Summary: "In Christ" you are not alone. You are part of a family.
September 28, 2014
Text: Ephesians 3:14-21
Subject: Ephesians Part 7
Title: Strengthened With Power – the Fullness of Being in the Body of Christ
We want to open in Ephesians chapter 3 beginning with verse 14 and going through the end of the chapter. There are a couple of things we want to talk about this morning as we prepare to take communion together. And after communion we will continue the celebration with a love feast in the fellowship hall.
Our passage today continues with the main focus of the first half of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus and that is the idea of what it means to be “In Christ”. If you are “In Christ” then you have been born again into the family of God. In our society today it seems that “family” has lost its importance; or at least has lost its foundation. The foundation of family is unity and with the primary focus in our culture on “self” unity has become a thing of the past. Schools offer more and more for students to do away from the family. Parents desire to be seen as good so they do everything they can do to make sure their students partake in everything the school and local community has to offer. In doing so they often become so busy that the important aspects of family take a back seat.
And that’s just a typical family in America today. There are also dysfunctional families where drug or alcohol abuse or violence erupts and destroys, causing the family to be so disjointed that it cannot operate in a normal way.
The same can happen in the family of God a seen in the local church. Our own personal demands become a priority over the needs of the church. When I say that I am talking about how as part of this particular family are you being faithful to the needs of others in the church? Not just physical needs, but spiritual needs. Are you connected to the family? Are you doing your part in the family? Are you creating unity in the family?
Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers [meeting] together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be, were they to become 'unity' conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.
A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God.
Look at what Paul says to the Ephesians about this.
14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20Now 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, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
I believe this is God’s word…
I believe it is for me…
I accept it as mine…
I appropriate it to my life today…
I. The people of the Body…The first thing that I want you to see in our passage today is the words that Paul uses in this passage that talk about unity in the body of Christ. 14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 3 things to notice here… 1) 14For this reason… connecting us to the previous section that tells us that all believers are brought together by the sacrifice of Christ. 2) I kneel before the Father… Kneeling out of reverence- the typical posture of prayer for Christians at that time (opposed to Jews who stood) Before the Father – In direct contact with – face-to-face with God… 3) his whole family … those who are “In Christ”. Individuals, local churches, the body consisting of all believers both dead and alive. The emphasis here is that you are not separated from other believers but are a family unit. The local church becomes your immediate spiritual family and the universal church your extended family. 16I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being… What does Paul say he is doing? He is praying. Now, what is he praying? He is praying for strength. This prayer is not just for the church in Ephesus but is valid for all believers. The word “strength” in the Greek means, “to empower or to increase in vigor”. Paul’s prayer is that we be empowered. According to Webster’s dictionary the word “vigor” means “physical or intellectual power”. OK, so now we see that Paul is asking that we be empowered both physically and intellectually. Why doesn’t he ask that we be empowered in the spirit man instead of in the natural man? Well. Let’s go back and look at the source of the empowerment that he is asking God for. 1) He is asking that it come out of God’s glorious riches. The word translated “riches” means “wealth, as in God’s fullness, or literally, money, possessions or abundance.” Now it would be easy for us to focus on the word “riches” but it is better if we focus on the source – it’s from God; it’s glorious. The word “glorious” comes from a root word that refers to one’s reputation. So if we are to be strengthened it is going to be because of the riches that come from God according to His own reputation. So, the picture you have of God in your own mind and according to your own faith you will be the level by which you can be strengthened or empowered. What is the purpose? 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. I have to stop and ask this question… Isn’t Paul writing to the church? Doesn’t the Holy Spirit dwell in all believers? The word “dwell” means to reside forever. Paul’s prayer then allows for the possibility that believers can lose their salvation. I think that he is telling the believers there that as the Holy Spirit dwells in us by faith, our faith is continually increased. How does that happen? Faith comes by hearing the word … that takes us back to the local body. Where else are you going to have that foundation built? Yes, you can watch preachers on TV. But what kind of fellowship can you have with them? Proverbs 23:7 in the NKJV, “as he (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he.” We see that the source is God, but the catalyst for your empowerment is the Holy Spirit. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit… In all reality Paul is praying that we be strengthened in the spirit man because he knows that when we receive that spiritual power that it will manifest itself in the natural man – both physical and intellectual – in what you do and in what you know or understand.