Bible Study Notes:
The Love of God: Ephesians 3:13-4:1
notes are from a transcript of the postings during Bible
Study on Friday Nights at 7 PM at Bible Study Chat at
|Father God we
thank you for your Word. It is so beautiful to the
believing soul! We thank you that you cared enough to
bring it to us. Father we exalt your Name and your Word
and your Christ above everything else in our lives. Make
it real to us we pray. Holy Spirit, we invite you to be
our teacher. Help us be not only hearers, but also doers
of the Word.
satan we come against you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we bind you and rebuke you and cast you out of this place. We come against your schemes to interrupt and disrupt the Word, and declare them void in Jesus Name.
Jesus thank you for dying for us. AMEN
Last time we were talking about Paul being given a special task - to administer the grace of God to the Gentiles. This included a mystery that was not revealed in the Old Testament - that through Jesus Christ the Gentiles (that's us) would share in the promise of Jesus Christ. I'm so glad that Paul was obedient to the heavenly calling - bringing the light of God even to us. We stopped last time at Ephesians 3:12:
Ephesians 3:12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Through Christ, through His sacrifice, we are made worthy to approach God. IN HIM means that Jesus made the way POSSIBLE through His death on the cross. THROUGH FAITH IN HIM means that we have to believe this and take advantage of what Christ has so dearly bought for us with His blood. Now Paul goes on to say:
Ephesians 3:13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.
In several places Paul lists the sufferings that he endured for Jesus' sake and for ours, to bring forth the gospel. When he wrote Galatians, he was in prison, to eventually be executed for being a Christian. Imagine that - being a Christian causing you to get the death sentence! We take our freedoms for granted and may lose them if we aren't careful. Even today in the world there are places where being a Christian are illegal and can cost you your life.
I think if I was in jail I might be inclined to whine a little bit, but not only does Paul NOT whine about it, he is concerned that the Ephesians will get discouraged. What do you think he meant by "my sufferings for you, which are your glory"? Normally when someone is incarcerated it is because of a real crime, and it is a shame to his family. Paul is declaring that not only is being imprisoned for Christ NOT a shame, but it is a privilege and something they could take pride in.
One of the first people I want to see in heaven, after Jesus of course, and my loved ones, is dear brother Paul. Not only were his sufferings a glory for the Ephesians, but for us as well!
Now I've not suffered like Paul, but have been persecuted somewhat for Jesus sake. And I try really hard to remember Paul's example in the face of suffering (and Jesus' too of course) and try to rejoice in them!
We need to STAND up for Jesus, STAND up to the devil, and STAND up for righteousness and morality. That's what Paul says later in Ephesians - to put on the whole armor of God and having done all TO STAND.
Hallelujah. I find that the reason that many don't stand on the Word is that they don't know it in the first place - and some don't want to! But it's the only way we can stand - fleshy knowledge and strength are insufficient to fight the devil with - we will inevitably lose!
Now what was happening to Paul from an earthly viewpoint sure looked like defeat didn't it? Jailed for his beliefs, facing death, having a lot of conflict in some of the churches he founded - but you won't find a sentence of defeat in the letters he wrote from prison. It is interesting to me how defeated the lives of most Christians are today - and we have everything in this country! Why do you think this is true?
I think that's true v&s, plus we are being trained by the media to be discontented and defeated and to expect instant gratification of our wants and needs. God wants to develop our character, and that takes time and patience. Another key to Paul's confidence is found in the next 2 verses:
14-15 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
He was humble before God the Father - Paul knew that God is in control, that God is working everything out for our good, and that Paul had nothing to worry or fear about. Paul also saw his place and purpose in the family of God and saw beyond the petty wants and needs of every day life into the eternal. If our perspective is on the temporal, we are subject to circumstances, with all their disappointments and despairs. But if we focus on the eternal, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, my what a difference that makes!
Now remember Paul was in prison, and if it were one of us, we'd be expecting people to write us, and visit us and feel sorry for us. But Paul is thinking of his fellow believers, and is trying his best to encourage THEM! In the next few verses we see one of Paul's marvelous prayers for them. I'm going to post the whole prayer first, and then we'll go over it all.
16-19 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
This is what we need to be able to stand - strengthening with Power through His Spirit in the inner being! When you see a prayer like this in scripture, you can find great power in praying it for yourself. Something like, "Lord, strengthen me with power through your Spirit in my inner being."
It was the strengthening with God's power that made Paul able to stand and to withstand all his trials - the fact that he was mighty in the inside, mightier through the Spirit than anything that the devil could throw against the outside! This is what we need today - to allow God to strengthen us on the inside first!
Our culture is obsessed with bodybuilding and appearance, but these don't last. If you let the Spirit strengthen you on the inside - those spiritual "muscles" will last for all eternity.
This inner strengthening was what allowed "that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith". It takes spiritual strength to keep believing in the face of a corrupt and doubting generation such as we live in. We can add to our prayer "so that Christ may live in MY heart by faith".
"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love". This is another quality that the world has little of - although millions of songs have been written about it - true love. Paul is praying for the Ephesians not only to know true love, but also to be rooted and grounded in it. The Christians true motivation for service is not guilt or a sense of duty, but love for Jesus Christ and a desire to please Him above all else.
Now what do roots do? They draw up nourishment into a plant. So love is the nourishment we need to survive in this world. And the ground is where plants are established and grow out of. Again, love is the ground we grow upon. Any other foundation or nourishment will cause us to be weak and puny plantings.
If we feed on the dregs of the world, what the media offers us as food, is it no wonder we are depressed and in despair? And if we base our morals and convictions on what our culture accepts, is it no wonder that we are not able to stand? So to continue our prayer "Lord root me and ground me in your love!"
Then Paul continues: "may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ" Not only are we to be rooted and grounded in love, but we need to understand what this love is. The understanding of Christ's love is POWER! Power over doubt and fear, sickness and sin, power over demonic forces.
I was "saved" about 500 times as a teen, because I came to God strictly out of fear of hell. After I cried a bit, I kinda slipped away a bit, until the next "hell fire and damnation" sermon I heard. Anyway, it was when I finally realized how much Jesus loves me that I fully dedicated my life to Him and learned how to have power over fear and doubt.
Now, what do you think is the answer to this question? "How wide and long and high and deep IS the love of Christ?" I've never walked in a valley so low, that Christ's love wasn't there, and greater than my need! I've never climbed a high mountain of praise high enough to see the height of His love.
His love is everlasting - it will never run out. His love encompasses the whole world; there's more than enough for everyone's needs! Meditate on this verse some time when you're feeling down. Ask yourself, is Christ's love high, or deep, or wide, or long enough to solve this problem? Yes, Oh yes, Oh yes!
Notice that Paul says "with all the saints"! When I tell you about Christ's love in my life, and you tell me your experiences and other sisters and brothers add theirs in! WOW we can just understand more and more how marvelous this love is. This is one more reason to "forsake not the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is" - to be able to better understand Christ's love for us!
So to continue our prayer, "Lord make me ABLE to understand Christ's love, just how wide and long and deep and high your love is in my life and in the lives of others" Paul continues "and to know this love that surpasses knowledge". Now how do you KNOW something that surpasses KNOWledge?
I believe that we can KNOW God's love in this life, but full knowledge will take us an eternity to understand! But that should make us all the hungrier for that knowledge. What if tomorrow you decided to do nothing but try to grasp the knowledge of God's love? What a day that would be!
The Spirit reveals things to us, gives us knowledge that we can't even express in words!
I Corinthians 2: 9-12 However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"-- but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man's spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.
What is the goal of this knowledge? "that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. " This seems impossible to us, that we could be filled with God's fullness, but the Bible says it's so! So our prayer might continue "Father teach me the love that surpasses knowledge and fill me to the measure of all the fullness of YOU".
Now, don't pray this unless you mean it. Don't pray this unless you want God to revolutionize your life and thinking. Don't pray this unless you're willing to move a lot of junk out to make room for God. But if you want victory over sin or a tormenting habit, if you want more love in your life, if you want to always triumph in Christ, pray this and then just watch as God does what His Word says! He watches over His Word to perform it, and if you trust Him enough to pray His Word back to Him, and are willing to be transformed, He will do wonders in your life!
Psalms 107:20 He sent forth his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.
Isaiah 55:10 -11 As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Paul concludes this prayer:
20-21 Now 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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Paul is giving glory to God! He is mightier than we can even imagine, but He is not limited by our minds as to what He can and will do for us, IF we just trust Him! If we will allow Him to work in our lives by his power, there is no limit to what He can do for us, in us and through us.
He can do superabundantly above the greatest abundance we can ask or think - Let us give Him glory and praise! Oh God, forgive us for so often being shortsighted and untrusting of you. Forgive us for not trusting you will our lives. Help us to be more and more and more like you in Jesus Name. AMEN!
One thing I really like about Bro Paul is that he is practical. God gave him marvelous visions of our position in Christ and the superabundance of love and knowledge He has provided for us. But Paul also tells us how to LIVE IT out in our daily lives. Starting with chapter 4:1, Paul begins to show us how to put the Word to work in our lives.
4:1 As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
After the prayer in verses 16-21, we almost don't need his urging to live a worthy life, do we? If we could keep a picture of the vast love of God in our hearts daily, it wouldn't be so hard to yield to Him and walk worthy of our calling.
If we could remember that He called us into fellowship with Him and has provided everything we need for a life of godliness in His Word, if we would be conscious of this at all times, then living a Christian life wouldn't be so hard. But what do we do? And I'm guilty that's why I know this. We let daily worries cloud our vision, we read the paper and let the world's woes fill us with apprehension, we watch things on TV that stimulate bad emotions and deceitful desires, and then wonder why we are defeated!
And we allow ourselves to lose control, to become angry and provoked at the shortcomings at others, and we allow bitterness and unforgiveness to come into our hearts. And you can be sure that Satan is waiting to steal the Word from us, to make us doubt, to chain us up in bondage to him again.
That's why we should come back to this prayer again and again. Read it; believe it, live it! In Jesus Name. AMEN this is a great place to stop - on this note of victory! Next time we'll talk more about putting this into practice next Friday at 7 PM EDT.
Father God root us and ground us in your love. Let your love be our motive for living. Let the desire for more knowledge of you be our first thought in the morning. And let us yield ever more of our lives to you! In Jesus Name AMEN!
Thank You Father for Your Holy word. Thank you for loving US. This I pray in the blessed name of JESUS. AMEN
whenever God gives us a revelation, the devil tries to
steal it from us. Guard your hearts and meditate on what
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