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← Effectual Prayer Empowered by the Spirit - Don Currin

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Showing Revision 2 created 10/09/2017 by Carrie Spradlin.

  1. I want you to open your Bibles
    if you would tonight
  2. to Ephesians 3.
  3. You certainly appreciate this more
    sure word of prophecy
  4. as much as I do,
  5. or you would not be here tonight.
  6. And with that said,
  7. I want to delve into one of Paul's prayers
  8. that he has recorded for us in the
  9. holy Scriptures for us tonight.
  10. I want you to look with
    me here at Ephesians 3.
  11. I'm just going to read the text
  12. from verse 14 through the
    end of the chapter.
  13. A rich epistle it is.
  14. And Paul bears his heart.
  15. Verse 14
  16. "For this reason, I bow my knees
  17. to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
  18. from whom the whole family
  19. in heaven and earth is named.
  20. That He would grant you
  21. according to the riches of His glory
  22. to be strengthened with might
  23. through His Spirit in the inner man,
  24. that Christ may dwell in your
  25. hearts through faith;
  26. that you, being rooted and
    grounded in love,
  27. may be able to comprehend
    with all the saints
  28. what is the width and length
    and depth and height
  29. and to know the love of Christ
  30. which passes knowledge,
  31. that you may be filled
  32. with all the fullness of God.
  33. Now to Him who is able to do
  34. exceedingly, abundantly
  35. above all that we could ask or think,
  36. according to the power that works in us,
  37. to Him be glory in the church
  38. by Christ Jesus to all generations
  39. forever and ever, Amen.
  40. Let's pray once again together.
  41. Father, You know how desparately
  42. we need a visitation from You,
  43. and when we look at this prayer,
  44. we see one of the most astounding
  45. implications is that this is really
  46. the essence of revival praying.
  47. This is what the church needs
  48. to bring it to a dimension
  49. of spiritual reality that sadly
  50. in most circles today has been
  51. long forgotten.
  52. We would ask tonight that
  53. You might draw near
  54. and speak to us.
  55. We know that our dependence
  56. must fall utterly upon You.
  57. There is nothing,
  58. even the best of men,
  59. could come and
    articulate Your truth tonight
  60. and perhaps we would be encouraged
  61. and intellectually stimulated,
  62. but our life would not experience
  63. an abiding, sustained change
  64. that would perpetuate Your glory,
  65. unless the Holy Spirit falls
  66. upon the place.
  67. So we would ask tonight
  68. that You would give us something
  69. that is experimental;
  70. that is profoundly full of reality;
  71. that Your people would be encouraged;
  72. that this would truly be a time
  73. of refreshing from the
    presence of the Lord.
  74. Lord, we beg of You tonight,
  75. grant every lady,
  76. every man here,
  77. all the young people,
  78. a vision of Yourself,
  79. and such a work of Your Spirit,
  80. that would cause the truth
  81. to dance in our hearts.
  82. Please come tonight,
  83. and revive Your people.
  84. We ask in Christ's name,
  85. Amen.
  86. In the way of introduction here tonight,
  87. it is interesting that the preface
  88. of Paul's prayer for the Ephesians
  89. begins with a reason.
  90. He says, "for this reason,"
  91. back in verse 14.
  92. Commentators, quite honestly,
  93. are divided upon what the reason is.
  94. There are some that believe that
  95. the reason is that Paul said,
  96. "I'm held captive," is for preaching
  97. the Gospel and the benefits
  98. that it produces for the Gentiles.
  99. Other commentators believe that the reason
  100. speaks of the advantage
  101. that the Gospel affords
  102. those who are despairing.
  103. As Paul has weathered the storm,
  104. as he's endured persecution,
  105. he's drawing from the Gospel
  106. as a divine buoy to buoy him up
  107. in the midst of his adversities.
  108. Now, in the line of all that the Father
  109. of the Lord Jesus Christ has taken
  110. the initiative to accomplish
  111. both for Jew and Gentile.
  112. Paul is moved to drop to his knees
  113. as you read on.
  114. And pray that the benefits of the Gospel
  115. might be fully grasped by the saints
  116. at Ephesus.
  117. His posture in prayer,
    brethren, is no sham.
  118. It's not a hypocritical gesture.
  119. It is full of reality.
  120. He is in dead earnest here.
  121. As he expresses his heart in dropping
  122. before God and uttering a plea
  123. from the uttermost depths of his heart.
  124. The prayer here that he prays
  125. possesses both petition and praise.
  126. Paul requests that the Ephesians
  127. might be strengthened with might
  128. through the Spirit
  129. in the inner man.
  130. And then he goes on to express
  131. his benediction in prayer
  132. as he tells who is able to do
  133. exceedingly, abundantly above
  134. all that we could ever ask or think.
  135. This afternoon, we will only look at
  136. Paul's petition.
  137. You'll notice in verse 15 now,
  138. it reveals the impartiality of God
  139. as He is a Father
  140. both to Jew and to Gentile.
  141. From both groups,
  142. the Scripture here says
  143. He has called His elect
  144. and united them as the whole family
  145. in heaven and earth.
  146. Therefore, listen:
  147. the phrase refers to a common bond
  148. of all who have been reconciled
  149. with the Father through Christ.
  150. It does not refer to God giving
  151. each of His children individual names.
  152. Rather, it speaks of all God's children,
  153. whether Jew or Gentile.
  154. Whether they are in heaven or earth,
  155. being under the same Father,
  156. and in other words, He says
  157. that all are the same
    spiritual faith family
  158. that are under the name of the Lord God.
  159. Al Barnes made this statement:
  160. "The expression is taken from the
  161. custom in a family,
  162. where all bear the name of the
  163. head of the family
  164. and the meaning is that
  165. all in heaven and on earth
  166. are united under one Head
  167. and constitute one faith community."
  168. Now we're laying a foundation.
  169. Please bear with me for a moment.
  170. When you look at Paul's petition here,
  171. you might get the impression that
  172. he's asking multiple blessings
  173. for the Ephesians.
  174. But it's interesting,
  175. he's only petitioning God for one thing:
  176. that they might be strengthened with might
  177. through the Spirit, in the inner man.
  178. The petition is that the inner man
  179. of every believer would be quickened
  180. to grasp this request.
  181. The saints in Ephesus.
  182. That they would encounter four
  183. spiritual entities.
  184. These are blessed things.
  185. Namely, that Christ would
    dwell in their hearts.
  186. That they would be
    rooted and grounded in love.
  187. And that they might
    know the love of Christ
  188. that surpasses intellect.
  189. That they might know it in their heart,
  190. this spiritual reality,
  191. and then a total domination of God
  192. in all of life.
  193. We'll come back to that in a moment.
  194. But you'll note, brethren,
  195. that while Paul never
    uses the term "revival,"
  196. he is describing the nature of one.
  197. For these four things,
  198. they are the result of being
    strengthened with might
  199. by God's Spirit, are characteristic
  200. of global awakenings in the history
  201. of the church.
  202. For example, you see that he mentions
  203. a greater dimension of love,
  204. both in love for others
  205. and the Father's love for us.
  206. Often in church history,
  207. great times of revival,
  208. times of spiritual awakening
  209. are described as showers or
  210. torrents of love.
  211. Love for God.
  212. Love for the saints.
  213. Love for the unregenerate.
  214. It's characterized by showers of love.
  215. So with that said tonight,
  216. let me share with you three things.
  217. First of all,
  218. the desperate need for effectual prayer.
  219. Paul is in earnest,
  220. in Ephesians 3:14,
  221. "For this reason, I bow my knees
  222. to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,"
  223. and then verse 16,
  224. "that He would grant you..."
  225. Now, brothers and sisters,
  226. I remind you that the apostle
  227. was a praying man.
  228. He was a living epistle
  229. of intercessory prayer.
  230. He was aware that he had written to them
  231. and prayed for them,
  232. that his prayer would not be in vain,
  233. because he depended on the Holy Spirit
  234. to strengthen them to lay hold of
  235. these glorious realities.
  236. But he prayed.
  237. Spurgeon said that prayer is the rope
  238. that rings the bell in the ear of God.
  239. Someone defined intercession years ago
  240. as a ballistic missile
    that can be launched
  241. from a launching pad
  242. no larger than a place to kneel,
  243. travel at the speed of thought,
  244. land precisely on target
    thousands of miles away,
  245. and there is no defense against it.
  246. It's prayer.
  247. Are you a praying person?
  248. Are you a praying man?
  249. Now here's something that's interesting.
  250. With all of his credentials,
  251. with all of his ministerial
  252. and spiritual pedigree,
  253. Paul knew that that was not sufficient
  254. to bring about a work of God.
  255. He cast himself upon God in prayer.
  256. Here's a thought:
  257. Do we pray?
  258. Do we know anything of our own
  259. utter weakness?
  260. Is our prayerless an acknowledgement
  261. that we are too dependent
  262. on ourselves?
  263. Let me remind you
  264. that prayer is the language of the poor,
  265. the poverty stricken.
  266. And those who posture themselves
  267. as beggars,
  268. win the heart of God in prayer.
  269. You see, Paul prayed,
  270. and he prayed often.
  271. You find his ongoing pleas
  272. for the Ephesian saints are revealed
  273. in this epistle alone.
  274. Consider how he often prays.
  275. He prayed for them in Ephesians 1:16-23
  276. when he asked God to give them
  277. the Spirit of wisdom and revelation
  278. for their spiritual advantage
  279. and knowing what the hope
  280. of their calling was,
  281. the riches of the glory
  282. of the inheritance,
  283. and the exceeding riches or
  284. greatness of His power
  285. toward them.
  286. Now listen,
  287. listen for a moment,
  288. he also prays here in Ephesians 3
  289. for their understanding.
  290. Through that understanding,
  291. there would be a divine enablement
  292. wrought by the Holy Spirit,
  293. whereby they might be
  294. strengthened with might.
  295. And he's praying and believing God
  296. that they might grasp these
  297. glorious benefits,
  298. which are fourfold as a result
  299. of being strengthened,
  300. enabled by the Spirit.
  301. He prays again you find
  302. in Ephesians 6:18 for the saints.
  303. When he tells them
    that he's praying always
  304. with all prayer and supplication
  305. for all the saints.
  306. Brothers and sisters,
  307. we don't put on the whole armor of God
  308. just to overcome evil.
  309. We don't put on the whole armor of God
  310. to obtain some prized object
  311. that we're believing God for.
  312. That's a part of it.
  313. But you find in the context,
  314. the purpose of putting on
  315. the whole armor of God
  316. is to pray.
  317. To supplicate in prayer.
  318. This is the thing
  319. that we should underscore.
  320. Listen, Paul prayed.
  321. He prayed because he recognized
  322. his inability to effect change.
  323. And he prayed faithfully because
  324. he continued to be consciously aware
  325. of his own helplessness.
  326. You see, we pray by virtue
  327. of the fact that we
    recognize in some measure
  328. our utter helplessness before God.
  329. But the spiritually proud,
  330. the self-sufficient,
  331. find it very difficult
    to maintain continuity
  332. when it comes to pleading before
  333. the throne of God.
  334. Paul prayed.
  335. He prayed earnestly for the Spirit.
  336. Listen,
  337. while we might not like to hear it,
  338. this I believe in our hour
  339. is a tribute to self-sufficiency.
  340. Our own prayerlessness.
  341. Do you pray?
  342. Can you continue in prayer?
  343. Do you know anything
  344. of the prayer of importunity?
  345. Perhaps God many times uses
  346. the very ministry of prayer
  347. to wean us off of our own self
  348. and independence of Him in ministry.
  349. But there's a second thing
  350. I want you to see in the text.
  351. And that is in chapter 3:16.
  352. And that is the need of
    the Spirit's enablement.
  353. The Spirit's enablement.
  354. Notice once again the phrase,
  355. "to be strengthened with might
  356. through His Spirit."
  357. It's interesting.
  358. Throughout Paul's epistles,
  359. the churches and individuals
  360. he uses such phrases as,
  361. "by the Spirit,"
  362. "through the Spirit,"
  363. "in the Spirit."
  364. Do we know this type of prayer?
  365. To be utterly dependent
    upon the Holy Spirit?
  366. He's dependent on the
    Father for his petitions,
  367. but he relies on the Holy Spirit
  368. to quicken those petitions in the hearts
  369. of his people.
  370. In Ephesians alone, you see
  371. the apostle's great consciousness
  372. of the Holy Spirit.
  373. For example, back in Ephesians 2:22,
  374. there he's speaking of the church,
  375. he says it's built together
  376. for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
  377. Ephesians 3:5
  378. He speaks of a revelation that comes
  379. by the Spirit to His holy
  380. apostles and prophets.
  381. In Ephesians 3:16,
  382. there is our text,
  383. to be strengthened with might
  384. by His Spirit in the inner man.
  385. Ephesians 4:3
  386. Endeavoring to keep
    the unity of the Spirit
  387. in the bond of peace.
  388. Look at Ephesians 6:17.
  389. There he speaks of
    the sword of the Spirit,
  390. which is the Word of God.
  391. And then the very next verse,
  392. verse 18, praying always with all
  393. prayer and supplication in the Spirit.
  394. I ask you tonight, friend,
  395. do you have an ongoing
  396. dependence upon the Holy Spirit?
  397. You say, well, I believe that I do.
  398. But once again, to reiterate
  399. what we've already covered.
  400. Is it reflected in prayer?
  401. Are you seeking Him because you know
  402. that there is nothing that
    you could engineer?
  403. Nothing that you could mentally concoct
  404. that could really change the course
  405. of someone's life?
  406. God does all that He can to wean us,
  407. once again, off ourself to make us
  408. earnestly dependent upon the Holy Spirit.
  409. Listen to this.
  410. It was Ravenhill years ago who said
  411. God does not answer prayer;
  412. He answers desperate prayer.
  413. Do we know anything of the dimension
  414. of prayer of this sort?
  415. To be dead earnest in prayer.
  416. The point I want to make
  417. is how desparately we need to be
  418. consciously aware
  419. of the Holy Spirit
  420. to make the things of the Gospel real
  421. to people.
  422. Real to those who are unconverted.
  423. And alive in the hearts of those
  424. who do know the Savior.
  425. Have you ever heard
    someone make this statement?
  426. Describing the work of the Holy Spirit.
  427. It's hard to explain.
  428. I have a difficult time articulating
  429. exactly what I sensed.
  430. What I sensed God through a manifestation
  431. of His presence was accomplishing.
  432. Spurgeon talked about at times
  433. how there were words that
  434. came from his mouth in preaching,
  435. that he did not direct.
  436. It was like they came impulsively.
  437. I've heard people talk about
  438. the sanctifying work of the Spirit.
  439. Or how He began to move
  440. in answer to prayer.
  441. And the bottom line is,
  442. well, I'll try, but I just
    really can't explain it.
  443. You know, perhaps, we need
  444. that kind of religion today.
  445. A religion that we cannot explain
  446. in human terms.
  447. Well, here is the major thrust
  448. and implication of the message tonight.
  449. If you would, look at a third thing
  450. with me in the text.
  451. And that is the desparate need
  452. of experimental reality.
  453. He says back in Ephesians 3:17-19
  454. that there are four things that will be
  455. the consequence of being strengthened
  456. with might by the Spirit
  457. in the inner man.
  458. The first thing notes in verse 17,
  459. that Christ may dwell in your hearts
  460. through faith.
  461. Now brothers and sisters, listen.
  462. What Paul is saying in essence here
  463. is that you might know a felt Christ.
  464. A felt Christ.
  465. When the Spirit of God takes the field
  466. in genuine awakening,
  467. Jesus becomes real.
  468. There is no greater fulfillment.
  469. Listen.
  470. You will notice the word
  471. that refers to something previous
  472. when he says that Christ may
  473. dwell in your hearts through faith.
  474. Something previous that has occurred,
  475. once again, connected with the fulfillment
  476. of this petition that they're
  477. strengthened by the Spirit.
  478. The matter that the word points to
  479. is His work.
  480. The Spirit's work.
  481. He makes Christ real.
  482. It is marvelous, brethren.
  483. A very marvelous thing
  484. when the Spirit of God comes
  485. and makes one keenly aware
  486. that Jesus is in the midst.
  487. What we're looking at
    here in this first point,
  488. a felt Christ,
  489. and the other three glorious entities
  490. is radically subjective.
  491. And I would say in
    passing tonight, friend,
  492. I'm all for the intellect.
  493. I'm all for sharpening our minds.
  494. Accruing a greater
    theological understanding.
  495. But we cannot afford for it to stop there.
  496. Does your theology make your heart dance?
  497. Does it move you to obedience?
  498. Do you know anything of a felt Christ?
  499. Is the reward of earnest prayer
  500. in utter dependence upon the Holy Spirit?
  501. Interestingly, know that we have the
  502. person of Jesus resident within
  503. in the person of the Holy Spirit.
  504. But what does Paul refer to when he says
  505. that Christ may dwell in
    your hearts through faith?
  506. Listen.
  507. He is speaking of a
    Spirit-wrought awareness
  508. which entails an enlivening of our faith
  509. that we might lay hold of the reality
  510. of the Christ that is about us.
  511. This is revival.
  512. This is revival.
  513. It is the manifestation of His glory.
  514. Secondly, look at another thing
  515. that this strengthening
    of the Spirit produces.
  516. That you being rooted and grounded
  517. in love.
  518. In essence, what Paul is saying,
  519. that there is an unchanging posture
  520. of love in your life
    that you will encounter.
  521. Now, it's interesting here,
  522. the phrase makes no qualification.
  523. It's not just speaking
    of our love for God.
  524. But rather, I believe that it addresses
  525. every relationship in our lives.
  526. Our love for sinners.
  527. Our love for saints.
  528. Our love in the face of hostility.
  529. Even people, perhaps, that we have
  530. some measure of contempt or aversion for.
  531. Don't miss the point.
  532. When the Spirit strengthens, friend,
  533. all of a sudden,
  534. these issues that have
    divided you and somebody else
  535. begin to fade away
    in the light of eternity.
  536. You become so rooted and grounded in love,
  537. your love doesn't vacillate on the basis
  538. of how people treat you.
  539. Even when there is no tangible sense
  540. of the presence of God,
  541. you still love Him.
  542. And it's nothing short of fervant
  543. when the Spirit comes.
  544. You see, friend, the point is,
  545. to be rooted and grounded in love
  546. means that it does not fluctuate
  547. or change or vacillate
  548. depending on our circumstances.
  549. We still love God,
  550. even when we don't sense His presence.
  551. Even when we're struggling to get
  552. anything out of the Word,
  553. or we're having a difficult time
  554. connecting in prayer.
  555. We still love Him.
  556. And we still love our enemies.
  557. And we love the most undesirable people
  558. in our churches.
  559. Why?
  560. Because we've been rooted and grounded
  561. in love through the strengthening work
  562. of the Holy Spirit.
  563. You see that?
  564. The idea here is that the grace of love
  565. has been so firmly planted in our hearts
  566. that it affords a dimension of love
  567. that extends to all relationships,
  568. not just to God, but all.
  569. So here's a third thing.
  570. Paul said that they might be
  571. strengthened with might by the Spirit.
  572. In verse 18, that they may be able
  573. to comprehend with all the saints
  574. what is the width, and length,
    and depth, and height
  575. in reference to the love of God.
  576. To know the love of Christ
  577. which passes knowledge.
  578. It's interesting the phrase,
  579. "to know the love of Christ."
  580. The Greek word means to
  581. perceptibly feel.
  582. I feel it.
  583. And when he says,
  584. to know the love of Christ
  585. which passes knowledge,
  586. it's the picture of something
  587. being thrown beyond intellect.
  588. This, my friend, is not cerebral.
  589. This is not mental.
  590. This, once again, is radically subjective.
  591. When He comes,
  592. when He answers this prayer
  593. to be strengthened with might,
  594. I tell you, friend,
  595. you begin to feel the love of Christ.
  596. It's hard to measure
  597. the depth.
  598. You can't take it all in.
  599. It's an overwhelming thing.
  600. The word comprehend here
  601. means to spiritually perceive
  602. or grasp a dimension of Christ's love
  603. that surpasses what you know mentally.
  604. Listen.
  605. Matthew Henry said it best
  606. in a very simple, very succinct way.
  607. Where Christ dwells, He swells.
  608. He swells.
  609. And where Christ's love for us dwells,
  610. suddenly when the Spirit strengthens us,
  611. it swells.
  612. It's like an ocean to swim in.
  613. You think these songs on the love of God
  614. were written out of pure intellect?
  615. The deep, deep love of Jesus?
  616. These people encountered something.
  617. He was underscoring that the vastness
  618. of such an infinite love
  619. is explored by faith and
    by the Spirit's work.
  620. But then finally,
  621. there's a fourth glorious reality here
  622. that's the product of the strengthening
  623. work of the Holy Spirit.
  624. And that is that you might be filled with
  625. all the fullness of God.
  626. This is very interesting.
  627. Listen.
  628. The reality is that the Ephesians
  629. and each of us might know
  630. the riches of His person;
  631. the person of God.
  632. Think about it with me.
  633. To think that God took the initiative
  634. to send His Son to the world
  635. to not only redeem us,
  636. but to give us the fullness of Himself,
  637. friend, is almost indescribable.
  638. What does the text say?
  639. We're not only filled with God,
  640. but secondly, we're filled
  641. with the fullness of God.
  642. And thirdly, we're filled with
  643. all the fullness of God.
  644. Isn't that what you
    came to this meeting for?
  645. Isn't this what you desire?
  646. This is what I long for.
  647. I'm 63 years old, friend.
  648. I don't want to creep
    across the finish line.
  649. I'm seeking to preach out of the passion
  650. of wanting more.
  651. God, please, answer this prayer
  652. in my life.
  653. In the lives of our people.
  654. And in the lives of the church.
  655. That they might be filled with
  656. all Your fullness.
  657. Yes, Piper had it right.
  658. God is the Gospel.
  659. By virtue of giving forth His Son,
  660. He sought to give us Himself
  661. in all of His fullness.
  662. So, think with me.
  663. To think that the very God in whom we move
  664. and breathe and have our being,
  665. has given us such a promise,
  666. to be filled with all the fullness of God,
  667. ought to constrain us to pray.
  668. Paul says that we
    might be filled with God.
  669. Have you noticed in Paul's writings,
  670. it's a favorite expression?
  671. The fullness. Fullness.
  672. Talks about the fullness of the Gentiles.
  673. Romans 11:25
  674. The fullness of time.
    Galatians 4:4.
  675. The fullness of Him
    that filleth all in all;
  676. Ephesians 1:23
  677. And the fullness of Christ.
    Ephesians 4:13
  678. The fullness of the Godhead in Christ.
    Colossians 1:9
  679. And it means here
  680. and I quote Donald Barnes,
  681. "that you may have the richest..."
  682. Now this is great, listen to this.
  683. This will make your heart dance, ok?
  684. "But what the Greek implies here
  685. is that the rich measures of divine
  686. consolation and the very divine presence
  687. itself will be your lot."
  688. What a strengthening agent!
  689. "That you may partake of the entire
  690. enjoyment of God in the most ample measure
  691. in which He bestows
    His favors on His people."
  692. That's wonderful.
  693. That's wonderful.
  694. So, I conclude.
  695. I remind you again,
  696. which would be a very fitting reminder.
  697. That this is revival.
  698. This is real, genuine spiritual awakening.
  699. Now, I don't know what your position is
  700. on the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
  701. Some people are cessationists,
  702. but if you are a
    cessationist here tonight,
  703. it doesn't mean that you don't believe
  704. in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  705. He longs to enable His people,
  706. but we must ask.
  707. We must ask earnestly.
  708. In faith,
  709. for Him to come and give us this sense
  710. of a felt Christ,
  711. an unmoveable love,
  712. and all the fullness of God.
  713. That's my prayer.
  714. Would you join me now in prayer?
  715. Let's look to the Lord.
  716. Let's all stand to our feet.
  717. Let us let the benediction of this session
  718. be that just a few of you,
  719. men and women,
  720. as you feel led right now,
  721. maybe three or four,
  722. would you close this part of the meeting
  723. in prayer by asking God to come
  724. and by His Spirit,
  725. strengthen us with might
  726. that we might know these realities
  727. in Ephesians 3.