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January 4, 2021 7:00 am
Science is taught as the importance of using proper viewing equipment to achieve accurate results. If we want to study a tiny organism will use a microscope in the same way. Proper perspective is key to effective prayer today on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce explains that looking through the lens of Scripture gives us a bigger view of what God is doing in the world. Welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly. At one time or another. Most of us have probably doubted the usefulness of prayer, but as believers we know that we are called to pray.
In fact, we are to pray with bold confidence. Let's listen together is Dr. Boyce explains what it means to pray beyond the imagination.
Anyone it was ever thought very seriously about prayer has. I am short one time or another, wondered about its value.
Sometimes this is because of our experience in prayer we pray for something and we don't get it. Or at least it's delayed and we find ourselves asking well does prayer work. What a slow purpose of praying. Anyhow, sometimes we wrestle with the problem theologically, any Calvinist I am sure at one time or another has been asked if God and his eternal decrees has predetermined everything that comes to pass, which is what the Westminster confession says then why pray for anything going to happen anyway. Why do you pray, certainly you don't expect by your prayers to get God to change his mind. Well know, we don't expect God to change his mind. That's a good thing. Prayer could get God to change his mind. I wouldn't want some of you to pray. I would be a dangerous situation, but we don't believe in that. The interesting thing is that although the biblical writers perhaps at times may have thought of these questions, or even raise them themselves. These problems associated with prayer never seem to stop them from praying as matter-of-fact in Paul's case, it is often at the height of the most eloquent expression of the sovereignty of God in all things but inevitably burst forth into prayer, which is the case here in the third chapter of Ephesians. These verses versus 14 through 19 are Paul's second prayer, and they follow immediately upon a section in which she has been explaining God's great purpose in the church and in all history is to demonstrate his manifold wisdom in a way which is the marble even on the Angels and then having said that, he immediately says for this cause I kneel before the father and he goes on with his prayer is an interesting introduction is in it for this cause I kneel before father what does he mean when he says, for this cause.
Is it because he has spoken of his sufferings and he doesn't want people rubies praying to be concerned about it or discouraged by the fact that he's suffering. John Calvin thought that that was the connection Calvin roach.
That is what Paul is aiming at here exhorting the Ephesians not to be thrust out of the way but to keep on still truly and constantly in the faith of the gospel, even though they might take offense at seeing him a prisoner as its perhaps because of Paul's clear personal interest in the Ephesians welfare is what Ironside thought he wrote for what cause because of his deep interest in the people of God because of his desire that they should enter fully into their privileges in Christ, John Stott thinks that that's because of the reconciling work of Christ in his own understanding of it by special revelation is that the connection between the prayer and what is gone before will technically that phrase for this cause could refer back to any statement in the immediately preceding verses and the closer to the phrase the better. I think however that when we realize that the central thrust of the passage is been on God, demonstrating his manifold wisdom in his church in history.
In such a way that even the Angels are going to look upon it and marble that when Paul says, for this cause gets the fact that he's thinking about see Paul is saying God is doing a marvelous thing is people. The church God is demonstrating before all the watching Angels accuse way is the best way and that his people will praise him, not because of what he does for them, but we certainly blesses and cares for them. But even in their suffering. They will praise him in order to show that they love them, because God is really worthy of being loved. That's what God is doing God is perfecting the character of Jesus Christ in them. In this way, and it is forethought because simply because that's what God is doing, but Paul prays so with great confidence. You see returns from the theological statement that describes what God is doing and begins to pray for the Christians in Ephesus in precisely those terms. Paul was bold in his prayer because he knows that that is precisely what God wants to do in their lives. Another way of saying the same thing is to say that this is a family prayer that is false, praying for the Christian family. Witchy sense see it's not that we don't pray for other people to we pray for people who are not yet Christians for the even in distant lands.
We pray that God will send missionaries send bless the testimony of those who have been sent. Pray for neighbors who are Christians. We pray for kings and those who are in authority, whether they are believers or not. We pray for all man that is part of our responsibility, but we pray differently than we do when we pray for the Christian family.
When we pray for the salvation of other people. We don't know what God is doing in their lives. We do know that the preaching of the word of God hardens hearts. In some instances as well as softens them. We pray that it might be the case that I believe that we don't know that for sure.
With Christians it's different. We know what God is doing in the lives of Christians. We know that it is his will perform the character of Jesus Christ and the so that's what we pray and we pray that confidently we say God do that in that person.
That person needs to be molded in the image of Jesus Christ in that area and we are bold in our prayers, precisely because we know that it's the will of God. We don't say, O Lord, if it be your will in that area because we know it is God's will. So we praise Paul so clearly does here is interesting that in verse 15 he speaks of God's whole family to interesting points to that the words in Greek or pasta Patria first interesting point is that that word Patria which means family is very similar, related the word for father that occurs in the phrase just before father is pot air and family is Patria. There's no way of reflecting that adequately in English noticed down at the bottom of the page of the new international version is a note that says or whom all fatherhood. That's an attempt to link father pot tear with Patria family, but it doesn't really mean fatherhood.
It's families or the families of the earth. The nations of the earth. This is why Paul says, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name is part of the play on words in the Greek language is one interesting thing. The second thing is that word parts of the proceeds is not possible usually means every and is usually translated that way it would mean if we followed that translation. Every family on earth derives its name that would refer to the various nations of the world or perhaps to the various families within one large family of the Christian church. Ironside takes it in the latter way and he speaks of the antediluvian family. The patriarchal family.
The Old Testament family the New Testament family. Even the family of angels, and so on.
That isn't what is talking about here, and therefore I think the new international version is right when it takes outward pass on translates it mocks every which is more common but whole which is possible.
So the translation is the whole family that is not a diversity of families but that one whole family, which is the church of Jesus Christ. That is the body for whom Paul prays so we have a great lesson there lesson is that we can pray differently.
For Christians, and that when we pray for Christians, we should pray for all Christians, because in this great work that God is unfolding in history. All Christians have a part, rich and poor Jew and Gentile, high and low, whatever it may be God is demonstrating one aspect of his manifold wisdom in one person and another aspect of his manifold wisdom in another. And he takes the whole Church of Jesus Christ and all places throughout all ages to begin to unfold. The full dimensions so that wisdom before the Angels.
So when we pray we should pray for those Christians are in distant places, some of whom we have never seen and never will see until we get the glory because we are one with them within this whole family, which is the body of Jesus Christ. We asked the question, what is it that Paul prays for we've already seen why he prays and who we prays for the question we raised. Thirdly, is what does he ask God to do. John Stott says I think wisely that in this prayer we have something like an ascending staircase calls in prayer staircase which has a number of steps or wrongs talked about strengthened love and understanding and filling sought has four steps on the staircase.
I think there are perhaps more than that.
The idea of the staircase is a good one. Here Paul begins, as it were, at the base of the ladder and he asked that these Christians in Ephesus, but not only them Christians throughout the whole world might be strengthened internally with the power of God spirit in them that they might be indwelt by Jesus Christ through faith in them that they might be rooted and grounded in love, and then that they might grasp Christ's love and then that they might know Christ's love and finally the last step of that staircase that they might be filled with all the measure of the fullness of God. That's a marvelous prayer and is worth looking at those steps one by one. Let's take the first the first thing Paul prays for is that believers might be strengthened with the power of the Spirit in their inner being a probably begins at that point because he's been thinking of suffering he hasn't made a big point of that, but there's no doubt that when he was talking about the church showing forth the manifold wisdom of God.
His mind turned to the way in which that wisdom is shown in suffering because he brings in his own experience of the end of the section I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you which are your glory you see in easy times, we need to show forth God's wisdom, but we don't show it forth to the same extent it's when things don't go well and we trust God that we show our trust in him and God is most glorified in Paul was thinking along those lines, and now he thinks yes but how is that to be done. None of us naturally seek out suffering. On the contrary, we shrink from it. We didn't do what Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane. We say Lord if it's possible let this cup pass from me.
I don't want to go through this and it's in the time precisely like that. We need to be strengthened internally by the power of the Holy Spirit, God has to send his angels, as it were, to administer DOS I say I think that's why Paul begins at that point yet at the same time, we recognize it is not just in suffering that we need to be strengthened. We need to be strengthened in order to face temptations to temptation, we waver, we need to be strengthened resistant and the power of the spirit or were faced by a tough moral choice work, we need to be strengthened to do the thing that is right and opportunity to witness and we kind of afraid to do it because were afraid of what the other person will think we need to be strengthened to bear a strong witness precisely at that point.
It's interesting that Paul mentions the spirit here because that is precisely what the Lord Jesus Christ spoke of in those final discourses when he said to his disciples after he was going he would send the Holy Spirit, the comforter to be a Paraclete toss for them. That word is translated comforter counselor advocate.
Literally it means one who was called alongside the person to help out. That's what the Holy Spirit is one was called alongside of us to help us do the right thing in difficult circumstances, and secondly, Paul prays that believers might be indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. Verse 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.
On first glance it seems to be unnecessary, and perhaps even a redundant statement if he's praying for believers is the case that Jesus already dwells within their hearts by faith we talk about receiving Christ into your heart and dip Christ is not within you may have an intellectual understanding of things which are not a Christian. If so, how is it that he can pray as he does here. I include understanding. This is in Paul's choice of a special Greek word which we have translated in our Bibles as well or indwell the Greek language are two words are very closely related. One is cut 20 Oh and the other is PowerPoint On the second of those spirally got always the weaker it is to do with dwelling but that is the word you would use an example of a foreigner like Abraham who was dwelling in a strange land. These dairies living there but he's not a permanent resident. The other word cut 20 Oh refers to one who settles down in place permanently as I say I think that's the clue to what Paul is thinking up here. He recognizes the course that anybody who is a true Christian has Christ in the spirit of Christ within you saying look I want for you is that Jesus might settle down there as it were, as Lord of the estate that he might exercise I permanent residence which is is that he might possess every corner of your lives. Every acre of the estate so being so filled with Christ you might be made stable and him and might begin to go on and grow in the way God wishes you to grow.
This is what he talks about next third point in this ascending staircase. He says and I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, and so on, is an interesting phrase rooted and established in love.
It's a mixed metaphor. I remember I was working for a Christian magazine in Washington DC that we were always warned not to mix our metaphors and I want to gauge and I re-call the publisher in those days talking about the worst example of a mixed metaphor he had ever heard he was in business at the time and one businessman was describing situation at work that he thought wasn't quite right, and he said this, I smell a rat's. I feel them in the air. I'll nip him in the butt. I was an example of how not to speak, and how not to write. Apparently nobody ever told the apostle Paul not to use mixed metaphors because that's what you have here. One is a metaphor from agriculture rooted that's image that has to do with plants, trees and flowers. The second established in love act is a metaphor from architecture restocking about a building of our translations tried to avoid that.
They said rooted and grounded in love, thinking that they could slip and live that way. But that second word is talking about anything having to do with ground talking about foundation real translation would be founded on love except we don't really have that word in English. While it may be bad English usage, but it's good theology because what Paul is saying is that you need to be rooted in love in the sense that you're nourished by love does nourish us the love of Jesus Christ and you need to be based. She says upon love is a firm foundation because love never fails to know how he writes about it in first Corinthians 13. Love never fails. He says, but where there are prophecies, they will pass where there is knowledge, it will pass.
Other times they will pass these three abide faith, hope and love and of the three.
The greatest of these is love.
So he says I pray that you might be rooted and established in its notice. In the fourth place that he says that, being rooted and established in love, you may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. Now see, he's moved on stage he stalks the first instance upon our being based in love, that is, that the love of God might nourish us and become a part of us and that love might be, as it were, the moral and ethical foundation of our lives, but now he says I want more than that.
As you grow in that love. I want you to come to understand the fullness of the love that the Lord Jesus Christ has for you. We look abandoned and we wonder how that can be phrase.
Later he's going to say that it's a love that surpasses knowledge, we say well if it surpasses knowledge, how can it possibly be that we should know it and he answers into areas first.
Although the love of Christ does surpass knowledge of the fullest extent we could nevertheless know what we do know truly the same as in regard to the knowledge of God in any area.
God is infinite, we can never exhaust God in our knowledge, but what we know of God. We can know truly can be true knowledge and it's the same with the love of Christ were never going to exhaust the love of Christ. But we can know a truly know what it really is, and we can know the Jesus Christ loves us the first answers in that area. Second thing I think is this it comes out in that list of the dimensions that Paul gives how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
I think what he saying there is anyone supposed to be filled with the knowledge of Christ on and on on on merely in this life, but for all eternity. If it's true that the love of Christ is an infinite thing that eternity is in infinite expanse of time so he saying you say you're going to be a warning about the love of Jesus Christ.
Not only here, which is as it were, the kindergarten of our lives, but throughout all eternity as God continues to unfold. These marvelous dimensions of his character to us an interesting story that concerns these four dimensions years ago when the armies of Napoleon were advancing across Europe. They uncovered in Spain. One of the prisons of the Spanish Inquisition. They opened the cells they released some who were still alive and as they went deeper into this particular dungeon they found down underground the cell in which a man who had been imprisoned there had long since died was only a skeleton. The clothing and the flesh had long since decayed. There was a chain in Jane was around an ankle bone and it obviously died for his faith but he not only died, he left a witness behind because someone the wall of his dungeon scratched with some hard tool that was across over and below and each side of this process. There are was in Spanish for words that occur here in the third chapter of Ephesians the left was the word with the rights was the word length over the top was the word height and below the cross was the word depth. Obviously this prisoner was testifying to his faith in this infinite love of Jesus Christ that had sustained him even in the years of his imprisonment, and thus your civilian one more instance the manifold wisdom of God was demonstrated before the watching angels.
When Paul says wide and long and high and deep. I don't believe that he's thinking of anything particular associated with each of those four terms but it's not wrong to say, as John Stott does, that the love of Christ is broad enough to encompass all mankind, especially Jews and Gentiles theme of these chapters long enough to last for eternity deep enough to reach the most degraded center in high enough to exalt him to heaven was another prisoner once who wrote a final verse to him on the love of God don't know who he was, as is stanza that has no name with it, but it's a great statement of the same principle.
This prisoner wrote, could we with ink the oceans for all and were the skies of parchment made whatever he stalks the earth a quill and every man a scribe by trade to write the love of God above which drain the oceans dry or could the scroll containing the whole stretch from sky to sky in the prisoner spoke truly now the last point is the most amazing one, of all Paul says that knowing this love that surpasses knowledge. We are by the grace of God to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God's two ways you can take that. Whenever you have a genitive in the Greek language you can take it either as an objective genitive or as a subjective genitive. If it's an objective genitive. In this case, it would mean that God is to fill us with his grace is that we would receive a full measure of grace we would be the measure of what God could give if it's a subjective genitive. It refers to the fullness of God. And Paul would be praying that we might be filled with all of God's own fullness seems impossible. And yet, that seems to be what Paul is saying he uses the Greek word Asus meaning unto that seems to dispose it in that direction. He's praying that we finite creatures might by the grace of God be filled to the measure of God's own fullness. I seem so impossible that people find ways to explain it differently. Ironside, for example, say well yes, it's like being filled with the fullness of the ocean, but your shell when you're there.
The ocean fills you up and you only hold a Shuttlesworth that may be, but I think in this grade sending staircase that Paul is thinking of the greater idea he saying you see justice. He has talked about our being filled with the knowledge of the love of Jesus Christ and growing in the knowledge of that love throughout eternity.
So in the same way here, we might be filled and filled and filled in fills the fullness of God's own character throughout, endless, endless ages say I don't understand that I don't understand it either.
And I'll tell you something interesting. I don't think Paul completely understood the reason I say that is that he follows this with this amazing benediction in which he says to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or even imagine Paul is saying I know what I written you say to me I don't understand it, you know that I don't understand it either.
I can't even imagine really what that means yet. He said I know this. I know that God is able to do it only is he able to do it. This is what God is doing in his love for us is determined to fill us with his fullness on on on on throughout eternity. See if God is doing that with your brothers and sisters in the family of God throughout the world.
Should you pray for them. That is the most important thing going on everywhere and rejoice in what God is doing as you pray, should you pray that God's right have full way in you is you seeks to do that in your life and your family and your church and the Christians in your community that is such an amazing thing that we just stop at that point we reach that high run of the ladder and beyond that wrong is eternity the incidents the immeasurable to use Paul's word in all we do is fall down, as we must always say as Paul does.
To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever and ever and ever. Amen.
Know our father, we do so, pray. We pray we confess inadequately. We pray in such limited ways and we know why is because we have such a limited idea of what you were doing in your church in this world.
Father, grant that has by your word harder mines are stretched to learn what you are doing so are prayers might be deepened and strengthened to pray for what you're doing and to pray boldly and joyfully precisely because this is what will most certainly be done to the praise of your glory in the church through Christ Jesus. You are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.
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