The Far-Reaching Dimensions of God’s Love

Sermon Titled “Rooted In Love” (Ephesians 3:14-21) – Sunday, March 2nd, 2014

god's love

  • Ephesians 3:14-2114 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

As we can see by Paul’s words in verse 14, he is about to get down on his knees and pray to God. What is so unique about this situation, is not the fact that he is about to pray, but that he would pray on his knees. It was customary, in Paul’s time, for the Jews to pray on their feet. Rarely did a Jewish man or woman stoop to his or her knees to pray, unless something so profound had touched their heart that standing in prayer seemed somehow inadequate. For Paul, the profoundness of God’s saving grace, extended to all the corners of the earth, and to Jews and Gentiles alike, was so great that he was awe-struck.

In verses 16 through 19, Paul prays for the Christian Ephesians, that God would help them to have the kind of faith that can only come through knowing Christ intimately, and through staying connected with other believers. It’s one thing to have faith (and most Christians would say that they do indeed have faith), but to have faith in the capacity that Paul is describing, is not often easily or accurately understood. Hence, Paul prays that the power of God’s spirit within us, would empower and enable us to grasp the full extent of His love for us.

In other translations, the word comprehend is used in place of grasp. The Greek word for comprehend is katalambano; it means to ambush. What does Paul mean by using this word? Paul has a deep desire for us to pray and spend time studying the Scriptures, so that we can know God intimately and be so completely soaked in His Spirit, that nothing can overpower, or ambush, our thoughts and emotions.

The kind of intimacy Paul is talking about however, involves an ability to really sense God’s truth on our hearts. There are verses in the bible that use what Dr. Tim Keller describes as “sensory language.” For example:

  • Psalm 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
  • Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live…..
  • Ephesians 1:18 That you may have the eyes of your heart enlightened.

This type of sensory language paints a picture for us and shows us what it is to be grasped by God’s Spirit, which so powerfully radiates His love! Verse 18 says that God’s love is so widelonghigh, and deep, that it’s difficult to comprehend, without the truth of God ingrained deep within us. And this is where Paul goes further to explain this difficult-to-describe love that God has for us:

  1. The width of God’s love covers the width of the entire earth. John 3:16 says that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. When God says whoever, He literally means whoever in this world; no one is excluded, not even the worst of sinners.
  2. The length of God’s love goes way back to the beginning of time, and will extend as far as it takes to save as many as possible.
  3. The height of God’s love is demonstrated by Christ’s descent, from his throne up in heaven, down into the world, where he suffered on a cross for our sake. The price He paid for our sins, so that we might one day dwell with Him in heaven, was a price so high that it can really only be explained by a “Godly” love.
  4. The depth of God’s love is also demonstrated by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. To willingly die a slow and excruciating death on a cross, and pay the penalty for our sins, is to descend into a pit so low that it cannot possibly be explained by a human gesture of sacrificial love.  

Verses 20 and 21 end Paul’s prayer with a request that God’s love and presence is sensed in our hearts in such a magnificent way, that our lives would be completely transformed. Paul experienced such a transformation, and his heart yearned for others to experience the same.

There are no plans that we could ever make in our lifetimes, that can or will exceed those that God has for us; that is God’s promise to those who are willing to follow His calling on their lives (Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28, John 3:16, Ephesians 3:20). But the Spirit of God’s truth, manifested in our lives (and giving us daily strength to overcome all types of adversities) is not for our glory; it is for others to see what God is capable of doing, and therefore all for His glory. And His glory is most widely disseminated when we show His love to the world through our actions, not individually, but collectively – as His family, as His church!

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