Ephesians: Comprehending the Vastness of Christ Love.
May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
We are about to look into something which is so glorious and endless, nothing should give greater joy to all God’s people than to meditate upon this love of Christ.
I think our chief defect as Christians is that we fail to realize the vastness of Christ’s love to us.
How often have you thought about the love of Christ?
We spend time thinking about our activities and our problems, but the most important necessity in the Christian life is to know Christ’s love to us, and to meditate upon it.
Far too many of us in the modern church are content to be at the level of knowledge that we have. We think that as long as we have the knowledge that fChrist loved us so much that He died for us, that is all the knowledge that we need.
That is a good start but that is not all there is. That knowledge is just the beginning.
Paul wants us to go to another level.
The love that we are to comprehend is much greater then that of our preliminary awareness that we had at salvation.
Lets but this in a little illustration,
Take for example the love between best friends and the love between husband and wife.
Yes you are on a personal relationship with your best friend, you may tell them everything about your life you may lay all your problems out there for them to help you work through them.
but, The relationship of a husband and a wife, though it is very much a best friend kind of relationship, it is on a total different level.
You dont just tell your spouse whats going on in your life, they will go through it with you. they hurt when you hurt, they cry when you cry, they laugh when you laugh. A best friend has their own family and will at times seem to be distant and cold just because of their own struggles, but a spouse, you are family and your struggles are their struggles.
That I think is the knowledge of love that Paul wants them to comprehend. He wants them to know Christ on an intimate level.
Paul tells the believers in Phillipi that he knows Christ’s love but he wants to know more...
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
Paul makes it clear that knowing Christ on this other level, will result in loving Him more every day.
What is your level of knowledge when it comes to the love of Christ?
Martyn Lloyd Jones said, “To be content with anything short of this knowledge that Paul is going to speak about, is virtually to tell God that we do not believe His Word, and that we are content with what we have, content to remain in the Church as we are.”
“Nothing is so dishonoring to God and His Word as a state of self-satisfaction, a contentment to remain but babes in Christ, and to refuse to scale the heights and make for the mountain-top of God’s love.”
All saints are to seek this.
So, lets take a few minutes this morning and look at the vastness of Christ love for us and my prayer is by the time we get to the end of the message this morning, you and I will have a better knowledge of Christ’s love and will be much closer to being filled with the fullness of God.
So, Paul now comes to the ultimate purpose for his petition. He is going to describe the love of Christ in terms of dimensions and how comprehending these dimensions, God will dominate our lives
I. Comprehending The Dimensions of His Love
I. Comprehending The Dimensions of His Love
The terminology used here by Paul in and of itself suggests vastness.
Some think he was describing the vastness of Christ love in salvation. He loves all, he died for all, no sin can overcome His love etc.
Others say that probably he had still in his mind what he had been saying at the end of the second chapter
There he had been describing the Church as ‘a holy temple in the Lord’, as a great building in which God takes up His abode and in which He dwells.
I am ready to believe that that was still in his mind, and that as he thought of the vastness of the Church as an enormous temple, he felt it to be a good way of describing the love of Christ to His people.
Whether he was thinking of the church or not, Paul was certainly concerned with bringing out the vastness of this love.
A. Its Breadth
A. Its Breadth
The Greek word is ‘platos’ meaning broad.
This is the Church universal.
God’s love was not specific to the Jew yet the Jew believed that salvation was exclusively for the Jew only,
I think many times we as American Christians get into the ditch of thinking this way.
We seem to forget that God’s love came by way of Jesus Christ for the world and all who believe, he gives the power to become the sons of God.
Then we seem to forget that one day we all will be with the great multitude in heaven worshipping at the feet of Jesus.
The love of Christ is so broad that there are no borders of Christianity. The Indian in Washington state that accepts Christ is just as much a child of God as the most seasoned saint.
We forget that that all those he calls, he justifies, those he justifies he glorifies.
Everyone that has ever believed on the Lord Jesus Christ is part of the family of God.
from the Jungles of vietnam to the city of Chicago.
From the mountains of the Appilatcha to the plains of Texas
Nothing is more encouraging and invigorating than to recollect that even in these days of religious delusion, there are in the world, in every country, in every continent—though differing in colour, in culture, in background, in almost everything—men and women meeting together regularly to worship God and to thank Him for His dear Son and His great salvation.
In glory we shall all be amazed at this, as we realize what the love of God in Christ has accomplished in spite of sin and hell and the devil.
The breadth of His love!
B. Its Length
B. Its Length
The Greek word is ‘mekos’ meaning length
I am convinced that the Apostle specified these particular measurements in order to encourage the Ephesians, and us, to work this out in our minds.
To meditate upon the love of God in an abstract manner leaves you at the cross. Which is good but it is not very profitible for anyone other than a sinner in need of salvation.
Paul speaking of The length, surely conveys the endless character of the love of Christ.
Sometimes we read in Scripture about the ‘everlasting’ love of God—‘I have loved thee with an everlasting love’ (Jer 31:3).
Have you ever considered the eternity of Christ’s love towards you?
The dimension of length reminds us that this is a love which began in eternity.
It was always there.
How important it is to meditate upon such a theme!
To do so brings us at once to the realization that the love of Christ to His own began before time.
Christ’s love to us did not suddenly come into being, it was there before the beginning of time.
Hence we read that our names were ‘written in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world’ (Rev 13:8; 17:8).
This is, to me, one of the most staggering things of all, that I was known by Christ in eternity.
We were known to Him, and our names were written in His book.
What a dignity it adds to human life, and to our existence in this world, to know that He has set His heart upon us, that His affections rested upon us even in eternity!
That is the beginning—if such a term is possible—of the length of His love towards us. Before time!
The love of Christ for His own is also from eternity to eternity.
It began in eternity, and it continues in time.
We can therefore always be sure that it will never change, that it will never vary, that it will always be the same.
‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever’ (Heb 13:8). And His love is always the same.
There are no interruptions in it.
This ‘length’ is an unbroken line.
Whatever may happen, it goes on; it is not a variable, it is a constant.
It does not suddenly cease, and then start again. ‘Thine is an unchanging love’.
It is a love that never gives us up or lets us go; it is a love that never despises us.
In times of trials, adversities, persecutions, what a comfort, what a consolation, what a strength that is to have, knowing that, If He has set His heart and His affection upon you, they will remain there.
Nothing will ever be able to pluck you out of His hand, nothing will ever rob you of that love.
If hell be let loose, if everything goes against you, nothing will ever cause Him to let you go.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
C. Its Depth
C. Its Depth
Greek word ‘bathos’ meaning deep
As we look at each dimension we are tempted to say that it is the most wonderful of all, the truth being that that is true of each one!
As we consider the depth we can do nothing better than to read what the Apostle wrote to the Philippians in the second chapter, verses 5-8.
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
What amazing love, How guilty though we are of reading hurriedly and perhaps thoughtlessly some of the most staggering words ever penned.
In eternity our Lord was ‘in the form of God’.
He was God the Son in the bosom of the Father from all eternity.
But the Apostle tells us that ‘He thought it not robbery to be equal with God’.
That means that He did not regard His equality with God as a prize to be held on to, to be held on to at all costs.
Rather He humbled Himself, He divested Himself of those signs of His eternal glory.
And He came into this world of sin and shame in the likeness of man, in the form of a man.
This is entirely beyond understanding; as the Apostle says, it is ‘the love of Christ which passeth knowledge’.
These are facts.
He deliberately did not hold on to what He had a right to hold on to, but rather humbled Himself, and entered into the Virgin’s womb, and took unto himself of human nature, and came and lived as a sinless man in this sin filled world.
Think of who he was while on this earth
A carpenter’s son
The Son of God equal with the father and the holy spirit, the creator of the world made to be a carpenter’s son
consider also what He suffered at the hands of men,
the misunderstanding, the hatred, the malice and the spite.
Think of His suffering from weariness and hunger and thirst.
Think of men laying cruel hands upon Him, arresting Him and trying Him, mocking Him and jeering at Him, spitting in His most holy face.
Think of cruel men condemning Him to death and scourging Him.
Look at Him staggering under the weight of the heavy cross on His way to Golgotha.
Look at Him nailed upon the tree, and listen to His expressions of agony at the thirst He endured and the pain He suffered.
Think of the terrible moment when our sins were laid upon Him.
He even lost sight of the face of His Father for the one and only time, and gave up the ghost and died, and was buried and laid in a grave.
He, the Author of life, the Creator of everything, lies dead in a grave.
Why did He do all this?
The astounding answer is, because of His love for you and me; because He loved us.
Such is the depth of His love! There is no other explanation.
Next we see..
D. Its Height
D. Its Height
Greek word ‘hypsos’ meaning high place
Most of us tend to think of salvation only in terms of forgiveness, as if the love of Christ only purchases for us the forgiveness of our sins.
Anyone who stops at that has clearly never known anything about the height of the love of Christ.
Something of this height is seen in the fact that He died not only that we might be forgiven; He died to make us good.
He died not only that our sins might be blotted out, but also that we might be given a new birth;
not merely to save us from punishment, but also that we might be made children of God, sons of God, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.
Such is His purpose for us, and all He did had that end in view.
That is the height of His love to us.
We are united with Christ,
He has made us part of Himself, of His own body.
That is why we were ‘quickened with Him’ and ‘raised with Him’ and are ‘seated in the heavenly places’ with Him.
In the fifth chapter of the Epistle he goes on to say: ‘We are members of his body, of his flesh and of his bones’.
It is His love that has done that for us.
We have only skimmed the surface to the dimensions of Christ’s love, but Paul goes on to tell us that once we have comprehended these dimensions, we will be filled with the fulness of God. In other words we will be dominated by God.
II. Comprehending The Dimensions brings Domination
II. Comprehending The Dimensions brings Domination
‘that ye be filled with the fullness of God’
He is to be perfect as man, as God is perfect as God; and the perfection of man consists in his being full of God; God dwelling in him so as absolutely to control all his cognitions, feelings, and outward actions.
No truer words have ever been stated.
That is what Paul is praying here, for that perfection.
The connection between the various steps in the prayer is important, so we note that the first word in this phrase is ‘that’.
It means ‘in order that’.
Look back at verses 16 and 17
Paul prays they would be strengthened in their inner man
‘in order that’ Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith
‘in order that’ they would be rooted and grounded in love
‘in order that’ they would be able to comprehend the the vastness of God’s love
‘in order that’
they would be filled with the fulness of God
To be filled with the fullness of God means that God dwells in us in such a way as to control all of our faculties. i.e God controls the whole of your life. As Hodge says, He controls our thinking and our feelings and our outward actions.
Christ said in simpler terms in Matt. 22:37
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
Love God with all your heart, soul and mind!
If we are filled with the fullness of God it means
that God is controlling us in mind, which is the realm of thinking;
in the heart, which is your feelings and sensibilities;
and in the realm of the soul or will, which is your outward actions and all our activities.
To quote Lloyd Jones again, “You wont think, feel or act the same.”
To be dominated by God is to be filled with God’s presence and power, so that he is so controlling your life that there shall be no room for anything else.
Like a tea cup on the seashore filled with the swelling water of the mighty ocean.
This is the reason for all that has been requested earlier in the prayer it all leads to and culminates with the fullness of God in you life.
have comprehended the vastness of Christ love?
If so be filled with the fullness of God!
One great cause of the present condition of the Church is that we do not know Christ’s love toward us
We spend our time with petty things, and in busy activities and worldly discussions.
If we were full of this love and of the knowledge of this love we would be entirely transformed.
Oh that we might know it, and grow in it and rejoice in it and experience Him on a whole new level.
This is Christianity!
It was in order to make this possible that the Son of God left heaven, came on earth, and went to the Cross on Calvary’s hill.
He died not merely that we might be forgiven and saved from hell. He died that we might be ‘filled with all the fulness of God’—here in this life!
Not when you are dead and have passed into heaven and into glory, but here and now!
To be content with anything less than this is sinful, and dishonoring to the Lord.
Do not be content with the mere fact that you believe in Christ, that your sins are forgiven, and that you are a church member.
Press on, give yourself neither rest nor peace; pray this for yourself, the whole of it, and go on doing so until you know something of this blessed satisfaction and have realized something of this fulness.
If you are here this morning and have yet to come to the foot of the cross, knowing that Christ loved you so much that He gave Himself for you, why not come this morning and be gloriously born again.