Residence

                                                     Ephesians  3:14-21

                                                       October 6, 2019

 

 

v. 16 - Riches of His glory is a more emphatic expression than “glorious riches,”

though substantially the same in meaning. God’s standard of giving is

liberal, bountiful, overflowing. An image of the riches of His glory is seen in

the starry heavens, which proclaim at once the vast riches and surpassing

glory of God. Or in the beautiful appearance of an autumn sunset, where

the whole sky is flecked with clouds brightened into a sea of glory. In

prayer, it is both useful for ourselves and glorifying to God to recognize His

bountifulness.   To be strengthened with might by His Spirit in the inner

man. (a sort of spiritual robustness) The inner man is the seat of influence,

but with us it is the seat of  spiritual feebleness. Most men may contrive to order

their outward conduct suitably; but who has control of the inner man? Faith, trust,

humility, love, patience, and the like graces which belong to the inner man, are

what we are weakest in, and what we have least power to make strong is where we

most need THE MIGHT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!  In this very region it is sought

that the Ephesians might be strengthened with might by the Spirit. The gift of the

Spirit is available for this very purpose for all that ask Him.  (……he that

ruleth his spirit is better than he that taketh a city.”  Proverbs 16:32)

 

 

 

·         THE BLESSING IS SPIRITUAL STRENGTH. “Strengthened with

   might… in the inner man.” It is not a prayer for physical strength, which

   is a matter of slight moment in God’s sight, though it is often made the

   subject of foolish boasting among men; nor for intellectual strength, which

   is a much more important factor in human life; (Jeremiah 9:23-24) but for

   strength in the inner man.” This is not to be confounded with “the new man.”

   It is rather “the hidden man of the heart” (I Peter 3:4); the man “created

    after God” (ch. 4:24) in righteousness and holiness;

 

ü      the interior principle of spiritual life;

ü      the personification of our intellectual and spiritual life, with:

Ø      its impulses,

Ø      its feelings,

Ø      its struggles.

 

This is the sphere:

 

ü      the direction,

ü      the destination,

 

of the strength prayed for. It is a prayer that God:

 

ü      would make us eminent in grace and goodness,

ü      that our souls may prosper and be in health like our

bodies,

ü      that we may be able to grapple with all our spiritual enemies,

Ø      to resist temptation,

Ø      to endure afflictions,

Ø      to perform the duties of our Christian calling.

 

If we have strength, we shall be able to run in the way of God’s commandments

(Isaiah 40:31).

 

Our physical strength is renewed from day to day by food and rest.

 

So is our spiritual strength daily renewed by the Bread of life; and thus the

apostle could say of himself, “I can do all things through Christ; which

strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13; John 16:7-11)

 

 

 

The Family in Heaven and in Earth (v. 15)

 

The prayer of the apostle, which includes a reference to the whole family

interest of the universe under the blessed Father, is one of the most fervent,

comprehensive, and sublime to be found in all Scripture. Let us consider

the force and beauty of the expression, “the family in heaven and in earth.”

The primary reference is to the Church of God, but it likewise includes the

angels, who merge with the saints into one family; for “all they are

brethren.” The Church is the family of God in many respects.

 

·         IT IS SO IN THE TIE THAT BINDS ALL THE MEMBERS

TOGETHER. A family has its constitution in nature, not in similarity of

opinion, or interest, or taste. We cannot choose who shall be our brothers

or sisters. There are relationships in human life into which we can enter or

not enter at will, such as political associations, literary fellowships, social

bonds of various kinds. The family is not of this character. Now, the

Church is a family unlike these merely voluntary associations, for it is

founded by GOD HIMSELF, in which we have our place by His own

adopting grace, and once we are there, our relations to everything internal

and external are determined, not by ourselves, but by the laws of family life.

We become “children of God by faith in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26).

There may be members in this family who may not recognize us as fellow-

members at all, but we are members notwithstanding, by ties which they

have done nothing to create and which they cannot undo by their

exclusiveness or their bigotry. Yet all the members are really bound to each

other by the tie of a common life, for they live by faith in Christ Jesus, and

of a common love; for faith worketh by love, and never works without it.

Jesus says, “Love one another, as I have loved you.” (John 13:34; 15:12)

That is, we are to love with a love practical, humble, bountiful, patient, gentle,

all-embracing, and lasting as Christ’s own love.

 

·         THE CHURCH IS A FAMILY BY ITS UNITY. There is but one

Father in the Divine family, who unites in Himself the perfection of fatherly

and motherly affection. There is but one Church on earth, “one body,” as

there is but one faith, one baptism, one hope. (ch. 4:4-5)  Wherever there is

union with Christ, there is membership in His body the Church. The

indwelling of the Holy Spirit is the bond of unity in the Church. It

follows, therefore, that believers must be one in faith, love, and obedience.

 

·         THE CHURCH AS A FAMILY ADMITS OF GREAT DIVERSITIES.

      There are great diversities of affection, of temperament, of

character, in the same family, contributing, indeed, to the fullness and

happiness of its life. The completeness of the family depends, indeed, on

the beautiful fusion of its masculine and feminine elements. Now, the

Church similarly, though one, exists under great diversities of form and

condition. There are, first, the two great divisions of the Church into the

heavenly and the earthly membership. It is a mistake to say, as some do,

that the Church consists only of living saints, as if the dead ceased to he in

its unity. God does not set members in the body that they may die out of it

again; He is the God, not of the dead, but of the living (Mark 12:27); and

if such members are not in the body, they are without a Head, that is, without

Jesus Christ, who is the only Head of the body. Can “the whole body” grow

to the measure of the stature of a perfect man without including the growth

of the entire Church of God? (ch. 4:13)  Then, again, there are the diversities

of dispensations. Believers of every age, no matter under what dispensation

they lived, are members of the Divine family. The way of salvation was

always the same (Romans 4.). THE ONE LAMB OF GOD who took

away the sin of man was “slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation

13:8). The variety of dispensations marks the onward stages of the family

life. Then, again, there are the diversities of opinion which have existed

within the Church of God without destroying its unity; and endless

diversities of character and temperament, all governed more or less by the

subduing grace of God; and the diversities of lot, service, and event,

illustrated in the career of the members of this family.

 

·         THE CHURCH IS A FAMILY WITH A FINAL GATHERING AND

A HOME FOR ALL ITS SEPARATED MEMBERS. There is a house of

many mansions,” which our Savior has gone before to prepare (John 14:2) —

the holy places made without hands” (II Corinthians 5:1); the grand

metropolis of God’s moral rule, “whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the

Lord” (Psalm 122:4), from every realm of earth, from every age of time.

There angels will mingle with saints, and interchange experiences of the

love of God. The fatherhood of God is thus seen to connect different orders

of beings by a new and loving tie.

 

ü      Happy family, whose names are written in heaven!

ü      Happy family, whose ranks are unbroken, whose hearts are one!

 

Gathered home at last, to be forever with the Lord, and forever with

one another!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            Love, the Root and Foundation of Spiritual Knowledge (v. 18)

 

“That ye, being rooted and grounded in love,” may comprehend and know

the love of Christ. The effect of Christ’s indwelling in believers is to root

them and found them deeply in love — love being the root of the tree of

life in the one case, and the foundation of the temple or house in the other;

for the soul, ever contemplating Christ within it, is changed into His very

likeness. The apostle means that the Ephesian saints would grow in the

knowledge of that love by growing into the likeness of that love. “Blessed

are the pure in heart: for they shall see God (Matthew 5:8); the meek will

He guide in judgment, the meek will He teach His way.”  (Psalm 25:9)  The truths

of God are by them spiritually discerned. There is a deep philosophy in this matter.

Men cannot understand each other except so far as they have the radical elements

of the same experiences in themselves. I understand what you mean when you say

you are hot or cold, because I have had sensations of heat and cold in

myself. Thus people of dissimilar tempers, or culture, or opportunities are

apt to misunderstand each other. A vulgar man cannot understand a man of

high refinement. A practical man of the world, who is today what he was

yesterday, and will be tomorrow what he is today, can never understand

the man of poetic genius, whose spirits come and go like the tides, today in

the height of sentimental ecstasy, tomorrow in the depths of despair.  (Likewise

it is hard for a child who never had a father and not having been loved, to

function in a culture that is hostile to a traditional family.  CY – 2019) There

must, therefore, be similarity of temper or experience to promote a real

understanding. Thus we can see how only love can understand love. Even

in our worldly intimacies, it is not quickness of perception but the force of

sympathy or affection that enables us to understand our friends. “Love’s

quick eye can pierce through disguises impenetrable to a colder scrutiny.”

Thus it is that the knowledge of God is not to be compassed by a mere

exercise of the intellect; it is to be attained through love: “He that loveth

not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:8). Thus it comes to

pass that we can know the love of Christ just in proportion as

we have that which resembles it in our own hearts, and that love is there in

virtue of His own indwelling by the Spirit. “The Christ of the Bible

manifests Himself, and, by the laws of human nature, can manifest Himself

only to His own image formed in the heart.” Thus it is possible to read a

new meaning into the beautiful sentence of inspiration, “Eye hath not seen,

nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which

God hath prepared for them that love him” (I Corinthians 2:9). Our

Lord has suggestively said, “If any man will do His will, he shall know of

the doctrine whether it be of God.” (John 7:17)  There are moral as well as

intellectual conditions in the pathway of all extended knowledge.

 

 

 

                                    Intercessory Prayer (vs. 14-19)

 

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would

grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with

might by His Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by

faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to

comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and

height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye

might be filled with all the fullness of God.” In the whole passage we have

Christian philanthropy and prayer. The apostle, who was a philanthropist of

the highest type, here prays, not for himself, but for others; and prays, not

for mere secondary and non- essential blessings, but for blessings

paramount and vital. Let us attend to this intercessory prayer of his. A true

minister is a true philanthropist, and will, like Christ, not only vicariously

suffer for others, as we have seen, but will ever make intercessions for

others. Intercessory prayer is the rarest and highest type of prayer. (Jesus

Christ does this for us!  (Romans 8:34; Hebrews 7:25)  In answer to objections

that are raised against it, four facts are ever to be kept in view.

 

1. It is an instinct of social love. Self-love urges a man to pray for himself,

social love prompts the soul to address Heaven on behalf of others. What

more natural than for:

 

a.      a loving mother to pray for a suffering child,

b.      a loving pastor for his people,

c.       a loving citizen for his country?

 

What is natural is Divine!

 

2. It is a soul discipline. Nothing exerts a higher influence upon the soul

than the realization of the Divine presence in prayer; this quickens and

hallows it. In intercessory prayer, however, there is this, and something

more; there is the taking of the soul out of the circle of itself, and

expanding it with earnest, loving sympathies for others. Intercession lifts

the spirit into fellowship with that God who careth for all.

 

3. It is a manifest Christian duty. We are not only commanded in Scripture

to pray for others, but we have the highest examples — Moses, Abraham,

Paul, Christ.

 

4. It has been crowned with wonderful success. The Bible abounds with

examples. “Peter ... was kept in prison: but prayer was made without

ceasing of the Church unto God for him And when Peter was come to

himself, he said, Now I know of a surety that the Lord hath sent his angel,

and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod .... And he came to the

house of Mary ... where many were gathered together praying.”  (Acts

12:5-12)  This is only a specimen,

 

“For what are men better than sheep or goats,

That nourish a blind life within the brain,

If, knowing God, they lift not hands of prayer,

Both for themselves and those who call them friend?”

 

Observe in this intercession:

 

·         THE GOD INVOKED. Who is He?

 

ü      He is a Father. “I bow my knees unto the Father.” In the New

Testament the fatherhood of God is revealed. Christ speaks of Him as the

Father, and in His ideal prayer He is addressed as “Our Father.”

(Matthew 6:9-13)  In this character Paul here addresses Him. We see good

reason for this.

 

Ø      It makes the Object of prayer intelligible to the mind.

     

o        Infinite Creator,

o        universal Sovereign,

o        absolute Proprietor, and Disposer;

 

what finite mind can understand these characters? But a Father all

know; paternity engaged the first attention, excited the first feelings,

started the first thoughts. A child understands what a father is.

(Thus the great sin of no father in a home in contemporary culture!

CY – 2019)

 

Ø      It makes the Object of prayer attractive to the mind.

 

o        Creator,

o        Sovereign,

o        Judge;

 

are these attractive? By no means. They:

 

o        overawe,

o        confound,

o        repel.

 

But fatherhood is attractive. The child joyously leaps into

the arms of its father. Instead of cringing fear, there is filial love

and boundless confidence.

 

Ø      It makes the object of prayer transformative to the mind. Who has

      such a transformative power as the parent? Fatherhood molds all

characters, fashions history. Children naturally imitate the father they

love. Are not these good reasons why we should look to God as a

Father, and address Him as such?

 

ü      He is the Father of all holy intelligences. “Of whom the whole family.”

Or every family, every race in heaven or on earth. The expression must be

limited to the intelligent creation, for He could not with propriety be called

the Father of the irrational; we must go further, and say that the expression

must be limited to the holy races of His intelligent creation, for He would

not be the Father of the rebellious and the profane. A family relationship

exists between all the holy intelligences, and God is the Father of all —

Father of all unfallen angels and redeemed men. (Remember, He is

bringing and molding us together – ch. 1:10 – CY – 2019)  And although

“Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” may be out of its place in this passage,

still it expresses a fact everywhere else revealed, that God is the Father

of man’s Redeemer, as well as of all other holy ones in the universe.

WHAT A FAMILY IS GOD’S!  

 

Ø      loving,

Ø      immense,

Ø      ever-multiplying,

Ø      harmonious, and

Ø      ever-blest.

 

ü      He is the Father possessing boundless bountihood. Paul speaks of the

riches of His glory.” What is the glory of God?

 

Ø      Not His power,

Ø      not His wisdom,

Ø      not His wealth,

Ø      not His dominion,

Ø      but HIS GOODNESS!

 

When Moses prayed, “I beseech thee show me thy glory,” what was the

answer? “I will cause all my goodness to pass before thee” (Exodus 33:18-19)

as if He had said, “My goodness is my glory.” And this goodness of His is

INEXHAUSTIBLE!  “The riches.” It is higher than all heavens; it is

deeper than all hells. Its majestic billows roll under all Gehennas.

 

·         THE GOOD INVOKED. What blessings did he seek?

 

ü      Divine strength of soul. “To be strengthened with might by His Spirit in

the inner man.”

 

Ø      Every man has an “inner man” — the moral ego of his being. It is

      this inner man that interests humanity in:

 

o        God,

o        duty,

o        immortality.

 

Ø      This inner man wants moral strength. It is enfeebled, it is crushed by

sin. It is the slave of the appetite; it is “carnally sold unto sin.”

(Romans 7:14)  It wants strength to rise to its true lordship over the

body, and to its rightful relation to:

 

o        GOD and

o        His universe.

 

How morally weak is the “inner man” — the very stamina of

humanity!

 

Ø      This moral strength MUST COME FROM GOD!   He who

      quickeneth all things MUST QUICKEN this inner man, now

dead in trespasses and sin. It can find help in no other way;

its cry is, “O wretched man that I am! who can deliver from

this bondage and death?”  (Romans 7:24)

 

ü      The indwelling of Christ. “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by

faith.” There is no mystery about the indwelling of Christ. The heart that

loves Him supremely holds Him as its constant Guest. As the author lives

in the loving student, as the parent lives in the loving child, so in the same

way, but in a higher degree, CHRIST LIVES in His loving disciples.

(John 14:23)   

 

Ø      His thoughts are their thoughts,

Ø      His Spirit is their inspiration,

Ø      His character is the very sun that:

 

o        quickens,

o        lightens, and

o        beautifies their being.

 

ü      Stability of love. “That ye, being rooted and grounded in love.” There is

a love for Christ which is not rooted nor grounded; it is a passing

sentiment, which, like a bubble, is thrown up on the stream of

circumstances. The love of genuine Christianity is a rooted love. Rooted,

not in something that can change and decay, but in the immutable

excellence of God. Oh, to have all the fibers of the inner man struck into

the Divine character, and rooted in God! Then, and not till then, will the

soul be as the tree “planted by the rivers of water,” etc. (Psalm 1)

A religion whose love is not rooted is without

 

Ø      life,

Ø      growth,

Ø      fruit,

Ø      permanence.

 

ü      The comprehending of love. “That ye may be able to comprehend with

all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to,

know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.” CHRIST’S LOVE

 is intellectually IMMEASUREABLE!   Who by searching can find it

out?” (Romans 11:33; Ecclesiastes 7:24)  And yet, though it passeth the

knowledge of the intellect, there is a sense in which it can and must be

known — known as a matter of consciousness, known as an all-controlling

power. The love of Christ constraineth us; because we

thus judge,” etc. (II Corinthians 5:14)

 

ü      The reaching of Divine perfection. That ye might be filled with all the

fullness of God” — that ye might be filled up with the fullness of God. The

idea is that you may be perfect even as God is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48;

see ch. 4:13 – CY – 2019) This is the standard set before us; we are to be

holy, even as God is holy. (Leviticus 11:44; I Peter 1:16)  Infinitely high as

this is, nothing lower will meet  the cravings of our moral nature or

the full unfolding of our endlessly advancing being. Heaven has

predestinated us to be conformed to the image of God (Romans 8:29; 2:12).

Such was Paul’s intercessory prayer. Let us seek that Divine philanthropy

which made him such a mediator between God and man. The priesthood of

this philanthropy is what we want. Avaunt (go away) to all others! They are

impious impostors, profane intruders. The priesthood of Christian philanthropy

                        is the only Divine priesthood in the universe.

 

 

 

 

                                                Exultant Praise (vs. 20-21)

 

“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we

ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto Him be glory

in the Church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.

Amen.” The passage leads us to consider the subject of exultant praise.

Worship is praise; it is a higher service than prayer. It is in truth the highest

end and the completest answer to prayer. In the preceding verses Paul

prays; here he praises. He passes from asking to adoring. The passage

leads us to consider religious praise in relation to the Object, the Church,

the Redeemer, and the ages.

 

·         In relation to the OBJECT. He is here represented in His absolute and

relative capacity for helping man.

 

ü      In His absolute capacity. He is able to do exceeding abundantly above

all that we ask or think.”

 

Ø      Men can ask for much. They can ask for ages of blessedness, paradises

of beauty and of bliss.

 

Ø      They can think of more. Imagination transcends desires. We only ask

for what we desire; but we can conceive of a universe of things which it

has never entered into the heart to crave for. But the Divine capacity to

give is “exceeding abundantly” beyond the power of asking or of

thinking.  Nay, it is “beyond all things:” all things that ever have

been. It is greater than the universe. All things that ever will be;

the possible with God will always be greater than the actual. How

great is God’s capacity for helping! What a God does the gospel give

us:

 

o        to love,

o        worship, and

o        adore!

 

And yet, strange to say, finite though we be, no God of lesser type could

match the measure of our souls.

 

ü      In His relative capacity. “According to the power that worketh in us.”

Infinite as is His capability to help, His power to help us is determined by

the nature and measure of those spiritual aspirations and cravings which

the power of His grace within us has produced. Unless we desire:

 

Ø      knowledge, He cannot enlighten us;

Ø      purity, He cannot purify us;

Ø      pardon, He cannot pardon us;

Ø      spiritual strength, He cannot strengthen us.

 

Our moral restrictedness limits His power to help us. His

communications will be according to our receptivity. As the indolence

of the farmer limits those fruition of nature that would yield to him a

golden harvest; as the stolid ignorance and base sensuality of the people

limit the influence of the genuine reformer to raise the millions in the

social and political scale; as the dullness or idleness of the pupil limits

the power of a great teacher to enrich him with the treasures of

knowledge; so the moral restrictedness of the heart limits

the power of the Holy One. He cannot do many mighty

works for us, because of our unbelief. (Matthew 13:58)  It is

according to the power that worketh in us” (v. 20) that God’s

power to help us is determined.

 

·         In relation to the CHURCH. “In the Church,” etc. The Church is a

company of redeemed men, part of which is in heaven and part in various

portions of the earth. Why does Paul single out the Church to praise and.

adore the great God? Because the Church is under special obligations to

do so. All things in heaven and on earth, from the lowest to the highest

creature, should praise their Maker. “Let everything that hath breath praise

the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6 – the last verse of the book of Psalms – CY – 2019)

But the duty of redeemed souls to do so transcends in urgency

that of all others. He has not only created them and preserved them, but He

has redeemed them, and redeemed them not with “corruptible things”

such as silver and gold — but with the “precious blood of Jesus Christ.”

(I Peter 1:18-19)  For them:

 

ü      His only begotten Son became:

 

Ø      incarnate,

Ø      suffered,

Ø      bled, and

Ø      died.

 

ü      For them the Holy Spirit is in constant operation.

 

“All things work together for their good.” (Romans 8:27)  None have engaged

so much of the Divine attention as they; none have been recipients of such

Divine mercies as they; none are so deep in debt as they. Their hallelujahs

ought to be more fervid, more enthusiastic, more incessant than any that

echo through the hierarchies of heaven.

 

·         In relation to the REDEEMER. “By Christ Jesus.” Why should Paul

identify the work of the Church with Christ? Why does he ascribe glory to

the Eternal by Him or in Him? Two reasons may be suggested.

 

ü      Through Christ man is made to see the glory of God. He is the Revealer

of the moral glory of God to the soul. We beheld His glory,” says the

apostle, “the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace

and truth.” (John 1:14)  He Himself is “the Brightness of the Father’s

glory.”  (Hebrews 1:3)  Where but in Christ can man see the moral glory

of God; the glory not of mere intellect, power, or outward goodness

which you have in nature, but the glory of tenderness, mercy,

forbearance, purity, rectitude, (morally correct behavior or thinking;

righteousness) faithfulness, boundless compassion?

 

ü      Through Christ man is brought into sympathy with the glory of God.

“God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in

our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the

face of Jesus Christ.” (II Corinthiains 4:6)  He it is that inspires,

enamors, and transports the soul with the glory of God. Human

worship must ever be in connection WITH CHRIST! “He loved us,

and gave Himself for us.” (ch. 5:2)

 

·         In relation to the AGES. “Throughout all ages, world without end.

Amen.” This implies:

 

ü      THAT GOD WILL BE FOR EVER! Were He not to be forever,

      worship would not be forever. HE IS ETERNAL!  

 

Ø      “From everlasting to everlasting thou art God?  (Psalm 90:2)

Ø      “He inhabiteth eternity.” (Isaiah 57:15)

Ø      “One day with Him is as a thousand years, and a

            thousand years as one day.”  (II Peter 3:8)

 

ü      That the Church will be forever. The redeemed will never cease to exist.

They are to live from generation to generation, through endless ages.

 

ü      That the reasons for praise will be forever. GOD’S INFINITE

      EXCELLENCE,  His redemptive and fatherly relation to the Church,

      and the communications of his love are the grand reasons for praise,

      and these will be FOR EVER!

 

·         CONCLUSION. What a sublime destiny is that of the redeemed! Genuine

religious praise is the heaven of the soul. It is that in which all the “powers

find sweet employ.” It is that which brings the whole spiritual man within

the glow and the sunshine of the Fatherhood of God. Praise is not the

service of song,” as it is called; it is the spirit of life. It is not until all the

activities of our being chime in one triumphant and succeeding psalm that

            our destiny is realized.

 

 

ü      The Being praised. “Him that is able,” etc. View of DIVINE

      INFINITY for much has been asked and more thought about; yet,

like space and time, God’s ability to bless EXTENDS INFINITELY

BEYOND!  The blessing is in the direction of what has been already

conferred: “According to the power that worketh in us.”