This is a deep, rich prayer; this is what Paul wants God to do in the Christian life. We can bring it down to two things:
1) He wants God to lay out all the riches of His glory.
2) And he wants us to be full of God. To be filled with all the fullness of God.
: As I pondered these verses I realised that what Paul is describing here can be seen as the Christian life. The Christian life is one of Spirit, faith, and love, and all of these things are found in this passage. The Christian life starts and continues through to the end by one way only – the Holy Spirit. So first I want to look at this passage as the start of a Christian life.
How does God lay out the riches of His glory to us? Number one, He does it by His salvation. We can see that in the three steps of Spirit, faith, and love:
1) The Holy Spirit comes to your inner being.
2) This gives you faith to see Jesus as King.
3) That brings the love of God into your life, making it the foundation of your being.
: Now the same way we are saved is how we are kept – the Spirit keeps us. This is one truth we are always fighting against. Personally, I have to fight against thinking I’m saved by the Spirit and kept by knowledge – the right knowledge of things. But knowledge isn’t what saves. The book of James says that even the demons believe that God is one! And in the gospels it was always the demons that were first to recognise Jesus as truly God. Demons aren’t saved. They have the knowledge; they do not have the Holy Spirit. And so I always have to remind myself that knowledge is good and it brings glory to God, but I am not saved by knowledge.
If we were to look at the two things that are closer to home in this passage, faith and love, this may shock you, but again, without the spirit, faith and love, do not save.
Love is the common factor to the world in general. Everybody thinks they just have to be a good person, someone who loves well, and they will be saved. There are some very loving people out there, good morals and everything, but without the spirit they are not saved.
Here’s a tricky one. Faith is a common factor. And the only way I can dare to illustrate this is through the Apostle John in his letter, 1 John (2:19-20):
They went out from among us, but they were not really of our number. If they had been of our number, you see, they would have remained with us. This happened so that it would be crystal clear that none of them belonged to us. You, however, have the anointing from the Holy One…
: There can be a number of reasons that a person would leave the Church. And one that I would point to here is that they try to strive in their own faith but they do not have the Holy Spirit. The Spirit saves us and the Spirit keeps us. Faith is the first outworking of the Holy Spirit in our lives, then love, knowledge, and so on and so forth. But without the Spirit there is no hope in any of these actions. We are always at the mercy of God’s Spirit, each and every day.
The Glory of God in Sanctification
How does God lay out the riches of His glory to us? Number two, He does it by making us like Jesus. And, again, those steps are Spirit, faith, and love:
1) The Spirit gives us strength and power. If you were to look at the life of Jesus you would say that he is a man of incredible strength and power. Today is Palm Sunday and could there be any more sign needed about the strength of Jesus than when He first stepped onto the streets of Jerusalem? Jesus walked into that town knowing full well that in five days he would be a bleeding mess on the cross. And He did it… the Spirit gave Him the strength to do it. And that very same Spirit gives us strength today. And what does that lead to?
2) King Jesus makes His home in your heart. This is quite an interesting picture that the Apostle Paul has painted. We can say that when King Jesus walks through the door of our house, we are saved. And we can further say that as we go on in our Christian life, through the Spirit that gives us strength, Jesus makes Himself more comfortable in our home. Which leads to…
3) More and more of God’s love. God’s love becomes the firm foundation of our lives. Christians everywhere today should be a picture of what God’s love looks like.
The Glory of God is the Fullness of God
If we can grasp what all this means; if we can walk in Spirit, faith, and love; if we can have the strength of Jesus by the spirit; if we can grow in the faith and have King Jesus make His home in our hearts; if we can have the love of God as the firm foundation of our lives, we will be taking closer steps to what the Apostle Paul is praying for God to do in us; we will be filling up with all the fullness of God.
Furthermore, it is when we live this way of life that the next two verses, 20 & 21, become a reality for us. Here’s what they say:
So: to the One who is capable of doing far, far more than we can ask or imagine, granted the Power which is working in us – to Him be glory, in the Church, and in King Jesus, to all generations, and to the ages of ages! Amen!
: This is an amazing truth that both the Bible and Church history give testimony to; God will do far, far more through us than we can ever expect. How about one example from the Old Testament? Let me share with you chapter 1 from the book of Ruth:
During the time of the judges, there was a famine in the land. A man left Bethlehem in Judah with his wife and two sons to live in the land of Moab for a while. The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife’s name was Naomi.The names of his two sons were Mahlonand Chilion. Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. Her sons took Moabite women as their wives: one was named Orpah and the second was named Ruth. After they lived in Moab about 10 years, both Mahlon and Chilion also died, and Naomi was left without her two children and without her husband. She left the place where she had been living, accompanied by her two daughters-in-law, and traveled along the road leading back to the land of Judah.She said to them, “Each of you go back to your mother’s home. May the LORD show faithful love to you as you have shown to the dead and to me. May the LORD enable each of you to find security in the house of your new husband.” She kissed them, and they wept loudly. “No,” they said to her. “We will go with you to your people.”
But Naomi replied, “Return home, my daughters. Why do you want to go with me? Am I able to have any more sons who could become your husbands? Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. Even if I thought there was still hope for me to have a husband tonight and to bear sons, would you be willing to wait for them to grow up? Would you restrain yourselves from remarrying? No, my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the LORD’s hand has turned against me.” Again they wept loudly, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth clung to her. Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her god. Follow your sister-in-law.”
But Ruth replied: Do not persuade me to leave you or go back and not follow you. For wherever you go, I will go, and wherever you live, I will live; your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May Yahweh punish me, and do so severely, if anything but death separates you and me.
When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped trying to persuade her. The two of them traveled until they came to Bethlehem.
: Ruth had the love of God as the foundation of her life and it caused her to cling to Naomi. And what was the result of this simple decision? Ruth ended up married to Boaz and she gave birth to Obed who was the father of Jesse who was the father of king David. And who was the son of David? King Jesus. Ruth was in the family tree of Jesus. You can read that at the end of Ruth or you can read it in Matthew chapter 1; there’s only five women named in that family tree and she is one of them.
All she did was be good to her family… and God put her in the family tree of Jesus. God is capable of doing far, far more than we could ask or imagine.
How about an example from the days of Jesus? Here’s a quick one. John 21:5-6:
“Children,”said Jesus to them, “haven’t you got anything to eat?” “No,” they replied. “Cast the net on the right side of the boat,” He said, “and you’ll find something.” So they cast the net; and now they couldn’t draw it in because of the weight of the fish.
: All they did was follow a simple command from Jesus, “cast the net on the right side of the boat.” God is capable of doing far, far more than we could ask or imagine.
And this is a sweet example from Church history. Last Sunday my highlight was driving back some of the ladies here to the Aged Care hostel after Church. They started humming the tune of Amazing Grace. John Newton could not have known that the hymn he wrote in the 18th century would reach the Indigenous people of central Australia over 200 years later. But God is capable of doing far, far more than we could ask or imagine.
You could be a good family member, you could be obedient to what Jesus says, and you could write a song, and God is capable of doing far, far more with that than you could ever ask or imagine. And all of that will come when you live a life of Spirit, faith, and love.