Our Foundation is Love - Ephesians 3:14-21
Our Founda*on is Love Ephesians 3:14-21 20201220 Love is what we stand ﬁrmly upon in the turmoil of a faltering world system Introduc)on: Some of you present here today know it is good to be part of the church or at least you are being told so by others, or you have convinced yourself of the merit, and so you act in loving ways. Others of you are so dedicated to the building up of the church that your lives are unmistakably centered around the body of Christ: you love Christ’s church and it comes through in the way you live. No maKer where each one of us are on the spectrum, if you have been chosen by Christ to be a member of his assembly than you are truly a member of Christ’s church. That choice has been made by our head since before the founda*on of the world (Eph 1:4). And each chosen member, no maKer where you are currently on the spectrum of aﬀec*on, has a vital role to play in the proper func*oning of the church. Do you believe you are playing such a vital role? Just think of God’s design, as we have looked at it here in Ephesians, where we have found that we are being built together into a holy temple we are being joined together as a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Eph 2:20-21). Each member is necessary. Each is vital by God’s design. When we are together, when we give ourselves over to the will of God in this area, we experience it! We know we belong, we are loved, we are useful, and God is gloriﬁed. I say this most of you know this but we also readily acknowledge that we don’t dwell in this manner of being all the *me. We don’t. In fact, we can be quite disconnected, disjointed, even dysfunc*onal at *mes. This is counter to what Jesus desires for his body. Therefore, spiritually, it is a dangerous place to be. And unfortunately, in what I would coin as “stable *mes” the disconnected nature of the church is somewhat covered over with a veneer, a thin covering, a false front. We know it is not completely right but in “stable *mes” when we are not being buﬀeted on all sides we can just sort of get by. Because in “stable *mes” most of us have jobs that cover our bills, we have adequate housing, the community lets us gather to worship without giving much considera*on to what we do in our faith community, we have the privilege to engage in the economic system. That is why the disjointed nature of the body during “stable *mes” doesn’t get the aKen*on it should. We simply put oﬀ the deep heart inves*ga*on that is needed, that which would reveal our sins, the root cause of our lack of adhesion to the brother or sister being placed beside us in Christ’s most beau*ful building project. I believe that even a cursory heart inves*ga*on would reveal a lack of close bonding of one to another. This is counter to what we would expect of a structure being built by Christ (MaK. 16:18). But this is a common occurrence in “stable *mes.” If you take stock of all that is happening right now in the world, in the na*on, in our nearest big city, throughout this valley - would we be able to label this as a stable *me? Has 2020 highlighted the fundamental stability of our culture? Or has it pointed to a faltering world system? Church, if you would generally agree that in stable *mes we don’t bond as closely with one another as Christ would have us – what should we think of an unstable *me? As Paul was wri*ng to the Ephesian church what type of environment did those believers ﬁnd themselves in? Stable or unstable? Let me remind you that in the areas of early Chris*anity, during the ﬁrst century, the areas we read about in our New Testament - Rome dominated. And when I say Rome dominated it did so by a system based on absolute power. They even ins*tuted emperor worship. The culture was infused with rampant pagan worship, sexual immorality was celebrated, a complete disregard for the wellbeing of children, and the brutal disrespect of persons because of ethnic or religious diﬀerences. It would be appropriate to label the ﬁrst century as an unstable *me, its founda*on was not set on solid ground. And it was there in that *me and place where God used his servant Paul to encourage the saints. They were not to fall apart because of the unstable *me, they were not to abandon Chris*anity, on the contrary it was in the unstable *me that they were to ﬁnd their true founda*on and to stand ﬁrmly upon it. Transi)on: In the passage before us today God’s word reveals that Love is what we stand ﬁrmly upon in the turmoil of a faltering world system. Our founda*on is love. We are going to see this in the recorded prayer and doxology of verses 14-21. For our prayers reveal a great deal about our founda*on. We will begin with The Reason for Prayer. The Reason for Prayer (vv14-15) a. To acknowledge dependence i. v14 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,…” 1. Paul takes the very posture of humility and then directs his prayer. These ac*ons acknowledge Paul’s dependence upon the Heavenly Father. 2. The words he starts with are “For this reason…” We have been enriched by working through the beginning chapters of Ephesians and know that Paul is encouraging the saints to be strengthened in their rela*onship with Jesus. Strengthened in understanding more fully the mystery of the gospel. 3. Here the Apostle takes the posture of kneeling as he prays. In the many Chris*an tradi*ons certain prayer postures are encouraged and they can morph over *me. If we just look at the Scriptures, we see from the OT through the NT that prayer occurs in just about every posture (standing, sifng, kneeling, prostrate). 4. Do you have a preferred posture to pray in? Whatever it might be - all postures need to be used in a manner that acknowledge our dependence upon God. Do your use your prayer posture in this way? For instance we close our eyes, because we cannot see apart from what God reveals. We desire spiritual sight. We close our eyes to block out the distrac*ons that ﬂood into our minds through our eyes. We want a singular devo*on. We bow our head out of reverence for the power of God. We know he is sovereign. We kneel down to acknowledge a humble posture of complete dependence upon God. In any posture we take to pray, we are acknowledging our dependence upon a loving God to receive our prayer. b. To direct our aﬀec)ons i. v14 “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,…” 1. What is most necessary is that our prayers are directed to God. We have Jesus’ model prayer which invokes the name of the Father, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name.” (MaK 6:9) and here Paul prays to the Father. He con*nues saying: ii. v15 “…from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,” 1. The implica*on here is that every family, every line has its origin and they can all be traced to the Creator the one who made man and woman – the Heavenly Father. 2. Here I allude to Genesis but very signiﬁcant to our future hope is that all throughout the Scriptures we ﬁnd references to names being given by God. When we read Revela*on, we ﬁnd that those names wriKen in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter into the eternal glory of the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb (Rev 21:27). Transi)on: Church, we have a reason for our prayers. Our prayers are meant to acknowledge our dependence upon the Father and to direct our aﬀec*ons toward Him. As we pray our heart condi*on is revealed, it is exposed to God, and rightly made available to be shaped by Him. 2. The Heart of Prayer (vv16-19) a. To be strengthened by the power of the Spirit i. Paul prays to the Father v16 “that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you,…” 1. “according to the riches of his glory…” Just as we previously looked at, we acknowledge our dependence when we pray and we direct our aﬀec*ons when we pray. Out of the Father’s riches, the riches of his glory, we bring our pe**ons to Him expectantly. It makes sense doesn’t it? If you needed money you would ask someone with suﬃcient means to lend you the amount needed. It wouldn’t even make sense to ask someone without means – unless perhaps in a joking way. When you go to the Father in prayer go to Him acknowledging his riches, the riches of his glory. 2. I love this pe**on of Paul’s as recorded in v16. That the saints in Ephesus would be strengthened with power through his Spirit in their inner being. O church it can be so easy for us to pray for the tangible requests. The healing from sickness, the provision for a job, the growing of a crop, the protec*on of a child. Do you, like Paul, long to see your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ strengthened in the Spirit? Do you long to see the inner being of the person sifng next to you transformed by the power of the working of the Holy Spirit in them? Do you pray this way? Your prayers reveal your inner being – Who is it you ﬁnd there? ii. Because Paul doesn’t stop but con*nues pressing in - in v17 “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith…” This is the type of prayer that reveals our aﬀec*ons for one another. This is the type of prayer that strengths the bonds between us at Christ builds his church. Church our prayers are a window into our heart’s aﬀec*ons. It is clear that Paul deeply loved the saints in Ephesus by the way he prayed for them. 1. Here also is a brief theological perspec*ve we see also in this passage that we should want more of Christ. Not only the glorious salva*on provided by him but for him to dwell in our hearts and for him to dwell in the hearts of all the saints. It is the heart, it is the inner being, that maKers. We don’t want a veneer on the outside that is polished - chip that away for it is no good. We want our hearts to be made new, to be strengthened by the Holy Spirit and to have Christ dwell in us. Pray this way for me, pray this way for your spouse, pray this way for your children, speak of it here in the congrega*on. Open up to those you trust that your heart may be known that it may be prayed for fervently and eﬀec*vely by the saints. b. To be grounded in love i. For this is what will ground us in love. v17b “—that you, being rooted and grounded in love,…” In the Chris*an faith we are to be known as having a ﬁrm founda*on – we are to be unshakeable. Not because we have done everything in our power to build up our own defenses against adversity. Not at all. Our strength comes from that which is given to us through the power of the Holy Spirit. We are rooted in our inner being by Christ who dwells in us – by his love. 1. We are rooted and grounded in love. Our founda*on is love. 2. Love is what we stand ﬁrmly upon in the turmoil of a faltering world system. 3. Just look around and I think you would agree with me that the world system is faltering. What is the founda*on of the world system currently? Don’t you see it is an always shiming founda*on, a chasing amer a humanist secularism that is not grounded because it is rela*vis*c. The Roman empire under which the early church was living was just as rela*vis*c – always shiming. 4. Theologian Francis Schaeﬀer says Rome was threatened by Chris*anity because: “Chris*ans were viewed as rebels…not because they worshipped Jesus, but because they worshipped Jesus as God and they worshipped the personal inﬁnite God only. The worship of the one God only – Caesar – could not tolerate, it was counted as treason.” 5. It is because of our founda*on that we stand. Throughout the ages when the tyrannical leaders of every era have raged against the church, against the saints that make up the church - it is the church that has survived. For the church is rooted and grounded in love. For the church is sustained by its Head – by Christ. c. To know the love of Christ i. vv18-19a “…may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth,…” 1. As elders this past Tuesday night we looked at this sec*on of Scripture and marveled at it. Paul is praying for the recipients of his leKer, believers, to have strength to comprehend – because it does require strength to start the process of comprehending the love of Christ. 2. So we need this strength for this is our endeavor along with the original readers of Paul’s leKer. We need to be strengthened in our inner being by the power of the Holy Spirit to have Christ dwell in us, that we might comprehend the great expanse of Christ’s love. 3. Just think about your state – prior to being in Christ. How loveable were you? What about on this side of your conversion? Are you always pleasant to be around now? a. The answer is no! You were not loveable, and you have remained hard hearted, and you are s*ll diﬃcult to be around at *mes. I’m answering this way because it is the plague of sin. Sin rendered us dead and unable to please God. b. But God in his expansive love for you gave his Son Jesus as a sacriﬁce for you. He gave his perfect Son as an acceptable atonement for your life and in exchange for your unrighteousness God imputed to your account Christ’s righteousness. This is the good news of salva*on through Christ by faith. 4. Jesus knows you, he knows every thought, every ac*on, every thing done in secret, everything done in opposi*on to his goodness. And you s*ll haven’t been able to get beyond the expanse of Christ’s love. Now take that thought take that truth – and realize that not only are you loveable by Christ – but he has given you the ability to love likewise. Church this is what mo*vated Paul and Silas in Acts 17:6 when the men of Thessalonica claimed that they were the ones who “had turned the world upside down.” This is what the love of Christ ﬁrmly stood upon does! It upends all that is not grounded in truth. 5. O in the depth of my soul I long to have the strength to comprehend this love. I long for us as a church to experience this together and to con*nue exploring the expanse that is the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge! d. To be ﬁlled into the fullness of God i. v19b “…that you may be ﬁlled with all the fullness of God.” 1. I believe that taking the deep dive of explora*on into the expanse, that is the breadth and length and height and depth, to know the love of Christ leads to our being ﬁlled unto all the fullness of God. And it is the type of ﬁlling that doesn’t cease because God is unending in his abundance. 2. Church Paul was praying for this for the collec*ve readers of his leKer. It was not meant to be a solo explora*on and it wasn’t meant to be a standalone ﬁlling either. We work as the body of Christ to experience the fullness of God. We explore what it means to love as Christ loved together. Our eﬀorts are magniﬁed, they are enhanced as a community of faithful believers loving as Christ loved together. Transi)on: The heart of prayer is the development of our hearts. The heart of prayer is a changing of our inner being. The working out of this heart of prayer produces a glorious and uncontainable outcome. 3. The Outcome of Prayer (vv20-21) a. To praise God i. v20 “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,…” 1. When we pray in the manner Paul prayed, we cannot help but give ourselves over to praising God. He is worthy of all praise. Do you see how helpful it is to your soul to pray in such a manner that it naturally leads to sta*ng that he is even more capable than what you intended to ask for or even thought to bring before him? 2. I love hearing exalta*ons for God’s felt goodness, his personable aKributes, and yet his unfathomable expansiveness. As we celebrate Christmas this week you can do all of these. Take *me as a family to talk about what it meant for God to become incarnate, that is to become a man born as a baby of the virgin Mary. It would be an opportunity sink the roots of your family deeper and to ground your feet more solidly in love. As a primer you could talk about our keeping of *me in rela*on to years. Tie it to Christ, for when he came his coming was so monumental that all of *me as we know it has been grounded on his ﬁrst coming! The very center of *me points to Christ. b. To glorify Christ i. vv20-21 “…according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church …” 1. He works within us. Once again here is power that is at work within us. We have nothing without the power of the Holy Spirit at work within us. When we work without the power of the Holy Spirit our lives are shallow and without purpose. When we give ourselves over to his indwelling work, He brings glory to himself and, I don’t want you to miss this, he brings glory to the church - which is his body. 2. This is not the type of glory that relies upon outward adornment. It is the beauty of being completely indwelt by Christ – ﬁlled unto the fullness of God. Gives us hope and brings glory to Christ’s church. 3. READ 2 Cor 4:16-18 c. To live in our eternal state now i. v21 “…throughout all generaDons, forever and ever. Amen.” 1. This is what it comes down to my friends. That as we live for Christ now we live in our eternal state. We live as Christ has died…for us to live. We live in and through Him. We love as he loved because we have been loved by him. We love one another, we readily seek forgiveness, and we readily grant forgiveness. We live in harmony with one another even when we live starkly diﬀerent from the world. For we are not of this world. 2. READ John 18:36-37 Transi)on: This is our King, and when we follow him as we ought to follow him, we pray as he prayed, we pray as his Apostle Paul prayed, and we cannot contain that we live now and for the rest of eternity as his – Rooted and Grounded in love. Conclusion Our current *me is very unstable. The founda*on that the world is trying to say is available to ground our lives upon is always shiming. It is shiming. I am grateful for the common grace of medicine and for the vaccina*ons that are available to protect us from devasta*ng diseases. It is a modern medical miracle to have a vaccine for the coronavirus inside of a year. However, another virus will come, another disaster will be confronted, the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience (Eph 2:2) will con*nue to sow discord and prod people to destroy themselves in manifold ways. Therefore, I will not put my hope in anything less than the Son of God. He is the rock in which I stand upon. It is upon the founda*on of Christ’s love that baKle can be waged against the enemy. If you are aKemp*ng to stand and ﬁnd it to be an exhaus*ng exercise. Ask yourself where is my founda*on? Ask have I allowed myself to slip into thinking that the faltering world system will carry me along to a peaceful existence? If the answer is yes, you are in a dangerous place. John says, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the ﬂesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” (1 Jn 2:15-17). This is where the inner being, the heart inves*ga*on I spoke of in the beginning of the sermon must take place. What is coming out of that place inside of you as an individual, what is inside is revealed in your speech (MaK 15:18, James 3:1-12). What words are you speaking? Are they loving words? Are they conveyed in a loving way? In this past year we have ceased to see faces – the image of God has been covered but when it is uncovered it is expressive. It shows so wonderfully a countenance it gives a visual representa*on of what is happening in your heart. What does your face show? We are a people who are designed by God for touch, for loving embrace, what does your embrace when given to another tell of you heart? Your holding of your children expresses your inner being, your heart, what is being expressed? The kisses shared between husband and wife tell a story of what is happening in the heart – yet another window into our inner being – what is being revealed? Inves*ga*ng the heart can uncover areas of instability areas that are not rooted and grounded in love. We live out what is in our heart. I’ve only men*oned a few here but let me ask even in these how is your heart? Is it ﬁlled into the completeness of God and therefore gushing forth love to others? If it is not confess your hardheartedness for it is a place of instability. Repent of that which is being held up as a false founda*on for it will not hold you up! In contrast, what we have seen today, beloved, is that the will of God is to love, to love as Christ loved. Our founda*on church is love. Love is what we stand ﬁrmly upon in the turmoil of a faltering world system. We are being built together as a body in the love of Christ – a love we are given out of the riches of the Father’s glory – riches that never end. Therefore, dear saints, his love must ﬂow through us freely.