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Sunday, April 11, 2021

100 - Christ at Home in Us [B]

Ephesians 3:16-17 by Robert Dean
What changed when Christ rose from the dead? Listen to this lesson to learn that a new entity was formed. Find out that a number of new commands were given for believers, all of which are important for spiritual growth. See that we are to become strong in our mental attitudes as we walk by means of the Holy Spirit. Understand that Christ indwells us and see how He can be at home in us.
Series:Ephesians (2018)
Duration:50 mins 21 secs

Christ at Home in Us
Ephesians 3:16-17a
Ephesians Lesson #100
April 11, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.

Opening Prayer

“Father, we thank You for this opportunity that we have to focus upon Your Word again this morning, that as we study, we come to such a greater understanding of who we are in Christ, what Christ has provided for us. And the significance of our new identity in Him as members of the Church Age, the significance of this mystery, this previously unrevealed truth.

“That there is now no distinction in the body of Christ between Jew and Gentile, for we are all one and united in Christ, and how that should impact the way in which we conduct our lives and the orientation to our purpose in this Church Age.

“We pray, as we continue to study Paul’s prayer that we may come to understand the significance of it for our spiritual life, the way in which it helps us to see the stages of our spiritual growth, and how we are to mature, that we can be useful servants of our Lord. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”

Slide 2

Open your Bibles to Ephesians 3:16 where we will finish up, then go on to the first part of Ephesians 3:17. The focal point of that first phrase in Ephesians 3:17, “that Christ may make His home in you,” is so significant for us. We are looking at “Christ at Home with Us,” coming to understand the significance of that.

Slide 3

We are looking at Ephesians 3:14–16, the first three verses in this prayer that the Apostle Paul is taking to the Lord. We have examined this phrase that begins, “For this reason.”

Whenever we see a statement like that, it’s always important to understand why he said that. “For this reason …” What reason? Well, it’s not the reason of what he says in Ephesians 3:1–13, but it goes back to what he says in Ephesians 2:11–22.

Notice at the beginning of Ephesians 3 he says, “For this reason,” and then he runs down a divinely designed rabbit trail. It’s not an accident because what he says in Ephesians 3:2–13 is important for understanding again the significance, the centrality of this mystery doctrine as it’s called.

It is previously unrevealed information about what God is doing in this Church Age. Things changed radically when Jesus rose from the dead. With the completion of the plan of salvation, the basis was laid for God to establish a new spiritual entity.

In the Old Testament God had called forth the physical descendants of Israel through Abraham, that through them he would bless the world spiritually. He was not setting aside that plan at all because of the sin of Israel in rejecting the Messiah.

He hit the pause button, as it were, because He’s going to fulfill all His promises. Everything that is predicted in the Old Testament will come to pass as it was predicted, but He is calling forth a new entity where the distinction between Jew and Gentile is no longer a factor.

Something new that we touched on Thursday night in Bible class and in the opening of the message last Sunday on Resurrection Day is that we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. That is the reason that we know that we have been saved for this newness of life.

The resurrection focuses us on that newness of life. Other passages, for example Galatians 3, tell us that this identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection is the baptism by the Holy Spirit which has freed us from the tyranny of the sin nature.

Paul ends that opening section of Romans 6, “Consider yourselves dead to sin,” separated from its power. That’s a new way in which to look at our identity. There have been some in recent years of the Church Age who have said, “Ah! That’s the key to the Christian life,” which they call “identification truth.”

It is, but it’s not the key. It is important, it is central. I don’t know that there’s one facet of the spiritual life that is THE key to the spiritual life. I think it is multifaceted. All of these different things work together. Those who emphasize the identity truths, often do so at the exclusion of some of these other things.

One thing that they will distinguish themselves from is the importance of confession or cleansing. And that’s because some in trying to restore people to an emphasis on confession, have made it sound like that’s the key.

It is extremely important because we know from Scripture that, for example, in the Old Testament it says if we consider or if we see sin in our life, that the Lord will not hear us.

Psalm 66:18, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me.” Sin still separates us from that personal fellowship, that ongoing partnership, walking by the Holy Spirit. So, we need to confess sin.

At the pastors’ conference last month, somebody asked a question about typology. I think for the typology issue that he was talking about in Hebrews, he was a little off-base.

But it made me remember something. In the Old Testament picture of worship in the tabernacle and in the temple, before worship could take place, before the enjoyment of all of the blessings of God could be enjoyed, there had to be the cleansing of sin, pictured by the priest coming to the laver. That was the first thing he would do, wash his hands and wash his feet, and that’s a picture of confession.

It doesn’t stop there, it goes on. And that’s the problem, I think, some people had with confession. They thought, “All I need to do is confess sin.”

No, because that denies a host of other commands in Scripture that we are to walk by the Holy Spirit, which is ongoing progression, we are to abide in Christ, and He in us. That, again, pictures fellowship. We are to walk in the light.

If you think about what’s going on in the temple, it all pictures what goes on after there’s the initial cleansing of sin. All of our lives are to be an act of worship and obedience to God. It is very important to understand that,

This mystery doctrine is critical because that relates to what is ALSO significant; but not exclusively. The first is that we are identified with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. Why? So that we are given a new identity. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, male or female, bond or slave, because we are now all one in Christ.

In the Old Testament dispensation of the Law, there is a distinction that only free males of a certain age can go into the tabernacle or into the temple. Women could not, slaves could not, and Gentiles could not.

That’s why Paul says whether you’re male or female is not a factor in who has access to God. Bond or slave has no factor in terms of your relationship with or your access to God. Bond or slave, Jew or Gentile, male or female has no factor.

In Ephesians 2, Paul explains how the barrier between Jew and Gentile has been abolished by the death of Christ on the Cross; so too the barrier between man and God has been removed. He concludes, Ephesians 2:18, “For through Him—Christ, His work on the Cross—we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.”

That’s emphasizing the role of the Spirit in giving us access to God.

That is part of what we’re looking at here in these three verses, as Paul starts in Ephesians 3:14, “For this reason, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” That tells us that he is praying.

In Ephesians 3:15, he has a parenthetical thought. “The Father” is the One “from whom the whole family—the whole patria—in heaven and on earth is named …” because He is our Creator.

Ephesians 3:16, “that—this introduces that first clause; ‘that’ introduces the content, the main content of the prayer—that He would grant to you—or a probably little more precise translation—that He may give to you—expressing the purpose—according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”

Slide 4

I’ve developed this model to help us understand the progression of thought in this prayer.

There are some translations that will wrongly insert the concept of “and.” For example in Ephesians 3:16, your translation might say, “that He would grant you—then Ephesians 3:17 begins—and that Christ may dwell in your hearts.”

That’s not what it says, there is no “and” in the verse. You have a result clause, a result word in the verse, Ephesians 3:17. That’s telling us that he’s praying first and foremost that we are “to be strengthened with might through His Spirit, for the result that,” and that’s this third step.

He prays to the Father. He prays that the Father would use the Holy Spirit to strengthen them in their spiritual life for the result that Christ would make His home in them. We looked at this previously.

That” is for an additional purpose, so that we can begin to comprehend the immensity of Christ’s love for us. Then it drives us further as we think about the immensity, the infinitude of Christ’s love for us as exhibited on the Cross, with an eventual long-term result: that we might be spiritually mature and reflect the love of Christ in our lives.

This is how the progression develops.

Slide 5

In this prayer, he’s praying that we are to be to be strengthened, and he uses two different words to describe strengthened, emphasizing power, ability, and capability—extremely strong words. Then at the end that this is done in the inner man.

Slide 6

To be strengthened …” I don’t always talk about the grammar unless it is significant to bring out something, but I put it here. This word is not used many times in the New Testament. It’s used in the Greek of the Septuagint in order to translate a variety of words related to being strong, having great courage, things of that nature.

In the New Testament it is always in the passive; this is an aorist passive infinitive. For the grammatically challenged, passive means that the subject, which is the Ephesian believer here, is acted upon by something else that performs the action. They’re receiving the action.

Who’s performing the action? God is performing the action. When we look at its various uses in the New Testament, it always has that passive idea, which means that God is the One who strengthens us. We cannot strengthen ourselves. The spiritual life is not pulling yourself up by your moral bootstraps, so that you can show that somehow God has enabled you to be moral.

There are many people in this world who are moral; there are people whose sin nature runs toward morality. Think about the Pharisees; they have their own self-righteousness. We find that, even of those who are antinomian, who don’t believe in any laws or absolutes, they have their own set of tyrannical legalistic absolutes.

Just go to some Antifa rally some time and say something that disagrees with their position, and you’ll be called a racist. They are antinomian, but they have their own self-righteous standards. We often see that in the trends of history: people will react to one set of standards and go to the opposite end. Then they will create their own alternate set of standards and become just as wickedly self-righteous about them as they thought the others were about theirs.

We recognize that this strengthening is provided exclusively by God. We don’t do it ourselves. That doesn’t exclude us from responsibilities to walk by the Spirit, to walk in the truth to obey God. But it is in the strength and power of God the Holy Spirit as we walk by Him, recognizing that He’s the One then who is producing the results in our life.

Slide 7

One of the ways this word is used is in 1 Corinthians 16:13, the last phrase, “be strong,” “Watch, stand fast in the faith, be brave, be strong.”

There are actually four commands in this verse.

I’m saying this because I have heard recently that there are some—(probably pastors that I know, but I don’t know anybody in particular)—that this has always been a bit of a problem in the camp that emphasizes grace, saying, “Well, if you emphasize the obedience imperatives of Scripture, you’re just legalistic.”

That’s not true! Because (1) that shows a misunderstanding of legalism, and (2) it immediately cuts out hundreds of verses in the New Testament that have imperatives. The imperatives are commands of God to us, not to gain His favor, but they are commands that as a child of God we are to live a certain way.

Just as I hope you had parents that were not going to kick you out of the family or disinherit you if you did certain things. But they were basically communicating to you, as my parents communicated to me, that we don’t do that kind of thing as members of this family.

We have certain standards, certain ways in which we are to live as members of this family, so that is how you are to behave. If I violated those behavioral standards, then there would be consequences depending on the severity or the degree of violating their standard. It would depend what the consequences would be.

We obey not to gain God’s favor, we already have it, we’ve been given the righteousness of Christ, clothed with it, so that His blessing to us is not based on what we do, it’s based on the fact that we possess the righteousness of Christ.

But as possessors of the righteousness of Christ, we are in the family of God, and we’re to live a certain way. Those are the standards that are set forth for God’s children, those who trusted in him.

John 1:12, “as many as received Him, to them gave He the power—or authority—to be called the sons of God.”

1 Corinthians 16:13, 4 commands: watch, stand fast, be brave, and be strong.

I thought I would bring this out in light of the cultural context of the United States and Western civilization at this point, that the word that the Holy Spirit shows for “be brave” is not a word that means literally to be brave. It’s a metaphorical word, ANDRIZOMAI. Maybe you know the word “androgynous.”

That first word of this compound is the Greek ANER, meaning male. It literally means “act like a man.” If we brought it over into the patois of today, we would say, “Man up.”

That doesn’t mean that if you are a woman, you can’t do this. It is merely an idiom for being strong, acting like an adult, being mature, and not giving into weaknesses; that’s the idea there.

I cannot imagine what all of the gender-confused people in our culture would make of this. God would be an absolute racist, sexist, and everything else for using language like this. Oh, the world in which we live!

This is the idea: we are strengthened so that we can be strong, so that we can be brave, so that we can have courage in the midst of opposition: threats of death, threats of torture, threats of persecution.

Read through church history sometime; pick up Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and read, and you will be amazed at how God graciously strengthened so many believers throughout the ages, as they faced just unbelievable torture for their faith.

Slide 8

We are to be strengthened with might. This idea is also communicated in the psalms. Psalm 27:14, “Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord!”

Notice it’s a strengthening of the mental attitude. That’s what heart stands for. That which is at the center of your being, the inner man, as Paul uses that phrase in this verse. We are to be strengthened in our mental attitude, so that we can stand firm in the day of testing.

Psalm 31:24, “Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart.”

It is passive; God is the One who does this work in strengthening us, but in Ephesians 3:16 He does this in the Church Age “through His Holy Spirit in the inner man.”

Slide 9

We looked at what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit’s ministries to the believer, emphasizing the phrase “through the Spirit.”

Slide 10

He is the agent that God uses, the means He uses in order to strengthen us. It began with the baptism by the Holy Spirit at salvation, and it continues as we walk by the Spirit, and as we are being filled by the Spirit.

Slide 11

I put this chart up because so many people get confused.

Permanent ministries of God the Holy Spirit for the believer’s life. Then there’s one that is a repeated experience for the believer’s life. These often get confused.

  • We are born again, we are regenerated, we are given new life, Titus 3:5, “not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”
  • We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, Romans 8:9, 11; 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Do you not know that you are the temple of the Holy Spirit who dwells within you …” God the Holy Spirit dwells within us.

We talked about this contextually. It’s very important because this concept of dwelling comes in the next section dealing with Christ. It is the Holy Spirit who is constructing the corporate entity of the church, this new temple, this new building. He indwells the church corporately and He indwells each individual believer; every one of us.

  • We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This means that we cannot lose our salvation. It is as if we have God’s brand upon us, and it cannot be removed. That doesn’t mean we all look like we’re owned by God.

Back in the Old West days in America, in Texas and the West, when rustlers came along and stole cattle, they would use various tools to change the brand, so it would look like the calf or the cow or the steer was owned by someone else. The only way you could tell who really owned the cow was to kill it, skin it and look on the inside where you could tell that the brand was changed.

There are a lot of believers who are not walking by the Spirit or walking with the Lord, but there was a time in their life when they believed the gospel. They trusted in Christ as Savior. They were made a new creature in Christ and saved eternally.

Later on they succumbed to the temptations of the world, and they live a life that is no different from an unbeliever. And it will not be until we are in the presence of God that we, as it were, see that they are truly branded by the sealing of the Spirit. That’s a good modern analogy there. They are Christ’s, even though they are living like they are the devil’s.

  • We are sealed by the Spirit until the day of redemption.
  • We’re given spiritual gifts by God the Holy Spirit, according to 1 Corinthians 12:11. He is the sovereign executor who distributes the gifts.
  • We’re baptized by the Holy Spirit, Romans 6:1–6, 1 Corinthians 12:13, and Matthew 3:11–12.
  • Intercession: God the Holy Spirit intercedes for us all the time. It doesn’t matter whether you’re walking by the Spirit or not. All of these things are true all the time for every single believer, obedient, disobedient, whatever your case may be.

There’s one that is repeated, and that is being filled by the Spirit. This isn’t some mystical thing where we’re getting more of the Spirit. That’s not what it says, it’s not what the grammar allows, but it is the Spirit who is filling us with something. And we see what He is filling us with in the parallel passage of Colossians 3:15–16, that we are to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within us.” The results of that command are the same as the results of Ephesians 5:18, so they must be two sides of the same coin. It is the Spirit who is filling us with God’s Word.

We will see the same thing about the ministries of Christ to the believer in the Church Age.

Slides 12 and 13

We’re “strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” which is parallel to Ephesians 3:17, “that Christ may dwell in your hearts.” That’s the inner man.

Slide 14

This word used for “inner man” in Ephesians 3:16 is used in numerous passages to talk about being physically inside of a place. We have passages in the Gospels, especially surrounding the taking of the Lord Jesus Christ where Peter goes into the courtyard near the Praetorium.

Matthew 26:58, Mark 14:54, “Peter followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard.”

Mark 15:16, “Then the soldiers led Him—Christ—away into the hall …”

John 20:26, “And eight days after—His resurrection—His disciples were again inside—the upper room.”

It has to do with a physical presence of being inside someplace. But we also have passages that talk about being in the spiritual inner man, the immaterial part of man.

Slides 15 and 16

Romans 7:22 is one case in point, where Paul says, “For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.” He is talking about his soul. Contextually, he’s talking about his thinking.

Romans 7:23, “But I see another law in my members …” Notice the contrast between inner man and members. Members are describing the physical body. The inner man is talking about his immaterial nature, his soul and spirit.

“But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind …” here he uses NOUS, the Greek word for the thinking part of the soul. There’s a war between his members and the thinking part of his soul, “… and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.”

He’s struggling in Romans 7 with how to live the spiritual life. Interestingly all of Romans 7 talks about how man on his own can’t do it, and he always struggles; he just can’t pull it off.

It’s not until Romans 8:1 that you find the first mention of the Holy Spirit, and then in Romans 8 it talks about the key, which is walking according to the Spirit or walking by the Spirit.

In Romans 7:23 we see this struggle that we all go through between our sin nature—and I believe, that in passages like this, talking about the physical members, that it is housed within the genetic structure of our bodies physically in some way.

I don’t want to tie it to a particular science, but in some way that is the location of the sin nature, and it brings us into captivity to the law of sin. Romans 7:22–23 connects inward man to the mind and contrasts it to the members.

Slide 17

2 Corinthians 4:16, “Therefore we do not lose heart …” This is another figure of speech for losing courage, giving up, feeling defeated, discouraged, depressed. So, we do not lose heart.

Sometimes I wish I had enough detail from history to find all of the different people that I have read about: pastors, theologians, significant Christians who struggled with what today we call emotional or psychological problems that you have to deal with by medication. Medication is not the Holy Spirit.

One that I’ve been reading about this week is Martin Luther. He struggled at times with depression. What did it do? It drove him to the Word of God to claim God’s promises over and over again. That didn’t mean it just disappeared or evaporated overnight, but it was a recognition that we all have areas of weakness in our sin nature.

We don’t medicate our sins away, we have to learn to address them through the promises of God. We will never be perfect, and we all have different areas with which we struggle daily. For some it’s a phobia, fear, anxiety, worry, things of that nature.

For others it may be depression, for others it’s different kinds of lust. Everybody has their different battles, but the solution is always the sufficiency of God’s grace.

Paul says here that we don’t lose heart. Why? Because we keep pressing forward “Even though the outer man is perishing, yet the inner man is being renewed day by day.”

Daily reading Scripture, daily being reminded of all that God has done for us, daily being reminded of His promises.

Slide 18

Romans 12:2 connects these, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,” the Greek NOUS that we saw in Romans 7:23, the law of the mind. The mind has to be renewed by the Word of God, not by the thinking of the world, so that we may demonstrate that God’s will is good and perfect and acceptable.

Slide 19

The results from all of this is “that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith,” Ephesians 3:17. “Through faith” are the same words that we see in Ephesians 2:8–9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith.” It is the means or the channel by which God’s promises are appropriated for the believer.

Slide 20

This is the result clause, as I pointed out earlier, that Christ would make His home in them.

Slide 21

The Greek here is KATOIKEO, a compound word. The root is OIKEO; the noun is OIKOS. OIKOS means house; OIKEO means a dwelling. OIKEO is used in various passages, talking about the Holy Spirit dwells in you and has a wide variety of meanings.

Other compound words such as ENOIKEO has as a prefix the preposition EN meaning to dwell inside.

KATOIKEO means to settle down, to fully inhabit; to colonize—there’s a bad word! Suddenly we’re just not politically correct! Christ is going to colonize our hearts. If God says there are certain kinds of colonialism that are appropriate, then you can’t just ban it all, can you, or else God’s just whatever He is, He’s not God. No, this is a great image for us.

In the ancient world, as in the modern world, there would be areas that were unsettled, areas that were undeveloped, areas where there was not a strong government who would be defeated in conquest. It’s happened since before the flood. It happened after the Flood; Nimrod the Great Hunter built Babel.

War will not stop until Jesus Christ returns at the Second Coming. That doesn’t mean we are just ignoring it, but that’s the reality. We have to accept the fact that we live in a fallen world.

In the ancient world, after they defeated a country, they would send in citizens to live there, make their home and develop it. There were many of these like Philippi, a Roman colony. Other places Paul went were also Roman colonies—like Greece. And this was how that culture was changed and influenced to be more like a Roman colony than whatever their background was.

The same is true for us. Christ indwells us, that’s one thing. This is the intensified consequences of that indwelling. As we walk with Him, He is transforming us, He is colonizing us, because we are not ultimately citizens of this world, we are citizens of Heaven.

We have to learn to think and act and live as citizens of Heaven, not like citizens of this world. We are inhabited; Christ makes His home in us to colonize us.

Slide 22

Here’s a chart which I’ll develop more next time because it takes about 15 minutes to go through. But I want to build this chart similarly to the one I did on the ministries of God the Holy Spirit. There are permanent ministries of Christ in our life that are not affected by our obedience or disobedience, and then there is a repeated ministry in our life.

Permanent at Salvation

  • He is the head of the Church. He is the head of the body of Christ, Ephesians 1:22–23, “God the Father put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church.” He is the head; He is our authority; He is the One who is in charge.

That doesn’t mean we have to make Christ Lord of our life; that is a false statement. The instant you trust Christ as Savior, He’s the head. It may take you the next 50, 40, 30 years or whatever you have left, to recognize His authority in different areas of your life. But that isn’t how you become saved.

That is the result of salvation; it comes afterward. That’s the problem: it’s not “Lordship justification,” it’s recognizing that the Lord is to exercise His authority over every area of our life. But He is always the authority.

  • He is our High Priest. Hebrews 2:17; 3:1; 4:14–15.

All of these various passages are emphasizing the fact that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens.

Hebrews of 4:14–15, “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was an all point points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”

  • He is our Intercessor, Hebrews 7:25, “Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
  • He gives gifts, Ephesians 4:8, “Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’ ”

You say, “what about the Holy Spirit?” Well, the Holy Spirit’s role is the administration of and the distribution of the gifts, but ultimately it comes from the Son.

Ephesians 4:11, “And He Himself—there’s is an emphasis there—He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers.”

  • He is our Advocate. 1 John 2:1b, “If anyone sins, we have an Advocate in Christ Jesus our Lord.” He is the One who stands in our place.

Slide 23

  • He indwells us, Romans 8:10, “And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

Christ is in you; He indwells each one of us. The Holy Spirit indwells each one of us, and the Father does as well.

2 Corinthians 13:3, “since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, who is not weak toward you, but mighty in you.” That is Christ: He is mighty in you.

2 Corinthians 13:5b, “Do you not know yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you?”

Slide 24

Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me, and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

Colossians 1:27, “… Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

All three Members the Trinity indwell us, but that indwelling, while it is permanent, seems to have a facet that increases its spiritual significance in our lives. The Holy Spirit indwells us, but we are commanded to be filled by Him, and that involves the Word of God.

We are indwelt by God the Son, but go to John 15—we will look at these passages later—Christ talks about abiding in a way that goes beyond the indwelling presence of Christ.

John 15:1–2, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me—and He’s talking about every branch that abides in Me—that does not bear fruit He lifts up …” Some translations say, “He takes away,” and that’s a misunderstanding.

Some excellent articles have been written by a Dallas Seminary Graduate named Gary Derickson. Its importance is that Dr. Derickson did his undergraduate and masters work at Texas A & M in viticulture—how to grow vines, how to grow grapes for wine.

He did the research on how the practice of pruning the grapevines in the vineyards in the Middle East was conducted at the time of Christ. This word was used to describe where branches that were not getting enough sunshine or enough light, would be lifted up, so that they could get more light, more nourishment and grow, so that they would be stronger and produce fruit the next year.

He is very clear that it’s not that “he takes it away;” it’s what it goes on to say in the rest of the verse, “every branch that bears fruit He prunes that it may bear more fruit.”

John 15:3, “You are already clean because of the word which I’ve spoken to you.”

Slide 25

John 15:4, “Abide in Me, and I in you.”

Well, wait a minute! He has already said that He is going to indwell us. Here He’s giving a command that takes it to another level: you “abide in Me—that’s a fellowship concept—and I will abide in you.”

This is really what this passage in Ephesians is talking about when Paul says that the Lord may make His home in you. It goes beyond the indwelling to where the Lord is making something more significant in your life where you are reflecting His person and His character.

John 15:4-5, “Abide in Me, and I in you … He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” It goes beyond salvation. This is the result of ongoing fellowship.

Then there’s the thought of discipline John 15:6, for those who do not abide in Him.

In John 15:7 He introduces a new idea, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you …”

There is a connection between Paul’s prayer that Christ may make His home in you, KATOIKEO, and what Paul says in Colossians 3:16, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you.” This connects those two concepts.

It takes us to a whole new level in understanding the role of Christ in our spiritual life, but we will have to wait until next week to look at that.

If we are Christ’s, if we have trusted in Christ, He indwells us, the Spirit indwells us. But our responsibility after that is to let that be enhanced by being filled by means of the Spirit and with Christ by abiding in Him and letting His words abide in us.

Closing Prayer

“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study this passage, dig into it, understand all of the intricate connections just laid out in the way Paul structures the prayer. May we come to understand that he’s not just praying for the Ephesian believers; he’s praying through them for all of us.

“This is a prayer that we should be praying for ourselves, that we might be strengthened in might through the Holy Spirit, that we might grow, and that Christ may make His home in us. And going on beyond that, that we may fully comprehend Your love in our lives, a task that will still be ours throughout eternity.

“Father, we pray that You would challenge each of us, that we are not supposed to ever reach a stage where we’re satisfied with our spiritual growth or spiritual life, but constantly pressing on to spiritual maturity.

“Father, we pray that if there’s anyone here, anyone listening that has never trusted Christ as Savior, that is the command: we are to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, trust in who He is and what He did for us on the cross, because He is the God-man. He was qualified to die in our place to pay the penalty for our sin that we might have everlasting life. That’s all that is necessary.

“The instant that in our mind we form the thought, ‘That’s true. I believe that,’ that instant we’re saved. We don’t need to raise a hand, make a commitment. We don’t need to commit our lives to Christ, invite Jesus into our heart, or any of these other nonbiblical concepts. All we are to do is what the Gospel of John says over 95 times is believe in Him, to trust in Him and His work, and we will have everlasting life.

“Father, we thank You for what we have learned today, and we pray that we may be able to apply it in our thinking. In Christ’s name. Amen.”