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Glory in the Church

Pastor Gary Buchman
Emmitsburg Community Bible Church

(3/27) Easter Sunday - Ephesians 3:14-21

Easter Sunday 2016, I love this day and I hope you do as well. This is the most important day of all history. In fact, every Sunday is a reminder to us of the day that Jesus rose again from the dead. On Thursday He gave us tremendous instructions for life and faith. On Friday He was arrested and tried and condemned to death. And He was executed in one of the cruelest ways man has ever devised. As an act of obedience to the Father in heaven and as the grandest act of Love ever imagined Jesus died for you and me. He paid our hell so we donít have to. And then on the third, early on a Sunday morning, His grave was found to be empty and Jesus appeared to the women and to His disciples and then to over 500 people to prove He was alive.

John MacArthur tells of a report by Victor Frankel, founder of Logos Therapy, in which he states that for a non-Christian, Sunday is the most depressing day of the week. He is forced to rest and to focus on the meaninglessness of a life without purpose. Work and duties makes people focus on a job and things that need to be done, but when Sunday is given as a day off, people have to either fill it with other stuff or face the depression of a life without meaning. I believe that is why we now try to fill Sundayís with all kinds of sports and work.

But for the Christ-follower, Sundays are a wonderful reminder of the hope and purpose and meaning of our lives because Jesus is alive. It was the first day of the week that Jesus rose from the dead. Every Sunday is a reminder of the resurrection. Every Sunday, Christians can look back and know that we are forgiven for our futile past and our selfish sins. We can look ahead with confidence for our future because we know that because He lives we are going to live forever with Him in a place He has gone to prepare and reserve for us. And we are at peace today knowing that the Risen Savior is with us and lives in us by His Holy Spirit, enabling us to face every day with confidence.

Easter is the day of our Hope and Confident Expectation of being reunited someday with our Loved ones who knew Christ but have passed into His presence. Thatís the promise of 1 Thess. 4:13-18.

I know that the world wants to make this day about chocolate and bunnies and jelly beans, and colored eggs. But this day is, for us, the basis for all of our Hope.

Back in Ephesians 1 and 2 we were reminded that the same power that raised Jesus from the grave; i.e., the Holy Spirit, works in us giving us new life and in essence has He has also raised us from the realm of the dead.

For our visitors, we are studying the New Testament letter of Paul to the Church at Ephesus, a seaport city in the North East side of present day Turkey. But Paul was not writing from his study or office, or from his home. He was writing from a Roman Jail cell. He was arrested on false charges of defiling the temple by taking an Ephesian man in there, which he had not done, and for supposedly telling Jews that they did not need to follow the laws of Moses or need the temple any longer.

As pick up in our text in Chapter 3, Paul is concerned that they will lose heart, or be discouraged because of His imprisonment. Perhaps they had prayed hard that he would not be arrested or detained long. Sometimes when it seems that God doesnít answer our prayers the way we want we can get discouraged. Maybe God doesnít hear or maybe He doesnít care. What are we going to do, our spiritual father is in jail?

Maybe this Easter season, you are discouraged. Maybe you have prayed hard for something and it hasnít happened. That has happened a lot for us lately. I have prayed hard for some things that we thought would be glorifying God and in His will. Bu the answer has been, no. Let, I was sure the answer would be yes. It would be easy to get discouraged, and wonder why or why not?

Paul wants the church to, rather than be dis-heartened, to show the glory of God. So, verse 14 starts as verse 1 did, "For this reason," letís look at verse 14-15. "For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named," What is this reason? I donít know for sure. Maybe that He has experienced such grace from God. Maybe he considered being in a jail for representing Jesus a worthy thing. Maybe it was that God had chosen to save him despite his past horrible hatred for Christ and His Followers. Maybe it is that plus Godís grace for Gentiles as well as for Jews. This grace that from Ch.1-to this point in Ch. 3 has been filled with all that God has done for us. Remember the Key verse to these 3 chapters? 1:3, Why?

  • He chose us before the foundation of the world
  • He predestined to adopt us
  • He accepted us in the Beloved
  • He redeemed us
  • He forgave us because the blood of Jesus paid for our sins
  • He gave us the gift of wisdom and insight into His plans
  • He has given us an inheritance
  • He has sealed us by placing His own Holy Spirit in us. God lives in us.
  • When we were dead in trespasses and sins He made us alive together with Christ, though we deserved wrath, we received mercy and grace from the inexhaustible river of His great love (2:4-5).
  • He made His grace available through us to the whole world. Bringing peace and unity to enemies and creating a living, moving temple called the church as God works through us.
  • He has made access to Him at any time available to us. Now there is more, but all of this is from His great grace. We earned nada, we deserved nothing but wrath, yet He gave us life, and a place in His family. How awesome is that?

Though Paul is in jail and maybe dictating to a secretary of sorts, the thought of all of this causes him to fall on His knees to pray for this church. Praying form oneís knees is an act of reverence, humility, and worship. Daniel prayed on his knees in Dan. 6. Psalm 95, says "Come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our God and maker." When Paul met with the church leaders from Ephesus in Acts 20, he encouraged them and then (v. 36), "he knelt down and prayed with them all."

Notice it is to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth are named. The Family is the Church of which he has just spoken. His family, Godís adopted children (2:19; 1:5). Remember the words of John 1:10-13, 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: 13 who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

Only those who receive the Son can rightfully call the Eternal God, their Father. And all who receive Him are part of a grand and universal family. Jew, Gentile, Black, White, Asian, male, female, rich, poor, etc. The Gaitherís wrote a song years ago, that says, "I am so glad, Iím a part of the family of God." Thatís the basis of Paulís prayer. We understand that this isnít just the Apostleís prayer for that church at that time. It is Godís desire for the whole family for all time. Do you understand that? Okay, letís look at it. Five things God wants for you.

1. Inner Strength. (v.16) that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man. The inner man is a reference to the real you, that lives inside the outer man which is the body. Itís amazing how much time and attention we give to the outer man, that Paul says in 2 Cor. 4:16 is perishing. The outer man, the body is growing older, weaker, and will die. The inner man will live forever. Yet, we spend billions on make-up, diets, hair styles, fingernails, plastic surgery, clothes, and exercise, to try to improve the outer man, and yet we spend so little time on the inner man, the real you.

It is the inner man that worries about the bills, and the well-being of our family. It is the inner man that fears the future. It is the inner man that longs for peace, joy, love, security, assurance, companionship, and rest. (Matt. 11:28-32)

That is why the Holy Spirit came to live with the inner man. He came to strengthen you with His presence. He wants to strengthen you with might from the riches of Godís Glory. How does He do that? You already know, donít you?

He strengthens you with Promises. Our Hope is based on the promises of God, that are contained in this book. Promises of the New Covenant. Promises of heaven, of reunion with saved loved ones, Promises of Godís good plan even when we donít understand.

He strengthens us with truth. The truth of Jesus and His death and resurrection, that paid for our sins, all of them. The truth of the eternal God.

He strengthens us with wisdom to make right decisions. That is why we have the Bible, so we will know how to live and respond to each other.

This is why Jesus quoted Deut. 8, when He said, "Man cannot live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Twice already Paul has reminded us that God has given us wisdom and insight (1:8; 17-18), and we are reminded that the Holy Spirit is in us to teach us and enable us to trust in and obey Godís word. His promises and His truths will remove your fear, and anxieties, and give you peace, joy, security, and assurance and will make you strong in your inner man. You should read your Bibles with a highlighter or two, maybe one color for promises, and another for truths, maybe a third for commands to obey, that will strengthen you.

2. Indwelling of Christ. (v. 17a) "Ö that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;" Stay with me. Christ is in you in the person of the Holy Spirit. Remember Romans 8:9, "But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His." But Paul has something deeper in mind.

The word dwells, is a word that means to settle down and be at home. Here is a question, Does Christ feel at home in your life? Or does He, like the church at Laodicea, feel shut out? Is every area of your life open to Him? An old booklet that you can probably read on-line by a man named Robert Munger is called My Heart-Christís Home. He compares every area of your life to a house. Is Christ free to look in the library? Your dining room? Your closets and drawers? Is there any area of your life where you donít want Him looking or using? If you prayed, "Come into my heart and life Lord Jesus," is there any area that still has a, do not enter sign? Or, have you or will you say by faith, "I give you access to anything in my life? You are free to use or get rid of anything in my life." Our Lord Jesus told us in John 14:23; "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." This leads to the third part of the prayer.

3. Incomprehensible Love. (vv. 17b-19a) "that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and heightó 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge." This is a two-part point. First, that being rooted and grounded in love, refers to being solidly planted in Christ, drawing your nourishment from the love that God has given you. Remember 2:4-5? "But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)," John 3:16; Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:1 all remind us of the great and remarkable love of God that would suffer and die for sinners like us and then adopt us into His family. Having received that love, you have begun to love God more and deeply, and to love others for God. You have begun to love even your enemies like Jesus did. You have learned as Paul said in 1 Cor. 13, that nothing we do is worth anything if it isnít done in love. The greatest attribute we have is love, Paul said. Thatís where our roots are.

Paul says, He prays that you would know; that is by experience, what is beyond comprehension, or more literally, I want you all to experience what we canít explain. These 4 dimensions are to show the infinite measure of this love. Can you explain how the eternal and infinitely Holy God would become one of us and suffer hell for us, and then adopt us in order to share with us all that is His, forever? Paul says, I can explain (Romans 5) how a person would die for family or friends, but for enemies? Who does that? "Why would He love me so, why would my Savior to Calvary go, why would He love me so?" Someone wrote this, "The width of Godís love- For God so loved the world

The length of Godís love- That he gave His only begotten Son

The depth of Godís love- That whoever believes in Him should not perish

The height of Godís love- But have everlasting life."

4. Imaging the Father (v. 19b) "-that you may be filled with all the fullness of God." Can you see the progression here? In Ch. 5:1, he is going to tell us to imitate your Father, by your kindness and forgiveness and love, even towards people who have hurt you. Jesus said a similar thing, in Matthew 5:45, when He tells us to love our enemies, "that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. When you are strengthened with might in the inner man, and when you allow Jesus to settle down and be at home in every area of your life, when you focus on the incomprehensible love of God and seek to show that same love, you will take on the character of God your Father. People will know that you are a Christ Follower and a Child of the living God. To be filled with the fullness of God is to be controlled and characterized by the very nature of God. Thatís every pastorís desire for His sheep. And then there is the fifth and final point of Paulís prayer.

5. Indisputable Glory Ė (vv. 20-21) Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Paul says, this is what it is all about. He concludes this section, the first half of His letter with a doxology; that is, a word of praise for the Glory of God. When you think of Glory, think of honoring the one who has blessed us with so much. We want God to be honored in us as a body and in our lives individually.

Glory sometimes refers to Godís manifest presence with us. Remember John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." God wants the world to see Him in us. He wants the world to see His resurrection power changing our lives and making us like Him.

And, so, Paul reminds us of a magnificent truth that we often do not believe. God is able to do through us; through the power of His Holy Spirit; through the resurrection power of Jesus, far more than we can imagine. He is still the God of the Impossible. And Paul isnít just talking about the power of prayer, though that is included, he is talking about what we as a church and we as Christ-Followers, who commit His desires to our goals, can accomplish. He is talking about mountain moving faith. He is talking about trusting God when it makes no sense and attempting to do things for God that are beyond our ability. If we are able to do everything we try to do, it probably wasnít God who was moving us to do it. He reveals Himself in enabling us to do that which is beyond us, so that He receives the glory. Thatís how Moses led the people for 40 years. Thatís how Joshua won at Jericho and took the Promised land. Thatís how Jehoshaphat won a battle with the church choir. Thatís how people know that God is in the house. Paul said the Philippians, "Öfor it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure, (2:13). You can go on a mission trip. You can share the Gospel. You forgive an enemy or a friend. You can make a difference in the world. You can do, by the resurrection power, the Holy Spirit power of God more than you can ever imagine, and God is manifested, honored, and Glorified.

Thatís Paulís and your Fatherís desire for you this Easter 2016.

Letís pray.

Next week. Ephesians part 2 begins. We move from our Praise to God to our Practice of Godliness, from our Worship to our Walk as Christ-Followers.

Read other thoughtful writings by Pastor Gary Buchman

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