Summary: Paul clearly tells us who we are "IN CHRIST". Now he wants us to know that our authority is nothing without a continual intimate relationship with the Father.
May 16, 2010
Text: Ephesians 3:14-20
Subject: Paul’s Prayer for the Church
Title: The Power is in the Relationship
We are going to continue in our series through the book of Ephesians this morning. We will begin in Ephesians 3, beginning with verse 14. But before we get started in our text I need to bring you up to snuff with what Paul has written in his letter in the last few sections. Last Sunday evening I shared with you about how God has brought Gentiles and Jews together as one body through the cross of Jesus Christ. The wall that kept Gentiles from entering into the temple of God has now been broken down.
The message that has been given to Paul has caused him to be imprisoned. As we look at chapter 3 there are some things that lead up to what we want to talk about today. Let’s take a real quick look at what Paul is saying to the church to prepare us to receive what we need to receive today.
1. Paul has been called by God to be the apostle to the Gentiles. (V 1)
2. God has given him grace to do it… (V 2)
3. The mystery that was made known to him came by revelation from God by the Holy Spirit … (vs. 3-5)
4. The Gentiles are heirs to the promises of God along with Israel… (V 6)
5. Because of God’s grace Paul became a servant… just like Jesus said we should be… and he is working by that grace in power…(v 7)
6. He has a humble spirit… (V 8) less than the least of all God’s people… was given grace to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ…
7. The mystery is now being revealed through the church…because of the work of Christ…according to His eternal purpose… (Vs. 10-11)
8. In Christ and through Christ we can approach God with freedom and confidence… (V 12)
9. Paul’s sufferings and imprisonment is for their benefit (glory) (v 13)
I could do a whole sermon on each one of those points, and I probably will eventually, but for now I want to prepare you for what all this is leading up to in the next section of Paul’s letter to the church.
Verses 14-15, 14For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name…
1. Kneeling out of reverence- the typical posture of prayer for Christians at that time (opposed to Jews who stood)
2. Before the Father – In direct contact with – face-to-face with God…
3. His family includes those who are already in heaven and those who walk the earth now – those who are born again…
Let’s look together to see that the power that God wants His church to have only comes through a right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.
Prayer – Lord, open our eyes to see and our ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the church.
I. STRENGTHENED IN POWER… (16-17) I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being… I want to break this sentence down for you and try to get at the deep meaning of what Paul is saying. First, in the NIV it says I pray… Those words are not in the original text but are added to connect us with verses 14 and 15. That is what Paul is doing – he’s 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 strengthened or empowered. Proverbs 23:7 in the NKJV, “as he (a man) thinks in his heart, so is he.” 2) 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. The source of that power is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. I read one commentary that says that this is not referring to a repetition of what happened on the Day of Pentecost. The truth is that there is no need for Pentecost to happen again, because once the Holy Spirit was poured out on that day power is now available to all who believe and ask. That spiritual power is intended to be repeated over and over so that all can be filled and refilled with the anointing of the Holy Spirit for power in this life. Let’s continue. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit… in your inner being. That is referring to the heart or spirit man. It is intended to be the continual source of power for the believer. That is what Jesus meant when he said, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you… That’s what happened on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit fell with the sound as of a mighty rushing wind and tongues as of fire… that’s what Paul meant when he said “do not be drunk on wine but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” That is what happened to the apostles at a prayer meeting when those who had been filled on the day of Pentecost received a fresh filling in Acts 4, 31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. That is what Paul is praying for all believers to have because he knows that if we are ever going to be unified as the body it has to be through the anointing of the Holy Spirit. That is why God has seated us with Christ in the heavenly realms with authority. We have authority and the power to answer the call God has placed on our lives. And we have the purpose for that power and authority - 17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And we have that because we are…