A Prayer for the Ephesians
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I believe, we have found ourselves in a society that has returned back to a paganism that we have not seen in hundreds of years, and I want to show you tonight how that is a fantastic thing for the gospel.
You see we live in a world where every way of life has legitimacy, and every ‘god’ is accepted as basically true. But I want you to see how not only is that not true, but the false ‘gods’ out there inherently are destructive.
Essentially the gospel flourished and exploded in the Roman empire because it was full of paganism and the people were desperate for something real, a hope that actually met their deep needs and actually changed them.
Tonight, I want to show you that what we have in Christ is what we actually need. Now in saying this we must not come to Christ as a means, in other words I come to Christ to be happy, to be fulfilled etc. unfortunately Christ does not work as a means to an end but if you seek Him as your end, those other things will be thrown in.
To put it as Christ did, don’t run after what you should wear or eat the pagans run after that seek first the kingdom and His righteousness and everything else will be given as well.
Paul is sharing this reality here in this passage, Christ is more than we could hope for, he is the fulfilment of everything we have ever hoped for or could dream of.
Christ is more!
So, let’s look from the passage how Christ and the gospel gives us more than we need, and fulfils us on every level.
1. We have inner real change
Paul says in vs 16
. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Paul ask that we might strengthened in our inner being through His Spirit and by His power.
Essentially Paul shares that He is praying that the church would discover the real power for change that they have in Christ.
You see we would all desire the power to become better people, to have nice personalities, and become more productive, etc. But, and I don’t know if you have discovered this, self-will and motivation seem to go only so far.
What I mean here is that I am all about watching what I eat and making sure that I am healthy until I cheat at 9o’clock in the morning and then the whole day is a cheat day.
You see, most of us want to overcome a sin, or a bad habit or something that is keeping us back, however, all we seem to do is mask that tendency right.
We are self-willed until we are not.
And this is where what is offered in Christ is so much different. We are not offering a new set of values to put into your life, a new way of thinking.
God is offering Himself in the person of the Holy Spirit dwelling in you in power that literally rebirths you as a new creature.
I need you to get this before I explain it further, you don’t have a power from God to change, or an emanation of God to change, you have God in all His glory, in the third person of the Holy Trinity dwelling in you in all His power.
This means that our potential for power to change is literally as endless as God is powerful. This means there is no obstacle that you cannot face, or trial or temptation that you cannot overcome, you have the endless power of God at your disposal.
So the question is; why do we not feel this power sometime? Why do we not change? Why do we as Christians become stuck?
Well, we get stuck or don’t change because we are not living in His power, and are not applying it appropriately to our lives.
The way we apply His power in our lives is to live in His endless love.
Which is in fact the second was that Christ fulfils our needs.
2. We have endless love
In verses 17-19 Paul says
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
The power flows from the love and the love give power, they are intrinsically linked, because we are not talking about an energy to tape into, a force that we can muster up to become better people, we are talking about a person who actually loves us, who showed that love by dying for us.
This love is connected to Him, because he loves us and because he loves us He imparts us with His power through the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit in turn empowers us to love Him!
It is a connected reality. But practically speaking we discover the power that is on offer and we discover the love when we grasp it.
What do I mean by this? We it is not simply an intellectual exercise; now we are going to sit and simply think about Jesus’ love for us.
We are talking about getting it. Grasping it in your inner
What we mean here is that the love of God in Christ Jesus starts to mean enough to us that it changes us. How do we allow the love of God in Christ Jesus to actually change us? We believe it.
In other words, we process through the realities of what we are talking about here, and they become truth to us; truth to us in our inner being.
A great example of this is the example of Paul himself. He must have known about Jesus when Jesus was alive, he must have heard about his miracles and his death and the rumours of His resurrection.
But Paul believe that these were not true, like so many today, he would have been convinced that this Jesus was simply a misunderstood teacher. In fact, so convinced of this Paul set out to literally kill Christians. Until he had an experience with Christ on the Damascus road.
This experience of Christ fundamentally changed everything in his life. It shifted his priorities and his life direction, everything changed. What he knew about Jesus was changed, so fundamentally that everything else shifted.
Paul shares this in another one of his writings where he recaps all that he had previously and says I count this all loss for the sake of Christ.
In other words, compared to Christ everything else just doesn’t matter.
And this leads me to the final way that Christianity fulfils us and makes us whole…
3. We have our hearts desire
All of us here are a ball of contradicting and illusionary desires. In other words, we all have our happiness set on things that will ultimately disappoint us. The longer you live the more you see this becoming a reality.
All of us convince ourselves that our hearts desires are pure and that our happiness lies in them. What we don’t take time to actually see is that they are at the core contradictory and self-delusional.
Marriage for me, has been one of the most revelation realities with this regard.
When I met Natalie, I knew almost strait away that I was going to marry her, I “knew” that she was my heart’s desire, that having her would fill the space in my soul and finally make me happy.
And although I thought she could, she couldn’t not because she is not wonderful, but because we as human being always demand too much – I demanded too much from her. You see we make eternal demands of temporal creatures. And the only way I actually started loving my wife properly was when my full happiness and desire were not bound in here but in Christ.
Paul share here at the end of this passage;
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
He is able to do immeasurably more, why because he is more. His love is the eternal love that we have been longing for, His affirmation is the eternal affirmation that our hearts cry out for, he is the happiness, the peace, the security the hope that lies at the core of your soul.
We are made for him and so only in him is the deep needs of our hearts found.
Why I go into this is that people quote this verse in relation to a need that has been met or a desire that we want. You know, I just got a new car, He is able to do immeasurably more that we ask or imagine.
And that simply is not what Paul is trying to communicate here. The reality is that more is only found in Him! It is only in in that the immeasurably more is ever found and it is found in his love for us and our eternal enjoyment of Him.
You see, Church, we are made for Him and our happiness, our fulfilment and hope are all found in Him alone. In fact, more than that we could have ever hoped for.
I love the way C.S Lewis puts it in Mere Christianity where he says,
“Creatures are not born with desires unless satisfaction for those desires exist. A Baby feels hunger: well, there is such thing as food. A duckling wants to swim: well there is such a thing as water. Man feels sexual desire: well, there is such a thing as sex. If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only arouse it to suggest the real thing.
We are always tempted to take the eternal satisfaction of Christ Himself and squeeze it into something else – something like career, a love or a status symbol, and then we wonder why we are continually disappointed.
You and I are made for Him and He will do more for us and in us than we can possibly imagine.
You see church, we have on offer in the Gospel, something that actually connects with and satiates the deep longings of my soul. Everything that you could possible want is found in it.
Christ is the longing, love and change you want it is all found in Him! Christianity isn’t true because it works; Christianity works because it is true. Christ is the longing, hope, happiness satisfaction that you deeply need. Come to Him and find that!