New Hope UMC

Lessons 8: Paul’s Prayer and Doxology (3:14-21)

November 8, 2018

Key Verses. 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Pastor Wilson explains, “Doxologies are short, spontaneous ascriptions of praise to God, usually having three parts: (1) the One to whom glory is given, (2) the ascription of “glory,” and, in Paul’s doxologies, (3) the expression “forever and ever.” We sing a Doxology every Sunday. It is a full acknowledgement of God's power and love for us. And that He can use that power to work in us. But it is up to us to put ourselves in a place where we can receive the Power. It is always there, but we are not always ready.

We begin this lesson with Paul telling the Ephesians about this Power and how they may receive it. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being....” (3:16) The inner being is the Holy Spirit in us. "When the new birth occurs, the Holy Spirit is somehow fused with our human spirit making us alive to God, vitally connected to Him through the Spirit, and infused with life of an eternal quality and magnitude." The inner strengthening is the dwelling of Christ in their hearts. 

Wilson points out that Paul is not praying for their salvation. That has already been assured. He is praying for their sanctification. This is a topic we will explore in some detail. Briefly, it is the process of purification that comes after being born again, the quest for holiness. "For without sanctification, our view of God and our faith is so diminished and straitjacketed that we can hardly see God in his fullness (Hebrews 12:14), nor can we be truly filled with the Spirit."

We then take up the concept of love, the love that was characteristic of our Savior. This is the love required of us to experience the fullness of the Holy Spirit. "Only if we know the experience of loving hard-to-love people, can we truly comprehend the ins and outs of Christ’s immense love."

Discussion questions. 

Discussion question 1. (Ephesians 3:16-17)  Do the concepts of (a) strengthened by the Spirit in the inner person, and (b) Christ dwelling in our hearts say the same thing, or are they separate and distinct ideas? What do you think?

Discussion question 2. (3:18-19) What kinds of things prevent us from comprehending the far reaches of Christ’s love? What happens in the way we live when we do comprehend, know, and experience this love? What would be different about your life if you could grasp this?

Discussion question 3. (Ephesians 3:16, 19) What does it mean to be “filled with the Spirit” (verse 16)? Is this a one-time experience or a continual reality? What can we do to be filled with the Spirit? Is it different or the same as being “filled with all the fullness of God” (verse 19)?

Discussion question 4. (Ephesians 3:21) What might be different in your own congregation if bringing glory to God were considered the very most important function of the church? What would be different in your life if bringing God glory was your most important job, bar none?