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Ephesians overview – 3:14-19, Putting the entire prayer together, part 4.

EPHESIANS-1-200802
length: 66:16 - taught on Aug, 4 2020
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Tuesday August 4, 2020

 

Last time we focused on God’s call upon us all to seek Him with everything we’ve got. I decided to focus on this for some time because of our call to be like our Lord and at times not looking anything like Him at all.

 

JER 29:13

'And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

 

Are we to think that because we are in the age of the church, the age of grace, that the attitude of giving all of our heart to God was only a way of the past? I would say that now that we are actually married to Christ it has done nothing but intensify. And in this I will comfort you. When our eyes are finally open to the truth, the way of complete devotion to God in everything is the only place of comfort.

 

HEB 4:14-16

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need.

 

[2CO 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.]

 

2CO 1:9-10

indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves in order that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope.

 

No matter how mature we get in this life, the reality is that we’re still going to be pretty far from the standard, yet, and this is vital to know and believe, God never lowers the bar by an inch. We are required to shoot for the heavens, the perfect virtue of Christ, and we have no other target put before us by God. Remember, He gives the calling, not any man.

 

Psa 24 was written for the occasion of David bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem and installing it in the Tabernacle that he had built.

 

PSA 24:1-6

The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains,

The world, and those who dwell in it.

2 For He has founded it upon the seas,

And established it upon the rivers.

3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?

And who may stand in His holy place?

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,

Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood,

And has not sworn deceitfully.

5 He shall receive a blessing from the Lord

And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

6 This is the generation of those who seek Him,

Who seek Thy face —  even Jacob.

 

Vs. 4 might come across to us who are in the know about ourselves that there is no point ascending up that hill. Yet, it shows an unmovable truth; those who are with God must be like Him. But then David moves to the next couplet, showing us that vs. four is always the target, but that righteousness comes from God. The full of God revelation to man, which we now possess, is that righteousness comes from Christ as a gift to man, as a blessing from the God of salvation; this is in line with vs. 5. And then wonderfully to the next couplet and we find the desire to ascend that hill. David comforts those at the foot of the hill: Seek Him! Even Jacob (scoundrel). God could have used “Israel” when summoning the people, but the older name is what He chooses.

 

Can you seek Him with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength? Especially when you know the reward, seeing and being like Christ. And when you discover along the way that you are still so far away, and there is so much more ground to traverse, much more than you ever imagined, can you grab hold of God’s promises and grace and say to yourself, “I seek Him, and the journey is one of joy.”? It is like the pilgrims traveling by caravan to Jerusalem for the Passover. The journey is so exciting. Can we by grace know that we are forgiven and keep seeking, keep thirsting, keep hungering; having the joy of knowing that each step is a step closer; more like Christ, more love, more patience, more compassion, more graciousness, more inner strength?

 

PSA 27:8

 When Thou didst say, "Seek My face," my heart said to Thee,

"Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek."

 

PSA 27:13-14

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord

In the land of the living.

14 Wait for the Lord;

Be strong, and let your heart take courage;

Yes, wait for the Lord.

 

PSA 9:10

And those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee;

For Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee.

 

As one of the Lord’s under-shepherds, I do not want any in the flock He has given me to get overly discouraged. All of us must know that our calling is to never be lowered from heaven itself, and at the same time know that we go by the grace and mercy of God, having a High-Priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.

 

So we go for it, seeking Him, joyful in the journey.

 

We observe in Paul’s prayer in Eph 3 the same vein of Trinitarian thought which marks the doxology of chapter 1. The Father, the Spirit, and the Christ are unitedly the object of the apostle’s devout supplication.

 

The Father bestows His name. The Holy Spirit bestows His power. And the Christ bestows His residency. 

 

EPH 3:17-18

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

 

Exischuo, “you may be able,” is a rare compound verb, only used here in the Bible, and it means to have full strength or to be completely capable of doing something.

 

Comprehend is katalambano which means to lay hold of effectively, to lay hold of so as to make one’s own. The strength given by the Holy Spirit so that we may afford a place in our hearts for the realities of the Person of Christ, by learning and living as Him in His life and way, in His love we become rooted and grounded so that we may lay hold of the vastness of His love for us, which includes all the purposes of the Father.

 

When we think of the Lord’s statement, “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son,” we come to understand how pregnant it is with meaning. The giving of the Son, the decree of God, the counsels of God, the willingness of the Son, the predestination of the cross, the hypostatic union, the angelic conflict, the glorification of Christ and His saints, and on and on. The tale of the history of the world is contained in those few words. Divine love is the impetus behind it all.

 

We can get a glimpse of those purposes when we look at what is revealed to us about the final result of the decree of God, or what is human history.

 

There is a new heaven and a new earth. There is a New Jerusalem on that earth (in my opinion not a satellite). There is the kingdom, shown as one kingdom, not two, given to the Father and the Lord Jesus Himself submitting Himself to the Father.

 

1CO 15:20-28

But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He delivers up the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 And when all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all.

 

So we have the Father, the Son, and who else?

 

1CO 15:41-49

There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for star differs from star in glory. 42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; 43 it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. 45 So also it is written, "The first man, Adam, became a living soul." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual. 47 The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. 48 As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.

 

There are the saints. We could go to many passages to show us that it is the saints of all ages. We could go to other passages that reveal that angels will also be there. Saints and elect angels, but the angels are servants.

 

HEB 1:14

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?

 

HEB 2:5-10

 For He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. 6 But one has testified somewhere, saying,

 

"What is man, that Thou rememberest him?

Or the son of man, that Thou art concerned about him?

7 "Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels;

Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor,

And hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands;

8 Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. "

 

For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see all things subjected to him. 9 But we do see Him who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.

 

Seen plainly, the end of the purposes of God was the saints. It was human sons brought into the riches of His glory. Hence, the love of God is the all-encompassing truth that makes humanity and life what it really is.

 

That, of course, doesn’t mean that we only study the scriptures about love and ignore the rest. It means that the love of God pervades all the revealed truth. Christ is on every page of scripture. We must know all of it so that we will know all that is revealed about Christ and His love for us.

 

EPH 3:14-19

For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every [the whole] 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 [the] Christ may dwell [at home] in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able [have all power] to comprehend [apprehend] with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know [and continue to know more] the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.

 

The words "breadth, length, depth, and height" have no particular significance except to give the general idea of the vastness of the love of Christ for us.

 

Certainly there is some opinion in that statement, because Paul doesn’t tell us specific identities for the four dimensions. But I think that statement is about as general as it can be made while remaining in the context of the passage.

 

It is futile to attach four specific meanings to these four dimensions since Paul does not. Breadth is used in some passages for the vastness of the land God had given to Israel. It meant the whole of the land given, also known as the Palestinian Covenant.

 

GEN 13:17

Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you."

 

When Israel rejected the care and providence of God and chose to rely on a partnership with Syria, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah that they would be invaded by Assyria.

 

ISA 8:8

It [Assyria] will reach even to the neck;

And the spread of its wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.

 

The title Immanuel is given to Israel in sarcasm. It means God with us and they did not believe it.

 

Used many times in the OT, the words breadth and length simply mean measurements.

 

ROM 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

Here as well Paul is referring to all things that would oppose God and therefore oppose your relationship with Him. Neither circumstances of death or of life, no angelic powers, no current events, no future events, no earthly powers, “nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able [possess the power] to separate us from the love of God, which [love] is in Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

In ROM 8:39 as well as in our prayer in Eph 3, this love is Christ’s love for us, not ours for Him.

 

Paul prays that we apprehend, or lay hold of effectively, the love that Christ has for us. We might immediately want to jump to the same love that we are to have for others, but it is our apprehension and knowledge of the love of Christ that is his desire. Certainly, the love of Christ is the love we are to love with. It is actually the only love. But as He said: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

 

But our love does not surpass knowledge. In fact, our love exactly matches our knowledge of it. Paul writes of Christ’s love that will always surpass our knowledge of it.

 

We have to know, ginosko, which is a learning by experience, the vastness (breadth, length, depth, and height) of His love for us if we are going to effectively love others in the same manner.

 

Ginosko suggests a progress of knowledge. Here Paul uses an aorist infinitive which has no time element. We are to always know the love that Christ has for us and we must be always learning more about it.

 

The Holy Spirit is to strengthen us with power within. This He will do when we obey the will of the Father. This strength to think and do God’s will give us comprehension of the treasures of Christ, which are the truths about Him, and those truths, and so He Himself, will dwell at home in our hearts by our faith in them. This was all done for us because of the love of God.

 

Because God loved us, He gave us His life by sacrifice, even though we were His enemies.

 

The strength to understand the truths of the Person of Christ will keep us rooted and grounded no matter how strong the storms of life may be. Christ dwells in our hearts due to God’s love and so we are rooted and grounded by the immutability of His love. His vast love for us will never waiver nor change, despite our failures and sins.

 

If such a statement of truth makes you want to sin more, know for sure that you have not understood its truth. ROM 6:1-2 Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

 

So, the Spirit strengthens with power so that we can live the life of Christ in obedience and then the truths about Christ will dwell at home in our hearts through faith, which love will keep us rooted and grounded, and all of this has a purpose.

 

EPH 3:18-19

[so that] 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 fulness of God.

 

The purpose is to know the love of Christ. The more we know of it, the more we find that we are very far from knowing all of it. Like an endless tunnel upon which we encounter what looks to be the end, only to find that it is a turn and the tunnel goes on well beyond.

 

“surpasses” - huperballo = to throw over or beyond, to transcend; “knowledge.” How are we to be always getting to know that which transcends knowledge?

 

The seeming contradiction is removed when we understand that all knowledge of God is like this - infinite. There is nothing like the love of God in this universe. There is one and one only and from one source. When we come to know it, we have a partial knowledge of something that literally has no end. But rather than discouraging our efforts to discover, it invites us to follow it, invites our observation and pursuit, even though it always outreaches us.

 

So then, it is not a contradiction but a beautiful truth; the love of Christ is always deeper than our knowledge of it.

 

In all the mystery of Christ, perhaps there is nothing more wonderful and past finding out than His love. For thirty years Paul has been living in daily fellowship with the love of Christ, his heart full of it and all the powers of his mind bent upon its comprehension: he cannot understand its depth yet. It amazes him more than ever so that his prayer for the churches is that they would come to know it.

 

Nothing else compares to the love of Christ. Human love has in many instances displayed heroic qualities; it can rise to an almost divine height of purity and tenderness; but its noblest sacrifices will not bear to be put by the side of the cross of Christ.

 

Our explanations of Christ’s love are always wanting. It is so vast that it escapes a comprehensive definition. Even in Paul’s expansive definition of it in 1Co 13, he tells us more about what it doesn’t do that what it does, and ends with “love will never ever fail,” which conveys the idea that it is eternal, which of course it is since God is love. Its truest picture is the cross. The cross took away our infirmities and carried our diseases.

 

1CO 12:31 But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way

 

1CO 13:1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 

 

1Co 13:2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

 

1Co 13:3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I surrender my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

 

1Co 13:4 Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

 

1Co 13:5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered,

 

1Co 13:6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth;

 

1Co 13:7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

 

1Co 13:8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

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