Ephesians 3: 14-21.
Prayer for Holy Love.
by J. R. Rollo
THE passage before us, brings to an end, the doctrinal portion of the Epistle. Paul has now soared with eagle flight to heights of truth and revelation unexcelled elsewhere in the sacred writings. What could thrill the heart more than the presentation of the history, glory and destiny of the Church of God—that company of saved sinners called out from Jew and Gentile and made one body in Christ. No wonder his first prayer for these believers in Ephesus was for light—a mind illumined to understand God's matchless plan, its unique comprehensiveness, its limitless scope in the riches of His grace.
Now Paul is again on his knees—this time he identifies and underlines the distinctive feature of this new creation and prays these believers may have love. Is this easy of achievement? Not if we understand it aright.
Few words are more debased in current thought than this one. The more precious and pure a virtue is, the more the Devil will counterfeit and substitute. And even the Christian becomes affected by the climate of contemporary thought, and the Divine reality is besmirched and obscured by the intrusion of human standards. A solemn consideration of the sublime truth that God is love will purify our thinking and a prayerful study of 1 Cor. 13 will amplify our conception of the wonder of love in the Holy Spirit.
To say that this is love,
When well aware
That these are common things
And love is rare?
Note these points. His love passes knowledge—perhaps this means surpasses knowledge. It is better to love and be loved than to know. Love satisfies the heart: knowledge never can. True spiritual knowledge is the first born of love. We love in order to know in the realm of divine things. Knowledge when present, is given not to big heads but to bowed wills and loving hearts. Love is the mainspring of true obedience and is the motive power of sacrificial living and giving. Love is the greatest thing in Heaven and Earth. For every man in the Church who loves or covets to love, there are twenty who know or covet to know. Our scale of values is topsy-turvy. People have listened too long to the clever analysis, the cataract of platitudes in orthodoxy, the careful adherence to tradition and bondage which is icily regular. There is a clear call in these shadow-stressed days for truth—yes! but saturated in love which is the Divine answer in the hour of the quaking heart.
Secondly, Paul petitions God that they all might explore the love of Christ objectively,—
Its breadth—how comprehensive and universal in scope.
Its length—how tireless and exhaustless in its pursuit of the unlovely.
Its depth—how great the stoop to death where many waters could not quench.
Its height—how wondrous God's purpose to bring us home rejoicing.
"Love saw us converted and brought in;
Love sees us edified and brought up;
Love sees us comforted and brought through;
Love will see us glorified and brought home."
And now the silence of the dead is past,
Thy ears have heard
The voice of Him who is the First and Last,
The Living Lord;
But not in one short moment hath He told
His heart to me,
The everlasting love that was of old
That evermore shall be.
Thirdly, there are conditions attendant upon a deepening appreciation of this conception of love. From the four dimensions of this wonderful love, we move to the three dimensions of this love expressed in Christian behaviour and life. We are to be rooted and grounded in love. Character thus animated is living and growing with roots well nourished, but it is also established and firm, not easily moved about, but secure in its foundation. When the love of Christ grips and constrains the soul as a fever may grip the body (Luke 4: 38) or as a man is borne along by the pressure of a crowd (Luke 8: 45) or as a prisoner is held in custody (Luke 22: 63), other influences are dwarfed and the things of earth grow strangely dim.
To arrive at this compelling love, is the work of the Holy Spirit and its enjoyment is a work of spiritual strength in the inner man and an indication of the indwelling of Christ by faith. The indwelling of Christ is identical with the indwelling Spirit, for the Holy Spirit's work is to witness to Christ and thus He is there, revealed to the inner man. The language used is peculiarly appropriate to the Gentiles for whom Paul is praying since the climax and marvel in the Divine purpose is this very indwelling of Christ, cf. Col. 1: 27; 2: 17. It is through the faith that the Gentiles are partakers of Christ and it is in the full blossoming of love which binds all saints together whether they be Jews or Gentiles, that the glory of His grace is seen in its fulness.
We have merely glanced at these petitions. Much of the wonder of their meaning defies explanation. Their grandeur eludes the fetters of language. If this be true of the individual petitions, how much more of the final climax—that ye may be filled unto all the fulness of God!
Paul has prayed for Holy Spirit strength to enable them to arrive at knowledge beyond their highest aspiration so that the final result may come to them in access and progress unto the fulness of God. One passage which sheds some light on this remarkable phrase is Col. 2: 9 (R.V.): "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily and in Him ye are made full. In chapter 1: 23 of the Epistle, Paul has already spoken of the Church as His body, "the fulness of Him that filleth all in all.'' He is swept along by spiritual daring to the consummation of the riches of grace and glory. Here everything is incomplete—there all will be fulfilled—there "a full grown man, the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ."
“The Believer’s Magazine” 1962