Whether or not I’m speaking with a brand new Christian or a seasoned believer, I usually have an analogous dialog. Every of us confesses that we wrestle to hope, to beat some outdated behavior, or to seek out pleasure and peace within the Christian life. Then we each ask a query that usually lies behind our different struggles: How do I actually know and really feel God’s love for me?
Comic Brian Regan had a bit about Pop-Tarts. He asks, Have you ever ever seen Pop-Tarts include instructions? May there be a less complicated meals merchandise? And if there weren’t instructions, what would individuals do? Simply stand there with the little foil packaging, asking, “How do I get this goodness in me?”
That’s how I really feel about God’s love. It will probably’t be that arduous. He says he loves us. We all know it. We consider it. However it’s all too doable to know the best doctrines, take part in a wholesome church, and even lead others in a loving manner but stay spiritually chilly, dry, and indifferent. I do know from expertise. I do know God loves me and Jesus died for my sins, and I do know the Spirit lives inside me. However these highly effective truths usually stay mental. Maybe you relate. The Ephesians may.
Paul’s Prayer for an Expertise of God
The Ephesians look like the all-stars of the early church. There’s little or no rebuke in Paul’s letter to them, and it looks as if they’re prepared for the “meat” of theology and religious formation. But even the Ephesians struggled to expertise God’s love. This problem is as outdated as Christianity itself.
‘How do I actually know and really feel God’s love for me?’ That is, virtually at all times, the factor beneath the the factor, what lies beneath the opposite struggles.
On the finish of Paul’s lengthy theological treatise (chap.1–3) and earlier than his sensible directions (chap. 4–6), he pauses in 3:14–21 to hope for the Ephesians. He falls to his knees, begging God for them to know and expertise Christ’s love.
Our posture in prayer is usually fairly revealing. If I’m sitting at my desk with my Bible open and writing out prayers in a journal, that’s an acceptable posture for a prayer for understanding and knowledge. If I’m mendacity in mattress praying as I drift off to sleep, that’s an acceptable act of submitting my life wholly to God. But when I’m on my knees praying aloud or in groans too deep for phrases, that’s a second of profound wrestle or ardour. That’s the place Paul is.
However there’s one thing odd in regards to the apostle’s prayer. He asks that Christ would dwell in our hearts, that we might know Christ’s love, and that we might be full of all God’s fullness. It’s odd as a result of he advised us in chapters 1–3 that every of those three issues is already true of us. Why would he pray so intently for what we have already got in Christ?
The Ephesians know this stuff, however their data isn’t ample; there’s one other degree of data and expertise they lack.
When Paul prays that we might “grasp” all God has for us (v. 18, NIV), this phrase can imply to “wrestle with,” “sack and plunder” a spot, or “overpower” somebody. What’s Paul wanting us to wrestle with? With ourselves, with our souls, with our flesh and our interior being?
No, he prays that we might grasp Christ’s love, wrestling it into our hearts.
Understanding Christ’s Love By way of the Spirit
Paul writes, “I pray that out of his superb riches he might strengthen you with energy via his Spirit in your interior being, in order that Christ might dwell in your hearts via religion” (Eph. 3:16–17 NIV). The supply of our expertise of God’s love is the Holy Spirit.
Tim Keller says Paul is praying for a “religious interior sensitivity to gospel reality”—that the Holy Spirit might put together your interior being to understand God’s love.
Sensitivity to the Holy Spirit is the first distinction between a dry, complacent believer and a heat, passionate one. The Spirit reveals God and his Phrase to us (Eph. 1:17; 3:5; 6:17), empowers us to stay like Christ (Eph. 3:16; 5:18–19; 6:18), enlivens us with resurrection energy (Rom. 8:9–11), and transforms us into Christ’s picture with rising glory (2 Cor. 3:18). It’s the Holy Spirit who permits us to style and see that the Lord is nice (Ps. 34:8).
How Do We Get Christ’s Love in Our Hearts?
How does the Holy Spirit assist us expertise God?
Paul’s prayer finds its pinnacle right here: “I pray that you simply, being rooted and established in love, might have energy, along with all of the Lord’s holy individuals, to understand how broad and lengthy and excessive and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses data—that you could be be stuffed to the measure of all of the fullness of God” (Eph. 3:17–19, NIV).
Not way back, we completed our basement, turning an unformed concrete area right into a quaint lounge and workplace. As we transformed, I grew to become more and more accustomed to the basement’s dimensions. Beforehand, I spent little time down there, and I couldn’t inform you what number of sq. toes it was or the size of any wall. However now, after spending hours measuring, working, and assembly with contractors, I can inform you how broad and lengthy and excessive and deep it’s.
Paul describes a seamless mixture of figuring out and experiencing Christ’s love, and there are just a few methods we are able to domesticate this mixture.
1. Decelerate and make time.
Hurry is one in all my nice life struggles. Even after I do decelerate and find time for God (what a phrase that’s), I nonetheless wrestle to show off my racing ideas. Hurry quenches the Holy Spirit, so we should lower it out and find time for sustained seeking-and-listening prayer to expertise God’s love.
2. Meditate on the Phrase.
Paul’s prayer is that God would strengthen us with energy via his Spirit in our interior being. He’s praying with all his power that we might be taught to learn the Bible, pray, and wrestle these truths into our hearts. That is the follow of biblical meditation.
George Muller found the significance of this:
I [saw] that the primary nice and first enterprise to which I must attend day by day was to have my soul completely happy within the Lord. The very first thing to be involved about was not how a lot I’d serve the Lord, how I’d glorify the Lord; however how I’d get my soul into a contented state, and the way my interior man is perhaps nourished. . . . Now what’s the meals for the interior man? Not prayer, however the phrase of God; and right here once more, not the easy studying of the phrase of God, in order that it solely passes via our minds, simply as water runs via a pipe, however contemplating what we learn, pondering over it, and making use of it to our hearts.
3. Meditate on the cross.
Paul’s prayer is that we’d grasp the love of Christ, not merely God’s love typically. Why does he emphasize Jesus’s love for us? To remind us to meditate on the cross.
He prays that we would have the ability of the Holy Spirit for experiencing God . . . in order that we might grasp how broad and lengthy and excessive and deep is the love of Christ.
Hurry quenches the Holy Spirit, so we should lower it out and find time for sustained seeking-and-listening prayer.
To paraphrase Keller: How broad? Huge sufficient to embrace us as we’re.
How lengthy? “To the tip of the age,” Jesus stated (Matt. 28:20).
How excessive? As excessive because the heavens the place he reigns.
How deep? It’s deeper than the grave, deeper than the pit of hell. Many readers all through Christian historical past have seen on this phrase a reminder of Jesus’s physique lifted up on the cross—stretched broad and lengthy from hand at hand, pulled excessive and deep from head to toe. We can not fathom the depth of God’s love for us in Christ. It’s at all times deeper nonetheless.
There’s no higher option to get his love into our hearts.
Decelerate and make time. Meditate on the Phrase. And grasp with all of your power, with the everlasting energy of the Holy Spirit, the good love of God in Christ demonstrated for you on the cross.