Adapted from a Jim Black sermonhttp://www.sermoncentral.com/sermons/surpassing- love-jim-black-sermon-on-gods-love-55127.asp
Ephesians 3:14 NET For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom everyfamily in heaven and on the earth is named. 16 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,
18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and lengthand height and depth, 19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpassesknowledge, so that you may be filled up toall the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, 21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Paul prays for the church that we would know the love of Christ that surpassesknowledge. His love empowers His people to live holy lives and to be the church!Today we‟ll see the love of God illustratedfrom Scripture and be challenged with the question: Do you know the love of God?
It‟s wonderful this time of year, a husband walks into a card store on Valentines‟ day and all he can see is row upon row of anxious men trying to pick out just the right card. Where are the women? They were there two weeks ago! The shelves are almost empty, all of the best cards havealready been nabbed. Husbands, have youleft frustrated not being able to find the right card?
I suppose it serves us men right for waiting till Feb. 14th to think about it.The dilemma: How do you communicate thelove you have for your sweetheart through a card or a box of chocolates or a bouquet of flowers? What card, what chocolate, what flower could adequately express my love? Here‟s where your wife would chime in, “I don‟t know, but at least you could give it a shot!”
That‟s the dilemma that Paul faces intoday‟s text! How do you express the love of God in mere „words?‟ In my opinion, Paul does a pretty good job. Remember, to this point, Paul has been building for us a theology of the church (so to speak.) He has revealed the mystery to us, of what God has done for us in Christ by tearing down the Dividing Wall that has separated us from Him and us from one another!
We are now ONE in Christ! He has elaborated on the fact that God has givenus “every spiritual blessing…in Christ!” (Eph 1:3) He has emphasized how God has empowered us from above to change our hearts and lives as he would have themchanged. God has made us new creations, having died to sin and born again to righteousness! God did all of this for a purpose, “through the church themultifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed.” (Eph 3:10)
If we think of the first part of Ephesians as Paul constructing his church, we might pause here to think of this text as his “Dedication Ceremony.” When a newbuilding is built, or a new ship is constructed there is usually a „dedication ceremony‟, right? It‟s a time to stop, reflect on the purpose for that building, our hopes for it and perhaps ask a blessing on it.
This text is Paul‟s prayer for the church, his „dedication‟ prayer over it. You remember that he started it out last week, but interrupted himself to talk a little bit about the „the divine secret‟ that had been revealed. He‟s back to it today.
14 For this reason... WHAT REASON? Paul is pointing back to the salvation and the privileges he described way back in Chapter. 2 …I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named.Again, we are FAMILY, Ephesians 2:19 NET So then you are no longer foreigners andnoncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of Gods household,
16 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because youhave been rooted and grounded in love, 18you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. What an amazing text! This is another oneof those passages that‟s almost TOO BIG to preach on! I can‟t do it justice by trying to make it conform to three points and an illustration!
But, what I do want to pose to us this morning is the question, “Do You Know the Love of God?” Perhaps you knowthe love of your spouse because you got a box of chocolates for Valentine’s day. Perhaps you know the love of your children because they were especially nice to you for a day.
Maybe you know the love of your dogbecause whenever you come home it‟s so excited to see you. But, do you know the love of God? As Paul has gotten to this point in his letter, he knows that THIS is the fundamental question!
If you don‟t know the love of God, then the rest of his letter won‟t make sense to you! That will be about how to live holy lives,lives that bring honor & glory to God. But ifyou don‟t know His love, you don‟t have the power within you to live holy, and changed lives. THIS question means EVERYTHING!!!
If you don‟t know it from Paul‟s words here, what more can I say? Let‟s look atsome other texts. God‟s love, goes out of itsway! One time Jesus was teaching and had attracted a large number of folks that mostof us would consider „undesirables.‟ the tax collectors and „sinners‟ as the Pharisees referred to them.
In fact, it was a cause for the Pharisees to grumble about this man eating and welcoming „these kind of folks.‟ So, Jesustakes the opportunity to tell them a parable-aimed squarely at the high brow teachers of the law.Luke 15:4 NET "Which one of you, if he has a hundred sheep and loses one ofthem, would not leave the ninety-nine in theopen pasture and go look for the one that is lost until he finds it?
5 Then when he has found it, he places it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 Returning home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, telling them, Rejoice with me, because I have found my sheep thatwas lost. 7 I tell you, in the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinnerwho repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need to repent.
God‟s love goes out of its way to find you! Even when there are 99 others back in the flock, God isn‟t satisfied with 99, becausehe has 100! And even the loss of that one istoo great a loss to bear! Are YOU that one, this morning? Have you left the 99? Have you been afraid to come back?
Good news: You don‟t have to go searching to find the way home, because God hascome looking for you! All you have to do is turn around and ask his forgiveness! He‟ll bring you home. That‟s the love of God! (But let‟s read on!) God‟s love absolutely rejoices over you!
Luke 15:8 NET "Or what woman, if she hasten silver coins and loses one of them, does not light a lamp, sweep the house, and search thoroughly until she finds it? 9 Then when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin that I had lost. 10 In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of Gods angels over one sinner who repents."
God goes out of his way to find you, he leaves the 99, he turns on all the lights, he sweeps the house and he searches CAREFULLY & thoroughly until he findsYOU! And when he does, he throws a party! He rejoices! And he invites all of heaven to rejoice with him! Have you ever considered that picture? Think about that, when youfirst came to Christ, God was throwing a big celebration in Heaven over YOU!
That‟s the picture, too, in the next story of the Prodigal Son. When the son returnshome, the father kills the fattened calf andthrows a party! He says, “This son of minewho was once lost is now found!” Has there been applause in heaven over you? Have you come home to him, or are you still in the far country searching?
What are you looking for? Pleasure?Wealth? Contentment? Happiness? Love? “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” That‟s the love of God!
It‟s awful easy nowadays to say the words, “I love you” but what do those words really mean if you don‟t put them into action? I might say, “I love chocolate”, but I‟m not going to shell out $12 bucks for a tiny little box of Godiva! I don‟t love it that much! I might say, “I love my neighbor”, but I‟m notgoing to go out of my way to share the good news with him, I‟d hate for him to think I‟m some religious nut.
I might say, “I love my brother”, but I‟m notgoing to admit that I was wrong or to work out my differences with him. We might say, “I love you” to our spouse, and then think nothing of a little flirtation with thatperson at work. Words are easy to say-but action takes COMMITMENT! God‟s love ALWAYS takes ACTION and ALWAYS shows COMMITMENT!
In the Old Testament, the Jewish people knew that they were God‟s chosen people NOT just because He had told them, but because He had showed them! Deuteronomy 4:33 NIV Has any otherpeople heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived?
34 Has any god ever tried to take forhimself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by miraculous signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and anoutstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 35 You were shown these things sothat you might know that the LORD is God; besides him there is no other.
36 From heaven he made you hear hisvoice to discipline you. On earth he showedyou his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire. 37 Because he loved your forefathers and chose theirdescendants after them, he brought you out of Egypt by his Presence and his greatstrength, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you into their land to give it to you for your inheritance, as it is today.
God had set aside his people, chosen them, and then consistently showed them his love, by bringing them up out of Egypt, by providing for them in thedesert, by guiding them by his Presence, by defeating their enemies in the Promised land, & on & on & on.
He continued by sending them prophets to call them back to Himself whenever they stumbled right up until the time of the Messiah when he finally sent them Jesus! And he continues to show His love for us today, we have his Word, we have „every spiritual blessing…in Christ‟, we havesalvation, etc. And he continues to work out all things together for good for those wholove Him. (Rom 8:28) That‟s the love of God!
John records Jesus‟ own words for us in his gospel. John 15:13 NET No one has greater love than this — that one lays down his life for his friends.
“God would rather die than spend eternity without YOU.” Its true! He did! His love demonstrated the ultimate sacrifice, thelaying down of his life for us. There‟s a lot of confusion in the world today about Jesus of Nazareth. The Jews admit he was a good teacher, but not the Son of God. The Moslems believe he was a great prophet, but second to Mohammed.
The fact is, he did leave the world someprofound teaching. He did live an exemplary life and set a tremendous standard by anyone‟s standards! But what did he ultimately come here to do? Was that all? Ultimately his life was lived for the purpose of going to the Cross! He lived to die!
You know, on the beaches of Normandy (and countless others places around the world) men died in battle fighting for thiscountry. It is said that they „paid the ultimatesacrifice‟ in giving their lives to the cause offreedom. Jesus paid the ultimate of ultimatesacrifices! We‟ll never know what it was like for him to take OUR SIN to the cross with him to face God and to lay down his life. That‟s the love of God!
Paul wrote to the church in Rome, 35 Whowill separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, orfamine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, "For your sake we encounter death all day long; we wereconsidered as sheep to be slaughtered." (Psalms 44:22)
37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8 NET
His point: Nothing in the world is going to come between you and God‟s love! Familytroubles won‟t. Tragedy & heartache won‟t. Unjust suffering won‟t. Poverty won‟t. Terrorist alerts won‟t. War won‟t. Nothing will! The government won‟t. Even demons or angels won‟t. The Devil, himself won‟t. Not even death can separate you! There‟s nothing you can do to make him love you any less than he does! That‟s Gods‟ love!
Knowing God‟s love empowers us to be thechurch! All of these things that we‟ve talked about over the last few weeks about the church is all wrapped up in our knowing God‟s love! If the church is the body of Christ (1Cor 12:27, Eph 1:23) then how can we be the church without knowing God‟s love?
How can we feed the hungry without knowing God‟s love for them? How can we clothe the poor without knowing God‟s lovefor them? How can we worship God without knowing His love? How can we truly share in fellowship with one another without knowing God‟s love for each of us? How can we share with a lost & dying world the good news of Jesus without knowing that love for ourselves?
Paul ends here the first section of his letter. Next he‟ll turn to what I‟ll call the „ethical‟section, where he‟ll discuss what differenceall of this makes in our real lives. In light ofwhat God has done for us in Christ, how do we then live? But, as I said before, it is impossible to live holy & transformed lives without knowing the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.
Have you been struggling with living a holy& transformed life? Do you know the love ofGod? I hope this morning, you have heard the Scripture speak to you God‟s ultimate Valentine, “You are Loved!” “You are Special to me!” “I would die for you!” “Will you be mine?”
Paul concludes his prayer. 20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, 21 to him be theglory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
What can we do to encourage you this morning, if you don‟t know the love ofGod, respond to him in trusting faith and obedience acknowledging your sin andconfessing that you want to be a child of God! This morning, as we sing the invitation song, if you are not a Christian, let meplead with you to make that commitmentright here and now! You know God loves you.
You know what you need to do to respond to that love. You know you need to turnaway from the sins of your past and commit your life to him in baptism. We‟re going to sing to encourage you, but not just you.We‟re also going to sing to encourage those of you who have left the „99‟ to wander off on your own. You know God is out there looking for you, waiting for you to come back to him. What is holding you back?
And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 NET