3:16 – The Rest of the Story – Our Response 2: Ephesians

A Bible Study exploring all the 3:16s in the Bible as they illuminate

  • the Human Condition
  • God’s Revelation of His Plan
  • God’s Fulfillment of His Plan
  • Our Response (Current location of study)

“that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,” – Ephesians 3:16

Last week we began our 3:16 study on what response(s) we should have to our understanding of the human condition, and God’s revelation of and fulfillment of His plan. We saw that our first response is simply to BELIEVE God. This week we turn to Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. This letter is fundamentally divided into two parts with the first 3 chapters offering a theological treatise on the “mystery” of the gospel and the final 3 chapters offering practical ways of living out the implications of the gospel.

In Chapter 3, Paul makes two “for this reason” statements. These are kind of like “therefore” statements, which I’ve mentioned before. Anytime you see them, it would be good to pause a bit and reflect on to what the apostle is referring. In this case, both of the “for this reason” statements are referring to fundamentally the same thing – that the Gentile believers in Ephesus are part of the family of God and united through the Holy Spirit in the work of the church. Chapter 2 ended with a discussion of this fact where Paul said, in verse 22, “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” Paul then continues in Chapter 3.

For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles— assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,…

He continues with an explanation of his ministry to the Gentiles and then, in verse 10, he says, “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Paul emphasizes God’s plan being fulfilled through Jesus in the lives of the Gentile believers. Then he makes his second “for this reason” observation in verse 14 and beyond, including this week’s 3:16 verse (bolded below).

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.

While our first response to God’s revelation of the mystery of the gospel was BELIEF, our second response is to submit to the work of His Spirit in us. Paul’s prayer for all believers is that they would submit to and “be strengthened with power” by and from the Holy Spirit. While this implies that it is God’s action to fill us with His Spirit, it is still incumbent on us to submit to His Spirit.

I found a very good article that is part of a study on being filled by the Holy Spirit. It is from Campus Crusade for Christ at https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/transferable-concepts/be-filled-with-the-holy-spirit.7.html. I suggest you read it, but I’ll point out a few good points from the article here.

  • “If you are a Christian, the Holy Spirit already dwells within you….The Holy Spirit — your source of power for living — is “included” when you receive Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Therefore, you do not need to invite Him to come into your life. He did this when you became a Christian, and Jesus promised that He will never leave you.”
  • There is but one indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one rebirth of the Holy Spirit, and one baptism of the Holy Spirit — all of which occur when you receive Christ.
  • Being filled with the Holy Spirit… is not a once-and-for-all experience…. I cannot control myself and be controlled by the Holy Spirit at the same time. Christ cannot be in control if I am on the throne. So I must abdicate. This involves faith. As an expression of my will, in prayer, I surrender the throne of my life to Him, and by faith I draw upon His resources to live a holy and fruitful life.

Being filled and controlled by God’s Spirit is contingent on our willingness to allow Him control. We have His Spirit in us, but we must choose daily to listen to Him and enable Him to work through us. Paul exhorts the church in Thessalonica – “Do not quench the Spirit. (1 Thess. 5:19)” Our response, as believers in Christ, must be to seek God’s empowerment daily and to submit to His control.

Next time we’ll look at the 3:16 verse from 2nd Corinthians. See you then!

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