April 16th 2023: Jonny Raine

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Ephesians 3:14-21

“Child as he was, he was desperate with hunger, and reckless with misery. He rose from the table; and advancing to the master, basin and spoon in hand, said: somewhat alarmed at his own temerity:

‘Please, sir, I want some more.’ The master was a fat, healthy man; but he turned very pale. He gazed in stupified astonishment on the small rebel for some seconds, and then clung for support to the copper. The assistants were paralysed with wonder; the boys with fear.

‘What!’ said the master at length, in a faint voice.
‘Please, sir,’ replied Oliver, ‘I want some more.’”

God is the complete opposite of those men who ran the workhouse. When we ask for more, He gives willingly gives over and over again. Where are we landing in the Bible? We are three quarters of the way through the Bible, in Ephesians, a letter written by Paul, who encountered Jesus when He was trying to kill Christians and close down the church. Jesus sent him on to tell others about Jesus. The church also recognised him and sent him on to tell people about Jesus. When other people became Christians through Paul telling them about Jesus, they then started churches. Paul then went on to other places, to tell other people about Jesus.

Paul would often write back to new churches which had been formed, to encourage them in the gospel, and to teach them how they are to be as God’s people. That is what he’s doing in the letter of Ephesians. So far in the book, he has told them how God has worked in eternity and in time to make them His own people, and how this results in a growing Christian life (chapter 1). In chapter 2 Paul is explaining how God has made Christians spiritually alive, even though we were previously dead in our sins. He is spiritually drawing each believer to each other. So, regardless of whether our background was Jewish or Gentile, we are made one together as a church in Jesus. When we normally create divisions, as human beings, the gospel – the good news of Jesus, breaks them down.

Just as Paul is about to tell them how he prays for them and what his prayer is for them, he interrupts himself and explains God’s plan to unite Jews and Gentiles, what it means to be God’s people. For us, whatever our background or ethnicity, the message is that we are welcome to come to God in Jesus. Paul then goes back to speak about the prayer he prays for his people, then he goes on to explain what it means to live a Christian life because of the change that has been brought to us.

Paul’s prayer shows how he prays in light of all God has done in Jesus. Quite simply, it is a prayer for more. Before we come to the prayer itself, we see the approach to prayer; we need more and more humility, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (Ephesians 3:14). I don’t know if you’ve ever knelt when praying, it’s not a requirement in the Bible. Another posture, which is mentioned in the Bible, is to pray with your hands raised.

Paul points out God’s greatness, His high position. Recapping God’s greatness leads to humility. Paul is not demanding of God, rather he comes humbly submitting to God. He refers to God as his Father. We might have had negative experiences of an earthly father, but God is our perfect Father. We need more humility.

Paul essentially has three requests. If we are asking for more, we already have had some. These are things Christians can never get enough of. God’s supplies are endless. He can keep giving more and more of Himself, “That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,” (Ephesians 3:16).

  1. More Power.

The power Christians have access to has already been a theme of the book, especially at the end of chapter 1. It’s the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. That’s the power that we have access to. Here the focus is first on how this power is brought to us – through the Holy Spirit. Every Christian has God’s Spirit living within them. He is co-equal with God the Father and the Son. He is the means by which God’s power is available to us. Because He lives within us, we have the power of God available to us.

“May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height,” (Ephesians 3:18). Paul speaks about how he might grasp the four dimensions: width, length, height and depth. This might refer to God’s love, but Paul leaves this thing of immense measurement unspecified – it might be the limitless of God’s power for us.

Why do we need such limitless power? In order to grasp the more of other things God has for us, we need the power of God for us to be able to do. In order to live the Christian life, we need the limitless power of God to do so, to live faithfully for Him. That power is made ours more and more.

  • More Closeness

That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:17). That’s intimate language. The Spirit lives in our hearts. The Spirit and Christ are so united together in oneness; as the Spirit lives in us, so Christ lives in us. The fulness of the Father lives in us, Christ dwells in our hearts and the Spirit within us. This is something we already have as Christians. As Christians, we already have a closeness with God. We have been made one with the Father through what Jesus has done for us, as the Spirit unites us to Christ.

It’s something we can have more and more of. The closeness we have in God, through Christ, in the Spirit, grows and grows. Sometimes, as Christians, our faith fluctuates, but He is always giving more and more. We can pray we can have more and more.

  • More Love.

“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,” (Ephesians 3:17). The root and foundation of love is the beginning point of love. He loves us, so we can love Him. “To know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19). This is a prayer that we would know this love that surpasses knowledge. We’ll never be able to explain the deepness of God’s love for us, but we can have more of it. Just as you think you might be able to understand the extent of God’s love, to begin to grasp it, you realise how vast and limitless His ocean of love for us is. God loves you.

When you realise He loved you even when you were sinful, you realise He loved you more. When you realise that He loved you even when you were an enemy of His and yet He still loved you, then you love Him more. When you realise that it cost Him the death of Son to show you the greatness of His love, you realise how much more He loves you.

When you realise that it took Jesus to take our sin upon Himself and endure the hell we deserved, you realise that He loved you more than you even realised before. When you realise that He holds you securely in His love and His love will not let you go, you realise that He loves you even more. When you realise He loves you despite your wavering faith and continued sin, you realise that He loves you more.

When we think we’ve grasped the fulness of God’s love, you realise something more of what God has done for you. He loves you more than you previously thought. As you see He loves you more, so you love Him more.

The result of this is more praise. When we realise all the ‘mores’ God has in store for us – more power, more closeness, more love for each one of us, we just have to tell Him how grateful we are, how much we love Him and appreciate what He has done for us. The final two verses are quite simply that, “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21).

Even in that overflow of praise, Paul can’t help but squeeze in whatever we think or imagine, God is bigger, God is more. Such is the awesome, infinite greatness of God who works in us, who has glory in His people, and in His Son, and whose glory continues from generation to generation, forever.

What difference does this actually make to us? What difference does this make if you’re not a Christian or if you’re not sure, or if you want to share something of this with people who aren’t Christians?

The question to ask is. ‘Is this the kind of God I would want to know?’ If I don’t know this God, is this the kind of God that I would want to know – a God who is generous, kind and ready to share all of His immense riches, all of His glory with His people, a God who empowers His people, a God who draws His people closer to Himself?

If that’s you and you’re not yet a Christian, or perhaps thinking about Him, you can come to Him today. He opens His arms to welcome you today, whatever our failings, whatever our sins, we bring them to Him. In Him we find complete and full forgiveness. In Him we are made His children so that we can call Him our Father. He has shown us His love in Jesus and He want to bring us all to Himself, to give us a life that we can then live for Him. If there is something you are not sure about, then why not start reading about Jesus’ life? Read about how He has revealed God to us. Come back to the church here. Keep coming back week by week and hear about the good news of Jesus.

If you are a Christian, no doubt you have a desire for more. We realise we don’t have it all.  So, we can pray for ourselves; we can ask God to give us more of Himself. As we come before Him humbly, we can ask Him to give us more power, more closeness and more love from Himself.

We can pray that for each other – that’s exactly what Paul is doing here, he is praying for other believers a long, long way away from him. He is praying that they would experience these ‘mores’ of God. As a church you can pray that for each other. You can pray for those who preach week by week. Even when we’re at the end of our capacity, He keeps on giving of Himself to us. He keeps giving out of His grace, out of His loving kindness to us. We keep leaning on Him, we keep looking to Him.