To Know the Love of Christ
Ephesians Lesson #103
May 2, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re thankful that we can come together this morning in freedom, that we can freely proclaim the truth of Your Word.
“We are mindful of the fact that there are Christians throughout this world, especially in places like China, and Moslem countries, like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, where they are under opposition, persecution, observation by governments.
“Father, we do pray for them that they could find good, solid biblical teaching, and we know that there are groups that train groups that provide information for them, biblical truth, and we pray that You might supply their needs.
“Our Father, we are thankful that we have this building where we can meet, where we can be a foundation for the teaching of Your Word to so many throughout the world who do not have any solid biblical teaching.
“Father, we pray that You would continue that and that we might not take for granted that which You have supplied for us. We pray that now, as we study Your Word, that we might be refreshed, that we might be strengthened through the Holy Spirit, and that we might be challenged in our walk with You. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
This morning I was greeted with a very encouraging email; I will give you just a little bit of background on. This involves a man by the name of Kurt Norman who is the pastor of a small church in a small town in South Africa. He has been listening online, live streaming and everything that he could over the years.
He first reached out to me, I think it may have been as much as 10 years ago, thankful for the fact that we don’t charge for any of the material, and that he had access to it because he was going to the only seminary they had that he could attend.
It was somewhat conservative, was a Reformed seminary in South Africa. Their background is Dutch-Reformed, which is five-point Calvinist and Lordship, and he was the only dispensationalist that he knew of in South Africa.
I put him in touch with a couple that I and some of you know, Tom and Cheryl Molinar, who are in South Africa, two or three years ago. Kurt had become pastor of a church. They had no free grace understanding of the gospel; no dispensational teaching, so that’s always a bit of a rocky start.
But he said there’s just no one here in South Africa I know of. I put him in touch with Tom and Cheryl; they live some seven hours apart. So even though South Africa doesn’t look that big on a map, it is.
This last month on Resurrection Day, Tom and Cheryl were going in that direction to pick up some friends from Dallas who were coming to visit them, and they all went over to Kurt’s church.
Tom wrote and sent me a bunch of pictures, and he said, “We were all anxious to meet up with Kurt, and we had a wonderful time of three evenings together at this B&B we had booked in Klerksdorp, close to Kurt’s church.
“We all thoroughly enjoyed our time together, the doctrinal discussions, and so clear to see how God works through people and circumstances to bring people together in ways to further His plan. We attended Kurt’s church on resurrection Sunday on April 4th, and Kurt presented a perfectly correct message on the resurrection and the grace gospel.
We met many in his church, and thanked them for their encouraging support of the church and Kurt’s ministry. It is truly encouraging to see a young pastor focused on learning God’s Word, determined to grow in wisdom and knowledge and the correct grace doctrines of truth, and knowing and accepting correct teaching from your ministry, which continues to give Kurt the solid food of disciplined instruction to have a love in learning knowledge.”
That is just an encouragement to all of you, as I commented during the offering, who financially are a part of the support of this church and Dean Bible Ministries. The fruit that is being produced in South Africa accrues to you because you are a part of this ministry, and we are a part of his ministry. That’s how these things work in God’s plan.
We can just rejoice that in an area where there is very little Bible teaching, and even less that is correct Bible teaching, we can be thankful that there is the Word of God being taught in that area.
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 3, continuing our study of the love that Christ has for us. As we look at this love, we have to meditate on it; we have to contemplate it, we have to come to understand it.
Which is not only a lifelong pursuit, but it is a pursuit that will take us into eternity, because the love that Christ has for us is an infinite love, and we can never fully grasp it. As finite human beings, finite creatures, we will never grasp something that is infinite.
Paul is challenging the Ephesian believers—and also challenging us—to continue to accept the challenge to pursue that through the rest of our lives, to make that a high priority in our lives, for this is fundamental to learning how to live the Christian life.
When we talk about God’s love for us, and passages like John 3:16, that “God loved the world in this manner,” we look at the cross which is that example. When I talk about coming to understand or the text talks about coming to comprehend the love Christ has for us, it starts there.
We will look at a couple of other passages, by way of introduction that focuses our attention on that because that is integral to our understanding of the spiritual life.
I pointed out in the last two messages that in Jesus’ teaching in John 15, as well as Paul’s teaching in Galatians 5 and Ephesians 5, that Christ’s love for us is going to be produced in us if we abide in Christ, if we walk by means of the Spirit, if we walk in the light or walk in His love.
As stated in Ephesians 5, that is integral to our spiritual life because the fruit of the Spirit is first of all love, as listed in Galatians 5:22, “… love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness …” all of which reflects the character of Christ. That is God’s plan for us.
Many people wonder, “What’s God’s plan for my life?” To grow to spiritual maturity and reflect the character of Christ. Everything else is secondary. You may think your career is first, you may think your marriage is first, or finding a spouse is first, or your children, and they are very, very important.
But the most important is God’s plan to produce in you and in me the character of Christ. One of most difficult things for any of us to truly comprehend, and then turn around and implement in our lives, is Christ’s love for us; and to reflect that.
A term we use around here is unwieldy and people misunderstand it, but it makes a point, and that is “impersonal love.” That doesn’t mean that a person isn’t involved or that it is somehow keeping people at arm’s length, which is how some people understand it.
It is to emphasize the fact that we don’t need to have a personal understanding, knowledge, or relationship with the people that we are to show Christ’s love to. You don’t know the name of the person who’s checking you out at the grocery store, you don’t know the name of that crazy person who just cut you off in traffic.
You’ll never know who they are or have a personal knowledge of them, but we are to treat them in the love of Christ, in biblical love, which is called Christian love. We have to understand that it’s not based on how well we like a person, how likable a person might be, whether we know them, whether we have any kind of relationship with them at all.
It is an objective love that comes from our soul, directed to this person that we may or may not know because it is God’s plan for us, and it is part of our Christian life to demonstrate that kind of a love.
They may do things that are cruel to us, they may do things that are vicious; they may do things that hurt us deeply. But we are to respond as Christ did to those who were responsible for His crucifixion, for His suffering on the cross, which He demonstrated when He prayed to the Father, “Forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.”
That is hard. That kind of love is the kind of love that we can’t manufacture. It’s not artificial. That goes up to the prime directive in the spiritual life that Jesus gave is, “I give you a new commandment that you love one another, even as I have loved you, and by this—your love for one another—all shall know that you are My disciples.”
First of all, I’ve covered just in the introduction that it’s a love that is produced by God the Holy Spirit as a result of abiding in Christ, walking by the Spirit, walking in the light. It’s not something we can gin up on our own, even though we often try to in the flesh because we just know we ought to do that. But it is a genuine love that comes from a transformation that only God the Holy Spirit can produce in our lives.
Teaching through this church history course, both at the beginning when I was reading a lot of accounts of Christians who were arrested, tortured, thrown into the Coliseum to either fight with wild animals or something else. Then later as you get into the Reformation period in the various religious wars, there were tens of thousands that were killed.
In just the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to the Protestants, they arrested, tortured, and in thousands of cases they burned them at the stake. This was just normative throughout the Middle Ages, because the belief was that if anybody was a heretic, they deserved to be burned at the stake, and that was it.
Protestants were guilty of the same thing, but to a far, far lesser degree. We always get blamed for making it a lot worse and not being perfect. But when you have people who are coming out of the kind of world that existed in the period before the Reformation, I use the analogy of somebody walking out of a bog of quicksand wearing snowshoes.
As you get higher and higher walking out of that bog, all that filth and dirt and mud comes off of you, but it takes time. You don’t walk out of it just as clean as if you just spent three hours in the shower. It takes time, it takes time for a culture to change and for people within a culture like that to change their views and to work it all out.
Martin Luther in his stand at the Diet of Worms based his stand on his conscience before God and his knowledge of the Word of God, and he had to stand. He said, “I must stand on the Word of God. Here I stand. I can do nothing else.”
That argument was fundamentally based in a new understanding of the freedom of the individual’s conscience before God. That was 1521, 500 years ago a few weeks ago in April.
From 1517, fast forward to the 1770s. 250 years went by to produce one of its most significant fruits, which is the birth of this nation, on the principle that we live our lives before God. That’s the foundation for the First Amendment. These things don’t transform overnight.
Ever since July 4, 1776, this nation has been in the crosshairs of Satan’s scope. He has been doing everything he could, and it’s taken him about 250 years to destroy it. We’re witnessing a lot of the fruits of his work the groundwork of which was laid back in the 19th century.
If he is successful, we will go back to that same horrible pagan world that existed 400 years ago where those who believe in the truth of God’s Word are going to be persecuted. As I read the stories of these martyrs and the way they demonstrate the love of Christ to those who are lighting the flames around their feet is just amazing.
You just say again and again, “How in the world can someone be that kind and gracious and loving and generous to those who have tortured them or are now burning them at the stake in giving them the gospel and praying for them while they are being engulfed in the flames.
That is what this passage is talking about. The only way to get there isn’t because you come to Bible class and church week after week, you take lots of notes and you memorize some Scripture and a few other things. We have to practice.
Remember, love toward others—“impersonal love” or “unconditional love,” the other term that we use—means that we are not conditioning our response on their actions. Think about that. How we treat other people is not to be conditioned on how they treat us or what they do to other people. It is to be based on how God for Christ’s sake loved us and forgave us.
This is something that can’t just happen overnight. It is something that comes because that unconditional or impersonal love for others is one of the spiritual skills that God has outlined to us in Scripture for handling adversity and difficulty and problems in life.
Every skill, whether you are a musician, an athlete, an artist; if you are someone involved in any sort of trade, whether you are a craftsman and you are working with your hands, you didn’t get there the first time you picked up your tools or you picked up your instrument or you went out on the football field or in the front yard with your dad tossing around the ball.
You got there through practice, practice, practice, and practice. That’s what every believer is supposed to do. We have to practice these disciplines of the Christian life. We have to be reading our Bible daily and reflecting upon it, not just letting our eyes go over the words because they’re familiar to us; that’s one reason I like to read in different translations.
But we have to practice it, practice it, practice it! Practice it when we’re driving, when we’re in the grocery store, the checkout lane. Or when we we’re dealing with family members or with people we know in the neighborhood, we have to practice that. That’s what this passage is really all about.
Review Ephesians 3:14, at the beginning he says he’s praying, he is bending his knee to God the Father, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In Ephesians 3:16 he begins to give us the specifics of what he’s praying for: “… that God would grant you, according to the wealth of His glory—which is infinite—to be strengthened with might—an important word that we will get back to in the benediction, the last two verses of the section—through His Spirit in the inner man.”
The next step on that staircase produces a result: so that Christ would make his home in our life. That’s abiding in Christ. That’s not Christ taking up His indwelling position in us.
That is the result of ongoing fellowship, KOINONIA in the Greek, meaning a partnership, walking together toward a common goal. The first result that Paul mentions is so that Christ will be at home in us, so that we are having a rich personal walk with the Lord.
That is not the end, but is merely a means to the first purpose, in Ephesians 3:17–19, that we can begin to comprehend the immensity of Christ’s love for them with the ultimate result that we might be spiritually mature, reflecting the love of Christ in our lives. That is the pathway to spiritual growth.
This ought to be a prayer—if you’re not memorizing it, at least getting the principles down—that we should be praying for ourselves, that God would make this a reality.
The first result is stated in Ephesians 3:17, “that Christ may make His home in your hearts through faith—‘In your hearts’ is in your thinking, in your soul; be comfortable in your soul through faith—that you—the way it’s translated in English needs to be clarified—being rooted and grounded in love—this should be translated ‘because you have already been completely rooted and grounded by means of love.’ ”
That love has got to be God’s love. There are some that think that you’re rooted and grounded in your love, but that doesn’t work. My love is not worth much. I need to be rooted and grounded in God’s love, which I first become acquainted with when I trust Christ as Savior.
That is the first result, for the purpose that you, because you have already been rooted and grounded in God’s love … The result is that Christ makes His home with you, and that is for the purpose “that you may be able to comprehend with all the saints.”
This is for all the saints. When Paul is talking in Ephesians 3, to whom does he refer when he says “to all the saints?” This is your pop quiz this morning. Think contextually. He’s thinking about Jews and Gentiles now together in one body in Christ—all the saints.
Previously, he talked about what happened to both, what happened to us together, that together we were made alive together in Christ, that we have been raised together and seated together.
In Ephesians 2:19 and following he talks about the fact that we’re no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. He’s not talking about Old Testament because he defines “household of God” as what is now being built in terms of the church.
The purpose is that we may be able to begin to comprehend with all the saints. Then he describes this with these dimensions, “what is the width and the length and the depth and the height.” People who come up with all kinds of different ideas about what that describes.
But contextually it’s describing what he speaks of at the beginning of Ephesians 3:19, “to know the love of Christ …” By using the idiom “width and length and depth and height,” he’s really talking somewhat hyperbolically about the expansiveness, the incomprehensibility, and the limitlessness of the love of Christ.
Even though we can never know it exhaustively, we can never know everything there is to know about the love of Christ, we are to pursue knowledge of that throughout our Christian lives, so that it has an impact on how we are.
The more we reflect on how Christ has loved us, the more God the Holy Spirit will use that in our lives to transform our understanding of what it means to love one another as Christ has loved us.
That brings us to where we were last time in looking at what this means in terms of the love of Christ.
Three passages, in order to correlate what is taught there: John 15, Galatians 5, and Ephesians 5. People often ask me, “Well, how can you relate this and that together, how can you say that?” Well, you just look at certain things.
In John 15:1–8 Jesus said abide in Me and you will bear fruit, you will bear more fruit, you will bear much fruit. You’ll have three different levels of fruit production. But what is the sole condition that He talks about? He says abiding in Him. The result then is fruit, more fruit, and much fruit.
In Galatians 5:16 the command is to walk by means of the Spirit.
In Galatians 5:22–23, it lists the fruit of the Spirit.
If you have two passages, and you have one condition in one passage that produces fruit, and you have another condition stated with another terminology in another passage and that’s the sole condition for producing fruit, then those two conditions must be talking about roughly the same thing.
Abiding in Christ and walking by means of the Spirit are roughly the same thing. You can’t do one without the other, so by doing one you’re doing the other, and the result is that God the Holy Spirit will produce fruit.
That’s part of what is included in Paul’s prayer here, that we should be strengthened through the Holy Spirit in the inner man.
Ephesians 5; we will be coming to that soon. We have about two more messages to wrap up Ephesians 3. Next week we will cover the benediction, the last two verses. Then I will give a good review of what we’ve learned so far in the first three chapters.
Because that’s the foundation for the last three chapters. The last three chapters will go somewhat more quickly than the first. The first chapter was a long slug. I know that we had a lot of things to deal with there.
Let’s get a little context, going back to Ephesians 4:31–32 because, remember, there were no verse markers. Paul didn’t write in terms of verses: “Okay, I’m going to write verse 3, now I’m going to write verse 4.” There were no chapter divisions; this is all read contextually.
Ephesians 4:31–32, “Let all bitterness, wrath and anger and clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice—he’s talking about the fact that we’re to take the operations of that person we were before we were saved and remove that like we’re taking off a coat. We are to—be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another.”
This isn’t the most familiar word for “forgiving,” which is APHIEMI. It is CHARIZOMAI. You can hear CHARIS at the beginning, the Greek word for grace. CHARIZOMAI is treating somebody graciously, and it comes to mean forgiving them.
Both APHIEMI and CHARIZOMAI are used in accounting and banking context to speak about the forgiveness or the canceling of a loan.
Here by emphasizing grace, Paul is emphasizing that the root of forgiveness is being gracious to someone, which is unmerited favor. They don’t deserve you to forgive them. You know that, and they probably know it. But we are to forgive them anyway because that’s what Christ did for us.
Ephesians 4:32, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, being graciously forgiving to one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.”
Ephesians 5:1–2a, “Therefore be imitators of God as little children, and—what does he say?—walk in love,” taking us back to the foundation he laid in his prayer at the end of Ephesians 3.
“Walk in love:” that metaphor of walking is the common metaphor that is used to describe a person’s lifestyle and also to describe that work of fellowship of two people walking together towards a common goal.
In the Old Testament, one of the prophets said, how can two walk together unless they are agreed? If we have sin that we are pursuing in our life, we can’t be walking with Christ, we can’t be walking in fellowship with God because we have a different objective—self-absorption and self-indulgence.
We have to confess sin. That’s where confession of sin starts to come in in order to restore that rapport and walk together. We are to walk by means of love, as Christ also loved us.
Ephesians 5:2, “And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and gave Himself for us—and then he goes on to say—an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet smelling aroma.”
In Ephesians 5:3 he goes back to what we have to lay aside, “But fornication and all uncleanness and covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for the saints.”
That’s really interesting because in a context like Ephesus or the Old Testament—we talked about this in 2 Peter and in Judges on Tuesday night—part of this fertility worship that dominated the pagan world was what you talked a lot about.
Your whole religion was based on going up and fornicating with the priests or priestesses is in the pagan temple in the fertility cults, and they were everywhere. He says you don’t even talk about this; it’s not fitting for the saints, Ephesians 5:4, “… neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather—there we have it again—giving of thanks—focusing on that attitude of gratefulness and gratitude towards God.”
Ephesians 5:8, another walk command, “For you were once darkness, but now are light in the Lord, walk as children of light.”
Ephesians 5:2, we walk in love.
Ephesians 5:8 we walk as children of light.
Then the explanation. If you’re using the King James or New King James, Ephesians 5:9 reads, “for the fruit of the Spirit,” but if you’re reading in one of the modern translations based on the older manuscripts found in Egypt, then it will read “fruit of the light.”
It just said, “walk as children of light” and “walk in light of the Lord,” so there is a word transposition there. The majority text—referring to the majority of ancient manuscripts—has “Spirit.” I believe that is the superior reading there. Either one is talking about basically the same thing.
Ephesians 5:9, “(for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness and truth).”
What’s the sole condition here for producing this fruit? It’s walking in love and walking in light; they go together.
If the sole and necessary condition for producing fruit is:
· to abide in Christ John 15:1–8
· to walk by means of the Spirit Galatians 5:16; 22–23
· to walk in love Ephesians 5:2
· to walk in the light Ephesians 5:8–9
then what we are seeing is that those four commands are all talking about different facets of the same thing, and it is accomplished through the Spirit and that close harmony with Christ, that rapport.
The first result, Ephesians 3:17; and the purpose of that result is Ephesians 3:18, “with the purpose that you, because you have already been rooted and grounded in God’s love”—that happened when you trusted Christ as Savior, that you—might be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height.”
This is focusing on that ability to comprehend, to grasp, to understand with our mentality the extent of Christ’s love for us.
Christianity emphasizes thinking. It’s not about emotion; it’s not about how we feel. There’s nothing wrong with having warm feelings when we think about what Christ did for us, and sometimes we can get overwhelmed with emotion.
There’s nothing wrong with that. What’s wrong is making that a necessary sign of worship or making it a necessary sign of spirituality or spiritual growth, which is what a lot of people do. Spiritual growth is always based on learning the Word, Romans 12:2.
It is not being pressed into the mold of the world, but being transformed by the renewing of your mind, of your thinking. Flushing out all of the garbage that comes from human viewpoint and paganism, and replacing it with the standards of God’s Word and the practices of God’s Word. We are to comprehend those things.
Slide 9 Skipped
I’ve retranslated Ephesians 3:18, “with the result that you, because you’ve already been rooted and grounded in God’s love] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height,”
Ephesians 3:19, “to know the love of Christ …”
That talks about an intellectual activity. Actually, biblically, love is something that comes from a mindset, a way of thinking, not an emotion. That’s why people get so confused. That’s why marriages fail, because everybody thinks that love is some sort of emotional feeling.
Then when that goes away, they think, “Oh well, I’ve got to go find somebody else.” But Scripture says that love is a mentality. It’s a way of thinking about other people that is based upon humility.
Ephesians 3:19, we are “to know the love of Christ—which means we have to learn about the love of Christ—that passes knowledge.”
The Greek verb GINOSKO means to know or to come to know. Primarily, the idea that we are to acquire knowledge about this. It is something that we learn; something that we spend time studying and thinking about.
It’s not just sort of an academic knowledge, but it becomes an experiential knowledge. It’s not just our positional love we have from Christ, but it is experiential. It is something that is applied in our day-to-day life.
We are to know the love of Christ. The Greek word for love is AGAPE. AGAPE has a lot of different meanings. It is the other word that is primarily used in the Greek New Testament. There’s one other place where another word is used, but it’s so rare.
The two big words are AGAPE and PHILOS. PHILOS is a more intimate love—the love of friends—but AGAPE can involve people who don’t know each other. Scripture only says that God has PHILOS love for believers.
He has AGAPE love for unbelievers. That’s why in Revelation, “Behold I stand at the door knock,” is not a salvation verse because in the verse before it says that Christ loved them.
That is PHILEO, which refers to the fact that God has a relationship with them. They’re saved, but they’re disobedient, and Christ is wanting to come in so that “I can sup with you,” which is fellowship. That church was excluding Christ from the life of the church. They were not walking in fellowship.
We are to know the love of Christ, that is, AGAPE. That’s used in John 3:16, John 13:34–35, and in Galatians 5:22, “for the fruit of the Spirit.” And “to know the love of Christ” isn’t “love for Christ.”
That’s as an ambiguous phrase in English as it is in Greek. It can mean either love from Christ or love to Christ. But if it’s love to Christ, it’s human love, and that’s not what I’m supposed to comprehend. I need to comprehend that love that is from Christ because only that love passes knowledge.
The Greek is HUPERBALLO. BALLO is for throwing, casting something, and is probably related to our word ball. HUPER means beyond, so it has to do is something that is surpassing, something that exceeds anything. It exceeds knowledge; not that it’s contrary to knowledge, but exceeds it.
The Greek for knowledge is GNOSIS, which in this context could very well simply mean it goes far beyond just academic knowledge or intellectual knowledge. It has to do with the application of that in our day-to-day experience.
The second purpose is stated, “… that you may be filled …” The ultimate result is that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” That introduces that ultimate result, “that you may be filled.”
PLEROO is the same word in Ephesians 5:18 “to be filled by means of the Spirit.” Here we are to be filled with something, and it means to have something filled up, to be full of.
Here it’s talking about the fullness of God. What in the world is that? One of the problems we have with that is in the way some translations translate it: as if it is an absolute, as if you can be right now filled with all the fullness of God.
The fullness of God refers to His character, and we can’t ever be full of that. It’s infinite; we’re just a creature. It has the idea of a process: that you may be filled up, in the process of your spiritual growth, with the fullness of God.
PLEROMA has the idea really of all that God is, referring to His character. It is used several times in Ephesians. It is used in Ephesians 1:10 to refer to the future millennial kingdom as the fullness of the times. But that’s not related to what we’re looking at.
Ephesians 1:22, Paul’s prayer as he concludes the chapter, “And He put all things under His feet, and gave him—that is, Christ—to be head—or authority—over all things to the church, which is His body.”
We’re all members of the body of Christ. Remember, Ephesians 2 talks about the fact that it’s a new man, a new household, a new temple, “… which is His body, the fullness of Him …”
Ephesians 2 talks about the fact that He’s building together this new household, this new temple. At the end, Ephesians 2:21–22, “in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord in whom you are also being built together for a dwelling place of God the Holy Spirit.”
It is the character of Christ that is to fill up our lives, but that doesn’t all happen at once. It’ll never happen fully in this life, but it is the goal. That is expressed in Ephesians 3:19 with a Greek preposition indicating that this is the end result that we are to be pursuing.
We will never fully achieve it, but we are to continue to pursue it. It’s like if you are involved in any sort of competitiveness, whether sports, athletics, dance or in any kind of academics, you will never achieve perfection.
Never. But you pursue perfection. Vince Lombardi said we can never achieve perfection, but if we pursue it, we just might achieve excellence. That’s the idea.
Ephesians 3:19, “… that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Colossians 1:19–20 really gives us a little more of a sense of what this means in context, talking about Christ, “For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell”
All the fullness is what? That’s described in Colossians 2:9, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
That shows that Christ was fully divine, and He has all of the attributes of God to their fullest extent because He is equally God.
This phrase in Ephesians 3:19, is talking about developing in us that character of Christ, which is exactly what we have stated by Paul elsewhere.
Romans 8:28–29, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” What is that purpose? At the end of the next verse, “For whom He foreknew He also predestined—or appointed, as we studied—to be conformed to the image of His Son.”
That’s being worked out in us. We are to be conformed to the image of the Son. God is developing in us the character of Christ, described in Galatians 5:22 as the fruit of the Spirit.
The end of the prayer in Ephesians 3:19 is the ultimate result for us, in Paul’s words elsewhere, to be conformed to the image of Christ. That thought is so profound, that it leads him to just spontaneously express this great benediction coming up in Ephesians 3:20–21,
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly—Paul’s at a loss for words to describe the fullness of it—beyond anything we can ask or think—beyond anything we can imagine—according to the power that works in us.”
What is that power? Ephesians 1, the power of the resurrection; the power of God.
Ephesians 3:21, “To Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever.”
Next time we will look at that benediction and the significance of what he says.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to reflect upon these things, to be reminded that we are to take the time to be quiet, to be alone, to reflect in our study on Christ, thinking about who He is and especially what He did on the cross, and how that demonstrates Your love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
“Even though we were obnoxious, hostile, at enmity with You, You did all of this for us, and we need to think more about that and what that means. That’s what Paul is driving at in this prayer.
“Father, we pray for those who are not here, those who are listening, those who may have never trusted Christ as Savior that they would come to understand that it is necessary. The starting point for the Christian life is to believe Christ died on the Cross for our sins.
“That at the Cross You imputed to Him in Your justice, You credited Him with our sins, so that He could pay the penalty for those sins as our substitute, and that simply by trusting in Him, believing that He did that for us, we have everlasting life.
“It’s not based on anything that we can ever do. It is based on Him and Him alone, for when we trust in Him, then we receive as a free gift from You, His righteousness.
“It doesn’t change us from the inside out, but it does clothe us in His righteousness, so You look at us as being justified. Father, we pray that You would make that clear to anyone who needs it.
“Father for us we pray that we might not take lightly that which You have taught us this morning, and that it may transform our thinking, in Christ’s name, amen.”