So, I seem to always have people wonder about why I try to tie everything that is gospel back to the glory of God. Perhaps this is because of poor communication skills on my part, or maybe it’s because most people weren’t taught Scripture that way as they grew up in church. I honestly don’t think that I was taught that way, now that I think about it. It was all about God being a personal God and dying for our sins and living in our hearts…but it seemed to go from there to changing our behavior and then it just stopped. But the gospel is both about God’s glory and Him being a personal God, and they are inextricably linked.
Ephesians 3:14-21 ESV
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
20 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, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.
There is beyond “so much” in this text, but there are just a couple things I want to focus on. The ESV Study Bible points out that because Paul had broken off his train of thought in 3:1 so he now starts over with the same “For this reason.” The reason Paul writes about is that Gentiles as well as Jews are “being joined together” (Eph. 2:21) and are “being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit”(Eph. 2:22). Paul’s response to this revelation is to bow, as the only acceptable response is “humble adoration of God” (ESV Study Bible notes).
When Paul uses the phrase “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,” he does so to define identity. Every one of us, every person in every family belongs to God. He made us in His image. We may not all belong to Him in the sense that those who confess Christ do, but we all are under His sovereignty. God is BIG. God exists as distinct from creation and sovereign over it. He can literally claim all of creation as His. His glory is immeasurable (Eph. 3:8). God is transcendent, impossible for us to completely comprehend.
Yet, that is the very thing Paul prays for concerning the church at Ephesus, and by extension, us. He prays that we would be “strengthened with power through his Spirit” so that Christ may live in us, and that we would be “rooted and grounded in love.” He prays for all of this so that would come to comprehend the love of Christ that “surpasses all knowledge.” Paul just prayed that we would comprehend the incomprehensible! The goal, the aim here, the end game of Paul’s prayer is that this would happen so that we would be “filled with all the fullness of God.” It is precisely this love of and affection for Christ, this growing in being filled with the fullness of God that changes our hearts and affections, which in turn changes our behavior. And it takes the strength through the power of the Holy Spirit to enable us to know the love of Christ.
How can this even be possible? Because of “him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” I love that it doesn’t end with us knowing Christ and being filled with the fullness of God. It doesn’t terminate on us! It rolls back to giving God credit and bringing God glory!
The goal of this transcendent God is to bring glory to Himself by being personal in Christ dwelling in us, giving us the strength to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge so that we may be filled with the fullness of God.