Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Divine Infilling Part 2

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 (Eph 3.14-19a ESV)
Yesterday we examined the crucial theological reality that a relationship with the Holy Spirit isn't static in nature. A believer can grow closer to the Spirit and can shrink back from him. We saw that Paul held out a deeper life in the Spirit for the Ephesian church than they were currently experiencing.

Today we look at the second of my main points from Sunday night's sermon. First, we observe the realization that "Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith" (Eph 3.17a ESV). On the surface, this seems confusing; doesn't Christ live in our hearts the moment we believe?

However, Paul speaks of a deeper relationship with the Son of God. Wesley defined "dwell" in his Explanatory Notes as, "constantly and sensibly abide." Let me ask you some questions. Does Jesus refuse to remove his coat because he never knows when he might be asked to leave? Or is his coat hanging in the closet of your heart and his shoes kicked off as he enjoys his residency in your heart? Does he feel at home in your heart?

Second, we notice that Christians can "know the love of Christ" although the full comprehension of it "surpasses knowledge" (Eph 3.19a ESV). This is fertile ground for exploration! The Greek word for "know" here is ginōskō which can be translated, "to know by experience" or even, "to feel." Here Paul tells the Ephesians that they can know personally that Christ loves them--they can point to specific things that proves it and they can even feel it.

As John Wesley concluded his sermon, "On the Discoveries of Faith" on June 11, 1788, he expounded on the topic of Christian perfection. His closing paragraph, located in his Sermons, number 110, is as follows:
These are they to whom the Apostle John gives the venerable title of Fathers, who 'have known him that is from the beginning;' the eternal Three-One God. One of these expresses himself thus: 'I bear about with me an experimental verity and a plenitude of the presence of the ever-blessed Trinity.' And those who are fathers in Christ, generally, though I believe not always, enjoy the plerophory, or 'full assurance of hope;' having no more doubt of reigning with him in glory than if they already saw him coming in the clouds of heaven. But this does not prevent their continually increasing in the knowledge and love of God. While they 'rejoice evermore, pray without ceasing, and in everything give thanks,' they pray in particular, that they may never cease to watch, to deny themselves, to take up their cross daily, to fight the good fight of faith; and against the world, the devil, and their own manifold infirmities; till they are able to 'comprehend, with all saints, what is the length, and breadth, and height, and depth, and to know that love of Christ which passeth knowledge;' yea, to 'be filled with all the fullness of God.'
Do you know Christ's love for you? I'm not speak abstractly, I'm speaking practically. Can you point to historical and personal events and say, "I know Jesus loves me?" Can you feel his love for you? If you cannot, I advise you to seek the Face of God until you can.