Experiential Christianity

Ephesians   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What would you say is one of the best things you’ve ever experienced? Or what would you say is one thing you experienced that impacted your life?
Whether you feel like you’ve been to a lot of places or seen a lot of things; there is one thing that we who know Christ can say we can or have experienced together and that is His love.
There are a lot of people who think Christianity is nothing more than bunch of facts or a list of do’s and don’ts, but the reality is that while Christianity does have facts and does have commands, it’s more than that. Yet God created the world and yes God gives us commands, but we will never see the World the way we were meant to, or live as we are supposed to until we experience His saving grace. But what about those of us who have been saved?
Well, if you’ve begun to think that maybe Christianity is emotionless, or nothing more than facts; this lesson is for you. As we look in Ephesians 3:14-21, we will find that the God who works in things as large as worlds seen and unseen also works in things as small as the hearts and emotions of ordinary people that we might grow in our love for Him and others. To put it shortly, as we experience the love of God, we will grow to be loving Christians. So, as we look here together, If you’ve fallen into thinking you just need to know the right facts to be a good Christian, I want you to learn three things: (1) The Person of God shapes our worship and prayer, (2) The Promises of God strengthens our faith, (3) The Passionate love of God structures our lives.
Eph. 3:14-21: For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 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 through faith—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 all the fullness of God. 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.

The Person of God shapes our worship and prayers.

The reality of me becoming a Dad really changed my life. Ella was born at four o’clock in the morning just a few weeks before COVID-19 hit and shut the world down. But that experience of seeing her for the first time and knowing that that’s my kid, did and has changed a lot about me. I became responsible for someone other than myself, I had a new title, a new purpose, and a new way to see the world.
The fact of me becoming a Dad changed my life because I knew it to be true. That’s my daughter, she’s my responsibility. And similarly, what we know to be true affects us. We know that staying hydrated is important to stay healthy so we drink water, or Prime’s or whatever. We know that having gas in our cars keeps them running so we make sure to fill up. We know that showing up for class keeps us from failing, so we show up.
But what I want to challenge you with is do the truths you believe about God affect you?
Last week we looked at how God is building the Church. A massive, diverse, beautiful body of people who God redeemed and calls His people, to declare to Angels how brilliant He is. And seeing that God is working through the Church, Paul runs to pray for the Church. What he emphasizes here is that he prays to the Father who is the Father of the whole family. (Highlight translational differences).
Not only is Paul moved to pray for us as he considers what God is doing, but he is moved to pray for us because we are the children of God. In Matt. 7:11, Jesus says,
Matthew 7:11 NKJV
11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!
So, Paul is drawn to pray because he knows the God who redeemed us, loves us and moves in us for His glory. Do you have convictions about who God is? Do you know what the Bible says about God? I am deeply convinced that God is sovereign, but sometimes I have to stop myself and ask, “What does that mean for my daily life?” (Keep explaining if need be.)
Well, Paul is praying that God would do something for us, and as we look in verses 16-17 we will find point two, which is:

The Promises of God Strengthen our Faith

Promises are really powerful things when they come from the right people, aren’t they? I can remember being in fifth grade and it was yearbook day but my parents hadn’t ordered me one yet. In public school, if you didn’t have a yearbook they’d send you to the computer lab while everyone else got to go outside for fun to sign each others books. Well, time had come for everyone to go outside and I was sent to the computer lab. I’d been trusting my dad to come through and I felt discouraged, but as soon as I sat down, I looked up and there he was with my yearbook.
When Adam and Eve were banished from the Garden, all they had was a promise and when you feel like you’re being beat up by the world, just rest in the promises of God. This is what I want you to see here in Eph. 3:16-17 as Paul asks God to strengthen us by the power of the Spirit that Christ might dwell in our hearts. Now, these aren’t two different occurrences. Jesus lives in us by the Spirit. Romans tells us that all believers have the Spirit and those who don’t have it aren’t really Christians. So, what is Paul praying for here? Well, he is praying that God would strengthen our souls by the power of the Spirit that our faith may grow and Christ would control more and more of our hearts.
But how does He do that? How are we strengthened? 2 Cor. 4:16-18 tells us,
2 Corinthians 4:16–18 NKJV
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
Our bodies get sick, grow tired, and age. But the Spirit of God strengthens our souls as we consider the promises of God. And as we do that, our faith is strengthened and Christ will control more and more of our heart and affections. This is seen even more in our last point which is:

The Passionate Love of God Structures our Lives

Paul’s desire is that as we are strengthened by the Spirit, we would be rooted and grounded in love. When I read that I wrote down, “With the king of love reigning in our hearts, we will be rooted and grounded in His love. It will be our nourishment like a root drinking up water, and our stability like a house on a foundation. It will be our source of life from which we love others and our source of strength from which we stand in hardships.”
Paul’s prayer, in verse 18-19, is that we might know the unknowable, that we might taste the indescribable, unexplainable, mind blowing love of God and as we do, we will be “be filled with all the fullness of God.” John Stott said, “God’s fullness or perfection becomes the standard or level up to which we pray to be filled.”
What he is saying is that when we are in awe of the glorious love of God, we will desire to be more like God and when this is the desire of our hearts we will love God and neighbor more. This is the power we need if we’re going to deal with difficult people in the Church, this is the power we need if we’re going to stay faithfully in love with God among all the temptations we face in this life.
Paul is praying that these Ephesians would be able to be so emotionally stirred by the love of God that their lives are changed by it.
Here are a few things for us to think about this week:
Take time to consider how wonderful God is.
Take time to think how much He loves you as His child.
Think about how the love of God should inspire us to love others.
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