Today we come to the end of the first half of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Thus far we have learned that before the foundation of the world, God had a plan whereby He would take both Jew and Gentile, male and female, slave and free, and from them form one new body which Jesus called ‘His Church.’ We read in Ephesians 2 –
Ephesians 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
I. A House For God
We read in the Old Testament of a king named Solomon who built God a house called the Temple. After the completion of the building, Solomon held a special dedication service –
2 Chronicles 7:1 Now when Solomon had made an end of praying , the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the house. 2 And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD’S house. 3 And when all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down , and the glory of the LORD upon the house, they bowed themselves with their faces to the ground upon the pavement, and worshipped , and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever.
Solomon’s Temple was an extremely elaborate structure. Much of it was solid gold. It included figurines of angels and curtains made of fine linen. In today’s terms it was worth millions, perhaps billions of dollars. But what made it a special place was not the gold but rather the glory. The Bible says that the glory of the LORD filled the house. I see a great similarity between Solomon’s prayer and what Paul prays at the end of chapter 3 –
Ephesians 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts…
The great Greek scholar Kenneth Wuest, translated this as – “that Christ might finally settle down and feel completely at home in your hearts.”
II. Christ At Home In Your Hearts
We often refer to salvation as someone ‘receiving Christ into their heart.’ That concept no doubt comes from something we find in the book of Revelation –
Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
I personally have used that verse many times when trying to explain to someone Christ’s desire to save them from their sins. Yet even though that verse may be applied to those who are lost, it actually was said to those who were saved. It was a part of a letter Christ sent to the church at Laodicea. The Laodicean Christians had become lukewarm in their relationship with the Lord and although they thought everything was OK, Christ was outside of the church, knocking at the door. How could it be possible that Christ could be outside of the church, knocking at the door?
A. Christ in a Man’s Heart
Though a man may receive Christ into his heart as his Savior, there is still often a battle in that man’s heart to serve Christ as Lord. Often, much like Adam and Eve, believers are drawn away from Christ and back into sin. Consider what Jesus said to the church at Ephesus some years later –
Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Perhaps no church in the entire New Testament was more organized and structured than the church at Ephesus. Early in its development, Paul spent two years with the Ephesians, teaching and instructing them. In addition to Paul, great Christians such as Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos also spent time there. Many believe that Timothy was at one time their pastor and in the later years of his life, the apostle John was also a part of the Ephesian church. Their high level of spiritual growth can be seen in this letter we are studying. Perhaps no letter in the New Testament does a more thorough job of explaining the church. Yet the Ephesians had a great problem. What was it? Amidst all of their activity and busyness, amidst all of their programs and church structure, amidst all of their Bible study – they had lost something. They had lost their genuine love for the Lord. They had grown cold and calloused in their Christianity. They had developed into – ‘The Machine.’
B. Story of Hosea and Gomer
This reminds me of a story in the Old Testament about a man named Hosea and his wife Gomer.
Hosea and Gomer were a very unlikely couple; Hosea was a prophet and Gomer was a prostitute. Yet God had a very special purpose for Hosea and Gomer. They are a perfect illustration of the grace of God.
As some interpret their story, Hosea married Gomer and together they had a son. But sometime after the birth of their first child, Gomer began to grow restless in their relationship. She began to think about the life she used to live and she felt smothered by the religion of Hosea. So she began to seek her freedom. As the days went on, Gomer spend more and more time away from home and one day it was discovered that she was pregnant. The problem was, it wasn’t Hosea’s child. Shortly after she gave birth to the child, Gomer began to go out again and a second time she became pregnant with another man’s baby. Finally Gomer left Hosea for a new lover. After some time, Gomer’s lover left her and she found herself in slavery. Perhaps she had sold herself once again as a prostitute.
What would Hosea do once he heard the news? Would he say – “She got what she wanted and what she deserves. I’m through with her.” Would he turn his back on her? What would you do? Consider what we read in Hosea 3
Hosea 3:1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.
2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: 3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.
What a painful experience this must have been for Hosea, yet God was using His servant for a special purpose. You see, in this story, Hosea represents Jehovah God and Gomer represents the children of Israel, or if you will – the children of God. Israel had gone after other gods and committed what scripture refers to as ‘spiritual adultery.’ Whenever a child of God chooses the love of the world over the love of God, they are committing spiritual adultery.
C. Christ At Home In Your Hearts
Much like Gomer, we as the children of God are often tempted to go astray. Rules and regulations and knowing what we ought to do will not keep us faithful. There must be a power greater than our own to control us. That power must be the Lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives.
It’s an unfortunate fact and almost unbelievable, but Christ is not at home in every believer’s heart. For many who profess the name of Christ, He is a weekend guest or someone who comes to visit on special holidays such as Christmas and Easter. He is not Lord over their lives and therefore it might be said that He is not at home in their hearts.
I included the story of Hosea and Gomer to illustrate how foolish it is for a believer to turn their back on the love of God and go after the love of the world. Paul gives several reasons why it is important for Christ to be at home in our hearts and all of them center around the word ‘love.’
Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love …
1. Strength and Stability
This world it tough. Christians are not immune to experiencing trouble. Christians get sick. Christians lose their jobs. Christians become discouraged. What’s crazy and I’ve seen it happen a million times is that often when Christians experience trouble, they run from God instead of running to God. Instead of seeking to put Christ on the throne of their life, they allow the things of the world to crowd Christ out of their lives. Perhaps even today Christ is standing at the door of many of His people, knocking and seeking to enter in.
Ephesians 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;
Paul uses a similar analogy in the eight chapter of Romans to explain the believer’s security in Christ –
Romans 8:38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Nothing can exceed the limits of God’s love. Nothing!
Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
Paul doesn’t say that Christians will never suffer trouble. What he does say that no trouble shall separate us from His love that is found in Christ. As a matter of fact, what Paul does say is
Romans 8:37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
Many of you are familiar with the sport brand called Nike. Nike is a Greek word that means – ‘victory!’ When Paul used the phrase – ‘more than conquerors’, he placed a preposition in front of the word Nike and formed a new word that reads – ‘huper Nike’ or if you will – Super Victory!
When a Christian dies, it’s not defeat – it’s victory! Paul wrote to the Corinthians
1 Corinthians 15:50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Heaven is not a place of death and disease. Heaven is a place of eternal life and no more tears!
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? 56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory (nikos / Nike) through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul gives another reason why we should seek for Christ to always be at home in our heart –
Ephesians 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
God wants to fill the void in our lives with Himself. Drugs, alcohol, power, possession, fame or fortune will never give us true satisfaction. Only Jesus can satisfy your soul.
Some of you might be thinking – ‘But can this really happen? Can Christ really bring satisfaction to my life? Is all of this real? I’ve tried it before and it didn’t happen.’ Brethren, there’s a great difference between knowing ‘about’ God and knowing God. Read about the lives of great Christians who really knew God and you will see men and women who were able to have victory, even in the moment of death.
Ephesians 3:20 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, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians – “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor 2:9) God has more in store for us than we can even ask, think or imagine!
“How?” you might be thinking. How can this happen? Note once again vs. 17 –
Ephesians 3:16 ‘… strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.’ What does that mean? Join us on Wednesday nights and together we’ll find out. By the way, Rebekah Furches is offering a class for younger children on Wednesday nights as well and we end promptly at 8.
Is Christ at home in your heart today? Does He feel at home in your heart? Does He feel at home in the things you are involved in? Does He feel at home in your music, in your movies, and in your lifestyle? Does He feel at home in the way you dress or the things you say?
Your body is the Temple of God and the Lord wants to fill you with the fullness of His glory. May I encourage you as your brother in to let Him do so. He will bless you more than you can think or even possibly imagine.