Main Text: Ephesians 3:14-21
14 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.
20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
As we have studied Ephesians, we’ve noticed that Paul has taken great care to point our attention and affection to the author of our faith. He is wanting his readers to grasp the great and awesome power of God to save us and the grace that is supplied to us–giving us what we require to have life in Christ. Paul explodes will exultation towards God for who He is and what He’s done in us, for us and through us.
We see very clearly that Paul’s deepest joy is found in Christ alone.
The first half of his letter to the Ephesians is laden with very expressive and dynamic language that gives us trajectories for our gratitude towards God for all He has done. It is difficult at times to grasp just how much God is for us. As the Holy Spirit inspires him to write, Paul communicates his gratitude clearly and passionately, so that we, the recipients of the Word of God, may come to do the same in our hearts and in our lives.
Our portion for today concludes the first half of the letter and really marks the ending of Paul’s opening thought, which we’ve brought under the umbrella of “made new”. It is this idea that Paul is driving at us–that God has done a work in us through Christ that is beyond comparison. He has brought us into his family. We are now His people. We have been made new, because God has awakened our hearts to the reality of our sin and our desperate need for a Savior.
Power in His Spirit
Paul’s prayer for the church is that God would he would strengthen us through His Spirit working at the very center of our being, giving us power to live as we ought. In this prayer, we see the Trinitarian view of God highlighted. God is one in essence and three in person. Paul attributes all authority to the Father (v14) and recognizes the power of the Spirit (v16) and the love of Christ (v19). It is important to note that the emphasis of Paul’s prayer here rests on the power of the Spirit to empower the believer in their inner being.
Paul starts by stating “For this reason”, connecting his previous statement in verse 1, with his prayer in verses 14-19. Paul had clarified his calling to Gentiles and his imprisonment in the previous verses, now he is returning to his thought that he began at the beginning of the chapter.
His prayer begins with an acknowledgement of the authority and sovereignty of God over all creation. He is the Father who has authority over all that exists. Nothing is outside his purview and there is no rogue entity that sits outside God’s ultimate jurisdiction.
The request that Paul makes is that this all-powerful God, would pour out from his endless riches the power of His Spirit to strengthen the church in their inner being, so that Christ would dwell in their hearts through their faith in Jesus. This is a prayer we ought to pray today, that God would grant us to be strengthened through His Spirit.
We all must recognize our need for God’s sustaining strength in our lives. We rely on Him to empower us to serve Him as we ought. The Holy Spirit is the one who resides within us and He is the one who works powerfully in us, in a number of a ways, including–but not limited to–the following:
- gives you the Word of God (2 Peter 1:20-21)
- regenerates and renews your heart, making you receptive to the Gospel (Titus 3:5)
- allows you to see your faith through the fruit of our lives (Galatians 5:22)
- grants boldness to proclaim the Gospel as truth (Acts 2:14)
- gives confidence in the face of adversity (Acts 7:55)
- distributes gifts to the church, for several reasons:
- to evidence God’s presence (Acts 2:4)
- to express the good news (Acts 17:16)
- to build the church up in love (1 Corinthians 12:4-7)
- gives life to your bodies–death has no hold on you (Romans 8:10-11)
Jesus said of the Holy Spirit: he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:26 ESV). Christ is with us, because God has put the Helper, the Holy Spirit within us to strengthen us, so that we might worship God as we ought.
The love that surpasses knowledge
Paul mentions in his prayer that we would “be strengthened with power through his Spirit” and now mentions that we need this strength “to know the love of Christ”. The more you understand the love of Christ for you, the more reason you will have to worship him and lay your life down for him. When we learn of his love for us, we experience his grace at work in us and this causes us to live in a different manner than we lived previously.
This love is something to truly stop and reflect on. Attempt to fathom this love that is without condition–it is not based on you, but rather on God. Realize there is nothing you can do in order to earn this love. There is nothing you can do to unearn this love. You do not wield this love. This love is powerful beyond words and is a bit like looking directly into the sun, you feel its powerful effects and your weakness causes you to turn your glance away. To gaze at the unending, never-giving up, always and forever love of Christ is truly impossible. It surpasses knowledge. At some point, you are too weak to even fathom and take in even a small portion of it.
So, when we gaze into his love, our hearts overflow with the fullness of God and we sing, as Paul does as he concludes his portion of his letter by saying:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Apply to Life
This week, as you reflect on the message, think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.
DISCUSS THE MESSAGE
Read: Ephesians 3:14-21
What is at the center of Paul’s prayer in this section?
Share about a time when you were ‘strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being’.
What does the work of the Holy Spirit look like in your life?
The result of the power of his Spirit is that Christ would dwell in our hearts through our faith–what does it mean for Christ to dwell in your heart?
How do you know that Christ dwells in you?
When you think about the love of Christ, what imagery comes to mind?
Why does Paul pray for the church to comprehend something that ‘surpasses knowledge’?
Take a moment to reflect on a time in your life when you were overwhelmed by the love of Christ for you. This could be your moment of salvation or a moment where you stopped to think through the deep impact of Christ’s love for you.
How is our knowledge of the love of Christ much more than an intellectual pursuit of facts concerning his self-sacrificial life and death for us?
If someone were you ask you: How do you know God loves you, what would you say?
As you close your time together, pray the doxology over your group, going through each component of Paul’s praise statement in verse 20 and 21.