Sermon

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Paul’s Gospel Prayer – Part 1 (Isaiah 66:12-14 and Ephesians 3:14-21)

“Paul’s Gospel Prayer – Part 1”

SERMON MANUSCRIPT

By Rev. Lance Filio

Paul started the epistle with a benediction and a prayer and at the end this grace section of chapters 1 to 3, he ends with a prayer then a benediction. It is an intentional inversion book ends commonly used by during their time.

In the end, Paul focuses back on the main actor of his epistle. He prays to God as a Father both in his nature and specifically as the person. He asks God who our Father for the Spirit to strengthen his with His omnipotent power and for Christ to dwell in our hearts as God’s abiding presence. As a result, we may receive the surpassing knowledge that comes with them and most specially the love that happens when all these attributes of God is present. In four short words: power, presence, wisdom, and love. The fullness of God becomes a reality in the midst of his people and this is glory is fully revealed. God Himself blesses his people.

So for our preaching for morning, we will hear them them in detail with three points. They are: (1) The Addressee; (2) The Content; (3) The Blessing. As usual, we hear Part 1 of this message and next week, the next half.

The Addressee

verse 14: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

Paul ending what he began in chapter 3 about the gospel ministry continues with a gospel prayer. His reflection about God’s work of grace with his people prompts him to burst into doxology. Mindful theology leads to heart-felt doxology. Paul bows his knees before God as our Father who is the source of blessings and who adopted us into his family. He is our Creator and Redeemer.

Paul goes back to address God as Father to remind us who God is. God deals with us his creatures graciously and despite of our sins, he redeems us as adopted sons. Our prayer towards God who is our Father comforts us with the fact that he loves his people and he cares for them. Paul wants to end his prayer with this proper subject in mind – the Father from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

In our own prayers, we mention God’s name in order to address him properly according to his nature and person. Ursinus, in his exposition of the The Lord’s Prayer, explains the term “Father” refers not only to God in his person as a Father but also to God in his nature the Creator and source of all things. When properly distinguished, addressing God this way enlarges our minds to who and what God is. God is a Father to us not only because he sustains us and cares for our everyday needs but also because he took care of our spiritual needs. God provides both food for our bodies as well to our souls. There is no one we need but him. There is nothing in world we will ever need besides him.

Christian, does it give you comfort knowing we have God as our Father? Paul reminds us how God affirms his Fatherhood to us because he gives us his Spirit and dwells in us through Christ in his Word. This is the content of his prayer for us who converts to faith and repentance because of his gospel ministry.

The Content

verses 15-19: 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 saints 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.

Paul relates the specific benefits God grants from each of the divine attributes present in him and applies them to his people. At this point, we need to understand the meaning of the term glory in relation to God and his people. We need to remind ourselves how the fullness of God’s attributes are present in each of his persons.

Glory is the visible manifestation of God’s invisible character. We know John declares Jesus as the glory of the One who is from the Father. The preacher of Hebrews preaches Christ the radiance of God’s glory. Paul also explains how Christ is the fullness of divinity in bodily form which also points to God’s glory. However, Paul recognize God’s glory beyond the person of the God Son but expresses them in fuller view with the Triune God communing with his people in the church.

Overwhelmingly, Paul traces how God’s glory manifest itself when God strengthens us individually by his own Spirit and dwells in us at  the center of our being in Christ through faith.  The Triune God works by, from, in, and through the Father, the Son, and the Spirit. Paul speaks of God strengthening our inner being by the power exerted by the Spirit. It refers to the omnipotent power God possess in his divinity. At the same time, he speaks of God dwelling in our hearts (same as our inner being) by the presence of Christ through faith. It refers to the immanent divine presence of God. With both attributes expressed, his power and presence, Paul then points to God’s wisdom and love visibly demonstrated in the midst of his people, his church.

Paul prays God’s people may understand God’s wisdom and and demonstrate God’s love by the empowering and indwelling work of our Triune God. He prays for them to get deeper in their knowledge about God and at the same time, develop more of affections for him. Intimate knowledge that leads to love towards God and extended towards one’s neighbor are the things Paul wants for us to possess.

Conclusion

ZCRC(Imus), do we pray for the gospel ministry this way? Paul, in his prayer report, wants us to know he prays for us to grow deeper in our knowledge and love in Him. It is essential the extension of Jesus’ intercessory prayer in John where he prayed for us who receives the gospel message and finds salvation in him. Praying for some one to grow in grace and knowledge demonstrates our growing love for God and to his people. Believing God’s saving work through Christ and by his Spirit comes to us through power of the Spirit and the indwelling of Christ and prayer brings us to these realities. God communes with us his people in prayer. Let kneel before God and prayer for God’s people. Amen.

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