Faithlife Sermons

Boundless Love (Eph. 3:14-21)

Ephesians  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Introduction

· In one of the great musicals of all time, “Fiddler on the Roof,” the Jewish farmer Tevye asks his wife Golde (goal-deh), “Do you love me?” … “Do I love you?” she responds in song. “For twenty-five years I've washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked the cow, after twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?... I'm your wife. "I know (Tevye says)... But do you love me?” “I suppose I do” Golde says by the end of the song. Then Tevye responds, “And I suppose I love you too.” This couple had lived together, worked hard together, raised three girls together, grown old together, but saying the words “I love you” was still a little hard. The two close out the song by singing together, “It doesn’t change a thing, but even so, after 25 years, it’s nice to know.”
· Today is Valentine’s Day, and so it’s appropriate we’re going to talk about love. Particularly God’s love. I hope this will be a day, men, when you can express your love for your wives, and ladies, when you can express your love for husbands.
· But perhaps you’re here today and you wish you could ask God the question, “Do you love me?” Maybe you’re dealing with sickness, or discouragement, or loss. You’re afraid to even voice the question, but deep down, you’re wondering, God, do you love me?
· The answer, of course, is yes. God doesn’t just tolerate you, or love you a little bit. He loves you more than you can possibly imagine. His love defies comprehension. He loved you long before you even met him, and his love will extend through all of eternity. No matter what you have done, no matter your dark past, if you have put your simple faith in Jesus Christ, then God’s love for you is steadfast and unshakeable. If you have never trusted in Jesus, then he opens wide his arms of love and offers you that free gift of salvation today.
· In our passage this morning, the Apostle Paul prays the Ephesian church will come to better understand the love of God. He actually intended to begin this prayer back in v. 1, but became sidetracked with the mystery of Jews and Gentiles together as one body in the church.
· Read Ephesians 3:1, 14-21
· What a beautiful section of scripture! In this prayer, Paul intercedes on behalf of the church, then turns his attention to God himself. Notice with me three specific requests: Paul prays for the church’s strength (14-16), he prays they will have a deeper knowledge of God’s love (17-19), and he prays for God’s glory (20-21). Let’s look at each of these more closely…

Paul Prays for Their Strength (14-16)

· “grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit”
· Paul is not only an apostle and messenger of the gospel. He is also a loving pastor. He knows we can grow weak in the Christian life. Sometimes we are feel physically weak and tired. But there are other forms of weakness too. Sometimes we grow spiritually weary… mentally fatigued…. emotionally drained.
· In Psalm 63, David cries out, O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
· And in Psalm 69:3–5, David can barely muster the energy to write, I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal. You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you.
· Maybe that describes you today. It certainly did some of the people in the Ephesian church. And so, Paul prays for them. He prays they will be strengthened with power in their inner being. And as Paul bows his knees to the Father, he asks the very one who brings divine resources into the equation…
· According to the riches of his glory (16). This power is proportionate to God’s divine resources. And it is through his Spirit (16). The Holy Spirit is the spirit of power, of comfort, of peace, of love. Think about that. The very same Spirit who descended upon Jesus at the Jordan River and empowered him for ministry, has now taken up residency in your heart, and brings a daily supply of power. This doesn’t mean that you will suddenly feel strong and never falter, but that God will give you strength you didn’t even know existed, to help you handle trials you never imagined you could bear.
· >>What is the result of this Spirit-enabled, divinely-ordained power? Christ himself will dwell in your hearts.

Paul Prays They Will Have a Deeper Knowledge of God’s Love (17-19)

· When you share the gospel with a child, you might invite them to “ask Jesus into their heart.” But is that the best way to explain the gospel? Probably not. It is not a very specific gospel call. It can lead to strange images of Jesus shrinking down like a Smurf and coming to live inside a person’s heart. It’s far better to invite that child to admit their sin to God, to believe that Jesus died and rose again for them, and to ask God to make their dirty hearts clean. But this passage here does give credence to the idea of Jesus being “inside in our hearts.” Not physically, but spiritually.
· Paul here approaches love from every dimension. He takes his little tape measure, and he begins to count out how high it is, how deep it is, how broad it is, how long it is. And he quickly finds his tape measure isn’t long enough. God’s love is higher than the Empire State Building. It is deeper than the Grand Canyon. It is broader than the ocean. It is longer than the Great Wall of China. This is poetic language, but it is also literally true. God’s love is immeasurable.
· Psalm 139:8–10 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139:17–18 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! If I would count them, they are more than the sand. I awake, and I am still with you.
· You say, but how do I know God loves me? Just think about it for a moment. If you are sitting here and you love God today, where do you think that love came from? Do you think it simply swelled up in your own heart? No, it came from the one who loved you first. 1 John 4:10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. V. 19 We love because he first loved us. God thought of you and chose you out before you were born. He made promises to you. He initiated a relationship with you. He sent his Son while you were still his enemy. He was pleased to crush his son on your behalf. He forgave a debt you could never repay. He adopted you into his family. He invites you to pray to him, and meanwhile, he intercedes for you. He gave you his word so you could know his will and learn his mind. He gave you his Spirit to comfort you, correct you when you stray, fill you with love, and give you courage to do what is right. He provides for your needs. He is prepared a future place where there will be no tears, no sorrow, and no separation. In all these ways, and a million more, God demonstrates his love to us.
· As we come to appreciate God’s love for us, it draws us to love him more and to serve him more fully. 2 Cor. 5:14 “For the love of Christ controls us.”
· Several years ago a man in our church said to me that his four-year old daughter had come up to him and commented, “Daddy, I like to hear Pastor Stephen preach.” Why’s that? The dad asked. “Because it makes me love Jesus more.” That is the biggest compliment I could ever receive. And I pray it will always be true. Not to us, not to us O Lord, but to your name belong glory. All glory belongs to God. This brings us to our final point…

Paul Prays for the Glory of God (20-21)

· The glory of God is the summary of all his attributes. It is his holiness, his eternality, his independence, his power, his wrath, his truth, his goodness, and his love all wrapped together. It is not so much an attribute or character trait as a the rank or honor that is due Him. Sometimes, God reveals this glory through a brightness. We might call this “The outward expression of his own excellence.” (Grudem)
· I am not surprised that God’s glory is on display through Jesus. John 12:27–28 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” Jesus has glorified God in every way, through his life, his death, his resurrection, his ascension, and in his future reign. He is the beloved son, with whom God is well pleased.
· What is more surprising to me is that God’s glory is also on display in the church. Have you ever considered what is the purpose of the church? Why do we exist? Why do we gather on Sundays? Why do we have business meetings, and Bible studies, and a Facebook page, and a podcast? Why do we ask new attenders to attend a membership class and join the church? What is all of it for? To put it simply, the purpose of the church is to glorify God. And we want to put God’s glory on display as clearly and vividly as possible.
· We do not want people to have just a grainy, black and white image of God. We want people to see him in vivid color, like a high definition TV. If God’s attributes are clearly seen throughout creation (Romans 1), they should be even more clearly seen through the local church.

Conclusion

· The theme of this passage is perfectly captured in the song, “The Love of God.” As we close this morning, listen to the lyrics: The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell. It goes beyond the highest star and reaches to the lowest hell. The guilty pair [Adam and Eve], bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win; His erring child He reconciled and pardoned from his sin. O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure— The saints’ and angels’ song. Amen.
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