2013 Sermon Series
- July 14, 2013
Theme: The enjoyment of unseen spiritual realities prepares our hearts for unified daily living in God’s glorious church.
This week, we finish up the doctrinal teaching portion of Ephesians. Paul’s main point can be summarized in 1 sentence: God desires to take every soul on the globe, from various cultures and backgrounds, and blend them into one family in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
This pinnacle passage takes the form of a prayer, preparing us for the practical instructions to come in chapters 4-6. Last week we discussed God’s Enablement and Indwelling. Remember that these four aspects flow into one another as a natural Spirit-given progression. If we’re governed by the Spirit, Christ will feel at home in our hearts. As Christ is at home in our hearts, we will know the infinite measure of love God has given to us in His Son Jesus Christ. As we know that love, we will know increasing maturity over time.
Abundance (verses 17b-18)
The abundance Paul prays for is not in our love for Christ, but in the understanding of how much God loves us.
God pours out His love on us with no expectation of anything in return. Love’s abundance is only known if we walk in the Spirit and Christ feels at home in our hearts.
We are to have deep roots as we grow in understanding the immensity of God’s love toward us. The word “grounded” refers to having a strong foundation. Comprehending means to own as your possession, not merely to grasp content intellectually. Interestingly, these verbs indicate this is done with each other in the church.
Paul uses four “dimensions” here, not to indicate vividness, but the limitless nature of God’s love. As a loving father who never stops lavishing gifts on his daughter, the demonstration of God’s love for us is beyond reason.
This amazing love is what we draw on to live as outlined in the coming chapters.
Maturity (verse 19)
A greater understanding of God’s love for us compels us to greater maturity.
God’s fullness is beyond our understanding, but we can experience its reality. The phrase “filled up to all the fullness” means full to the top, bursting, or dominated by. As we grow, we daily become more like our Savior. We will never be sinless, but we will gradually sin less often with maturity.
Part of being filled with God’s fullness is recognizing that you don’t have the right to do what you want to do. We get to do what God says, because the whole of our being belongs to Him. This directly informs our attitude toward older, more mature saints in the local church. To put it simply, they know God better than you! We must listen to them.
We must also submit to leaders who demonstrate that they are governed by the Spirit. They are responsible to watch over our souls. If addressed about some way we are negatively affecting a member of the flock, whether it is sin or not, it should be our joy to give up our liberty for someone else’s walk. To refuse is a grave offense against God.
Doxology (verses 20-21)
Paul ends his prayer with a doxology, a brief statement of praise to God for Who He is, what He has done, and all that He expects to do through us.
Paul’s doxology reveals a startling truth: There is a purpose more ultimate than the Gospel, and that is God’s glory. His glory was the purpose in the beginning, and it is what remains at the end. Obedience brings more joy to God than salvation. God is glorified in the church and in Jesus Christ. The salvation of “all generations” is a result of our obedience, not its end goal.
- Meditate on the immensity of God’s love for you. Take some time to study the cross-references below. Pray for a greater comprehension of God’s love, as you walk in the Spirit and clean out any sins that prevent Christ from being at home in your heart.
- Try Pastor Tim’s method of growing in the fullness of God through studying God’s attributes. Study who God is and what He does in your personal devotional time. Praise God for several of His attributes each day. As you go about your day, seek to lay those attributes over your decisions.
- Evaluate your attitude toward those older and more mature in the faith. Do you listen to them? Do you know them? Identify a “senior saint” who you can get to know, and start availing yourself of his or her wisdom and knowledge of God. You cannot grow without seeing what the fullness of God looks like in them.
- Are you willing to give up your liberty to do what you want to do, if a leader or discipler tells you that it hinders the walk of another believer?
Cross References to Explore:
- 2 Peter 1:3 – We have the ability to live faithfully through all of life through Jesus’ power.
- Romans 5:5 – God has put His love in our hearts positionally.
- John 13:34 – Jesus lavished us with so much love we can’t comprehend it. We are to minister that same love to one another.
- James 5:16 – Learning and growing is done together.
- 1 John 2:1-2 – The immensity of God’s sacrifice for us.
- Romans 8:28-29 – Nothing will separate the believer from the love of Christ.
- 1 Corinthians 6:20 – We belong completely to God.
- Hebrews 13:17, Titus 2 – We must listen to those older in the Lord.
- 1 Corinthians 8:9-13 – We give up our liberty to preserve another believer’s walk.
- Matthew 18:6 – Causing another person to stumble is a great evil.
- 1 Corinthians 11:1 – Follow leaders who are following Christ.
- Galatians 5:22-23 – There is no limit on what we can do that is right and according to the Spirit.
- 1 Corinthians 10:31 – Everything is for the glory of God.
- Matthew 5:14 – The church shines the glory of God to the world.
A Hymn to Encourage: “And Can It Be”
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in the Savior’s blood?
Died He for me, who caused His pain—
For me, who Him to death pursued?
Amazing love! How can it be,
That Thou, my God, shouldst die for me?
He left His Father’s throne above
So free, so infinite His grace—
Emptied Himself of all but love,
And bled for Adam’s helpless race:
’Tis mercy all, immense and free,
For O my God, it found out me!
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’ eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Quotes to Ponder:
A. Skevington Wood: “The Apostle Paul is simply telling us that the love of Christ, exemplified in its magnanimity to us, is too large to be confined by a geometrical measurement. It is wide enough to reach the whole world and beyond. It’s long enough to stretch from eternity to eternity. It’s high enough to raise both Gentiles and Jews to Heavenly places in Christ Jesus, and it’s deep enough to rescue people from sin’s degradation and even from the grip of Satan himself.”
“The honor of Jesus is in the hands of the local church.”