Part 18 of a series through the New Testament book of Ephesians
You can listen to the sermon here.
"For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (3:14-19).
Paul begins his prayer for the Ephesians with the words “For this reason” (v. 14). This phrase points back to 2:11-22 where Paul writes that all believers—Jews and Gentiles—are one in Christ. Unity is an important theme in Ephesians.
There is theological unity.
“[Christ] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” (2:14).
There is not always experiential unity.
This is why Paul urges the Ephesians in 4:3 to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
We are united positionally in Christ’s body. We need to be united experientially in Christ’s love.
How's Your Heart?
According to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, there are an estimated 70,000 heart attacks every year in Canada. That’s one heart attack every seven minutes. Over 16,000 Canadians die each year as the result of a heart attack.
Sometimes a person looks healthy outwardly, but inwardly they have an unhealthy heart. The focus of Paul’s prayer is the “inner being” (v. 16). (“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day,” 2 Cor. 4:16.) Paul writes, “I bow my knees before the Father … that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being” (vv. 14-16).
Here are three observations on Paul’s prayer.
1. Nothing is more important than the condition of your heart.
“So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (v. 17a). (The “inner being” and the “heart” are synonymous.) Paul is obviously not talking about Christ’s indwelling at the moment of salvation (Rom. 8:10; 2 Cor. 13:3, 5; Gal. 2:20). He is referring to Christ being first in a believer’s heart.
Jesus often rebuked the Jewish authorities because of the condition of their hearts.
On one occasion, he said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean” (Matt. 23:25-26).
When Samuel went to the house of Jesse to anoint the next king of Israel, God told him, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7; cf. 2 Cor. 5:12). God chose David because he was “a man after [God’s] heart” (Acts 13:22).
2. A heart amazed by Christ’s love is compelled to action.
“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (vv. 17b-19a). “No matter how much knowledge we have of Christ and his work, his love surpasses that knowledge. The more we know of his love, the more we are amazed by it” (Harold W. Hoehner, Ephesians: An Exegetical Commentary, pp. 489-90).
Paul also wrote in Romans 8:38-39, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor power, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
“Christ’s love compels us” (2 Cor. 5:14, NIV). We obey Christ because we love him. And we obey him by loving—God and others.
3. You can’t be what God wants you to be without love.
“That you may be filled with all the fullness of God” (v. 19b). Paul said, “[If I] had not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor. 13:2).
How’s your heart? Is it amazed by Christ’s love? Is it compelled to action? Nothing matters more.