Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 43
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber explains how God’s love is different from the love we so often express. He explains what the book of Ephesians has to say about the dimensions of God’s love.|
A Prayer for Fullness – Part 4
Let’s turn to Ephesians 3. We are talking about a prayer for fullness. Can you imagine this much in a prayer? If you will study the prayers of Paul in the New Testament, they are just overwhelming. What an individual! How he loved God, and how God manifested Himself in his life. We call this “A Prayer for Fullness.” You see, Paul is praying for the Ephesian believers. He is praying that they might live the normal Christian life, that they might learn to let Jesus be Jesus in their life, that they might learn to tap into the fullness of everything that God offers. When you see people like that, they are not frivolous. There is something that exudes out of them. There is a joy in knowing the fullness of Christ. You can know all about what Christ has done for you, but if you haven’t tapped into it, you have missed the whole point of why He came into your life.
That is what this prayer is all about. We are looking at the last part of verses 17 and 18, but let’s back up to verse 16 and pick it up there: “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.”
Verse 17 says, “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” or “by the means of faith.” Now I want you to know that faith is what accommodates the Lord Jesus who resides in our life. Do you want to accommodate Him? Do you want to make Him feel at home? Do you want to let Him dwell in your life? Faith is what accommodates Him. What do I mean by faith? Well, it was by faith that He entered your life to begin with, when faith was exercised in who He is and what He has come to do and when you bowed before Him. You see, the word “faith” doesn’t mean just to mentally understand. It has the idea also of bowing before Him. The deity of Christ is built into the word “faith.” The Greek word pistis, comes from the word peitho, which means to be so overwhelmed, so persuaded that you are brought to your knees. That is when worship begins. Salvation is when you bow and surrender your will to the Lord Jesus Christ. That is the essence of what faith is all about. When that faith was exercised, Christ entered your life. When faith continues and you continue to bow before Him and surrender to Him, then He dwells in your life by the means of faith. You see, it is what accommodates Him. Christ is at home in the life of a person who loves Him, loves His Word and is surrendered to His will. Christ is at home in that person, and that person is going to experience the dwelling of Jesus within him. He is going to experience the manifestation of a divine power that he doesn’t have on his own.
When I surrender and say “yes” to Jesus, Christ begins to live in me. I tap in to that ability that I would not have had if I had not exercised faith in Him. So we accommodate Him. We make Him feel at home by the means of faith. If I am not trusting Him, if I am not surrendering to Him, then obviously He is uncomfortable in my life.
Well, the result of being strengthened in the inner man with power by the means of the Spirit, letting Christ dwell in our life by being accommodated by our faith is an amazing love that is birthed within us. That is what we want to see. It is amazing. I go to different churches and the preacher will tell me, “Our people don’t love one another.” I can’t make people love anybody. If you will ever come to love Jesus and let Him dwell in your life and accommodate Him with faith and say, “God, whatever Your Word and Your Will says, I will do,” then you will tap into something. That love will well up in you and you will love one another. The most incredible thing is the love that is produced when the relationship is what God wants it to be.
There are two things I want you to see about this amazing love that is the result of letting Jesus strengthen us with power in the inner man by the means of the Spirit. When you learn to surrender to Him and accommodate Him by faith, the love just exudes in your life. First of all, this love is the result of being strengthened with power and of Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith. I really believe this with all my heart. I have really wrestled with this passage. Some people will say, “Oh no, when you were saved you were grounded in this love. You were rooted in this love.” Now wait a minute. Look with me in verse 17: “so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” Are we rooted and grounded in love before we start allowing the Lord Jesus to empower us? Or is being rooted and grounded in love the result of our accommodating Him by faith, by allowing His Spirit to rule and reign in our hearts?
In Colossians 2:7 Paul says something very similar. Let’s begin with verse 6: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” Now understand something. I am firmly rooted into Christ the moment He comes into my life. That is a plant nobody can rip up. I can’t lose my salvation. I am firmly established in Him the moment I exercise my faith in Him and He comes into my life.
Let’s go back to Ephesians 3:17, and I am going to ask the question again: Is “being rooted in His love, being grounded in His love” the same thing he is talking about in Colossians 2? I don’t think so because here in Ephesians he changes it. I know I am firmly established in Christ, but to be rooted and established and grounded in His love requires faith on my part. When I begin to accommodate Him, when I begin to obey Him, when I begin to yield to Him, then I become rooted and grounded in love. The difference of the construction here and the construction in Colossians 2 is he uses the perfect tense twice in Ephesians. Now, what does that mean? It means a state of being based on something that has taken place.
Look at the verse carefully. It appears to me that being rooted and being grounded hinge off those first little words of verse 17, “in order that Christ may dwell in your hearts and so that you, being rooted and grounded in love.” In other words, I am not going to know this love we are talking about until I am willing to die and yield to Him and accommodate Him in my life. Being rooted and being grounded in His love is a result of a personal surrender of my heart unto Him.
What does it mean to be rooted in love? The word is rhizoo. It means “to be strengthened, to be firmly fixed, to be stabilized by the roots.” Now think with me for a second. I remember planting some trees in our front yard about two years ago. One night I had to dig one of them back up. It was too heavy for me to move, so we had to protect those roots on that tree during the night. There was a big bag on the bottom of it. I was noticing that tree the other day. It has been two years now, and I have been watching it go through the seasons. I am watching something happen to that tree sitting out in my front yard, the one I had to dig back up and put back into the soil. It had such a tremendous root system. I mean the ball on the bottom of that thing was huge. I could hardly move it. I had to get some help to even drag it over to the hole. Those roots somehow have taken hold and have gone deep into the soil. Somehow they are finding the nourishment that is necessary for that plant to grow.
I get that same idea when it says “you are rooted in the love of Christ.” Listen, when I begin to exercise my faith in Him, I get the idea that He is saying the roots of my life are reaching out for the divine ability that I can’t produce, but that He will give to me to go deeper and deeper into the soil of His unconditional love. He says we have a divine ability. Folks, the greatest divine ability God can give you or me is to love Him and to love one another unconditionally. The roots that dig deep into the soil of His love begin to saturate my life. You don’t know that if you are not letting Christ be at home in your heart. You haven’t got a clue. Sure, you are trying to live the Christian life on your own strength. You have not yet understood. If there is a room of your life that you are renting out, then you are not yet cooperating and accommodating Christ by faith. As a result of that, you are missing out on the love that He wants to be rooted deep into your life. He says you are rooted in love. That love springs forth in your life as you draw on the divine ability that He has to feed you and to give you in the inner man.
Paul also says, “to be grounded in love.” What does it mean to be grounded in love? It is a different idea. Not only are we rooted, but we are grounded in His love. The word for “grounded” is a word that refers to a foundation, a firm foundation. Again Paul uses a word that helps express the firm foundation that love becomes. In other words, I am not only rooted into it, I am built upon it. Not only does everything spring forth from it, but everything is built upon it.
If you understand what love is, which we are going to do in a minute, then you will begin to realize that this is not of man. This has to be of God. This has to be coming out of the nutrients of the soil of His love. What God is and who God is has to be drawn out of that.
What is this love? It is agape love. First of all, let me share with you that it is unconditional. What is the difference? Apart from Christ all you know is conditional love. I love you because you please me or do something for me. I want something out of you. That is all anybody does. You may be coming to church day by day, week by week. I might be doing the same thing. If I am not reaching out to that divine ability that He has within me, then what is happening is, I am not tapping into His resource. The love that comes out of me is nothing more than conditional, humanistic, colored-up love. That is all it is. It is self-seeking. It is totally selfish. God’s love is not. Agape is not. It is unconditional. It is not “I love you because…” Well, it is in a sense. I love you because He loved me. That is about the only “because” you can put in there. You don’t have to do anything to please me. You don’t have to do anything to get my love. You don’t have to earn it. It is just yours. It is something I haven’t even really chosen to do. It is something He is doing in me. Yes, there are choices made, but it is something that is welling up in my life. It is unconditional. It is selfless, sincere, a servant’s love. It is a love that is so committed to the welfare of the individual that you would do anything that it cost you to make sure that this other person is loved the way God would love them. That is this kind of love.
That is what this world has been looking for. It is not fabricated. You can’t work it up. It only comes as you and me and all of us begin to learn to tap into the fullness of what God has offered at salvation. When we begin to accommodate Christ by faith in our life, when we begin to allow His Spirit to strengthen us with power in the inner man, then and only then do we realize we are being rooted and grounded in love. Everything that springs out of us and everything we do builds upon it. All of it is housed with that marvelous agape love. We are saturated with it, and it begins to exude out of us. We accept people. We don’t try to make them like ourselves. We don’t walk around taking our convictions and beating somebody else over the head with it. God in us just reaches out and causes us to love the people around us.
Look over in Galatians 5:22, where Paul says a very similar thing. He talks about fruit. You know fruit is that which is produced, not by the branch, but by the sap and all that is inside the vine. The vine is like a root, and when you tap down into the soil of Christ, what is produced and what flows out, the fruit of that is love. It says in verse 22 of Galatians 5, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” Maybe we need to understand why he says, “But the fruit.” Let’s back up a little bit. Let’s find out what it is like when you don’t tap into it. Let’s find out what our flesh is really like. Now folks, you are either tapping into Christ by accommodating Him in your life, or you are tapping into self which is going to do nothing but give you a dead end street.
Let me show you. If you tap into self, here is what is going to come out of it. Galatians 5:19 says, “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing and things like these, of which I forewarn you just as I have forewarned you that those who practice such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” That doesn’t mean that somebody cannot slip and fall, but this is what is resident in the flesh.
Now in verse 22, it shows you what is resident in the Spirit, when you tap into Him, when He strengthens you with divine ability in the inner man. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love,…” Paul then shows you the manifestations of that love. Joy is the first one he mentions. Joy doesn’t mean frivolity. It is talking about something on the inside that is so deep and untouchable by any human hand that nobody can take it away from you. Folks, the world could be falling apart around you and you would be filled with the joy, the fruit of God’s Spirit, the manifestation of His love. You have tapped into it. You have surrendered. You have allowed Christ to dwell in your life and by doing that, the roots of your life have dug deep into the soil of the nourishment of His love. Joy is the overwhelming by-product of that love. Paul goes on to say, “…peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Almost every one of them have something to do with relationships to somebody else. Folks, I want to tell you something. Your church will be a loving church only to the degree that all of us individually come to Christ and say, “I want to accommodate you in my life. I want you to be at home in my heart. Lord, I don’t want to do anything that would offend you. I don’t want to say anything, listen to anything, or think anything that would offend you. Lord, I just want to live my life focused on you.” When we do that, knowing how desperate our flesh is, and reach down into the soil of who He is, that which flows out is agape love.
You don’t have to tell somebody you love them. They will know. They will see it by that which God is doing in your heart and in your life. It is the result of being strengthened in the inner man by the Spirit. It is the result of letting Christ dwell in your life. Everything we do springs from it. Everything we do builds upon it. It houses all the gifts. It houses everything else. It is this love that God gives to us. It is overwhelming, amazing love.
Secondly, it is the reason why only those who surrender to Him can understand the fullness of God’s love. You will never comprehend it until you have tapped into it. I want to show you this. He says in verse 18: “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.” Let me just see if I can get a little bit out of this. It ought to be obvious to us by now why there are certain people in the body of Christ who don’t have a clue about what it means to love God or one another. They are people who don’t surrender to Him and aren’t living with consistency in their life. Now that doesn’t mean perfection. Listen, when the Holy Spirit is in your life, He convicts you of righteousness but He also convicts you of sin. When He convicts you of sin, you deal with it. It is a lifestyle of simply letting Him control what is going on in your life. We won’t reach perfection, but when you have somebody like that, they can comprehend the love of Christ. People who don’t do it have no clue as to what we are talking about.
The verse goes on to say, “the breadth and length and height and depth.” Let me just show you something. I don’t really believe Paul means to make dimensions on it. I believe what he is doing by using those terms is just to describe its vastness. If you would put some dimensions on it, let’s give it out of Ephesians. Look in 2:11-18. That is the breadth of it. I won’t read it all to you, but the whole gist of it is found in verses 14 and 15. “For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two (Jew and Gentile) into one new man, thus establishing peace.” Now folks, if you want to see the breadth of it, how far it reaches out, it touches Jew and it touches Gentile. Is there anybody else on earth? No, there are only two people groups, Jew and Gentile. It makes them both one in the body of Christ. That is the breadth of it.
If you want to see the length of it, look in 1:4-5: “just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.” He chose us before the foundation of the world. Folks, that’s the length of it!
The height of it is in chapter 1. Look at how high our blessings are stored. It says in verse 3, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” It reaches all the way to the throne of God. The blessings are in Christ, and now we can tap into them.
To find the depth of it look in 2:1-4. How far did He have to go to reach man? How depraved was man? “And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God,…” That’s the depth of it.
How far did God have to reach to get you? Folks, listen, it is a vast love that we only can begin to comprehend when we have surrendered to the One who is the embodiment of it, the Lord Jesus Himself. As we are nourished by that love and sustained by that love, it springs up out of us. Everything is built upon it. It is the house that wraps up all the gifts. It is the wrapping. It is the house. It is whatever you want to say. By that we learn to comprehend the length, the depth, the height, and the vastness of God’s love.
Then Paul goes on in Ephesians 3:19. He says, “and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.” The word “know” there is the word that means to know by experience, the love of Christ. Who are the people comprehending the love of Christ? The people who are experiencing it, the people who are living in it day by day, the people who are allowing His love to be received into their life, the people who, when they confess, understand that His love has so provided for them in the blood that He will cleanse. The people who are experiencing it are the people that are comprehending it. You don’t experience it until you let Jesus dwell in your hearts, until you learn to let the Spirit have control in your life. That love begins to transform us.