The Grace of God Keeps Us Going

We’ve come to the end of Ephesians 3. Paul’s words in this chapter are all part of a sidebar for the apostle.

Ephesians 3 begins: “For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner for Christ on behalf of you Gentiles–”

Verses 2-13 are a sidebar, where Paul explains that the “reason” he mentioned, that being the inclusion of Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation, came as a result of God’s grace on him, an undeserving sinner, and that the church is called and equipped to take that message to the ends of the earth.

Now, Paul revisits that original statement in verse 14:

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named…”

Paul understands the Ephesians’ need to remember the “bigness” of the gospel. The gospel robs us of our self-righteousness, forces us to run to Christ for salvation and new life, and then says our enemies may also be saved in this way. Our enemies become our friends so we can go share the gospel with our enemies, all to the glory of the God who is now our Father. Woah.

So we see why Paul would pray to this great God that the Ephesians would remember all that He has done for them.

We are prone to forgetfulness. We forget who we are in Christ. We forget to treat others with the grace and mercy God shows us because we forget they are made in the image of God and are either our brothers/sisters in Christ, or they are in need of grace so they may become our brother or sister in Christ. We forget that we are forgiven and free, so we continue to sin. We forget that in Christ, God sees Him, not us, so we wallow in despair instead of worshiping our Redeemer.

Paul does not intend for this to happen at Ephesus. And we would be wise to not let it happen in our lives and in our churches. Remember the gospel. It will keep you going when times get tough.

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…”

This passage highlights the work of the Trinity. God the Father strengthens us through God the Spirit so that God the Son may “dwell in our hearts through faith.”

The Spirit of God helps us and enables us to persevere in obedience. The goal of this strengthening is so Jesus may dwell in us. Now, Jesus dwells in us through His Spirit when we are saved. But as He bears fruit in our lives as we submit to Him, by the Spirit’s power, we grow in fellowship with God. We have more joy in God. We grow in holiness. And Jesus is glorified.

Seeing God’s work allows us to remember that our lives are not over when we stumble in sin or struggle through suffering. Seeing God’s work reminds us to keep moving.

So Paul prays that the people would persevere by seeing the work of God in their lives, by the power of the Spirit through the indwelling of the Son.

Paul also prays that they would be reminded of God’s love, as there is no maturity in the Christian life without the assurance of God’s love.

“that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.”

Knowing the love of God leads to the fullness of God. As the Spirit strengthens us by God’s grace to live for God’s glory, and as Jesus dwells more richly, God consistently reminds us of His love for us and all that He has done for us. The gospel fuels good works, precisely because the gospel destroys our reliance on good works.

When you trust Jesus to save you and lead you, turning away from your self and sin, you are already forgiven and righteous, before any good works. But the Spirit of God reminds us of the love of God to call us to serve God by good works, out of love, not legalism.

Finally, Paul prays in remembrance of the truth that God is bigger than we are, and able to do amazing things.

“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

God is not bound by our small prayers, so let’s pray big prayers. He’s not bound by those either. The God who overcame sin and the grave, and who plans to usher in a new kingdom that is free from sin and suffering is able to do what He wants to do in our lives, in ways we can’t even imagine.

Pray for the salvation of lost friends. Pray for victory over besetting, big sins. Pray for victory in memorizing large chunks of Scripture. Pray for deeper faith. And rest, knowing that God is able to do all this and more.

God’s grace not only saves us and unites us with those we normally wouldn’t associate with, but strengthens us to obey Him, to honor Him, and to remember His love that we may love Him all the more. Praise God!

Lord, may we remember your love. May we not forget the power of the gospel. May Christ dwell in our hearts richly through faith, that you may be honored, that we may be reminded to move forward in our walk with you, that people may be saved. May you do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.

God bless,

Neal E.