Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 24 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #193)
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 3:14-19:
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;
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
Tom Wells said, “There are no magic formulas for revival. We cannot command it. We may await it with longing, and we are bound to express our longing in prayer.”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “You know, we live in a day when we are more afraid of holiness than we are of sinfulness.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “John Wesley was so impressed with the Moravians that he encouraged many of his associates to cast their lot with them. Earlier, as a student at Oxford University, he’d been part of a ‘Holy Club,’ a student group that read Christian classics and did charitable work in the community. Most of those involved in that Holy Club were in fact at the meeting at Fetter Lane that evening. John’s brother Charles, who had experienced a conversion similar to his own only a few days earlier, was numbered among that group, as was their close friend George Whitefield, who had just returned from ministry in America.”
Today, we are going to continue looking at Paul’s third request for the Ephesian believers (and for all believers today).
First, he prayed that God would strengthen them by His Spirit. Then, he prayed that they would allow Christ to take up permanent residence in their hearts. His third request is, “That ye… may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge…” But there is a prerequisite to this request which we looked at yesterday — “…that ye, being rooted and grounded in love…” Before these believers could know and comprehend the love of Christ, they first had to be rooted and grounded in love. Why? Because one cannot even begin to know and comprehend the love of Christ if one has not experienced the love of Christ.
Now that that has been established, what does it mean to “comprehend” the love of Christ? The English word comprehend means to understand something or to grasp it mentally. However, the original Greek word implies something much more vivid. This word is ka-ta-lam-ba-no, and it means to seize, to lay hold of, to apprehend, to wrestle with, or to take eagerly. In secular Greek writings, this word was used to describe a struggle against a strong opponent or the attacking and taking of a city by an army. It has to do with the seizing of something and making it your own.
That is the idea Paul is getting at. He not only wants the Ephesian believers to know and understand the love of Christ as best they can, but to take it and make it their own.
Steven J. Cole said, “‘To be able to comprehend’ or ‘to have the strength to grasp’ this immense love of Christ shows that it is not an easy or a humanly attainable goal. We must have God’s power. This is not a one-time attainment, but a lifetime and even an eternal quest. We can never say, ‘I’ve arrived!’ We will not grow towards this goal if we are not experiencing God’s power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ is coming to dwell in our hearts through faith.”
It will take all of eternity to fully understand the love of Christ. But, we should start now — not only trying to understand it, but living it out in our everyday life.
W.E. Littlewood wrote:
There is no love like the love of Jesus,
Never to fade or fall,
Till into the rest of the house of God
He has gathered us all.
Jesus’ love, precious love,
Boundless, and pure, and free;
Oh, turn to that love, weary wand’ring soul;
Jesus pleadeth for thee.