Ephesians 3:16-19: Part Three!

This is part three in my series on Ephesians 3:16-19.  If you need to catch up with where I am at thus far, there is a link to the first post in part two.  For those of you who remember, I’m going to pretty much pick up where I left off.

Ephesians 3:16-19 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height– to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

As we begin working our way through part three, it should be noted that I am essentially paraphrasing this apostolic prayer by discussing the different phrases that Paul uses in the prayer.  To this point we have talked about how Paul is asking that God, through his own sovereignty, would cause the church, according to His own self-revelation, to be strengthened with might.  It is this next phrase that I want to being with here.  What does it mean to be strengthened with might?

The phrase seems to be something of a subjective and spacey request.  However, the Bible does not specialize in etherial concepts.  So the question to be asked is what the concrete and practical request actually is.  For this, we need to take a look at places where it has happened in the Bible.  The two biggest that I can think of are Stephen (as discussed in part two) and Jesus.  To shortcut the discussion of Stephen, we have already looked at how the self-revelation of God affected the martyr in that he was given extreme boldness to declare the things that he had seen before the Sanhedrin, and was thus lead to his death.  Since that is relatively self-evident, I think time would be better served if we jump directly to Jesus.

And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him.  And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.–  Luke 22:41-44

So, let’s set the scene a little bit.  Jesus has already had what we call “the last supper” with the Disciples, and he knows that Judas is on his way with the soldiers who are going to bring Jesus to the High Priest.  Jesus is in Gethsemane and is praying the whole “let this cup pass from me” thing in preperation for some of the most intense pain and agony that any human being has ever felt, and an angel shows up to “strengthen him”.  This happens immediately prior to two specific events.  First, after being strengthened, Jesus is “in agony” in prayer and sweating drops of blood.  So being strengthened by a divine hand means that you will have the ability to go deeper in prayer.  the second major event after this episode is the crucifiction itself.  Which means that being strengthened means having an ability to endure an intense amount of hardship and pain for the sake of the Word of God.  This second meaning is probably the biggest key due to the context of Ephesians 3 being mostly about suffering in one way or another.  In essence, being strengthened with might means having the ability to accomplish the plans of God and endure the hardship the comes with it.

I think one of the interesting things is how Paul clarifies that this happens in the inner man.  It’s not like you are going to suddenly become the Incredible Hulk and chunk the dude trying to kill you into outer-space.  To be sure, God has done some very crazy stuff in the physical world (ie, Peter getting led out of prison and nobody noticing or David throwing a rock hard enough to break a man’s face in two), but this is geared to the strengthening of the will and the spirit.  While physical torture hurts (hence, “torture”), the more deadly effect is the one that such torture takes out on your resolve.  If you are resolute in your conviction, no amount of pain is going to change your mind.  This, then, connects to the next idea: that of Christ dwelling in your heart through faith.

Now, obviously we are not talking about a man with a physical frame taking up residence in the blood-pumping organ residing in your chest… there isn’t much room in there as it is.  The Greek word used there (kardia) can denote the actual heart, but it is more commonly used to describe the thoughts and feelings.  So what does it mean for Christ to dwell in your heart by faith?

I think firstly it is the developement of the character of Christ in your thoughts and feelings.  What does this mean practically?  The Sermon on the Mount. (yay!)  It is the meekness of turning the other cheek,  the love of truth, the desire for righteousness… all of it.  The second facet of this reality would be the mystical union of believers with God through the Holy Spirit.  Just as much as we become partakers of the crucifiction through salvation, we become partakers of the resurrection through the power of the Holy Spirit afterwards.  It is because of this that we then become one with God and are truly joined with Christ in New Life.  To me, this is the essence of Christ dwelling in our hearts: the promise that “He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies.” (Romans 8:11)

That’s enough for now… Part Four soon to come.



~ by xristosdomini on June 15, 2009.

4 Responses to “Ephesians 3:16-19: Part Three!”

  1. God bless you brother for you bringing the Word of God with understanding to the body of Christ and those who have an ear to hear. Our power and victory over sin resides in God’s Word. If the enemy can keep us from studying His Word then our victories are fewer.

    A trick of Satan is to blind the believer into neglecting the study of God’s word. Hectic schedules are given a priority over a believer being committed to showing themselves to be approved. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Tim 2:15) In the Greek the word approved refers to one who has been tried. Our faith is tried and tested through our experiences as we submit to the word of God. What we have learned we apply in our daily walk. Contrary to being approved is for one to refuse the truth.

    Unbelievers who do not approve of the truth do not do so out of ignorance. They are free moral agents who have determined not to approve of God. Unbelievers who never heard the gospel have not willfully rejected truth. They will therefore be judged not by the written word but by their conscious. Their conscious bears them witness to what is right and wrong. Saved individuals who neglect the study of God’s word are conforming to the spirit of willful disapproval of God’s word. In their daily situations approval by their own intellect is a greater priority than approval by God’s word. God has divine wisdom to impart to the individual who needs to overcome the hectic schedule. He is our provision and He will not provide in a manner which would contradict His word. Neglecting His word due to a hectic schedule needs His wisdom to establish adequate study time.

    Most believers do not have adequate study in God’s Word. Scripture that seems impossible to obey is possible through God. Strength, power and ability are the Greek translation for the word possible. God will impart the power to adequately study His word. “And he said, the things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” (Lk 18:27) We activate God’s perfect will in our situations when we know the word to apply. Jesus gave us the example to follow when He was tempted by Satan. He combated the devil with the Word of God. “It is written, man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.” (Matt 4:4) Our weapon to combat Satan is the written word of God and not our intellect. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.” (2Cor 10:4) Victory over sin and defeat is achieved by applying the word of God in our daily walk. “Thy Word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” (Ps 119:11)

    Overcoming sin is by hiding His word in our hearts and not by operating by intellect alone. Intellect is of the flesh and does not give power to subdue carnal thoughts. God in requiring our total submission to Him includes actions, words and meditations. “Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.” (Ps 19:14) Keeping the prophecy as commanded by Jesus is a trust issue. Needs being fulfilled by trust in flesh or trust in His word is our daily dilemma. God may you give us wisdom and courage to trust in your word.

    Principles that believers need to incorporate in our daily lives are written in the book of Revelation. Faith in Jesus Christ is our daily guide to fulfilling His perfect will for our lives. Revelation of Jesus is given in the book of Revelation. How can we neglect to study the revelation of who He is that guides us? Trickery of Satan leads us to under utilize our weapons of warfare. Only the things which we do for Jesus will last and stand the judgment test. All things are brought into His will as we surrender them unto Him. Deeper spiritual perspective of our daily walk is achieved by deeper revelation knowledge of Jesus. It is a decision to make one available to God’s transforming in order that His very best is brought out in their life. Perfection to the highest level possible is a choice offered to the believer.
    “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners but fellow-citizens with the saints and of the household of God; and are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord, in who ye also are built together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph 2:19-22)

    We are built upon the foundation which was prophesized and upheld by Jesus. Prophecy is our foundation of faith and is revealed in the book of Revelation. How can we neglect the teaching which is the foundation of our faith. Scriptures foretold the advent of Jesus Christ and His fulfilling the Israeli covenants. Apostles and prophets prophesized the Tribulation Period, Millennium, New Heaven, New Earth and the final destruction of Satan. Prophecy is the foundation of our faith and Jesus commanded us to keep the prophecy. Neglecting the Revelation of Jesus Christ is willfully staying ignorant of who we are in Jesus. No longer are we strangers and foreigners but we are citizens of the household whose foundation is the prophecy. Can we expect total victory over Satan while willfully being ignorant of truth because it is not convenient to study? Many resist the book of Revelation because it simply takes too much of their energy.

    There is a negative effect on the entire body of Christ when most of the body is neglecting the book of Revelation. Scripture states that we make up the household of God, we are fitly joined together and we are a habitation of God. Prophecy is the foundation of the household which fitly joined together is the habitation of God. How fitly joined together are we as a house if we decide to exclude some of the plans for constructing the house? Can we expect the fullness of stability and protection in a house which we put together but refused to include some vital instructions from the chief architect? Much more is the appreciation for a house when the history and culture behind the house is understood. So too is it with the household of God as it relates to their studying and understanding the book of Revelation.

    May God continue to bless and use you to bring forth His Word.

  2. …… Uh… thanks, I guess…

    I fully agree on the importance of the book of Revelation, and I’m sure I will talk about that some in the coming days. I welcome any thoughts on the topic of Ephesians 3.

  3. I think your second facet has primacy over the first. God’s power in us to love, forgive suffer if need be, is supreme to any thoughts we shove in our head. Looking forward to next one!

  4. I think that the two actually bleed into each other. The Mystical Union of the believer with God through Christ empowers the Sermon on the Mount lifestyle, and the Sermon on the Mount lifestyle increases the depth of one’s union with God. Just an opinion from the peanut gallery.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: