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Church of Christ Sermons and Lessons from Ephesians

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Bobby Stafford Paul's Prayer For the Ephesians        

Paul’s Prayer

Introduction:

One of the best ways to learn about acceptable prayer is to study the prayers we have recorded in the Scripture. Such is our lesson today. Paul offers a prayer to God on behalf of the Christians in Ephesus. He desires that the Father bless them in a number of ways. It would be difficult to find more beautiful words in all of the Bible.

Text: Ephesians 3:14-21

Body:

I. Paul Addresses the Father (Verses 14-15) Verse 14 “For this reason” goes back to verse 1. Because God, through the death of His Son, has made it possible for all people, both Jew and Gentile, to be reconciled to God and each other in the body of Christ, the church, where all spiritual blessings are! He addresses God as “the Father”. He is father of Christ in the sense that He has greater authority than Christ and brought Him into this physical world by virgin birth. Verse 15 All the redeemed are here designated “the whole family.” This reminds us of Hebrews 12:22-23. Those in heaven [paradise] as well as those here on earth. The family takes its name from the Father. God supplied the name Christian for His people in the gospel age. This was prophesied in Isaiah 56:5 [everlasting name] and

Isaiah 62:2 [new name]. It was fulfilled in Acts 11:26. “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” 

II. Paul Petitions the Father (Verses 16-19) Verse 16 Paul prays that God would strengthen them. The source would be from God who has infinite power [“according to the riches”]. The “inner man” is the soul and spirit of man. This is the spiritual counterpart of outward physical man. (II Corinthians 4:16) “Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.” NKJV We are strengthened by feeding upon the Word of God. (I Peter 2:2) “as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby. We exercise when we worship and serve. (Hebrews 5:14) “But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” The Holy Spirit is the agent or instrument through which strength is given. It builds us up through the Word. Recall Paul’s words to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:32. Verse 17a Paul prays that Christ may continue to dwell in these saints by faith – by the faith. By learning more of God’s Word and putting it into practice, they would be developing more and more a Christ-like character. (Galatians 2:20) “I have been crucified with Christ, it is no longer I who live, Christ lives is me.” Verses 17b-18 By Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith, they also would be “rooted and grounded” in love. These two characteristics together would strengthen them greatly. The deeper a plant’s roots are; the better able it is to survive harsh times. So the deeper one’s love is; the stronger he is. This reminds us of Psalm 1:1-3. These two would also enable them to comprehend the love of Christ, to understand or perceive. Note this is able to be done by “all the saints” not just a few so-called enlightened scholars. Paul wants them to comprehend the fullness of Christ’s love. a. Width or breadth His love is wide enough to include all men. He desires all to be saved. b. Length Jesus went to the greatest length to save man. c. Depth Christ’s love is deep enough to reach the lowest sinner. d. Height His love is high enough to lift us out of sin and raise us eventually to the heights of heaven. Verse 19 The love of Christ is infinite and we cannot fully know it, at least in this lifetime. The more we comprehend Christ’s love for us, the stronger we will become. Just as a husband and wife’s love for each other increases, the bond between them grows ever stronger. So it is with a Christian and his Savior. As a Christian’s love for Jesus grows, the communion or fellowship between that Christian and Christ grows stronger also. Paul then prays that they would be filled with all the fullness of God. He desires they be filled with all the strength and blessings and benefits available to them in Christ. 

III. Paul Praises the Father (Verses 20-21) Verse 20 God is unlimited in power. Inherent in His nature, He is able to accomplish things beyond human understanding and power. (Matthew 19:26) He is able to do those things Paul had just prayed for! Look at God’s providential power in taking Joseph from a prisoner to second-in-command of the nation of Egypt, or His miraculous power in raising the dead or giving men power to speak in foreign languages, or His power in washing away our sins! Verse 21 This verse reemphasizes an important truth. It is impossible to have Christ without His church. The acceptable place to glorify the Father is in His Son’s church. As members of that church, we are to glorify God in all we do. (I Corinthians 10:31) “Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Conclusion:

Paul loved these Christians in Ephesus. He and they were all part of the family of God. Part of that family was already in paradise, in the heavenly realm. Paul would one day, not too long in the future, go and join them. “We in fact are one heartbeat away from transcending the space between ourselves and our loved ones already home ‘over there’! The difference between them and us is not that we are really two, but rather one Body in Christ in two places. They are in the safety of the harbor and we are still in this role of preparation through self-discipline.” Are you making preparations to join them? 

Bobby Stafford

May 25, 2014

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