Fri, Jan 21, 2000

Good Friday 2000 - To Know the Love of Christ

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Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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GOOD FRIDAY 2000

TO KNOW THE LOVE OF CHRIST

EPHESIANS 3:14-21

An aged countryman visited London for the first time. In a great art gallery, he looked at different paintings. He was especially impressed with a picture of Christ dying on the cross. As he gazed fixedly upon it, a deeper love for the Savior flooded his heart. With great feeling, he exclaimed, "Bless Him! I love Him! I love Him!"

Those standing nearby heard him. They saw tears glistening on his careworn face as he stood completely oblivious of the presence of others. Four of them came close to him and said, "We, too, love Him, brother." Though strangers to each other, they were drawn together in love and adoration for the Savior.

- Walter B. Knight

As we gather together on this Good Friday 2000, I want to focus on the love of God for us. You see, like the gentleman in this story, it was God’s love for him that caused his eyes to be open and to love God back. When he saw what it cost God, His great love for us, it broke him and drew him deeper into God’s love. It is as John said, "In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins." I John 4:9-10.

And so this evening we are going to focus our study in Ephesians chapter 3, the last 8 verses, from verse 14 through verse 21. And lets read through this portion of Scripture and then we will examine the text to see what the Lord has for us this evening. (Read Ephesians 3:14-21).

As Paul opens up chapter 3 of Ephesians, he started with a prayer and then got side-tracked. Beginning in verse 2 he launches into a discussion of God uniting both Jew and gentile together into one body. Now, after 12 verses of speaking on this relationship, Paul comes back to his prayer.

Now this is Paul’s second prayer for us in this letter. Back in Ephesians chapter 1 Paul prayed that our eyes and our hearts would be open. That we would be sensitive to the calling of God in our lives and understand the infinite riches we have in Christ. (Ephesians 1:15-22).

And now, in this second prayer, Paul is asking God to help us grasp, by faith, what God has for us and to make it a vital part of our lives. Yes, it is important to know what God has for us, as Paul prayed in Ephesians chapter 1. But, the next step is to take what you know and apply it to your life. You must begin to use it. It is like a car, no matter how powerful the engine is, if you don’t have the keys you could never take hold of that power. We need to be able to take hold of the power of God and you can then read on your own what happens in Ephesians chapters 4 through 6, where Paul tells us how we are to move, how we are to walk!

EPHESIANS 3

VERSES 14-15

Paul is picking up where he left off in Ephesians 3:1, with this prayer. For what reason did Paul bow his knees before the Father? Because of all the promises that are spoken of in Ephesians chapters 1 and 2. We have been chosen by the Father. We have been redeemed by the Son. We have been sealed by the Holy Spirit. Our lives are filled with every spiritual blessings in the heavenly places in Christ. And the list can go on from there! That is why Paul falls to his knees in a posture of adoration and submission. He is just overcome and thankful for what God has done for this lost world and he is now asking that God would supply us with the power to make these new bodies run to perfection!

Now in verse 15 Paul speaks of the "whole family." Some say that this is speaking of all of creation, saved and unsaved. Their reasoning is that every living creature owes its existence to God, which is true. But, Jesus said in John 8:44, "You are of your father the devil, and thedesires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it." So Jesus is saying that you can either be in the family of God, or in the family of the devil, and so I don’t believe this is speaking of all of creation.

I believe that Paul is speaking of all those who have been redeemed throughout the ages. In Galatians 4:6 Paul says, "And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!" You see, only those who are His children will cry out in this manner. If you don’t know the Lord you are not going to call Him Father, just as you would not call a stranger father. So Paul is bowing his knee before the Lord and praying for believers and in verses 16-19 there are 4 petitions that Paul brings before the Lord for us. He is asking the Lord to make these petitions part of our lives so we may grow and become more like our Lord!

The interesting aspect of these 4 requests is not only are they linked together but they are also progressive. Paul begins by asking that the inner man may be spiritually strong. This spiritual strength leads to a deeper relationship with Christ. And as the depth of this relationship with Christ grows we can grab hold of God’s great love for us, we can understand it more. And as we understand more and more of His great love for us it brings us to the fullness of God!

Now do we ever obtain the fullness of these requests? Yes and no! Yes, on the positional side. We have obtained all these blessings of God and the Father see’s us as perfect in Him. No, on the practical side. We blow it all the time. We flesh out. We become unloving at times and we are still reaching for that fullness. The thing we need to remember as Christians is that we are to be moving in the direction towards God, even though we blow it at times. We need to be moving on, not become stagnant or move in the opposite direction away from Him.

Think of it as a football game and you are the quarterback. You may loose some yardage at times but you know that you must move forward. You may even get discouraged at times but the coach is on the side lines sending in the plays, encouraging you so you can move towards the goal.

Jesus, in a sense, is sending in the plays, He is encouraging us, guiding our lives. And even if we loose some yardage, He will still be there to encourage us and lead us to the goal of perfection in Him. And one day we will obtain that perfection when we receive our glorified bodies, when we go to be with Him.

VERSE 16a

Paul is asking that God would grant us these things "according to the riches of His glory."You see, it is not out of His riches, but according to His riches! For example, if Bill Gates came and gave you a check for $5,000,000 that would be out of his riches. But, if Bill Gates came to you and gave you a blank check, that would be all of his riches or according to his riches. That is what God has done for us!

You see, we don’t have part of God’s grace. It is not that some of our sins are forgiven. We aren’t partially saved. We have all of God’s grace, all of His forgiveness, we are completely saved, and-so-on.

And Paul is praying that God would grant us those petitions according to His glory. That we might obtain that power needed for the work that God has called us to do. And the key is always that He gets the glory and not us. Don’t take away His glory! Now lets look at these 4 petitions that Paul is praying about for us.

VERSES 16b-19

PAUL’S PETITIONS OF PRAYER FOR OUR LIVES

1. STRENGTH THROUGH HIS SPIRIT - EPHESIANS 3:16b

Notice that Paul goes right to the heart of the matter. He goes to the inner man. That is the spiritual part of man which God dwells in. You see, as far as Paul is concerned you can be as physically healthy and strong as Charles Atlas and yet be spiritually powerless. Paul is not speaking to the unbeliever here. He has already taken us from those dead spiritual lives and made us alive in Christ back in chapter 2. Now we need the power for ministry. It is not physical muscle but spiritual might. As Zechariah 4:6 says, "...‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts."

The old flesh nature tries to rise up and control your life, and there is a battle going on between the spirit and the flesh. The word Paul uses for "strengthen" is the Greek word KRATAIOTHENAI, and it means to "be strong to overcome resistance." As you submit yourself to the Spirit of God, by His Spirit you will have the power, that dynamite power to blow the flesh away. It is as Paul said in Galatians 5:16, "...Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh."

2. DEPTH IN CHRIST - 3:17a

Paul is not speaking of salvation here, where Jesus Christ enters our heart at the time we are saved. Remember, he is already speaking to believers. The word "Dwell" speaks of or implies the idea of settling down and feeling at home. You know how it is when you go to someone’s home and you don’t feel welcomed, you are uncomfortable there. You don’t know where to look, what to do, you just don’t feel at home.

Paul wants Christ to settle down into our hearts, our lives and not just to have a superficial relationship with Him. The problem comes when we refuse to give God our entire life. We only give Him what we want to give Him, and most of the time He gets the leftovers, or second best. Also, we tend to hold onto with dear life those things that God is trying to prune out of our lives so He can produce more fruit in us. Don’t make your relationship with Jesus a superficial one. Give Him your entire life, grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In whatever you do, take Jesus with you!

3. COMPREHENSION OF HIS LOVE - 3:17b-19

As Christ settles down in you His love will also be made known to you. In fact, Paul tells us that God’s love for us is so vast that it is more than just 3 dimensional! In fact, Paul tells us that God’s love for us is 4 dimensional, and we will see that in a minute. Paul starts out by saying we need to be ROOTED. Think of a plant as it sinks its roots deep into the soil to receive nourishment and stability, and the idea here is we are to sink our roots deep down into Jesus.

The word GROUNDED is an architectural term which refers to the foundations in which we build upon. Warren W. Wiersbe, in his commentary on the book of Ephesians, tells of a story about a building program that he was involved in. He said "In my second building program, we had to spend several thousand dollars taking soil tests because we were building over an old lake bed. For weeks, the men were laying out and pouring the footings. One day I complained to the architect, and he replied, "Pastor, the most important part of this building is the foundation. If you don’t go deep, you can’t go high." (Be Rich, pages 86-87).

If you don’t have a solid foundation and vital nourishment, then there is no way you can see the love of God as you go through trials and tribulations. There will be very little growth and very little stability in your life. And for those that are unsaved, as bad things happen, they say "How can a God of love do this?" God wants us to grow and at times He will use trials to help us to grow, to trust in Him more. He will use difficult things to get our attention. But it doesn’t mean that He doesn’t love us. On the contrary, His love for us is 4 dimensional! Let me explain.

In verse 18 Paul tells us that God’s love has a width, a length, a depth and a height to it. On this Good Friday 2000, what do you think that is a picture of? A CROSS - the cross of Calvary that He was crucified upon. Let’s take a look at these 4 dimensions and see what they speak of.

FOUR DIMENSIONS OF GOD’S LOVE

A. THE WIDTH

The width speaks of the world, that God’s arms are outstretched to all who are willing to receive Him. It is as Jesus said in John 3:16-17, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the worldthrough Him might be saved." All you have to do is ask Him to be Lord and Savior of your life and He will! Jesus said in John 6:37, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out." God’s saving grace is extended to all because He loves us that much!

B. THE LENGTH

The length speaks of forever, a eternity with Him. It is as Paul said in Hebrews 9:15, "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." That is His promise to us, and that promise is sure, an eternity with Him because He loves us that much!

C. THE DEPTH

The depth speaks of the cross and what Almighty God was willing to do to set us free from our sins. It is as Paul said in Philippians 2:8, "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross."Jesus, became flesh, coming in the form of a servant, to pay the penalty for our sins. Isaiah 53:6 puts it this way, "All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all." Again, God loved us so much that He was willing to die for us so that we might live!

D. THE HEIGHT

Because of the work of Jesus, He brings us to the very throne of God. He has opened heavens door for us, and that is only through Him. He took us from the pit of hell and placed us before His throne. John tells us of this awesome love in I John 3:1-2, when he says "Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is." And I love the way that Paul put it in Ephesians 2:4-6, "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive togetherwith Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sittogether in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus." His love has done this for us, brought us to the gates of heaven!

I don’t know if we will ever fully understand the richness of God’s love for us, but every time you begin to doubt it, lose sight of it, look to the cross, you can’t miss it. And don’t be fooled by these crosses that have Jesus hanging on them, and He has a few drops of blood on a skinny body. That was nothing like He looked.

The Scriptures tell us that He had His beard plucked out! He had a cloth placed over His head and He was beaten, punched, and He was not able to lesson the force of the blows because He couldn’t see them coming. He had a crown of thorns placed upon His head. He was scourged, His flesh ripped open. He was so disfigured by these things that He did not even resemble a man anymore! And worse of all, when the sins of the world were placed upon Jesus, God the Father turned His face from Him for that moment in time. Something that was never experienced before nor will be experienced again. And this separation I don’t think we will fully ever understand.

When you look to the cross, think of these things and you will see the love that God has for you, and He is asking you to receive it into your life! His arms are opened to the world. We will spend eternity with Him! He was willing to go to the cross so that we may go to heaven! That is a love that never fails unless YOU reject it!

4. THE FULLNESS OF GOD - 3:19b

Paul’s prayer for us is that we grow spiritually strong, grow deeper in our relationship with Christ, that we take hold of the love of God as seen in the cross of Calvary, and now we can have the fullness of God in our lives. God wants us to experience this fullness with Him.

Paul expounds on this in Colossians 2:9-10, when he says "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." Positionally speaking we are complete in Christ. But on the practical side we are continually growing in our relationship with Him. To comprehend fully the Almighty God, the all-knowing God, seems impossible but we are to be moving in that direction as we grow. You can think of it like this. "The thimble dipped in the ocean is filled with water, but how little of the ocean is in the thimble!" God wants us to have more of Him, that we would be filled with Him. That we would know Him more intimately!

Now listen how Paul closes this section...

VERSES 20-21

Paul says,

"Now to Him who is able...

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly...

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly...

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask...

"Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all we ask or think."

When Paul gets on a roll, he just can’t stop! And the power that is working in us is the Holy Spirit as the Father gets the glory through Christ Jesus. And our response after this is a big "AMEN!" "Lord, let it be so in our lives." "Let us be able to start our spiritual engines through the power of Your Spirit!"

And now that the engine is started and you move on into chapters 4 through 6, Paul talks about our spiritual walk. In the Indy 500 how do they start the race? By saying "Gentlemen, start your engines!" The green flag is about to go down as the race begins, may we race to win!

But without the cross the rest is just meaningless. There is no power for living, no strength. There is no growth in our spiritual lives. There is no love seen. And there is no way we can be filled with the fullness of God! Keep the cross before your eyes and the love of God will fill your life! And like the countryman who visited the art gallery in London, when you look to the cross and get a picture of God hanging on it for you, you too will say, "Bless Him! I love Him! I love Him!"

EPHESIANS 3:17-19

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and groundedin love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length anddepth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may befilled with all the fullness of God."

HEIGHT = HEAVEN LUKE 23:43

I JOHN 3:1-2

EPHESIANS 2:4-6

Undisplayed Graphic

LENGTH = ETERNITY HEBREWS 9:15WIDTH = ARMS OPENED TO THE WORLD

JOHN 3:16

JOHN 6:37

DEPTH = CR0SS

PHILIPPIANS 2:8

ISAIAH 53:6

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