Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Getting caught up in the love of God (Ephesians 3)

I had the joy last night of preaching Ephesians 3:14-21 for Exeter ECU.
Download mp3: Getting caught up in the love of God - Ephesians 3:14-21 (35mins)

What will move this Christian Union to fulfill its mission of giving every student at this University the opportunity to hear and respond to the good news about Jesus? What will keep this Christian Union united rather than splintering into shards? What does a normal Christian experience look and feel like?

On a vast and cosmic canvas these are among the concerns of Ephesians – written to address the heart with the gospel. Charles Spurgeon approached preaching this passage saying:
“If I could make any of you feel your mouths a-watering after Christ by what I have said, I should be pleased indeed” 

And CJ Mahaney notes:
“If you want to feel deeply, you need to be willing to think deeply.”

Are you up for that?
 See, what is often lacking isn’t the gospel but our appropriating of it.
We have, according to Ephesians 1-3 every glorious spiritual blessing of union with Christ.
Christianity isn’t distance from Christ, but ultimate closeness.

The apostle is Spirit-inspired and on his knees in prayer for the Ephesians. Praying because he has, 3v12, “boldness and access with confidence” to the Father in Christ. He prays because the church is, 2v22 “a dwelling place for God by the Spirit”. Believers are meant to be at home with the Triune God but do they know it?

His prayer is about “The Love of God”. Some say: everyone knows that God loves them, and so we need not even speak of it, and instead we ought to speak of hell and wrath for people don’t know that… The consequence is often a cold and unattractive gospel of mere hell-avoidance. This is a far cry from Pascal’s suggestion that “good men should wish it were true”. And then be persuaded that it is.

The gospel is a love story between the bridegroom, Jesus, and his bride the church. The story of the man who gives himself up to save his rebellious, ruined and wretched bride. Everyone loves a love story – even if men are slow to admit it, but brothers – what is a man who does not love?

Three members of my team had babies last year, this year we have two weddings – not the same people!

What's better than attending a wedding? Seeing friends commit to one another in love is brilliant. The only thing better is to be the bride or the groom and to experience love from the inside. To know the Christian love story, of the man and his bride is great – to step inside and own it as your own is better by far.

Teaching my son about honey. I can teach about it's chemical composition. I can teach him that it tastes sweet. Or he can taste its sweetness. There is a difference. Paul prays for a tasting not just an understanding of the great love with which God loves us as Christ gives himself up for us.


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