Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 21 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #190)
A series of homilies on Ephesians.
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 3:14-16:
14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said, “The revived begin to get a concern for the members of their own family — husband, wife, father, mother, children, brother, sister — who do not know that they are outside God’s family. They tell them about the Gospel; they feel they must. There is a constraint that is driving them. They talk about it to people, to friends and to everybody, and they begin to pray for them.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “What good does it do to speak in tongues on Sunday if you have been using your tongue during the week to curse and gossip?”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “As the evening passed and the morning of the first day of the New Year began at an annual Moravian ‘Watch Night’ church service in 1738, the group began praying. As they continued praying together, ‘the power of God came mightily upon’ the group about three in the morning. Responses to this outpouring of the Holy Spirit were varied. Some fell to the ground, awestruck and overwhelmed with the very presence of God. Others were filled with ‘exceeding joy’ as they experienced the presence of God. All were caught by surprise, but when they recovered somewhat, they united their voices to sing a hymn: ‘We praise Thee, O God, we acknowledge Thee to be the Lord.’ The Evangelical Revival, as it came to be called in England, had begun.”
Now, we get into the meat of Paul’s prayer. He has praised God for the revelation of the mystery. And now he has moved on to the main request. It is a four-fold request for the Ephesian believers (and for believers today). The first request is contained in verse 16: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”
Paul had previously told the believers not to be discouraged by his own persecution and imprisonment. Now, he asks that God would grant them strength and power through the Holy Spirit. This strength and power is to be given “according to the riches of his glory.” God’s glorious riches are abundant and limitless. The fact that Paul asks for a request “according to” these riches is significant. He could have asked for strength and power to be given “out of” God’s riches.
Peter T. O’Brien states, “Paul draws attention not simply to the idea of God being a source, thereby signifying ‘out of’ the wealth of His glory, but also indicates that His giving corresponds to the inexhaustible riches of that glory. It is on a scale commensurate with His glory: He gives as lavishly as only He can. The One to whom Paul directed his requests gives richly and generously. By formulating his prayer along these lines, the apostle assured his readers that the Father was wholly able to meet their needs.”
A billionaire might give you ten million dollars; that means he is ten million dollars poorer than he was before. But when God gives of His spiritual riches, He does not suffer any loss. He gives and gives and gives, and yet His storehouse is never depleted. That is why the Ephesian believers could depend on God for the supply of strength and might that they would need for the difficulties they faced in the future.
Paul knew what he was talking about when he made this prayer request on their behalf. He had experience with the depthless strength of God. He had a thorn in the flesh that was always afflicting him, yet he continued on for the Lord. Once he was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead, but he got up and continued on for the Lord. Why? He had God’s hand of limitless power strengthening his “inner man.”
Christians today need to realize that we don’t have to live defeated lives. We don’t have to give up and lay down our weapons whenever we are attacked by the devil, the flesh, and the world. We, too, can have strength in our “inner man” if we pray to God for might and power according to “his riches in glory.”
One poet wrote —
Help us, O Lord, when troubles come
To trust Your Word and not succumb,
And help us not to turn aside
But in Your strength and love abide.