The Prayers for the Church in Ephesians – 2
THAT WE MAY BE GROUNDED IN LOVE
1. This is a lesson from an interrupted prayer.
a. The apostle begins in verse 1, “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles...”
b. But that makes him think of how God’s will to make all nations fellow-partakers of the promise through the gospel had been revealed, and of how he had been given the privilege of bringing that plan to light for everyone, and of how the church is to make known the wisdom of God according to his eternal purpose.
c. The enormity of that task brings his thought back around to the importance of the “access with confidence” that we have in the Lord.
2. So now, like a child making an earnest request of his father, Paul returns to his “For this reason I...,” and he prays for the church...(reading of the text).
3. This is the second beautiful and moving prayer for the church in Ephesians.
a. The first one petitions the Father of glory that the people of whom Christ is head may be alight with hope.
b. This one asks the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named that the church of Christ may be grounded in love.
1. This prayer has some things in common with the first one.
a. More attention on what the Godhead is doing to bless the church than on any tasks of the church.
i. In the other case, the believers were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise and the Father put all things under the feet of our Lord Jesus Christ.
ii. In this case, knees are bowed before the Father for his Spirit in the inner man of his people so that Christ may dwell in their hearts.
iii. Whatever we are to do as the church should start with conviction about what God has done and confidence about what he is doing now.
(1) Not everything depends on us! It’s not all our responsibility!
(2) Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).
b. More interest in being blessed in association with the saints than in individual achievement or fulfillment.
i. That first prayer made mention of the fact that God’s “own glorious inheritance” is “in the saints” (1:18).
ii. Now this prayer refers to the fact that whatever we are to comprehend of Christ will be “with all the saints” (3:18).
iii. What the Lord has done, or what he will do, is for all of us. We will not know it or experience it by ourselves. We need to be together!
c. More desire for inward spiritual strength than for outward physical power.
i. The other prayer asked for hearts to be able to recognize the immeasurable greatness of God’s power to us who believe (1:19).
ii. This one asks that we may be granted to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in our inner being (3:16).
iii. It’s when a person is strong in his inner being that he is really strong.
(1) He can face life (Phil. 4:13). He can build relationships (1 Pet. 3:4). He can endure (2 Cor. 4:16).
(2) There are many demands and dangers, and we need power – but only inner strength, the strength of spiritual character, will do!
(3) That’s the kind of strength that comes from being “strengthened... through his Spirit in your inner being” and having “Christ...dwell in your hearts” (3:16, 17).
2. This prayer is about what happens among a group of people who have strength like this.
a. Christ settles down and makes himself at home in their lives.
i. The “that Christ may dwell in your hearts” (v. 17) take us back to the fact that we are being built together into a dwelling place for God (2:22).
ii. But notice the “through faith” and “in love” in verse 17. It reminds us of the “your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints” that gave rise to the first prayer (1:15).
iii. Faith in the love of Christ and love for the people of Christ is the only fitting response to what he has done for us, and the only kind of environment in which he can take up his abode.
b. They become rooted and grounded in love.
i. “Rooted” is a horticultural term. It describes the way a the roots of a tree, for example, extend farther and farther into the soil, providing it with stability in the face of the winds or droughts.
ii. “Grounded” is an architectural term. It has to do with the foundation upon which the superstructure is built, allowing it to stand solidly over the space of time.
iii. “In love” defines both terms.
(1) Love is the soil into our roots have to grow deeper and deeper so that we can be fruitful and strong.
(2) Love is the solid ground upon which we will have to build anything that we want to last.
c. They increasingly comprehend the love of Christ.
i. Paul himself describes this as “knowing” what “surpasses knowledge” (v.19). We’ll never know it all, but we can know it increasingly.
ii. There is a question whether we’re to try to describe “the breadth and length and height and depth,” or just to take it all together as a way of making the point that our comprehension of his love will never be complete.
iii. Just from this letter, though, we can see something of what the phrase means. Our phrase means at least this much.
(1) The big point has been that “the breadth” of his love takes in both Jews and Gentiles – everyone.
(2) “The length” to which his love will go is “his blood...according to the riches of his grace.” “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”
(3) “The height,” as this letter so often says, is “the heavenly places” where God has made us alive with Christ and seated us with him.
(4) The “depth” reminds us that his love reaches the lowest places, where we were all once dead in our sins and trespasses, following the course of this world, ruled by the spirit of disobedience, dominated by the lusts of the flesh and the desires of our own minds, by nature children of wrath.
iv. What would it mean to “comprehend” a love like that?
3. This prayer has a goal that must become our aspiration.
a. It is that we may be filled with all the fullness of God (v. 19).
i. This isn’t one of three or four separate requests; it is the aim of all of them.
ii. There may have already been some who leaned toward the idea that real spiritual strength, true knowledge of the love of Christ, was only for the elite who have progressed above and beyond what is possible for others.
iii. But here is Paul praying that “with all the saints” we may be so rooted and grounded in love that we “may be filled with all the fullness of God!”
b. This letter shows several times that this is the purpose of God for us.
i. It has to do with the destiny of the church (1:22).
ii. It is the reason for the organization of the church (4:13).
iii. It is the principle that guides Christian living (4:20-24; 5:1-2).
iv. This is clearly a purpose that is worthy of a lifetime!
1. We may get interrupted, but this is a prayer we cannot cease to pray.
2. If we are to do any of the work our Lord has given his church, we must first pray along with the beloved apostle:
a. That we may have the light of hope.
b. That we may be grounded in love.
3. The beginning, not the end, is being “in Christ.”