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EPHESIANS 3:14-21

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PAUL’S PRAYER FOR THE CHURCH

INTRODUCTION

Our passage today is actually a prayer Paul gave for the Ephesians.
Paul began the prayer in verse 1 of chapter 3, but appears to have been sidetracked and then picks it up in verse 14.
This is his second prayer in Ephesians, the first was in 1:15-23.
Wiersbe says that prayer was for enlightenment.
This prayer is for enablement.
Not a head knowledge of knowing more about Christ,
But a heart of being a part of Christ.
Paul wants us to realize the vastness of the riches of Christ and begin using those riches for His sake.
Let’s turn in our passage to:
Ephesians 3:14–21 ESV
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Did you notice in verse 14 Paul says he bowed his knees before the Father.
For us today, that does not really get our attention.
But for the Jews in the 1st Century that got their attention.
It is not customary for Jews to kneel when praying.
They stand and rock back and forth as you see them at the Western Wall in Jerusalem today.
For a Jew to kneel, it was and extraordinary event.
We see Jesus kneeling in Gethsemane on the eve of His death (, )
Solomon knelt at the dedication of the Temple ().
There appears to be 2 reasons for Paul kneeling here during this prayer:
The Impact of the revelation he had been given to share. Paul was showing deep emotion for this revelation.
He is kneeling “before the Father” again with deep emotion.
In Paul’s prayer, he is making 4 petitions for the church.
PAUL’S PETITION FOR STRENGTH (v. 16)
PAUL’S PETITION FOR DEPTH (v. 17)
PAUL’S PETITION FOR COMPREHENSION (vv. 18-19a)
PAUL’S PETITION FOR FULLNESS (v. 19b)
He then ends with:
THE BENEDICTION (vv. 20-21)
Kent Hughes says:
“Paul had fallen to his knees because of two realities: first, the sublime truths of God’s Word, and second, the soul-healing Fatherhood under which he rested.”
First we will look at:

PAUL’S PETITION FOR STRENGTH (v. 16)

“… may grant you to be strengthened...”
Just as the ill or sick need to be strengthened to enjoy all of life,
Christians need to be strengthened to receive all the blessings God desires for them.
What are we to be strengthened for you might ask?
“… to the riches of his glory...”
Paul is wanting the Ephesians to be strong enough to receive the riches of Christ’s glory.
We are to be strengthened with power.
The second thing Paul mentions here for us to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit in our inner being.
“… through his Spirit in your inner being...”
What is Paul saying here?
The presence of the Holy Spirit in our life is the evidence of salvation.
Romans 8
Romans 8:9 ESV
9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.
But, the power of the Spirit is the ability to life the Christian life.
That is the Power Paul is praying for here.
Acts 1:8 ESV
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Again Weirsbe says:
The Bible Exposition Commentary Chapter Seven: Get Your Hands on Your Wealth (Ephesians 3:14–21)

This power is available for “the inner man.” This means the spiritual part of man where God dwells and works. The inner man of the lost sinner is dead (Eph. 2:1), but it becomes alive when Christ is invited in. The inner man can see (Ps. 119:18), hear (Matt. 13:9), taste (Ps. 34:8), and feel (Acts 17:27); and he must be “exercised” (1 Tim. 4:7–8). He also must be cleansed (Ps. 51:7) and fed (Matt. 4:4). The outer man is perishing, but the inner man can be renewed spiritually in spite of outward physical decay (2 Cor. 4:16–18). It is this inner power that makes him succeed.

What does it mean to have the power in the inner man?
How does one get this power?
It means we are allowing the Holy Spirit to control our Spiritual faculties.
We are keeping them exercised and worked up by growing in the Word of God.
Hebrews 5:12–14 ESV
12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
Heb
When and only when we allow ourselves to be controlled by the Holy Spirit that our inner man will succeed in living to the Glory of God.

PAUL’S PETITION FOR DEPTH (v. 17)

“… so that Christ may dwell in your hearts...”
What does dwell mean?
Kenneth Wuest says this:
“to settle down and be at home”
the idea he says is
“that Christ might finally settle down and feel completely at home in your hearts.”
Paul uses two more words here to get us to understand the depth to which we are to go.
“… rooted...”
This is an agricultural term.
Tammie and I had a tree in our back yard.....
For a tree to grow strong, it must have its roots deep into the soil.
For a Christian to grow deep, he must have spiritual roots driven deep into the love of God.
Psalm 1:1–3 ESV
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
A good question for a Christian to ask himself is:
“From what do I draw my nourishment and stability?”
If we are to have power in our Christian life, our roots must go deep into the Love of Christ.
Our next word is:
“… grounded...”
This is an architectural term.
While attending college in Chattanooga, I watch daily as the new church building was being built.....
as one builder said:
“… the most important part of this building is the foundation. If you don’t go deep, you can’t go high.”
In this Christian life we live, the trials we face and how we handle them depends on how deep our love for Christ is.
Where do we dwell and what are we rooted and grounded in?
The Love of Christ.
A lifestyle of love for others.
Dr. Barnhouse said this about the fruits of the Spirit listed in :

“Love is the key. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long-suffering is love enduring. Kindness is love’s touch. Goodness is love’s character. Faithfulness is love’s habit. Gentleness is love’s self-forgetfulness. Self-control is love holding the reins.”

PAUL’S PETITION FOR COMPREHENSION (vv. 18-19a)

“… may have strength to comprehend with all the saints...”
The idea of comprehension has to do with mentally grasping something.
It is possible to understand something but not really make it your own.
Paul wants us to also “apprehend” this love of Christ.
He wants us to make it our own.
What are we apprehending?
The love of Christ in it’s breadth and length and height and depth.
So that no matter what comes our way, we have all the available resources to handle it in our Christian life.

PAUL’S PETITION FOR FULLNESS (v. 19b)

“… that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
This is a difficult passage to explain.
One way to interpret the passage would be:
“Filled unto all the fullness of God”
The means of our fullness is the Holy Spirit, the measure of our fullness is God Himself.
Christians sometimes take the wrong measurement in examining their spiritual life.
They will look out at another Christian, perhaps a weaker believer and boast:
“Well, I’m better than they are.”
That is the wrong person to compare ourself against.
Our measure should be in Christ and there we cannot boast about anything.
Tells us we are already “made full in Christ.”
Positionally, we are complete in Him.
Practically, we enjoy the fullness of Christ that we apprehend by our faith.
The Fullness of Christ is there, we just need to accept them.
That brings us to the end of chapter 3 where we have:
He then ends with:

THE BENEDICTION (vv. 20-21)

Ephesians 3:20–21 NLT
20 Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 21 Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen.
This past Wednesday I mentioned ending our prayer time with praise, this is a wonderful passage to consider using.
Every word conveys the vastness of God
Of His power found in Jesus Christ.
Each chapter so far in Ephesians has ended in Praise to God.
Eph 1:19
Ephesians 1:19–23 ESV
19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
And:
Ephesians 2:19–22 ESV
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Eph 2:
In our passage today,
Paul is telling us that God’s power is available to us.
The Power of Christ—a power far beyond human understanding,
Far beyond human measurement—is available to us.
It is what we need as we walk and carry on spiritual warfare in this world.
If we want victory in this life—today—we must have this power of Christ in our life today.
Unbelief,
Unconfessed sin,
Careless living,
worldliness in action or attitude,
All can rob us of this power.
A Christian robbed of power can do nothing for God.
Why does God give us such power?
So we can build great churches?
So we can boast of our achievements?
NO!
It is for the purpose of offering Glory to God.
God is able to do all—above all—abundantly above all—exceeding abundantly above all.
Will you let Him?
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