From Death to Life: Kneeling to Know Him (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Kneeling to Know Him (Ephesians 3:14-21)
Kneeling before the Father (3:14) It’s been said that one of the best ways to discover a person’s dreams and deepest anxieties is to listen to the content and the intensity of their prayers. So in Ephesians 3:14-21, we encounter the second of Paul’s prayer for the local church at Ephesus.
So we begin where Paul commences – on his knees before his heavenly Father. Kneeling is a posture familiar to the modern hearer. We invite penitent sinners to kneel before the cross, kneel at the altar, or kneel at their seat in prayer. However, the usual posture of worship in antiquity was standing. In Jesus’s parable of prayer, both the proud Pharisee and the humble Publican stood to pray.
If kneeling was unusual, why would Paul begin with such a posture? Over and over again, kneeling was a sign of submission and intensity. In the OT, God reminded Elijah that he was not alone for over 7000 prophets had not bowed the knee to Baal.
Kneeling is a sign of allegiance and a posture of humility.
Take-Home: How would you describe your posture before Yahweh right now?
We have other examples in the Bible. In the NT, Jesus knelt with his face to the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane, a prayer so intense that Luke the physician described Jesus sweat’ as becoming like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke22:44). Later, Stephen, the first Christian martyr, knelt before the Lord Jesus and prayed, “Lord do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60)
Throughout Scripture, people knelt when uttering emotionally charged prayers.
Take-Home: When was the last time you prayed and cried out to God from the depth of your soul? An emotionless faith is a shallow faith.
The Staircase of Faith (3:16-19) As Paul kneels, with deep conviction, he begins to walk up the staircase of faith into the presence of His heavenly Father, an apostolic prayer that includes four steps: strength, love, knowledge, and fullness.
When we pray, we must realize that God is no pauper as it would be foolish to ask an impoverished person to give you from his abundance. Instead, the riches of the Father are limitless. This is why we pray!
Take-Home: Yahweh will never be impoverished by sharing his riches with his children. Ask freely.
The first step in Paul’s staircase of faith is strength. Strength is the word used for Ruth (1:18) when she is determined to stay beside Naomi even to the very end. You see, Paul is not praying that the Lord will turn every Ephesian into a body-builder. Instead, the strength of the Spirit is an inner fortitude forged by Jesus Christ dwelling in your heart.
Paul is not addressing Christ coming into your life at the moment of salvation. Instead, the apostle's earnest prayer is that Jesus will be deeply rooted in the heart of all who call Messiah Lord.
The word used for heart is the exact phrase used for a personal residence compared to lodging for the night. So when Jesus is at home in your life, and when the Spirit settles down in your heart, you will be strengthened with power in your inner being.
Take-Home: Is Jesus “at home” in your life? Where the Savior reigns, strength resides.
The second step of faith is that you would be rooted and established in agape love. Rooted is an agricultural term reminding us that every relationship with the Father begins with the soil of the Gospel. Established is an architectural term built on the Chief Cornerstone of Jesus.
The love Paul describes is not your love to God, although a lofty goal. Instead, the apostle recounts God’s love for you on display through His only begotten Son.
Take-Home: Is your life rooted in the fertile soil of Jesus? Is your life built upon the foundation of Jesus’ love towards you?
The third step of faith in Paul’s staircase is to know Christ: to comprehend and to know Christ’s love that surpasses knowledge. To see the love of Jesus is to know Jesus Himself. To not know Jesus is not to know or experience His love. But don’t think this is mere intellectual assent because this great everlasting agape surpasses knowledge.
Love without Christ is hollow emotion. Knowledge of the Savior without love is legalism or fundamentalism.
Take-Home: How can you know something that is beyond human comprehension? You experience it. When Paul personally experienced Jesus on the road to Damascus, his world changed forever.
The fourth step of the Apostle’s intercession is that you may be filled with all the fullness of God (3:19). At this point, we might throw our hands up in frustration and think Paul has lost his mind in solitary confinement. Yet, how can you be filled with the fullness of God? Indeed no human can aspire to such spiritual heights here on earth!
From the very moment you receive the gift of salvation through faith, the Spirit begins to work, deep work, in your heart. God didn’t save you to leave you where you were.
Day by day, you are becoming mature and reaching the fullness that Christ already possesses. Just as Yahweh is perfect, one day, you will also be perfected through the blood of the Lamb.
Take-Home: The Spirit works in every believer every day to complete God’s full purposes in you. God is carrying you to completion ¬– > capacity
Exaltation (3:20-21) I can imagine the Ephesians becoming short of breath as they walk up the staircase of Paul’s prayer for the local church. These are not small requests. Yet, the prayer is not the end. Maybe you read this and think, “ this isn’t possible, or this would never happen to me.”
When you kneel before Yahweh and walk up the staircase of faith, you end in His presence with exaltation.
The Father is able to do above anything that you can ask or think. The Word has a way of reminding us that there is nothing you can ask for or even conceive that is too big for the ableness of a Sovereign and Holy God.
Take-Home: Yahweh’s capacity for giving far exceeds your capacity for asking.
For the child of God, there is no prayer you have ever uttered that went unheard. There is no prayer you have ever prayed that is too great for His riches. There is no worry in your life too overwhelming for His eternal peace.
How did you respond to a God like this, the One True God? 21 to him be glory in the church and Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Amen – praise of God uttered from the lips of a worshiper when something they heard was also an expression of their own heart.
In Revelation, the last book in God’s Holy Word, we find this title for Jesus Christ of Nazareth: Rev 3:14 “Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation:
Jesus Christ is the exact expression of God’s own heart. He is the Amen, the faithful and true witness. What is the Lord’s attitude towards you? Look at Jesus.
Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day, he rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty
The love of Christ is broad enough to encompass all mankind, long enough to last for eternity, deep enough to reach the most degraded sinner, and high enough to exalt him to heaven.
How do you respond to such a glorious Savior? You bow. As he knelt, Jesus’ sweat poured out like drops of blood. As he knelt, Stephen was ushered into the presence of the Father. As he knelt, Paul’s heart burst forth in praise – to him be the glory in the church and Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
What would happen if the people of God knelt before a holy God?
Yahweh’s capacity for giving far exceeds your capacity for asking.
Do you need to kneel and surrender your life for the first time and kneel before the King of Kings?