Ephesians 3:13-20 Part 3: Four Dimensions
- August 14, 2017
- Jared Odenbeck
This is part three in a four-part series on Ephesians 3:13-20.
So far in this series, we have examined how Paul’s suffering was for both his and the Ephesians’ glory and we saw from Scripture that we need to be strengthened in order to follow and obey Jesus at any cost. We learned both where and how we are strengthened.
In this piece, we look to the “why” of this spiritual strengthening. The Lord always operates in purpose. Nothing is done by chance or for no reason at all. There is always a “so that” which follows the initial act in any story written by the Father.
Verse 17 begins with that very phrase which unleashes purpose. First, the strengthening of our inner being through the Holy Spirit occurs “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Ephesians 3:17). What a truth! We should tremble with joy and awe and wonder. Jesus – the King of kings, the Lion of Judah, Son of God – lives inside of you and I! He doesn’t come and go. He isn’t a vagabond roaming from place to place. He dwells in our hearts. He makes his home inside of us. What does this really mean for us and what does it look like?
Paul uses a dash to elaborate on what it means to have Christ dwell in our hearts. He expounds on it with the phrases “rooted and grounded in love,” “comprehend with all the saints,” “love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” and “filled with all the fullness of God.”
When Christ dwells in us, we are “rooted and grounded in love.” This means that we can live out of the secure and solid foundation of love. It becomes the basis for everything that we do. He lives in our inner being and by him and his Spirit we are secure in him and in our identity. It also means that we are planted in the fertile soil of love. Fellowship with Christ, Love himself, causes us to bear good fruit as healthy trees.
In order to “comprehend with all the saints,” you need to be in community. The “you” here is plural. Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “that you [people in the church in Ephesus] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints.” You cannot comprehend this strength on your own. You need testimony and encouragement from people around you. You need the love of Christ through the spiritual gifts of other believers. You need to worship with the saints. When we recognize that real, authentic change happened inside of someone – ourselves included – we begin to comprehend his love.
His love “surpasses knowledge.” In fact, Jesus actually says, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children” (Matthew 11:25). Jesus comes outside of knowledge and inside of child-like faith. You do not have to be the smartest, the most theological, have a college degree, or a PhD. To say that his love surpasses knowledge conveys that it is a real thing to taste and experience in the here and now, not some abstract philosophical or logical truth or position. This love is something beyond the knowable, the describable, the touchable. It transcends what we can understand – it is a four-dimensional kind of love (breadth, length, height, depth – we live in three dimensions and can’t understand four!).
Paul concludes and says that if Christ dwells in our hearts through faith, we “may be filled with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19). What does it mean to be filled with all the fullness of God? Paul just wrote it a few verses earlier – that Christ would dwell and live in our hearts through faith. Christ is fully God and he’s fully inside of us. So, to be filled with all the fullness of God is the same thing as having Christ dwell in our hearts through faith. Therefore, “being rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17) signifies this truth, along with “having strength to comprehend with all the saints” (Ephesians 3:18), and “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19). To be filled with all the fullness of God is the same thing as having Christ dwell in our hearts through faith.
Oh, the wonder of this strengthening by the Spirit in times of need and times of plenty for us. The mystery of Christ living inside of us. The beauty of the love of Christ manifested through us. What an honor. May we not take it lightly.