Sermons

Summary: Ephesians 3:20-21 shows us the greatness of God.

Scripture

A few weeks ago, we started examining the third chapter of the Paul's letter to the Ephesians. Today we will conclude this all-too-brief exposition of this marvelous chapter.

Paul started praying for the believers in Ephesus in verse 1 of Ephesians 3. However, he then broke off into a digression in which he talked about the mystery of the gospel which had been revealed to him (namely, that God was making a new family of believers out of saved Jews and Gentiles), and about the ministry of the gospel to which God had called him. Then, in verse 14, the Paul got back to praying for the Ephesians.

Paul's prayer for the family of believers in Ephesians 3:14-19 is really a marvelous prayer consisting of four petitions. He prayed that believers would be strengthened with power so that they might do all that Christ calls them to do, particularly in dealing with their sin. He also prayed that believers would have Christ dwelling in them so that Christ might make them more and more like him. Furthermore, he prayed that believers would know Christ's love so that they might comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of this love. And finally, Paul petitioned God that believers would be filled with all the fullness of God so that they may know him better and better now and in eternity. Finally, Paul concluded his prayer with a great doxology.

Let's read Paul's great doxology in Ephesians 3:20-21. However, for the sake of context, I shall read the entire prayer, beginning in Ephesians 3:14:

14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith-that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Introduction

In his commentary on Ephesians, Dr. Bryan Chapell tells the following story about a time when he was the president of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, MO:

Some time ago, I needed to make a difficult financial announcement about our seminary because stock market dynamics were creating serious pressures on our finances. I was stewing about the announcement during my early morning jog around a neighborhood lake. Deep in thought, I came to the top of a hill just as some Canadian geese were approaching the lake from the other side of the rise. The result was that for a split second I found myself face-to-face with a flying goose. I ducked to my right, but he dodged to his left so that we were still on a collision course. I froze anticipating the crash of our noggins. But then, in one of those sequences that seem to unfold in slow motion, he tweaked his tail and lifted a leg so that his body twisted, and he went by my shoulder with an outstretched wing grazing the top of my head.

Once I realized that I had been spared, I could not help being a little philosophical. "Oh great," I thought, "wouldn't that have been a sad way to go out!" I could imagine the headlines: "Seminary President Taken to Heaven on the Wings of a Goose." Though it may seem a bit silly, in a strange way being saved by that little flick of a goose's tail gave me a great deal of peace that day.

My peace came from considering the protection God provided for me on that day I was so worried about dear friends, the place I serve, and many months of pressure to come. I began to consider what God had to arrange in order to make that split-second event of reassurance happen. What kind of planning did it take for a person-raised in Tennessee over fifty years ago-and a goose-probably hatched in Canada three years ago-to simultaneously approach a rise in Missouri and come within two feet of one another on the very day that I needed encouragement because of a difficult announcement that I had to make as a result of stock market dynamics that had taken years to develop in a worldwide economy?

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