all those things that I just mentioned. By the way, this tip of the tip of the tip of the iceberg, the way the scriptures talk about the love of God, and all its goodness for us and towards us. If that’s all there, why are we so reserved? Why wouldn’t we overflow in our love for one another? Why wouldn’t we be dancing and singing? Among the loved people of God? I truly I don’t I put the finger at myself here to friends. I mean, come on. Like, why would I ever be reserved? In my expressions of love for the other people of God, I don’t want to you know, I want to keep growing. I want to keep growing. So rooted and grounded in love. That’s the first What do I pray, pray that. Then the second is, when you pray for each other this week, pray that you would have greater ability to comprehend, to take hold of sees it the dimensions of the love of God in Christ, which are absolutely astounding. That’s what he’s saying. Friends can I just say, don’t think of this, when it says you’d have strength to comprehend, you’re gonna be examining this for the rest of your life. Can I just tell you don’t think of that, like, Oh, you’re going to spend the rest of your life doing a doctoral dissertation on the love of Christ, as if it’s going to be this laborious chore that you’re going to be doing. This is like being invited to study ice cream flavors for the rest of your life. This is like being saying, Oh, we have some mint chocolate chip and have some cookies and cream and then enjoy some turtle fudge and then go get some homemade vanilla. On vacation. We were down in the south, which those of you who know me knows know that that means I had access to what? Blue Bell Ice Cream. I didn’t eat dessert for two weeks going before vacation so that I could do all the Bluebell that I wanted. Those of you who are gonna tell me that’s not how good health nutrition works. I don’t care. I examined every flavor of Bluebell that was available, available to me. It was a journey of learning how to experience the love of God in Christ Jesus. That’s what it was. So I was being biblical. If you tell me otherwise, you’re wrong, not me. All right. So pray for one another. That’s what we pray. Okay. That’s what we pray, rooted and grounded in the love of God. And growing in the knowledge of the love of God in the comprehension of it.
Now, why do we pray it? And the reason we go here we can stop with the what but there are four why’s that this text gives us and again, to help move us motivate us. That’s the grace of God. He’s saying like it should be easy enough to say man, I want to I want to pray this way, just by hearing the what? But he gives us some why’s that really help? Alright, so why do we pray that way? Number one, we pray this way. Because we don’t have the ability to comprehend it naturally in ourselves like it doesn’t. It does not come naturally to us to comprehend the kind of love that God offers to us. That’s why the prayer is not and I pray that you would know the love of God. What is it? It’s I pray that you would have strength? Both places did you see it in verse 16? And 18 I pray that you would have strength Okay, friends, this is where the details of the Word of God matter. Please be a person who loves the details of Scripture, okay? I mean love every word, because every word is inspired by the Spirit of God. So don’t ever read pastor wouldn’t go that word has no consequence or no significant matters. The word here is that you would have strength to comprehend in both places. Why? Because what Paul knows is that there’s no way in your natural person, you have the ability to understand this, you cannot do it. It’s why those of you who are outside of Christ, do not and cannot, by definition, comprehend the love of God available to you in him, lest he open your eyes and draw you in and show you and that’s what we pray for you, by the way, is that the Spirit of God would illuminate and Quicken you and bring you to salvation. For those of you who are in Christ Jesus, the reason Paul prays this way is because you still have this flesh in you, that prevents you from comprehending it, from seizing it and taking hold of it. So you need the Spirit’s power to do it. So why do we pray this way? We pray this way, because you do not have any hope of being able to comprehend this yourself. I’ll give an example this. One of my kids this week needed to be corrected. So I corrected them. It was not a big thing. It was a small thing. The correction you know, sometimes I err in the way I correct but this time I did it was it was gentle. It wasn’t harsh in any way I just corrected. A couple minutes later, I happen to hear this child upstairs in a behind a closed door crying and saying I’m the worst kid in the world. I’m terrible. Again, this was over a very small thing that had to be corrected. I went rushing up those stairs and got into that door and grabbed hold of that kid and just said, grab hold, I was gonna shake him I was grabbed hold of them and a hug them and held them close. I say, one, what you’re saying is not true. I just took the next five minutes to say to affirm my love for them. The unconditional nature of that love, that nothing whatever part them from that love, no matter where they go, what they do, they have my love. They are my child, because God gave them to me. And nothing brings me more joy than that they are my child given to me, my god. That was a really rich opportunity. But you know what I found myself thinking as I’m hugging this kid, I’m like, man, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree because I can remember doing the exact same thing. In my bedroom. When I was a young kid. I remember beating myself up and thinking I could not possibly be loved because I’m not perfect. Because I make mistakes. You know, I certainly hate that we pass on some of the worst stuff in ourselves to our kids, they get that stuff. But it was such evidence to me is exactly what we’re saying here isn’t it strength to comprehend because in my child’s nature, they do not comprehend this take strength from the Spirit of God.
Now, the second reason we pray in this text is and this is a little bit bigger. So you got to stick with me is because it has cosmic consequences. And I’ll explain what I mean by that. All right, because this prayer has cosmic consequences and biblically when you when you think of something being cosmic, don’t think outerspace, okay, cosmic means the supernatural, and the universal. Alright, so when the when we think about the cosmos in Scripture, which is a Greek word, you think about the cosmos, you’re thinking about the whole of the created universe, both seen and unseen. Christ rules and reigns over the cosmos. The Scripture tells us when so when we think about something having cosmic consequences, here’s what I mean. Okay, now I’ve got to do a little journey with you. We saw in verse 14, that phrase, for this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven on earth derives its name has his name. Now, that beginning is him saying when he says that God, every family has its name, he’s claiming ownership, if you name something, you own it. So he’s saying, God has ownership. He is in control of all creation. Then but before that, when he says, For this reason, I bow my knees. That’s a statement of humility, humble prayer. I’m going before God recognizing my humble knee. That’s why I bow. That’s why I get on my knees. He says, For this reason, well, you have to ask, well, for what reason? That takes you backwards, because this reason is related to what came before. Now, here’s the interesting thing. In 3:1, Paul said the same thing for this reason, and he was beginning his prayer there. But he then did what Paul often does anyone on a rabbit trail for 13 verses about the mystery of the gospel and about the ministry to the Gentiles. So here’s what we learned. If the prayer was about to begin in chapter three, verse one, for this reason, I’m going to pray. Then, the reason is found back in chapter 2. Then it is expounded upon in chapters 3 and chapter 3 verses 2 through 13. Then we finally get the prayer in verses 14 through 21 that we read. Does that make sense? Everybody with me so far? So let’s then what is the content? What is the thing that’s motivating the prayer? So chapter 2, the end of chapter two, here’s what we find. What Paul says is that Jews and Gentiles, these two groups of people that do not like each other, have been made one building, he says, in Christ Jesus, they’ve been brought together as one tabernacle, one temple, they are one. He’s saying, that’s what is motivating the prayer that I’m about to pray. Then, in the rest of chapter 3, before this prayer, he gives a little bit more insight. What he says is this. He says, we’ll go with 3:6, let’s look at it together. Because again, chapter 2, the end of the chapter, he says, the whole structure is joined together, growing into a holy temple in the Lord in him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. So there’s something about the fact that these Jews and these Gentiles are brought together to be a dwelling place for God, that is motivating the prayer that he’s praying now. So far, so good. Yes, oh, good. You know, when you kind of murmur, I don’t know what to do with that. Alright, here we go. Then he’s going to elaborate a little bit more like Okay, so what about that would be so motivating, we’ll look at verse 6, he’s gonna talk about the mystery of God. Now, whenever the scriptures the New Testament talks about the mystery of God, the mystery of God is Christ. Okay? That’s the short answer. The mystery of God is the person of Jesus that reveals God’s plan, that he was going to save people for Himself through the death and resurrection of his son. That was a mystery. It was not understood. Okay. Now, verse 6, then he gives a portion of that mystery that relates back to what he said in chapter 2. So chapter 3, verse 6, says, this mystery that Paul was proclaiming to them the Gentiles, this mystery, is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Now, again, I just said, the sum total of the mystery is that God is going to save people through the work of Christ, elsewhere. That’s how he talks about it. But here he’s giving a specific demonstration of that mystery. He says, Jews and Gentiles are brought together well, why is that a mystery, because the Old Testament is full of allusions to the fact that God didn’t just want to save Israel. But he did want to save the Gentiles, he was going to include them. So anyone who read the prophets would have known that that’s not a mystery. So what is the mystery? The mystery is this that’s revealed in Christ. Is that because salvation is not by the law, not by following rules, not by being good, and not by having a certain heritage ethnically, because it’s not by any of those things? How do we know it’s not? Because it comes by grace through faith? Because Jesus died and rose. What the mystery was, is the Gentiles, the Jews knew the Gentiles would be included, you know, what they didn’t know is that they weren’t going to be second class citizens. They thought, we’re here. They’re here, great. They get included fine by us. But they’re always going to be here. Because they assumed that salvation was going to come through the law. But because it wasn’t through the law, it was by grace through faith. Now, oops, we’re on equal footing. You’re a sinner and I’m a sinner, Jew, you’re a sinner. Gentile, you’re a sinner. How do you get saved by grace through faith? And so now we’re co equals, that’s the mystery. We’re being built together into a dwelling place for God as one people, not one A and one B. One, people now, keep tracking what you’re doing awesome. So here’s the thing. Now he says, this is the mystery that’s revealed through the gospel that I’ve been proclaiming. And it’s actually the thing that’s motivating my prayer, which by the way, when a church this way, racial reconciliation is gospel work. It’s why it’s so important. It’s why men and women together across the divide of gender loving each other graciously in church is so important. It’s why rich and poor together in the church is so important, because it testifies, it testifies to the truth of the gospel. That’s what he’s saying that were built together into one dwelling place. Now, the final thing here, this goes back to the cosmic consequences. Verse 10. So in verse nine, he says, when the church is doing that, it testifies to the world around it, man. gospels true. This is true, but it does something even more, because here’s verse 10. chapter three, verse 10, says this, so that through the church, being Gentiles and Jews, not one a one be through the church, the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities. Here’s the key phrase, in the heavenly places, rulers and authorities and heavenly places are supernatural beings. He’s talking about Satan and demons. What he’s saying is this. There is a spiritual battle being waged. One of the weapons in that spiritual battle is the church, crossing all these boundaries of ethnicity, loving one another being one joined together. When it does, when it demonstrates that it’s not just that the world takes notice, it’s that the spiritual realm takes notice. The demons tremble when this happens. The devil hates it. When it happens, do you know what they are being reminded of your days are numbered. When it doesn’t happen, they’re not reminded of that. When it does happen, supernatural evil beings are testified to you are on your way out. Christ has won, you are dead. Your day is almost done. And he will win. That’s what I mean when I say cosmic consequences. Now let’s put it all together. You guys are awesome. Sticking with that. All right. Here’s what he’s saying. Here’s why I pray this way. I pray that you will be rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you would have strength to comprehend the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ. Why do I pray that? I pray it because I want the demons to tremble. When you pray this way, you go to war against your true enemy. And it helps you stop treating other people who aren’t your real enemy, like they are. Because your battle is not against flesh and blood. But against powers and principality in the spiritual realms. This is a spiritual warfare of prayer. Does that make sense? Everybody? Hope it was a little more skin in the game for you. Nice go, Oh, my goodness, I didn’t know that when I was praying, like, oh, I pray that you would know how much God loves you. You’re actually praying something that makes the devil tremble. And that he hates, you would know the love of God in Christ Jesus.
Now, two more, wrap up here with these. We pray this way. Why? Because we cannot be what God intends without it. Verse 19, is a summarizing prayer at the end. This is just building on top of the two things we already said about praying that we would have strength to comprehend the love of God when he says and that you would be filled to all the fullness of God, you see the repetition of the idea of filled and fullness. What he’s simply saying there is that you would grow to be all that God wants you to be all that he made you to be all the plans, he’s designed for you all the things he has set apart for you to do Ephesians 2:10, the good works, planned and prepared in advance that you would walk in them having been saved by grace through faith, Ephesians, two, eight, all of those things that he wants for you. That’s what he’s saying when he says that you’d be filled with all the fullness of God and you cannot be or do the things God wants you to be and do unless you know how much he loves you. That’s what he’s saying. Every work must be built upon the knowledge and the conviction and the certainty that I’m loved by God so that you can go forward fearlessly into the thing because they don’t define you if I fail, if I don’t succeed when I’m hoping God still loves me. I’m okay. I don’t take half measures and kind of like lollygag through things and kind of halfway do it. Because I’m motivated by the love of God, not by my own reputation, not by my own desire for money. It’s how every workbench turns into an altar. Whatever your desk is, wherever you do your work that places an altar because what you’re offering is a sacrifice to God your work. The reason the way it becomes an altar is when it’s motivated and moved by the love of God in Christ and you say I’m loved. Therefore I go to work. I do my accounting. Do my teaching. Whatever it is that God invites you to do if you want to be and to do to be filled with all the fullness of God cannot happen apart from this prayer being answered in your life, that you’d be rooted and grounded in the love of God.
Then the last thing that we see the last why is because he can answer in ways that are bigger than we can imagine. He can answer in ways that are Why pray this way, because the way he will answer is beyond what you can imagine. Now I can imagine a lot, I got a pretty healthy imagination. And he says here in verse 20, that he can do beyond all that we ask. Beyond all that we think those whatever you can imagine the answer to this prayer would look like in your mind, he can go beyond that. That’s pretty amazing. By the way, at the beginning, when he was praying, he says that he would answer go back to verse 14, when he says, So verse 20, is to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think. But verse 14, when he says, For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from him, every family in heaven on earth is named. Then he says, that according to the riches of his glory, in other words, what Paul is saying is God is so rich in glory. He’s going to answer these prayers out of that richness. In other words, there’s not just so you can take that in two ways, right? One is, man, I’m praying to the God who is so wealthy with glory. That he, if I’m thinking, well, maybe I’m asking for something he doesn’t have. Like, if I asked you for 100 bucks, and you got 50, you just don’t have 100 bucks. Nothing you can do about I got 50 I can give you that, right. We’re never gonna encounter that with God, when you go to him. He has never, never insufficient in funds to answer the prayer. Does that make sense? He is rich in glory. Therefore he has everything he needs to answer. But it’s not just that Paul is saying, I pray that he would answer it according to the riches of his glory. In other words, I pray that the answer to the prayer would be commensurate with the amount of wealth of glory he has. What he’s saying is, I’m praying to the one who doesn’t answer in small ways, but pours it out in lavish ways. He is inviting you to say he’s not just going to give you a little appetizer, a little snack, a little moosh boosh, right. He’s not just saying, come have a little taste of my love. He’s saying I’m going to give you a 12 course meal of my love. You think Thanksgiving dinner stuffs you wait till you ask me to answer prayers, helping you understand and comprehend my love, because I’m going to answer those with such an amazing feast that you are going to be gorged on the knowledge of my love for you. how wide and long and high and deep it is. Look, whenever you see that word glory, if this helps you It always helps me okay. When he says from the riches of his glory, that he’d answer it, that would be the he has so much to draw from to answer. Glory in the new test. I’ve told you this before but glory in the New Testament typically emphasizes the brightness of the splendor of God. It’s like the light emanating from his being, like how amazingly magnificent he is like the sun, you can’t look at him. He’s so shining with splendor. That’s usually what glory is the visible representation of his absolute majesty. That’s the New Testament idea. The Old Testament idea is like the complement the other side of the coin of that the Old Testament idea is this word cathode, and cathode means weightiness. In other words, the absolute astounding weight of his character, he is of such a depth of personhood that you and I cannot fathom. I always think about oddly enough black holes when I think about that. So do you know like a fighter jet pilot, they have to wear these G suits, right? Because they can black out because the plane can pull a G right is the one G is just like the gravitational force upon our bodies of just living on the Earth. Right? But when you in physics, right when the plane takes off, and it goes in a certain direction that creates more G’s on your body. How many G’s Do you think a human body can withstand before you black out even with like a good G suit? 7.5 G’s so that’s a lot right? Measuring the force of gravity times seven and a half on your body. Seven and a half G’s is what you can withstand. Do you know how many G’s there are at the event horizon of a black hole? 1.6 trillion. When you think about the weightiness of the character of God. It’s like that 1.6 trillion Geez, you cannot stand up underneath the weight of that character, the ability that he has, in His glory, the weightiness of his character to express to you and from which to answer prayers that you would understand His love is like the difference between the fighter jets seven and a half G’s to the 1.6 trillion G’s of a black hole. He is such such glory, such weightiness. That’s the one you’re appealing to and saying, show me what your love is like, what do you think his answer is going to be like? Far beyond what you can ask, or think. So what do we pray? Help us to be rooted and grounded in the love of God in Christ Jesus? What do we pray? God? May my brother and my sister spend all their days trying to comprehend, to lay hold with ferocity? How wide? How long? How high? How deep? Your love is? Take them there more and more and more. And why do we pray it? Because there are cosmic consequences because we don’t have the strength ourselves. Because it’s a joy to see someone comprehend. Have you ever seen someone had the aha moment that God loves them? You’ve had that privilege. The first time you see someone actually get it. We know they’re only beginning to get it right. But when it dawns on them and fresh way, in a new way, is absolutely astounding. That’s my prayer for you. Let’s pray that for one another this week, shall we?
Let’s pray together now. So Lord, thank You that You are not shy about expressing your love. You feel no qualms in doing so. Where we feel those qualms. They’re just because of our fallenness they are because of our insufficiency they because of our smallness. And so we pray that you would obviously be more like you. And Lord, let me just pray as you teach us to pray here. I pray for my people. And for myself, Lord, that You would root and ground us in your love. And I pray that You would give us strength to comprehend the breadth and the length and the height and the depth of the love of Christ. Also that you receive the glory and honor forever.