This sermon is number 15 in a series of 36
Ephesians - Part 15
"Our Mind-Blowing God"
by David Legge | Copyright © 2000 | All Rights Reserved | www.preachtheword.com
Let me welcome you to our Bible Study here tonight. It's great to see you all here, there are some visitors with us and let me make you especially welcome - and it is our prayer that, as we look at the word of God collectively together, that the Holy Spirit may come to us in a special way, and reveal Christ, and reveal the blessings that we have in Him together as the church of the living God.
Ephesians and chapter 3 - and we'd planned on finishing this chapter last week, but it didn't happen! So we're going to look at the final verses of the chapter - and I've entitled my message this evening (as you can see from your handout) "Our Mind-Blowing God". We're going to begin reading from verse 14, which is the passage that we looked at last week, so let's look at verse 14 right to the end of the chapter. Paul says, and remember he's coming from the context of verse 1 of the chapter - he began by saying 'For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles' - he's about to pray for them, 'I Paul am about to pray for you Gentiles'. And then he gets a digression, a massive digression, of a load of verses talking about how the Gentiles have been brought near to Christ. And then he talks about the mystery of the new man, that two exclusive opposites have been united together in Christ - the Jew and the Gentile, the Greek and the Jew - and that there's no difference now, that middle wall of partition has been broken down. So you know all that - and then he gets round to praying.
So he's gone from verse 1 and eventually in verse 14 he gets to the point (he's a bit like me!). He gets to the point and he says: "For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" - and then we learnt how we ought to pray for the church, what we ought to pray for the church worldwide, what we ought to pray for the Iron Hall, what we ought to pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ and ourselves - the priorities. "Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory" - one - "to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love". First thing, being strengthened in the inner man by the Holy Ghost. Second thing, knowing that love of Christ and being rooted and grounded in His love. Then verse 18 extends that: "[that we] 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, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God" - the third thing. First of all, strengthened in the inner man, in other words the capacity to hold Christ in yourself, being 'widened' by the Holy Spirit. Secondly, that you might know the love of God in Christ; and thirdly, that you might be filled with all the fullness of God. Here's his doxology: "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen". Amen's right! And we'll say 'Amen' - hopefully - by the end of this evening.
We're going to look, and finish off looking at verses 17 to 19, that we didn't finish off last week. And the third point that Paul was trying to get us to pray for, and was praying for the church at Ephesus, was the prayer for love. Look at verse 17: 'that ye being rooted and grounded in love'. Now you're taught at school not to mix your metaphors, but Paul often mixed his metaphors - in fact, he created words that didn't even exist in his language (and that speaks to me!) - but he mixed his metaphors, why? Because the language that he was speaking was inadequate to explain to his readers and his listeners the deep love, and the love as Christians that they ought to enter into experientially, that they had already experienced in salvation through Christ. What he was talking about here: being strengthened in the inner man, having your capacity widened to hold God's Son, Christ, spiritually in your heart.
Secondly, to know that love of God that passeth all knowledge - it is so immense, so high, so deep, so wide and so long, that he couldn't express it grammatically, so he mixes his metaphors. Look at verse 17b, he says you need to be rooted - rooted! Now that's an agricultural metaphor, and what it's saying is: to be rooted in something means that you're getting your nourishment from it, your life, from the water, and from the nutrients and minerals in the ground - you're absorbing all the life of the love of God. That's what's making you live! That's what's making you alive - you're drawing upon the love that is in Christ Jesus. Now then he mixes the metaphor and he talks about 'being rooted and grounded' - literally 'founded' - that's an architectural metaphor. To build upon a foundation, a house, to build, to be founded, to be grounded - do you see what he's doing? He just can't paint the picture adequately enough, so he mixes all the metaphors: to be rooted and to be founded, like trees, sapping your life from the love of God, being planted deep and wide with your roots in the ground of God's gratitude and love. Like buildings, our lives are to be built deep in the foundation of God's love.
Donald Gray Barnhouse, that great preacher years ago, once pointed out that 'Love is intrinsic to all the fruit of the Spirit'. Now if you go to Galatians 5 and 22, you don't need to turn to it now, but if you look at it at home, you see all the fruit of the Spirit. This is what Barnhouse said about it: 'Love is the key to the fruit of the Spirit. Joy is love singing. Peace is love resting. Long-suffering is love enduring. Kindness is love's touch. Goodness is love's character. Faithfulness is love's habit. Gentleness is love's self-forgetfulness. Self-control is love holding the reins'. See it? Love is everything! It's the rooting and the grounding, the founding of everything that we have in Christ. And what Paul is trying to get across here is that love is not an option - it's a fundamental of our faith!
Now turn to that great passage on love for a minute, 1 Corinthians 13 - 1 Corinthians 13, and there's one man here tonight, I think he knows this off by heart! 1 Corinthians 13 and verse 4, and the AV says 'charity' some other translations say 'love', and it's the same word but I like the word charity, because charity is love in action - and that's what love is, it's not a feeling, it's an act of your will. 'Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself', [that] means it's not proud, 'is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never fails'. Never fails! Now Paul said in this passage, 'Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am nothing'! Now grasp that! Paul is speaking there, by the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and he says 'I don't care what you have. I don't care if you have a degree. I don't care, even, if you're saved alone. I care not what doctrines you believe in, or what you look like, or what you carry under your arm, or what you wear. I care that you primarily have love! That the foundation of your life is love - and if you don't have it, it doesn't matter what you have, it's nothing!'.
Now Paul turns in Ephesians, look at the chapter again - 3, to show us the way to learn to love each other, and to love the world around us. And he tells us that the only way to grow in love for one another is to get to grips more, day by day, in understanding the love of God toward us in Christ Jesus. Now look at the passage, verse 17 and verse 18, especially verse 18 - he uses four dimensions: breadth, length, depth, height. The breadth of Christ's love, let's think about it, what was the breadth of Christ's love? John 3:16, 'For God so loved the world', the love of God is broad as the world - every nation, every status, every class, every person - the love of God is broad as the world.
Breadth, length - what is the length of God's love? Well, the length of God's love is forever. What does 1 Corinthians 13:8 say? 'Charity never fails'. Love never fails, true love never runs done - that's it's length, it's eternal. God says to us, 'I have loved you with an everlasting love'.
What about the depth, what was the depths of God's love? It can be summed up in a few words, 'Even the death of the cross'. I'm not going to try to plumb those depths tonight. But think of it! 'Even'! He humbled Himself, He became one of God's creatures, in the sense that He became a man. He humbled Himself to that status, and we can't even conceive what He left in Glory to measure up and compare it, relatively. We can't do it! Yet it goes on, 'Even the death of the cross'.
What is the height? The height of God's love is found in 1 John 3 and verses 1 to 2: 'Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed', revelled, 'upon us, that we should be called the sons of God...but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is' - the height is heaven! The breadth of God's love is the world; the length is forever; the depth is the cross; and the height that He takes us to, from the depth of our sin, and our shame, and our hell, is heaven itself!
F. B. Meyer said, 'There will always be as much horizon before us, as behind us, with regards to the love of God. And when we have been gazing on the face of Jesus for millenniums, its beauty will be as fresh, and fascinating, and fathomless as when we first saw from the gate of Paradise'. Isn't that right? We'll never be able to plumb these depths. But you know, I wonder did Paul have the mystery of Christ's church in mind when he was talking about these four dimensions. What we are saved from, and what we are brought to in this new nation - the 'third race' in Jesus Christ - if you think about it, the breadth is immense. Look at chapter 2, chapter 2 of Ephesians and verses 11 to 18, we'll not take time to read them, but Paul talks about 'Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles' and then he expands it all. He amplifies what it meant to be a Gentile to a Jew, what it meant to be a Gentile to God, you were separated from all the promises - but the breadth of God's love in the church is the fact that Jews and Gentiles, that are two poles apart, can be brought together! That's the breadth of God's love, and God's work, at Calvary. What about the length? Look at chapter 1 and verse 4: 'According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love'. Chapter 2 and verse 7: 'That in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus'. What is the length? The length is from eternity in the past - if you can even say that - way back before the foundation of the world, where God chose you; and it goes as broad to the eternity future, right after the millennium where God will show, through us, His exceeding riches of His grace! That's some length, isn't it? What about it's depth? Chapter 2 and verses 1 to 3: 'You hath he quickened, who were dead' - dead, we looked at what dead meant - 'in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past lusting in the flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.' - what a depth that God has reached down to, to make a people and a church onto Himself from the depth of sin! What height has He gone to? Look at verse 6 of chapter 2: 'And he hath raised us up together, and made us to sit in heavenly places in Christ Jesus'. Marvellous, isn't it? It's wonderful - no wonder!
But you know there's a wee problem about this verse - it's not a problem for God, because nothing is impossible for God - but you're also taught in school that there are only three dimensions. Isn't that right? 3-D, three dimensions, and we have four dimensions here - look at it: breadth, length, depth, height. Now why is that? You couldn't draw a picture of this. The Holy Spirit has put all these four dimensions in for a reason, what is He trying to say, here, to us? The old philosophers, old Greek philosophers, used to reason about a possible fourth dimension - and do you know what they concluded? That it was 'a strange kind of spiritual dimension'. It took them a long time doing that, didn't it? There's nothing 'strange' about it, it's as real as the other three dimensions, but the problem is that men and women in this world are blinded to it. But A. W. Tozer, describing this fourth dimension and the great plan, and scheme, and architectural vision that God had in His mind, portraying it to Paul of this great love of Christ - this is what Tozer says of the incalculable love of God: 'Because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning. Because He is eternal, His love can have no end. Because He is infinite, it has no limit. Because He is holy, it is the quintessence of all spotless purity. Because He is immense, His love is incomprehensively vast, bottomless, shoreless, a sea, an eternal ocean'. I'm sure that it didn't pass the mind of the hymn writer when he wrote his hymn, 'The love of God is greater far than tongue or pen can ever tell, it stretches to the highest heaven and reaches to the lowest hell'.
And it's because of this greatness that Paul prays that you and I - look at chapter 3 and verse 18 - that you and I would be able to comprehend with all the saints, he wants us to understand. Do you know what that word 'comprehend' is in Greek? It literally means 'to take hold of', 'to seize'. Now what's the picture here? This four dimensional figure that you couldn't draw, but is seen by Paul and in the mind of God, God wants you and I to get hold of it! To hold it! To embrace it! To seize it! To comprehend what is that love! Now, that is impossible to do, you can't do it - you will never in this world, or even perhaps in the next, be able to plumb the depths of the love of God. But do you know something? It's got to be the Christian's life occupation to try to do it. That might confuse you, but the Christian is told to be perfect, isn't he? And by the way, perfect means perfect. But you'll never be perfect in this world, so why does God tell you to be perfect? Because you're to strive after perfection, and you're to strive after, to seize and to hold onto, the love of God to get grip of what it means that God loved you in Christ. You'll never do it to a full extent, but we are to try in our lifetime to plumb those depths. That's why, in verse 19, he says exactly that - he almost contradicts himself, he says that he wants us to comprehend with all the saints, yet he says [in] verse 19: 'to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge'. Now, get what he's saying here: he's basically saying 'To know the love of Christ which you can't know'.
Now what does he mean? What does 'surpasses knowledge' mean? Well the Greek word 'surpasses knowledge', it means to 'throw beyond' - something that is beyond you. And Paul is saying that the love of Christ, the love of God transcends us, exceeds our abilities of knowledge. He's saying that it's beyond knowledge, but you can know the love of God in your heart! It's like the wee baby that's in the arms of its mother, and maybe you come along and you want to nurse, and you take the baby and you start nursing the baby, and then it starts screaming and shrieking - why? Because it knows it's not with its mother, and maybe it's thinking to itself: 'Does this person love little babies? Am I safe with this person?'. Now what does a baby know about the love of a mother? Nothing really, does it? It doesn't really, but it knows an instinct, deep in it, that the love of the mother is priceless, and it enjoys it even though it cannot understand it, or take it in. This is what Paul is saying here: you can never, intellectually, or perhaps experientially in your lifetime, really get to grips and comprehend the love of God, which is incomprehensible - but you can start, in your lifetime, to know it! To experience it, and seek a deep experiential knowledge of the love of God in your life.
Samuel Rutherford, who was imprisoned in a cell in Aberdeen, listen to what he said about the love of God: 'Love, love - I mean Christ's love - is the hottest coal that can ever be felt. Oh, but the smoke of it can be hot, cast all the salt sea on it you like and it will flame! Hell cannot quench it! Many, many waters will not quench love!'. Samuel Pierce says that, 'The love of God is a subject altogether too wonderful, too mysterious and divine, so great and so immense that the more real saints think of it, the more the Holy Spirit is pleased at any time to give them spiritual conceptions of it - and they cry out 'Oh! The depth!''.
I'm afraid, as a preacher tonight, I have nothing in nature to illustrate to you the love of God. Because there is nothing, you can't grasp it in any way, but God wants you to get into it. In fact the only illustration that we have, perhaps, of the love of God is found in John 15 and verse 19, where Jesus said - now listen to this: 'As the Father hath loved Me, so have I loved you'. Now if you can understand the love that the Father loved the Son with, you're a good one! No one can. For the love of God must be an eternal love, a pure love, a spotless love - and that is the love wherewith Christ loves you. It's wonderful isn't it? But note that Paul says that 'we are to be able to comprehend with all the saints' - with all the saints. Now that's important, that this love that we are to comprehend is done so among the believers, the assembly, the church - and we ought to learn and understand the love of God through the community of God's church. That's how we're to demonstrate it, with our love to one another, with our love for Christ, as we serve Him and as we worship Him - that is how we comprehend it, with all the saints. That means that you need to be where the saints are. Now if you're not there, you will never comprehend the love of Christ.
Then in, verse 19, he prays a prayer for fullness, and he says: 'to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God' - a prayer for fullness. Now this is mind-blowing, it is unbelievable, because the fullness that Paul is talking about here, is the fullness wherewith God fills Himself. I'll repeat that: the fullness he's speaking of here is the fullness with which God fills Himself, all that He is and has within His being. You'll remember in 1 Kings 8, when Solomon was dedicating the temple, that he prayed this: 'But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?'. Solomon realised that God could not be contained, but Paul prays that the church should be filled with all the fullness of God - the fullness wherewith God fills Himself, in His being. Well might Solomon have asked the question, 'Will God ever dwell on the earth?', for in Colossians 1 and verse 19 we find out that Christ, who tabernacled among us, who pitched His tent in our presence, it pleased the Father that in Him should all the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwell. He is the fullness of God and we are complete in Him! We are finished, we are perfected in Him - and the more that you dwell on Him, and His love, and the more He dwells in your heart by faith, the more and more and more you are filled with all the fullness of God.
When Dr Douglas Brown went and preached in Wales, there was one message in particular that blessed the people, and he could sense that the message was blessing the people. He preached on the fullness of the Holy Spirit. And after that meeting one young man ran after him, literally, right into the little inquiry room, and he said: 'Sir, Sir it's alright you telling me to be filled - but I'm full of...', he didn't know what to say - and then he pointed to the little waste-paper basket in the corner of the room that was full of cracks, and he said: 'Yes! I'm full of cracks!'. Isn't that what we feel at times? Do you know what Dr Brown replied? Listen: 'What if you are? If you were a basket, and you were lowered into the sea, it will be filled! And it will remain full, and if it abides in the ocean it cannot be emptied - even with all its cracks, the basket will only lose its content if it is removed from the sea! Young man, cracks or no cracks, if you abide in Christ you will always be filled with the Spirit!'. Isn't that wonderful!
Some writers have illustrated this, and they've tried to illustrate it, but you can't - how can you illustrate how a man can be filled with all the fullness of God? Some of them have talked about a wee thimble, and taking it to the side of the ocean, and walking into the ocean and filling the thimble up with the ocean. That might illustrate a small part - but it can't - you can't get the whole ocean into a thimble! And that's what God's Spirit is saying: 'We are filled with all the fullness of God', and that's why, in the last two verses that we're going to look at before we finish our meeting tonight, verse 20 and 21, He is bringing to these people, that the God who Paul makes these requests to has a capacity which exceeds the people's capacity to ask! That's what He's leading them up to. That God here, that can fill you with all His fullness, is so great, He's done that impossible thing already - hopefully - in your life, that He can exceed the capacity of your asking. He can do much more through the power of the Holy Spirit that is realised within you.
And that brings us to our first point on your sheet. Paul gives God the praise in verse 20, and we have here a doxology that you often hear quoted within our meetings, and so forth, as a promise and as a prayer perhaps at the end of the meeting: 'Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us' - and what does he do? Well he's bowing his knee unto the Father, that's the first thing: 'Now unto Him'! You know, in the prayer meeting we pray unto Him, not unto the elders, or unto the Pastor, or the folk around you - we pray unto Him. At home you pray unto him, maybe that's why we don't pray as much at home, because no one's listening - we pray unto Him! Unto Him! He gives God the praise, and if we don't give God the praise, we're lost, we're done for in this place - if God doesn't get the praise.
And then secondly, he exhorts the Ephesians to experience God's power. Now I want you to notice this, because this is one of the most mis-quoted verses in the whole of Scripture: 'Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think', not 'we can ask or think' - because the whole prerequisite of this verse is that you do you ask! It's not what you can ask! God isn't going to do exceeding abundantly above what you can ask, but you never do ask - you've got to get on your knees! You've got to cry to God! And today in a generation that does not pray, and a Christian church that has lost the secret of intercession, and supplication, and breaking their heart in brokenness before God - you've got to ask! And if you don't ask, you'll not get, my friend. 'Ye have not', James says, 'because ye ask not'.
But what is the key, and what is the heart, to this soul-inspiring doxology? His previous request was for what? Three things: strength, love and fullness. And you would think that was great and that was bold enough, but Paul is saying that God is willing to do more than even these things that he's exhorting us to ask. The extent of His ability is seen in the manner in which Paul pyramids this whole verse, words piling upon one another, all the super-abundant blessing, words stacked upon words, he paints an incredible picture of the resources of God for us! Look at the back of your handout:
[Back of handout looks like this]:
Able to do
Able to do what we ask
Able to do what we think
Able to do what we ask or think
Able to do all that we ask or think
Able to do above all that we ask or think
Able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think
Able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think
Now this is what Paul is doing: he's pyramiding, and piling upon pile. You would think it was great enough if someone said to you, 'You know, my God's able'. Isn't that wonderful, even in itself, that one word: God is 'able'? But then he goes on, 'God is able to do', He's not just able to be, He's able to do! And then, 'He's able to do what we ask', what I ask, what we as an assembly ask! 'He is able to do what we think', not just what we ask, but what we think - he's able to do all that we ask or think! He's able to do above all that we ask or think! He's able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think! And he's able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think! Now you know why I call Him 'Our Mind-Blowing God'. Isn't it wonderful? That means - now listen, let this sink in - that you cannot ask too much! You can't! Because it's not our asking that He's answering, it's [not] even our thinking - if we do any kind of spiritual thinking, at all - He is able to exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or even think! Because - why can He do it? - verse 16, because He is doing it according to the riches of His grace - and you can't get any richer than that!
There was once a man asked the King, he came into his presence and he asked him for something, and the King gave it to him in abundance - he gave him as much treasure as he could. And the man exclaimed, 'Your Majesty, that's too much! That is far too much!'. And the King smiled and said, 'It may seem to much for you to take, but it's not too much for me to give'. Oh, we live such poor lives in Christ at times - because He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think - or think! I want you to think about that! He's able to supply what we ask, but even the things that we don't ask, and we think about - all the possibilities that we feel we couldn't even ask God for, because we've so little faith, we're maybe afraid to ask for the things, to be presumptuous in the sight of God. Think of all the dreams that you've ever had, spiritually speaking! What you want to be, the man of God that you want to be and you feel you'll never be, the times of prayer that you want to spend before God and you feel that you'll never do it because the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, and everything is against you in the home and at work, and everything just seems to cave in on you, and you'll never be what you want to be...but you've that dream - He's able! He is able to give you that dream! The things you want to accomplish for Christ in your wildest imaginations, God is able to do those things - but hold on! You know, He's not able to do those things - He's able to do exceeding abundantly more than those things! He can make you someone you haven't even thought about! He can do something in your life that you have never conceived - and let me say this - that you've never read about in a biography, He can do more than that! It's mind-boggling, isn't it?
Exceeding abundantly above all. Now here he goes again, he combines these words in a unique compound - he combines three Greek words to make one word. He uses first of all, and I'm talking about the phrase 'exceeding abundantly', that's all one word in the Greek - first of all he uses 'hooper' (sp?), which means 'above' or 'beyond', above or beyond what we can ask or think. Then he joins the word 'ek' to it, which intensifies the force of the verb, to which it is connected, to a level of perfection. So what he's saying is 'hooper' - above - 'ek' - above, to a level of perfection. 'Perusso' (sp?), the last word he combines, which means to exceed to a degree that you go beyond all things that can be. Are you getting this? 'Hooper-ek-perusso' (sp?) literally means 'to go beyond all things in an inexhaustible way'! What a God we have.
Sure, we know that He's able, don't we? He's able to save, and if you're not saved tonight, you need to know that. He is able to save, if you're a backslider and you're living in your sin and the devil's telling you the lie that you can't do it and you can't get out of it - listen, He is able, Hebrews 7:25 'Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them'. You're able to walk a holy life because Christ is alive. He's able to keep - and don't you tell me that this Christian life's too hard. It is hard, but it's not too hard. 2 Timothy 1 and 12, Paul said: 'For I know whom I have believed, and I'm persuaded that He is able to keep that which I've committed unto Him against that day'. This verse that we're reading tonight tells me, He's not only able to save and able to keep, but He's able to do the impossible! I wouldn't another God, frankly. Don't give me a cold, intellectual, pharisaical god, because I don't want him. I frankly don't want him. I want reality, and I have a supernatural God, my friend - and don't you ever deny it! He's able! More than able! Exceeding abundantly above, inexhaustively able in anything I can even think about!
And why is it? Well the means that He uses to produce all this in us is 'according to the power', at the end of verse 20, 'that worketh in us'. What is that power? The Holy Spirit. I feel we are - I think it was John Owen said in his day, that the church has got stuck between Calvary and Pentecost. We forget about Him, don't we? If you forget about Him, well you can forget about your Christian life, because you need Him. And it's that power that works in us that is able to do this, and it's even in prayer - don't forget Paul's talking about prayer. And we hear so many prayers today, and it's like a 'lucky-dip' - 'If it's Your will, or if it's not Your will, Lord, You do it'. It's like pinning the tail on to the donkey, you might get it, you might hit 'bingo' or not. That's not prayer - prayer is seeking God's face, prayer is something that must be definite, must be intelligent. We ought to be consciously praying in the will of God, in a definite assurance that because God has said He will do something, that we will hold onto Him to make Him to it! To hold Him to His word, because we are praying according to His will.
How does He do that? Well usually He does it through planting a verse in our hearts by the word of God - that means you have to read the word of God. You can't run around saying 'You're going to be healed, and you're going to be healed, and you're going to be healed' - God needs to tell somebody that someone is going to be healed, and He does that through the word of God, through God speaking. And the faith is not in the person, that they work up, and they're so faith-full - full of faith - that they can touch a man and they can be healed. That's not faith, faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God - and it's when God says something, and gives that promise to you, that you can claim it, and you don't go out and shout it from the rooftops, but you seek God, and pray to God, and cry upon God. But the bottom line of the promise of God is this, listen: the more we yield to Him, the more our prayers will be answered in a greater way than we could ever imagine. How do I know that? Because Paul told us at the very beginning in chapter 1, 19 to 23, that the power that now works in you, is the power that raised Christ from the dead. That's how we know.
But thirdly and finally, it's to be demonstrated in the church, verse 21: 'Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end'. Men! What are they like in their sin? We thought about it yesterday morning: naturally and sinfully they seek to glorify each other and their own selves, but God takes away their little flickering candle lights and He replaces them with the sun of the blaze of His own sovereign glory! And who cares about friends, if we lose them for a deeper knowledge of God? Who cares about our reputation in intellectual circles, or in the establishment, or in the middle-class, if you going to get to know God more? Who cares! Are you willing to lose it all? Are you willing to say like Song of Songs: 'As the apple tree and as the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, his fruit was sweet to my taste. He brought me to the banqueting house and his banner over me was love. Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples, for I am lovesick'! Are you?
You know, God is worthy of our eternal praise. We don't have time tonight, but if we were to turn to the 148th Psalm you would see that God's greatness is displayed in angelic hosts, it's displayed in the cosmos of the sun, the moon and the stars, the mammals, the fish, the birds, the reptiles, insects, the fire, the hail, the snow, the mist, in the wind, in the mountains, in the hills, in the trees, in kings and in people, in old men, in young men, in Israel and in the nations - and it's all intended to bring praise and glory to God. But there's one group that's not mentioned in the Old Testament! That's right, it's the church. The church of Jesus Christ, and that mystery is what is going to bring eternal glory to God, for ever and ever and ever! Williams says: 'The eternal glory of God, as God and Father, will be made manifest throughout all ages in the church and in Jesus Christ' - amazing statement - 'Christ and the church as one body will be the vehicle of that eternal demonstration. God has said 'This people have I formed for Myself, they shall show forth My praise''.
William Kelly believes that the tabernacle of God coming, dwelling with men in Revelation 21 is the church of Jesus Christ - bringing glory to God. I don't know whether that is so, but I know this: that the ages heaping upon one another - we will bring glory to Him! Now my question is this: if we will do it then, we ought to do it now!
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the fifteenth tape in his Ephesians series, titled "Our Mind-Blowing God" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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