Monday, March 2, 2009

How We Can Claim Our Wealth in Christ

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you., being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saint what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or thing, according to the power at work within us, to him is glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:14-21). This passage is the second of two prayers recorded in Ephesians. The first prayer is found in Ephesians 1:15-23. In the first prayer, the emphasis is on enlightenment; but in this prayer, the emphasis is on enablement. It is not so much a matter of knowing as being-laying our hands on what God has for us and by faith making it a vital part of our lives. Paul is saying “I want you to get your hands on your wealth, realize how vast it is, and then start using it. Both of these prayers deal with the spiritual condition of the inner man, and not the material needs of the body. Too many of our prayers focus only on physical and material needs and fail to lay hold of the deeper inner needs of the heart. Note the three parts of this great prayer. First, the invocation (3:14-15). The First thing that strikes us is Paul’s posture (v. 14). Whether we actually bow our knees is not the important thing. That we bow our hearts and wills to the Lord and ask Him for what we need is the vital matter. Paul’s prayer was addressed to “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The word family (v. 15) can be translated “Fatherhood.” God is the Great Original; every other fatherhood is only a copy. As Creator, God is the Father of each man; but as Savior, He is only the Father of those who believe. Second, the petition (3:16-19). There are four requests in Paul’s prayer, but they must not be looked upon as isolated, individual petitions. These four requests are more like four parts to a telescope. One request leads into the next one, and so on. 1. Strength (3:16). The presence of the Holy Spirit in the life is evidence of salvation; but the power of the Spirit is enablement for Christian living. The power of the Spirit is given to us “according to the riches of His glory” (v. 16). This power is available for “the inner man.” The inner man of the lost sinner is dead (Ephesians 2:1), but it becomes alive when Christ is invited to come in. The inner man can see (Psalm 119:18), hear (Matthew 13:9) taste (Psalm 34:8), and feel (Acts 17:27); and must be “exercised” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). He also must be cleansed (Psalm 51:70 and feed (Matthew 4:4). What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit empower the inner man? It means that our spiritual faculties are controlled by God, and we are exercising them and growing in the Word. It is only when we yield to the spirit and let Him control the inner man that we succeed in living to the glory of God. Depth (3:17). Paul uses three pictures to convey this idea of spiritual depth. 1. Dwell-means to settle down and feel at home. Paul is praying for a deeper experience between Christ and His people. Not a surface relationship, but an ever-deepening fellowship. 2. Rooted-the tree must get its roots into the soil if it is to have both nourishment and stability. The Christian must have his spiritual roots deep into the love of God. Two of the most important questions a believer can ask himself is, “from what do I draw my nourishment and where do I get my stability?” 3. Grounded-an architectural term; it refers to the foundations on which we build. In building “if you don’t go deep, you can’t go high. Only the deep experience can sustain during the severe trails of life. Apprehension (3:18-19a). Comprehend and apprehend both mean to grasp. These thoughts come from the Latin word prehendere. A monkey has a prehensile tail. That is its tail is able to grasp a tree limb and hold on. Comprehend-mentally grasping something; apprehend suggests laying hold of it for yourself. It is possible to understand something but not really make it your own. Fullness (3:19b). Nature abhors a vacuum. God wants us to experience His fullness. The means of our fullness is the Holy Spirit (5:18). The measure of our fullness is God Himself; we enjoy only the grace that we apprehend by faith. The resources are all there. All we need to do is accept and enjoy them. Third, the benediction (3:20-21). Why does God share His power with us? That the Church on earth might glorify the Son of God. If our motive is to glorify God by building His church, then God will share His power with us. The power of the Spirit is not as luxury; it is a necessity. The amazing thing is that what we do in His power today will glorify Christ “throughout all ages, world without end" (3:21). Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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