Sermons

Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
Sun, Aug 25, 2019

Praying for the Divine Elevation of the Church

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We spent the last several weeks considering a major challenge that the Church faces today, namely, her inability to be the custodian of the Gospel that God wants her to be. We have seen that, if there would be a reversal of the current trend of things, there must be a return, by the Church, to cultivating and demonstrating the character traits of the early Church, as recorded in Acts 2:41-47.

Having examined the implications of these attributes for believers today, our concern today is how can we move from having a knowledge of what we should be to doing the things that have been revealed to us as the will of God? It is very clear from the Bible that we need the help of God to respond in obedience to whatever God commands us. This is buttressed by Jesus’ statement in John 15:5, “apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

It is further buttressed by the example of Paul the Apostle who, after revealing the glorious truth of God’s eternal plan and glorious salvation to the Ephesians believers (in Eph. 1:1-3:13), prayed for them (in Eph. 3:14-21). What, then, should we ask God to do if we would be cultivate and demonstrate the character traits of the early Church? Following the example of Paul, the first request should be for the strength and power of God's Spirit in our lives (3:16).

We need to be strengthened with power in the "inner man," that is, in the deepest part of our being—in the spirit that God has renewed. The source of such conquering strength and power is the Holy Spirit of God who dwells within the inner man of the believer. The second request is for Christ to dwell, that is, rule and reign, in our hearts—by faith (3:17). The word "dwell” means a permanent not a temporary dwelling.

When a person believes in Jesus Christ for the first time, Christ enters his life. Therefore, we are not praying for Christ to enter our hearts and lives. Rather, we are praying that Christ we would let Christ control and guide our life—permanently and constantly. The third request is for a full understanding of all spiritual things. God has done so much for us that it cannot be measured. Therefore, we must pray and seek God to increase our understanding and the understanding of all the saints.

The more we comprehend, the more we will surrender our lives to Christ and serve Him. The more we understand what God has done for us, the more we will reach out to take the love and salvation of God to a world that is reeling under the plight of evil, poverty, and death. The fourth request is to know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge (3:18). It is utterly impossible to grasp and experience the love of Christ anywhere close to its full measure, but we should pray for God to help us learn more and more of His love—and we should make the request often every day.

The fifth request is for the fullness of God (3:19). The believer possesses the indwelling presence of the Spirit, Christ, and of God. When Jesus Christ was promising to send the Holy Spirit to believers, He promised that the trinity—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—would all three come and indwell believers (John 14:16, 23). The point is that each Person of the Godhead has a different function within us.

Therefore, we are to ask specific things concerning each. We have already prayed to be strengthened by the Spirit and to have Christ dwell within and control our heart. Now we are to pray for "all the fullness of God Himself"—for God and His presence in all its fullness to fill and flood us, ruling and reigning and having His perfect way in our lives.

 

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