Reconciled to God and to Each Other, Part 25 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #194)
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.
Watchman Nee said, “Despite a great revival in Samaria, Philip was not responsible for the follow-up labor of strengthening. He must leave immediately for the desert in order that a ‘heathen’ eunuch might be saved. Ananias had not heard of Saul’s conversion, but he could not refuse to go to pray for Saul when sent, though by standards of human judgment he was casting his life away by walking directly into the persecutor’s hand. How then dare we follow our mind, emotion or will if even the Apostles did not move on that basis? How people today have seized upon reason, thought, idea, feeling, wish, and desire as the governing factors in God’s work!”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “I’m sick and tired of only reading about church history; let’s make some history by the grace of God.”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “The Fetter Lane Watch Night Revival impacted the entire nation through the Wesleys and Whitefield. Nevertheless, as the group spread out and began preaching, the response of the established church was often cool. Even Whitefield, who often drew thousands to his meetings, found churches were closing their pulpits to him. The following February, however, the twenty-five-year-old evangelist discovered an innovative way to reach the masses outside the established churches. While visiting his hometown of Bristol, Whitefield learned of opposition to his missions work in America. ‘If he will convert heathens, why does he not go to the colliers of Kingswood?’ his critics asked. Kingswood was a rough coal-mining town near Bristol without a single church. Inasmuch as the churches of Bristol were reluctant to let him preach in their pulpits, Whitefield chose to answer the challenge of his critics with action. On Saturday, February 17, he began preaching to about 200.”
Today, we are going to continue looking at Paul’s third request for the Ephesian believers (and for all believers today). This 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…” To comprehend the love of Christ is to not just understand it (as much as one is able), but to take hold of it, to internalize it, and to express it in our life as believers.
Paul wants us to do this “with all saints.” The word “all” tells us that every believer is capable of comprehending the love of Christ. This is not a task to be set aside for theologians and scholars. Every Christian ought to plumb the depths of God’s love expressed through His Son.
D.A. Carson said that Paul “assumes that his readers, Christians though they are, do not adequately appreciate the love of Christ.” He is not praying that we should love Jesus more, but that we might better understand and experience the love of Christ that has already been shown to us. Of course, the mind is involved, but this is not a solely intellectual pursuit. We already know the love of Christ to a certain degree. Paul’s prayer request is that all of the saints would know it at a greater and deeper level.
There are two ways all the saints begin to comprehend the love of Christ.
First, by seeing it displayed in the lives of other believers. You may not have been an alcoholic or drug addict when you came to Christ, but you might look at somebody else and say, ‘Wow, God’s love extends even to her!’ People whom you may have thought were beyond the reach of God’s love have drawn in, saved, washed of their sins, and forgiven.
The second way in which saints comprehend the love of Christ is by living it out in community with other believers. You cannot say you know what God’s love is like unless you are showing it to other believers (and unbelievers) around you. Love is action, not just from God toward us, but us toward others.
Our desire ought to be the same as that of J. Denham Smith who wrote these words:
Abide in Thee! in that deep love of Thine,
My Jesus, Lord, Thou Lamb of God divine,
Down, closely down, as living branch with tree,
I would abide, my Lord, my Christ, in Thee.