Sermon Outlines - Sermons From Ephesians - Paul's Second Prayer For The Ephesians (3:14-21) Sermon Illustrations

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The Fathers Love Letter To You
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Sermon Outlines - Sermons From Ephesians - Paul's Second Prayer For The Ephesians (3:14-21)


                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"
             Paul's Second Prayer For The Ephesians (3:14-21)
INTRODUCTION
1. In the previous lesson we saw where Paul was about to start his
   second prayer for the Ephesians in Ep 3:1...
   a. However, he interrupts himself when describing himself as "the
      prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles"
   b. Lest they be troubled at whatever tribulations he endured as a
      prisoner (Ep 3:13), Paul stresses the fact that:
      1) His apostleship to the Gentiles (even with its tribulations)
         was a gift to him through the wonderful grace of God - Ep
         3:2-7
      2) His purpose was to "preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable
         riches of Christ" - Ep 3:8-11
      3) That in Christ he had "boldness and access with confidence
         through faith" in Christ - Ep 3:12
2. Having completed his brief interruption, in Ep 3:14-21 Paul now 
   continues with his second prayer for the Ephesians (the first having
   been in Ep 1:15-23)
3. The phrase "For this reason..." (Ep 3:14; also 3:1) indicates 
   that Paul expresses his prayer in response to those things mentioned 
   earlier, such as:
   a. The wonderful salvation by grace through faith - Ep 2:1-10
   b. The work by Christ on the cross whereby Gentiles can now become 
      "fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise" 
      - Ep 2:11-22; 3:6
[With gratitude in his heart for God's grace toward the Gentiles, Paul 
now prays in their behalf, starting with...]
I. THE "INVOCATION" (14-15)
   A. POSTURE IN PRAYER...
      1. In this prayer, Paul "bows the knee", a posture in prayer 
         commonly found throughout the Scriptures - cf. Lk 22:41; Ac 
         9:40; 20:36; 21:5
      2. However, there does not appear to be an "official posture" when 
         it comes to prayer...
         a. Solomon "stood" when he prayed to dedicate the temple - 1
            Kin 8:22
         b. David "sat" before the Lord when he prayed about the future 
            of his kingdom - 1 Chron 17:16
         c. Jesus "fell on His face" when He prayed in Gethsemane - Mt 
            26:39
   B. THE ADDRESSEE IN PRAYER...
      1. The pattern and example of prayer in the New Testament church 
         was:
         a. "To" the Father - Ep 3:14; 5:20
         b. "In the name of" or "through" the Lord Jesus Christ - Ep 
            5:20; Co 3:17
         c. And "in" the Spirit - Ep 6:18; Ju 20; cf. Ro 8:26-27
      2. There is little evidence of anyone praying "to" Jesus, and even
         less of praying "to" the Holy Spirit; clearly it is the Father
         to whom we are to address our prayers - cf. Mt 6:9
[To the Father, then, Paul addresses his prayer.  The prayer itself is
divided into three parts (indicated in the Greek by the word "hina"),
and is like a staircase with three steps, each step leading to the
next...]
II. THE "PETITION" (16-19)
   A. TO BE STRENGTHENED BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD... (16-17)
      1. Paul had mentioned earlier about God's power "toward us who
         believe" - Ep 1:19
      2. Now he prays that the Ephesians might be "strengthened with
         might"
      3. Such strength is "according to the riches of His glory"
      4. God's strength is administered "through His Spirit in (lit.,
         into) the inner man"
         a. A Christian's body is "the temple of the Holy Spirit who is
            in you" - cf. 1 Co 6:19
         b. One design of the indwelling Spirit is to help one "put to
            death the deeds of the body" - cf. Ro 8:11-13
      5. But the purpose of such "strengthening" by the Spirit in our
         text is for a different purpose, first hinted at in verse
         17...
         a. First, that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith"
            1) To the degree God strengthens (by the Spirit) the
               believer's "inner man", so it is said that Christ Himself
               indwells the heart of the believer
            2) Thus the Spirit is the instrumental agent by which Christ
               indwells the believer, just as Ep 2:22 suggests the
               Spirit is instrumental agent by which God inhabits His
               church
         b. Second, that they may be "rooted and grounded in love"
            1) One work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer
               is to instill the love of God in the heart - cf. Ro 5:5;
               Ga 5:22
            2) When strengthened by God through the Spirit in the inner
               man, one becomes "rooted and grounded in love"
   [Strengthened by God through His Spirit, so that Christ is dwelling
   in our hearts and we are well-established "in love", the next step
   is ...
   B. TO COMPREHEND THE LOVE OF CHRIST... (18-19a)
      1. "may be ABLE..."
         a. The word "able" means "to be eminently able; to have full
            strength"
         b. Thus the prayer for strength in the first part of the prayer
            - Ep 3:16
      2. "...to comprehend"
         a. I.e., to understand, to grasp
         b. As Paul says later in verse 19, "to know..."
      3. It is the "love of Christ" that Paul is praying that we be 
         strong to grasp...
         a. He wants us to know everything about this wonderful love 
            ("width and length...")
         b. But this love of Christ is something which "passes 
            knowledge"!
            1) How is it possible for us to "know" the love of Christ, 
               if it "passes knowledge"?
            2) Only in the sense that no matter how much we learn about 
               Christ's love, even with the strength God's Spirit 
               provides, there is always much more to grasp!
            3) "...there is a real knowledge of Christ's love possible 
               to us, a knowledge that is capable of increase as we are
               the more strengthened by power in the inner man, while a 
               complete or exhaustive knowledge must ever remain beyond 
               our capacity." (The Expositor's Greek Testament, W. 
               Robertson Nicoll, editor, vol. 3, p. 316)
   [It is only as we begin to know the love of Christ that passes 
   knowledge that we are beginning to experience the last step for which
   Paul is praying...]
   C. TO BE FILLED WITH ALL THE FULLNESS OF GOD... (19b)
      1. This is the objective, the goal, of all that was said 
         previously
      2. One begins to be filled with "all the fullness of God"...
         a. As they are strengthened by God (i.e., the Father)
         b. Which is through His Spirit (i.e., the Holy Spirit)
         c. Whereby in their hearts may dwell the Christ (i.e., the Son)
      3. With the help of the all members of the Godhead, then, one is
         "filled" the more they begin to comprehend the wonderful "love
         of Christ" ("For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead
         bodily" - cf. Co 2:9)
[Such is the petition that Paul makes on behalf of the Ephesians...
   1. That they be strengthened by the Spirit of God
   2. So they can comprehend the love of Christ
   3. And thus be filled with all the fullness of God
Is God "able" to fulfill this petition?  There is no doubt in Paul's
mind, as we see how he closes the prayer...]
III. THE "DOXOLOGY" (20-21)
   A. GLORY TO GOD, FOR WHAT HE IS ABLE TO DO! (20)
      1. As Paul ascribes praise to God, he does so for what he 
         confident God is able to do
      2. As expressed by Paul, God's "ability to do" is...
         a. "exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think" (far
            beyond our imagination!)
         b. "according to the power that works in us" - cf. Ep 1:19; 
            3:16
   
   B. GLORY TO GOD, IN THE CHURCH BY CHRIST JESUS FOREVER! (21)
      1. Paul sees "the church" as the means by which much glory can be 
         given to God
      2. Certainly if Paul's prayer is answered...
         a. That "all the saints" may be able to comprehend the love of 
            Christ - Ep 3:18
         b. That they may all be 'filled with all the fullness of God" - 
            Ep 3:19
         ...the church will have the potential to bring much glory to
         God! - cf. 2 Th 1:11-12
      3. Of course, such potential is to come only "by Christ Jesus";
         but if it does, then it will be "throughout all ages, world
         without end"!
CONCLUSION
1. Do we desire to give God glory throughout all ages, world without
   end?
   a. We ought to, in view of all things we have considered in Ep 1-3
   b. If so, then it must be "by Jesus Christ", and that can be only as
      we...
      1) Come to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge
      2) Allow ourselves to "be filled with all the fullness of God"
2. How can we be sure to be filled with all the fullness of God?
   a. For one who is already a Christian, we should follow Paul's
      example and start with prayer (such as the one in our text)...
   b. For one who is not a Christian, then one needs first to become a
      child of God - cf. Ga 3:26-27
In our next lesson, we will begin to consider how we can "walk" so as to
bring glory to God...
 

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