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Sermon #46 — Ephesians Sermons

 

Title:   “For this cause I bow my knees.”

 

Text:                            Ephesians 3:14-19

Subject:                     God’s Church a Family

Date:                          Tuesday Evening — September 27, 2016

Readings:     Bobbie Estes and Merle Hart

Introduction:

 

The Apostle Paul was not content to travail in birth for souls and to become a spiritual father to them. After sinners were saved by the grace of God, being born into Christ’s Kingdom, he exercised the responsibilities of a nursing father to them. Tenderly, he cared for those souls to whom God had blessed his ministry. He desired to see them grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. He labored to feed their souls, that their faith might grow mature and strong. He was parent, nurse, and teacher. In fact, he became all things, as far as lay within his power, to his spiritual children.

 

Ephesians 3:14-19

 

Turn with me to the 3rd chapter of Ephesians, and listen carefully to this wise and tenderhearted pastor, as he tells his children how he prayed for them.

 

(Ephesians 3:14-19) For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of 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 by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

 

Inspired by God the Holy Spirit, the Apostle Paul knew that it is needful to the very highest decree for God’s saints on this earth, constantly struggling with their own corruption, sin, and unbelief, to know that they are the objects of his everlasting, immutable, and free love and favor in Christ, and that we should be well acquainted with the sublime qualities and perfections of that love.

 

I Bow

 

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” — God’s servant bowed his knees unto the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the Father of the whole family of Christ, in heaven and in earth. God the Father is, in every sense of the word, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is he who gave the Church to Christ before the foundation of the world (John 17:6; Ephesians 1:4). Happy and blessed are those who are taught and given grace by God the Holy Ghost to bow the knee before him! — O Spirit of God, bow the knee of my heart before him, who is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Oh, that I may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hath sent!

 

According to the Riches

 

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory…” — Paul asked great grace from the great God of all grace for the chosen objects of his mercy, love, and grace, and did so with great confidence, knowing that, according to the infinite fulness of his grace in Christ, it is his glory to give grace without measure to our poor, needy souls.

 

That Christ may Dwell

 

Paul’s prayer was short, but comprehended all that our souls can need in this world (vv. 16-17). — “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith!” — All he sought for the souls so very dear to him was Christ. All Paul prayed for himself, and all he asked for the Church, was Christ.

  • Christ and his fulness!
  • Christ and his all-sufficiency!
  • Christ and his grace!

He prayed that Christ might dwell in our hearts by faith.

 

Trinitarians

 

I cannot, and must not, pass up the opportunity before me to call your attention to the fact that the Word of God constantly speaks of our great God in the Trinity (Tri-unity) of his Sacred Persons. The doctrine of the Trinity is never argued for, explained, or defended in Holy Scripture. It is simply stated as a matter of fact, known, believed, and rejoiced in by all who know God.

 

If you never read anything Paul wrote except the Epistle to the Ephesians, you would have to be convinced that the man who penned this epistle was a Trinitarian. Throughout this book, the inspired Apostle speaks of the Persons (plural) of the (one) Triune Godhead, and the operations of each for our salvation. In the very first chapter he shows us how that we were chosen by God the Father, redeemed by God the Son, and called by God the Holy Spirit. You almost expect to find Paul using the very words John was inspired to write, — “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the Water, and the Blood, and these three agree in one.”

 

Our hearts should be overwhelmed when we are made to realize that each Person of the Eternal Godhead has a personal interest in our immortal souls.

Š      We are loved by God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Š      We are saved by God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Š      And our eternal destiny will have its fulness in God — Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

We are Trinitarians. We worship one God in the Trinity of his Sacred Persons, the Triune Jehovah.

 

Now, let’s look at verses 16-19, and see the great things this faithful pastor, this faithful man, was inspired of God to seek for our souls. Let us seek them for ourselves, for one another, and for God’s elect everywhere.

 

Proposition: Being the children of God, we should strive to know, experimentally and confidently, the love of Christ that passes knowledge, so that we might be filled with all the fulness of God.

 

Divisions: Here are three things we constantly need, three things we should seek from our God incessantly, three things for which I trust God the Holy Spirit causes our hearts to thirst.

1.    The Strength of the Holy Spirit (v. 16).

2.    The Presence of Christ (vv. 17-19a).

3.    The Fulness of God (v. 19b).

 

The Strength of the Spirit

 

1st. — We need the strength of God the Holy Spirit.

 

(Ephesians 3:16) That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.

 

What weak creatures we are! — “Without me, ye can do nothing,” our Savior tells us. Without him, we cannot…

Š      See the Kingdom of God.

Š      Enter the Kingdom of God.

Š      Pray.

Š      Believe him.

Š      Understand his Word.

Š      Hear him.

Š      Know the way.

Š      Walk in the way.

Š      Or help others along the way.

Without me, ye can do nothing!” — That is what the Lord Jesus declares. And that is what our experience teaches us. — Yet, we all tend to think, and constantly act as though, we are completely self-sufficient.

 

What we need is spiritual strength, the strength of God the Holy Spirit. Such a prayer as this is an admission of our poverty and unworthiness, and utter inability to do for ourselves anything good. Blessed is that man who is made to know his weakness, that he may be made to seek to “be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

 

(2 Corinthians 12:1-10) It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. (2) I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. (3) And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) (4) ow that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. (5) Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. (6) For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. (7) And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. (8) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. (9) And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. (10) Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

 

That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory…” — Pause, O my soul, and remember all that God does for us is “according to the riches of his glory! God is never obligated to do anything for his creatures. He is obligated to punish our sin. His justice makes that a necessity. But God is not obligated to do anything good for any of his creatures, and cannot be obliged by us to do anything good for us. Even after a person has been born-again and received into the heavenly family, God is never constrained to do him good by anything in him.

Š      God’s goodness does not come to us in accordance to our faith or faithfulness.

Š      God is not constrained to do anything for us because of our conduct.

If we believe God, if we should behave as we ought, our faith and our obedience are themselves the result of God’s goodness. In no way do they place God in our debt.

 

The source of all that we need and desire from God is “the riches of his glory.” We desire nothing but what comes to us “according to his riches in glory.” God is glorious in all his attributes.

Š      His power is infinite.

Š      His love is immeasurable.

Š      His mercy is boundless.

Š      His grace is indescribable.

Š      His wisdom is vast beyond imagination.

Š      His holiness is unapproachable.

Š      His justice is incomparable.

Š      His truth is matchless.

Š      His immutability is higher than the heavens.

Š      His faithfulness is relentless.

These are the riches of his glory. All of God’s holy Being is a storehouse of riches to us. It is not his power to the exclusion of his mercy, nor his mercy to the exclusion of his power, nor his justice to the exclusion of his grace, nor his grace to the exclusion of his justice, but it is everything in God that renders him glorious; and that is the object of our adoration and hope.

 

Now, watch this. — What does all of that mean?God has joined his own glory to the good of his people!

Š      The Apostle Paul prayed that God would deal with his people according to the abundance of his grace and power, which constitutes his glory and makes him the source of all good.

Š      His glorious riches comprehend everything in his holy Being, all that makes him glorious.

 

Oh, that we might “be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man!” O God, our heavenly Father, grant this desire, satisfy this need, according to the riches of your glory! I am prone to every evil. I have no strength of my own. I must have your strength…

Š      To perform my daily labors.

Š      To oppose the lusts of my flesh.

Š      To resist Satan’s fiery darts, malicious assaults, and crafty temptations.

Š      To endure affliction.

Š      To persevere in faith.

 

To have this strengthening “with might by his Spirit in the inner man,” my God must make me weak and keep me weak before him! That is what we learn from Paul’s experience in 2 Corinthians 12. It is the work of the Holy Ghost to strengthen us, to make us weak that he might strengthen us.

Š      He strengthens us by leading us to the fulness of grace and strength in Christ.

Š      He strengthens us by shedding the love of God abroad in our hearts.

Š      He strengthens us by causing us to know our weakness and sweetly forcing us to look to Christ. — “When I am weak, then am I strong.” — “Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.”

 

The Presence of Christ

 

2nd While we make our pilgrimage through this world, we need the presence of Christ (vv. 17-19a). — God has determined that in all things Christ have the pre-eminence. So it is with the believer. If we have Christ, we have all. Paul knew that, so he prays, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith.”

 

(Exodus 33:13-15) Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. (14) And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest. (15) And he said unto him, If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.

 

(Ephesians 3:17-19) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.

 

The promise of his presence is that which our Lord uses throughout the Book of God to comfort the hearts of his people. All who are born of God are “partakers of the divine nature.” Christ is formed in us, “a new man created in righteousness and true holiness.” Saved sinners are people in whom Christ dwells. We are partakers of Christ by the Holy Spirit and partakers of the Holy Spirit by the presence of Christ in us. Where Christ is, there the Holy Spirit is. Where the Holy Spirit is, there Christ is.

 

Our Lord promised that he would come to us and abide with us.“I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you….If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (John 14:18, 23). — God the Father has placed all the fulness of grace in Christ; and those who have Christ want for nothing.

 

The place of Christ’s presence is our hearts. What we want is for Christ to dwell in our hearts. It is not enough to have him in my thoughts. I must have him in my heart. It is not enough to have him on my lips. I must have him in my heart. Christ in the heart is the life of the soul (Romans 8:9-10; Galatians 2:20). Christ dwells in the hearts of his people. He does not merely make an occasional visit to spend a few minutes, or a few hours, or a few days. The Lord Jesus Christ is the constant tenant of a saved sinner’s inmost being.

Š      He dwells in his chosen like a king in his palace.

Š      He dwells in his elect like a man in his home.

Š      He dwells in us because we are one with him.

Š      He dwells in us perpetually. Where he once takes up his residence, he never totally and finally departs.

Š      He often hides his face; but he never forsakes.

Š      He often appears to have forsaken us, sweetly forcing us to seek him; but he never abandons the purchase of his blood, the love of his heart, the bride of his choice!

 

The Lord Jesus Christ dwells in the hearts of saved sinners by faith. He never resides where he is not wanted. He must be a welcome guest, or he will not be a guest at all. He comes in uninvited, unwanted, and unexpected. But when he comes, he brings his welcome with him and, creating faith in us, causing us to gladly embrace him.

Š      By faith we receive him.

Š      By faith we embrace him.

Š      By faith we retain him.

Š      By faith we commune with him.

 

Christ does not and cannot dwell in the heart of the unregenerate. Christ cannot dwell in the heart of any the Father has not given to his dear Son. So, that in every heart where Christ dwells, there the Lord God has given testimony, that that precious soul is a child of God, given by the Father, redeemed by the Son, and regenerated by the Holy Ghost.

 

And where Christ dwells in the heart by faith, there all other blessings follow (Ephesians 1:3-7).

  • Rooted in Christ, we are one with Christ.
  • Grounded in love, we feel all the sweet influences of love.
  • And, though the love of Christ is unsearchable and past finding out, yet we can and do, in some measure, comprehend that it reaches from everlasting to everlasting.
  • Though its dimensions are infinite, in breadth, and length, and depth, and height, and it is a love “which passeth knowledge,” we know it to be a special, peculiar, free, and gracious love, that runs through all time and to all eternity to his people.

 

Oh, the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge! Has God shed that love abroad in your heart? Oh, how I pray that he will do so, “according to the riches of his glory!When Christ dwells in the heart by faith, he assures us of his love.“That ye being rooted and grounded in love.” Paul here uses a metaphor that speaks of unshakable firmness — “rooted and grounded.” How blessed, how indescribably blessed it is to be “rooted and grounded” in the love of Christ! — That’s what I want for you!

Š      Rooted in it, like the great oak whose roots sink deep into the ground and wrap around a firm rock.

Š      Grounded in it, like a towering sky-scraper, built on a firm foundation.

 

I want to know and want you to know all that is knowable about the love of Christ.“That ye may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height.” Yet, when we have learned all that is knowable, the love of Christ is beyond our highest imagination.

 

In whatever direction you look you will find nothing in the salvation of your soul that is not built upon and flowing from the love of Christ.

Š      Election!

Š      Predestination!

Š      Redemption!

Š      Preservation!

Š      Regeneration!

Š      Forgiveness!

Š      Heavenly Glory!

 

To know the love of Christ is acquaintance with the greatest wisdom. — John Calvin rightly observed…

 

“Almost all men are infected with the disease of desiring useless knowledge. Therefore, this admonition is very useful. What is necessary for us to know, and what the Lord desires us to contemplate, above and below, on the right hand and on the left, before and behind. The love of Christ is held out to us to meditate on day and night and to be wholly immersed in. He who holds to this alone, has enough. Beyond it there is nothing solid, nothing useful, nothing, in short, that is right or sound. Go abroad in heaven and earth and sea, you will never go beyond this without overstepping the lawful bounds of wisdom.”

 

Oh, that we might know the breadth of the Savior’s love!

Š      The breadth of Christ’s love is such that it extends to all ranks and races of men.

Š      The breadth of the Savior’s love encompasses the whole body of God’s elect.

Š      We have the best understanding of the breadth of Christ’s love when we realize that it reaches to our own lost and guilty souls. I never realized that the love of God was such a broad river until I found that it reached even to me!

Š      You can measure the breadth of the Savior’s love when you can measure the sins which it covers.

Š      The breadth of Christ’s love is displayed in his marvelous providence.

 

There is nothing that concerns the welfare of his people that is not important to our King. The hairs of our heads are all numbered. In all out afflictions he is afflicted. Can you begin to estimate all that the Redeemer has brought to your soul? When you can, then you can measure the breadth of his love.

 

Then step into and try to know the length of Christ’s love.

Š      This love is without beginning.

Š      This is love without a cause.

Š      This love is without interruption.

Š      This is love without change.

Š      This love is without end.

 

O my soul, dive into depth of the love of God. Plunge into the depth of Immanuel’s love! What an infinite ocean! Eternity will not be long enough to teach us to know the depth of the love of our Christ!

Š      His love is so deep that he became one of us.

Š      He bore our sorrows.

Š      He was made sin for us!

Š      He was made a curse for us!

Š      He was forsaken of God for us!

Š      He suffered our death!

Š      He endured our hell!

Š      He stooped to reach down to the very depths of human depravity to save us!

 

O sinner, you cannot have gone too deep for Christ’s love to reach you! O fallen saint, you cannot have sinned too fully for Christ love to forgive you!

 

Oh, that you might know, oh, how I want to know the height of my Savior’s love! His love adopted us as children, gave us an inheritance in heaven, and is bringing us safe to glory (1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 21:1-5; 22:1-6).

 

(1 John 3:1-3) Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. (2) Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. (3) And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

 

(Revelation 21:1-5) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (2) And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.

 

(Revelation 22:1-6) And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (6) And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done.

 

The Fulness of God

 

3rdI want to be, and I want you to be, “filled with the fulness of God (v. 19). What an expression! — “Filled with all the fulness of God!” We would not dare to use it if it were not given by inspiration. I will say very little about it, because I know very little about it. Its meaning is beyond me. What can this mean — to be “filled with the fulness of God?”

 

To be filled with the fulness of God is to be filled up with God!

Š      Filled with a sense of his love.

Š      Filled with the salvation of his Son.

Š      Filled with his Spirit (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:23-24).

Š      Filled with his grace.

Š      To be filled with the fulness of God is to have our souls so full of God that there is neither room nor desire for anything else.

 

I can perhaps illustrate the text better than I can explain it. If you were to go to the ocean and fill a bottle with water, seal it firmly, and then cast it into the ocean, the ocean would be in the bottle, and the bottle would be in the ocean. So it is with our souls. We have God in us, but we are in him. We are swallowed up in God’s love, and we are to be full of God’s love. Oh, may God grant that it will be so to each of us, for Christ’s sake.

 

To “be filled with all the fulness of God” is to be filled with him who is the Fulness of God, our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:14; Colossians 2:9-10).

 

(John 1:14) And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

 

(Colossians 2:9-10) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. (10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.

 

(Ephesians 3:14-19) For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (15) Of 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 by his Spirit in the inner man; (17) That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, (18) May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; (19) And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

 

Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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