Summary: Paul's Prayer

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Ephesians 3:14-21

July 18, 2012

We’ve covered the first three chapters of Ephesians, but we’re backtracking just a little; now we’re going to look at Paul’s prayer for them again:

I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,

This deserves a lot of thought—it’s not a light thing to be named of the Father. I mean, He’s called the terrible God (Neh. 9:32) and it’s said to be a dreadful thing to fall into His hands (Heb. 10:31). It’s said that He has power to throw men’s souls into hell (Lk. 12:5), His enemies have a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation which will devour them (Heb. 10:27), and He Himself is a consuming fire (Heb. 3:12). And yet it’s said of us that He will not always chide nor keep His anger forever. Instead He pities us as a father pities his children—He does not reward us according to our iniquities (Ps. 103:8-14). And so, we’re instructed to come boldly before His throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need (Heb. 6:16). And why is that? We’re of His family. We’re called His sons and His children. We’re the heirs of His promise to Christ, and He loves us. Recently I found a book of sermons written around the 1800’s by a man named Samuel Eyles Pierce. Listen to what he writes about this verse:

“There is but one Father: all the saints in heaven and earth, belong to the same Father, even God. They are all born of the same Spirit: are all united into the same Head: they are all equally beloved of the Father: all equally accepted in the Beloved: all built upon the same foundation, which is an eternal one, even Christ Jesus. They are all perfectly alike justified from all things, and clothed with the everlasting garment of Christ’s righteousness. They are all washed in the blood of the Lamb; and are all freely pardoned, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus. They are heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus, and they will all one day partake of the same eternal glory. They are all the objects of JEHOVAH’S delight, the purchase of His Son’s blood; and God the Father has put on all the bowels of a Father’s love and mercy, and will exercise them towards, and upon His beloved children in Christ Jesus. The apostle would have us to consider the relation, to the end that we may see that the Father’s love towards us is in Christ, that He loved us in Him, and upon His account; and that as He loved Christ as Mediator before the foundation of the world, so as early did He love His people. Thou hast loved them, says Jesus unto His Father, as Thou hast loved Me. God, the Father, looks upon His people with the same delight, and views them with the same complacency as He does Christ Himself; for He views them in Him, and in Him He is well pleased with them. He rests in His love towards them, and joys over them with singing.”

We’re going to come back to the theme of God’s love for us in a couple verses, but for now I want you to pay special attention to the fact that we are called God’s family and we share His name. So Paul prays to this Father,

16That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;

How rich is God’s glory? O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! 34For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? 35Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? 36For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen (Rom. 11:33-36). Just think of what it means to be strengthened according to that!

Also, this strengthening is with might by His Spirit to the inner man. What does this mean? Well, these bodies of ours are under a curse and they’re falling apart. All of the people who originally read this this letter have already died—that’s not strength. But the strength we’re talking about here isn’t for victory over sickness or death—this is a spiritual strength given to the inner man: the one that by grace is being renewed every day (II Cor. 4:16). This is the part of us that lives even now and has a heart to love the Lord. Paul tells us in Romans (8:23) that we’re waiting for “the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” But we’re already in God’s family! What I’m getting at is that there’s an expectation and a hope that one day these corruptible bodies will be raised incorruptible; we will be redeemed and receive adoption, but even right now we have an inner man which is already redeemed and alive and tied to Christ. And so Paul prays that this man will receive strength from the Spirit according to the riches of God’s glory.

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