Last week I wrote about “difference makers.” These persons take on the challenge that is life and the challenges of life in a way that makes a significant difference on a select few or on the multitudes. There is something about how these special contributors share their words and deeds that leaves an impression on others about the meaning, the message, the motions, and the methods of living life well.
The ultimate example of a difference maker is Jesus of Nazareth who is called the Christ (Messiah) according to the biblical Scriptures and His followers over the generations since His historical time on this earth. This Jesus lived in such a way that He has influenced multitudes with His meaning, His message, His motions, and His methods. The mysterious and majestic gift of the Gospel (good news) of salvation for the person that places their faith (trust) in Him changes everything (an authentic biblical faith* does that sort of thing).
*Authentic biblical faith is a trust that Jesus is really all the He says He is, that Jesus did all that He said He did, and that Jesus will do all that He says He will do. Such faith leads us to follow all that Jesus calls us to follow (obedience).
Today, I would like to invite you to join me as we examine again the Scriptures and see why we should trust this Jesus. Hopefully, by taking seriously the words of the Bible we will be able to also behold the incredible love that is found and rooted in Christ.
When we hear people speak about the Bible and about Jesus, the familiar phrase “Jesus Loves You” often comes to light. This phrase can be found on the lips of believers and delivered by the proclamation of pastors, but it is also found printed on t-shirts, displayed on billboards, written in paper tracts, and graffiti-ed on walls. These are simple words but powerful words with profound implications.
But what does it mean when you hear someone say, “Jesus loves you”? For those of us who are Christians, what does it mean when we utter these words? Are we sharing it in a pointless and uncaring manner or are wanting to truly shed light on the profound meaning behind the words. When disciples of Jesus are learning about what it means to have life in Christ, knowing the love of God is an indispensable and incomparable treasure.
Before we move forward on this topic… I hope to assure you of some things related to these words: Jesus loves you.
- When someone says “Jesus Loves You” …this is absolutely true.
- When someone trusts that Jesus loves them …this truth changes everything.
- When someone speaks of the love of Jesus …they speak of the never-changing yet ever changing love of God Himself.
The love of Jesus Christ is mysterious, meaningful, majestic, and mighty as it reveals…
- His Power
- His Promise
- His Provision
- His Power
The love of Jesus Christ is mysterious, meaningful, majestic, and mighty as it also reveals and transforms…
- Our Purchase
- Our Position
- Our Pursuit
- Our Practices
It is this mysterious, meaningful, majestic, and mighty love of Christ that causes Paul to express His prayer to God for the church.
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
-Ephesians 3:14-21 [New American Standard Bible]
So, why does Paul pray for the church to be rooted in Christ’s love? Let’s pause a bit more to reflect on the picture of Christ’s love revealed in this prayer so we may understand the meaning for those who believe.
I. The Invitation For The Prayer
Paul had confidence in the prayer that he lifted up to God for the church because He had confidence first in who God was. Paul knew that God was able to deal with the prayers of the people that call on His name because…He is God. He also knew that although God is holy, that God has done what is necessary to draw believers into His grace, mercy, love, and truth. He not only has paved the way for persons to come to Him, but He has spoken the invitation for us to come to Him.
II. The Identification In The Prayer
Paul declared the identity of this God on whom He called upon for provision. This helps us to understand that prayer is not about self-will or calling on anything… but prayer is about speaking to God the Father. God the Father of Jesus Christ is not so much about declaring the paternity of Jesus but about declaring the relation of fatherhood that is made within mystery of the Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit). Jesus was not a demigod but in all equality…God Himself. The Father ID also reveals the access that we have to God as the good, good father that welcomes His children to Himself.
But lest we forget… The Father is gloriously God and holy. He is never to be taken lightly or looked at as less than He truly is. God the Father is all the father of all nations. He created each and every one so that no one people have the claim over God alone. And these nations have an invitation of grace from the Father. God has displayed His unmerited favor to the lost in the plan for and provision of salvation to those who might place their trust in Him. We have a good, good father that has created fatherhood. The very origins of this title and provision are found in God and the ultimate example is seen in God.
III. The Indications Of The Prayer
Paul had specific petitions in His prayer to the Father. These petitions to the Father indicate His hope for the church. Paul indicated in His prayers that He desired for the church collectively and for disciples individually to be strengthened with power. This power was not through achievement or earned merit, but a provision that could only find its source in the Spirit of God Himself. This means that our power for holy living and for accomplishing the tasks laid before us is not dependent on our own resources and strength but on those that originate from God.
The Spirit brings this strengthening by the working of His power for the “inner man”. In the Greek culture, the inner man referred to the reason of a man to understand truth from fiction, the conscience of man to know right from wrong, and the will of man to put to task this knowledge. From the Scriptures we can see that the inner man in Christ is made alive (Ephesians 2:1), seeing (Psalm 119:18), hearing (Matthew 13:9), tasting (Psalm 34:8), and feeling (Acts 17:27). As such, the inner man must also be exercised (1 Timothy 4:7-8), cleansed (Psalm 51:7), and fed (Matthew 4:4) for health to be preserved and the person to be faithfully active.
Paul also prayed for the inner man to be deepened in the position the believer has with Christ Jesus. In the way that depth is needed, the prayer is that we would have Christ dwell with us. We must understand that we are God’s holy temple that need for our temples to be prepared for this dwelling of His holy presence. Only God can make this place holy, and only by submission to Him, does this holiness reign over our lives. We must be rooted in Christ meaning that we find the source of our nourishment in Him as we journey deeply with Him. We must also be grounded by Christ as we grow and find our balance by His shaping and direction.
IV. The Implications From The Prayer
Paul indicates that His prayer for God’s provision for the church would have implications on the church. By taking in God’s provision we can further know, comprehend, and grasp the love of Christ. Think about that… we can embrace and have a greater understanding of the love of God because of the provisions from God. The love of Christ infinitely covers all dimensions.
“if we wish to work this out we might say that in the breadth of its sweep, the love of Christ includes every man of every kind in every age in every world; in the length to which it would go, the love of Christ was obedient to death and accepted even the Cross; in its depth it descended to experience even death; in its height, He still loves us in heaven, where He still ever liveth to make intercession for us.
There is no man who is outside the love of Christ; there is no place which is outwit the reach of Christ; there is no experience which the love of Christ will refuse in order to gain one man. It is a love which surpasses knowledge, and which, if he accepts it, will fill a man with nothing less that the life of God Himself.”
-William Barclay, 1956
V. The Intensification Filling The Prayer
Paul ends this prayer with a declaration of worship to this God who is, who speaks, who loves, and who acts abounding in infinite holiness and incredible grace. Paul’s praise is clear yet bountiful.
“To Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
The intensity of God’s amazing love drives us to praise Him and to take seriously our response to who He is, what He does, and what He says. The intensity of God’s amazing love should also lead us to be intensely passionate about our purpose to make Him known to this generation and toward the generations to come.
And this we will do as we #FollowJesus for our #LifeInChrist.
By His Grace. Through His Gospel. For His Glory.
The topics discussed are taken from the sermons during the Worship Gathering at Eastgate Baptist.
To listen to this sermon or other past messages…please go to this link.