Strengthening God’s Family: Causes and Effects (Ephesians 3:14-19)



2012-08-26 Strengthening God’s Family: Causes and Effects | Ephesians 3:14-19

Ephesians 3:14-19  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.

We saw in chapter 2 that God is metaphorically building a house in Christ. Believers are both members of God’s household, family members, and living stones of the house itself and Christ is the cornerstone. We said that it is a growing house of which we are the latest addition. This passage builds on that metaphor of God’s household in vv14-15 when Paul prays to “the father of the Lord Jesus Christ from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”

 

Paul’s prayer is for the strengthening of the world-wide church – the world-wide family of God. We too, should pray not only for our own church family but also for the world-wide church of which we are members if we trust in Christ by faith. So this is a model prayer for us, but it is much more.

 

As Paul prays for the strengthening of the church we learn of 2 causes and effects of spiritual growth. The two causes are: YIELDED HEARTS, and ENGAGED MINDS. The two effects are (returning to our household metaphor): WELCOMING Christ as our RESIDENT elder brother, and FOLLOWING Christ as our BELOVED elder brother.  God causes the strengthening of the church. That is why Paul is praying for it. Yet we must cooperate with God in the process.

 

Paul prays first for what I call YIELDED HEARTS. “that God would strengthen the members of the church with power thru His spirit in your inner being.” The inner being is the new nature a CHRISTian receives at the new birth or conversion. It is the spirit or heart that has been brought to new life by the Holy Spirit.

 

I suggest that a heart that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, is YIELDED to the HOLY SPIRIT. A Christian ironically, becomes stronger in spirit by becoming more dependent on CHRIST, by yielding to the work of the HOLY SPIRIT. Listen to these passages. Eph. 6.10 – be strong in the Lord and the strength of HIS might. Phi. 4.13 – I can do all things thru CHRIST who strengthens me. 2 Cor 12.9-10 – Jesus said, My strength is made perfect in weakness; Paul said, when I am weak, then I am strong. God causes us to grow in strength of spirit by showing us our own weakness and teaching us to depend on his strength.

 

The EFFECT of yielding is like WELCOMING CHRIST as our RESIDENT ELDER BROTHER. V17 begins, “so that CHRIST may dwell in your hearts through faith… The effect of yielding our hearts is CHRIST dwelling in our hearts more and more. The original word translated DWELL does not mean “drop in for a visit.” It means “move in permanently.”

 

Certainly CHRIST comes to live in us by his HOLY SPIRIT at conversion – You are the temple of the HOLY SPIRIT. What Paul is speaking of here is our viewpoint – WE TREAT HIM more and more as one who is not simply a visitor, but a permanent RESIDENT of our household. We allow him, so to speak, to occupy more and more rooms in the house. He’s not just sleeping on the couch, he’s moved into the whole house, furniture, clothes and all. As God enables us to yield our hearts to the working of the HOLY SPIRIT, we consider CHRIST more and more as our RESIDENT elder brother, in our personal lives and in the life of the larger church.

 

The second way God strengthens his church is by ENGAGING OUR MINDS, specifically on the love of Christ. V17 first reminds us where we began, “that you being rooted and grounded in love” – all believers are branches connected to the vine of CHRIST and living stones resting on the foundation of Christ the cornerstone. Then vv18-19 go on to say, “that you may have strength to COMPREHEND the height, depth, breadth an length, and to KNOW the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. The first speaks of intellectual knowledge and the second of experiential knowledge of CHRIST’s love.

 

As we study God’s word and as we apply God’s word to the various temptations and sufferings of life, we progressively understand more and more the immensity of CHRIST’s love for us – we understand all that he has done in his life and death on our behalf.

 

The EFFECT is that more and more we desire to FOLLOW CHRIST as our BELOVED elders brother.

V19 goes on to say “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” As we grow in the knowledge of CHRIST’s love, we see him more and more not just as our elder brother, but our BELOVED elder brother. “We love him because he first loved us.” And because he is our BELOVED elder brother we desire more and more to FOLLOW in his steps, to become more and more like him. That is what is meant by v19. We are filled with the fullness of God as we become conformed to the image of CHRIST who IS “the fullness of him who fills all in all: (Eph 1.23).

 

Growing up with my natural elder brother, I followed him everywhere, to the creek, the barn, the neighborhood, played with him baseball, basketball, Frisbee, wanted to be like him. CHRIST is our spiritual elder brother we desire to follow because God is causing our minds to be progressively engaged with his love for us.

 

It’s a good thing God is causing the growth of the church because we can’t do it on our own. We can’t yield our hearts because we’re stubborn, hard hearted and we want to maintain control of all the rooms of our house. We won’t engage our minds to the love of CHRIST because we’re lazy, self-sufficient know-it-alls.

 

But CHRIST did it for us. He yielded his will to his father’s will. He yielded his right to his home in heaven in order to live among us. And on the cross He yielded his spirit to his father. He engaged his mind with his father’s love by learning the Scriptures as a child and that knowledge was deepened as he endured temptations and sufferings.

 

As we see how CHRIST did it for us, we are empowered, emboldened and inspired to do it ourselves. We are enabled to open the doors of our hearts to allow CHRIST to more fully dwell in us. And we are enabled to engage our minds with the study and experience of CHRIST’s love in order to become more and more like him.

————

Ephesians 3:14-19 (ESV) ¶ 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.

 

We saw in chapter 2 that God is metaphorically building a house in Christ. Believers are both members of God’s household, family members, and living stones of the house itself and Christ is the cornerstone. We said that it si a growing house of which we are the latest addition.

 

This passage builds on that metaphor of God’s household in vv14-15 when Paul prays to “the father of the Lord Jesus Christ from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.”

 

Paul’s prayer is for the strengthening of the world-wide church – the world-wide family of God. We too, should pray not only for our own church family but also for the world-wide church of which we are members if we trust in Christ by faith. So this is a model prayer for us, but it is much more.

 

As Paul prays for the strengthening of the church we learn of 2 causes and effects of spiritual growth.

 

The two causes are:

YIELDED HEARTS, and ENGAGED MINDS

 

The two effects are (returning to our household metaphor)

WELCOMING Christ as our RESIDENT elder brother , and

FOLLOWING Christ as our BELOVED elders brother.

 

God causes the strengthening of the church. That is why Paul is praying for it. Yet we must cooperate with God in the process.

 

Paul prays first for what I call YIELDED HEARTS. “that God would strengthen the members of the church with power thru His spirit in your inner being.” The inner being is the new nature a Xian receives at the new birth or conversion. It is the spirit or heart that has been brought to new life by the Holy Spirit.

 

I suggest that a heart that is empowered by the Holy Spirit, is YIELDED to the HS. A Christian ironically, becomes stronger in spirit by becoming more dependent on X, by yielding to the work of the HS. Listen to these passages.

 

Eph. 6.10 – be strong in the Lord and the strength of HIS might.

Phi. 4.13 – I can do all things thru X who strengthens me

2 Cor 12.9-10 – Jesus said, My strength is made perfect in weakness; Paul said, when I am weak, then I am strong

 

God causes us to grow in strength of spirit by showing us our own weakness and teaching us to depend on his strength.

 

The EFFECT of yielding is like WELCOMING X as our RESIDENT ELDER BROTHER.

 

V17 begins, “so that X may dwell in your hearts through faith…

 

The effect of yielding our hearts is X dwelling in our hearts more and more. The original word translated DWELL does not mean “drop in for a visit.” It means “move in permanently.”

 

Certainly X comes to live in us by his HS at conversion – You are the temple of the HS. What Paul is speaking of here is our viewpoint – WE TREAT HIM more and more as one who is not simply a visitor, but a permanent RESIDENT of our household. We allow him, so to speak, to occupy more and more rooms in the house. He’s not just sleeping on the couch, he’s moved into the whole house, furniture, clothes and all.

 

Story of becoming a resident of NC. As God enables us to yield our hearts to the working of the HS, we consider X more and more as our RESIDENT elder brother, in our personal lives and in the life of the larger church.

 

 

  1. The second way God strengthens his church is by ENGAGING OUR MINDS, specifically on the love of Christ.

 

V17 first reminds us where we began, “that you being rooted and grounded in love” – all believers are branches connected to the vine of X and living stones resting on the foundation of Christ the cornerstone.

 

Then vv18-19 go on to say, “that you may have strength to COMPREHEND the height, depth, breadth an length, and to KNOW the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. The first speaks of intellectual knowledge and the second of experiential knowledge of X’s love.

 

As we study God’s word and as we apply God’s word to the various temptations and sufferings of life, we progressively understand more and more the immensity of X’s love for us – we understand all that he has done in his life and death on our behalf.

 

The EFFECT is that more and more we desire to FOLLOW X as our BELOVED elders brother.

 

V19 goes on to say “that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

 

As we grow in the knowledge of X’s love, we see him more and more not just as our elder brother, but our BELOVED elder brother. “We love him because he first loved us.”

 

And bc he is our BELOVED elder brother we desire more and more to FOLLOW in his steps, to become more and more like him. That is what is meant by v19.

 

We are filled with the fullness of God as we become conformed to the image of X who IS “the fullness of him who fills all in all (Eph 1.23).

 

Story of my natural elder brother

 

X is that spiritual elder brother we desire to follow because God is causing our minds to be progressively engaged with his love for us.

 

 

It’s a good thing God is causing the growth of the church bc we can’t do it on our own.

 

We can’t yield our hearts bc we’re stubborn, hard hearted and we want to maintain control of all the rooms of our house. We won’t engage our minds to the love of X bc we’re lazy, self-sufficient know-it-alls.

 

But X did it for us. He yielded his will to his father’s will. He yielded his right to his home in heaven in order to live among us. And on the cross He yielded his spirit to his father.

 

He engaged his mind with his father’s love by learning the Scriptures as a child and that knowledge was deepened as he endured temptations and sufferings.

 

As we see how X did it for us, we are empowered, emboldened and inspired to do it ourselves. We are enabled to open the doors of our hearts to allow X to more fully dwell in us. And we are enabled to engage our minds with the study and experience of X’s love in order to become more and more like him.

 

 

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