************ Sermon on Ephesians 3:17-19 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on January 2, 1999

Wedding Message for Mark Rip & Annette Groen
Scripture: Ephesians 3:17-19
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, (18) may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, (19) and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Mark & Annette:
The Apostle Paul prays that you may grasp and know "how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ." How wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Christ? Let me illustrate this love with a story from the time of Oliver Cromwell in England:
Topic: Love
Index: 2200-2209
Date: 7/1998.101
Title: Ringing of the Curfew Bell

A young soldier had been tried in military court and sentenced to death. He was to be shot at the "ringing of the curfew bell." His fiance้ climbed up into the bell tower several hours before curfew time and tied herself to the bell's huge clapper. At curfew time, when only muted sounds came out of the bell tower, Cromwell demanded to know why the bell was not ringing. His soldiers went to investigate and found the young woman cut and bleeding from being knocked back and forth against the great bell. They brought her down and Cromwell was so impressed with her willingness to suffer in this way on behalf of someone she loved that he let the soldier go saying, "Curfew shall not ring tonight."
This story is an illustration of the love of Christ. Christ's love is so "wide and long and high and deep" that He is willing to do this and more for us. And, Mark & Annette, this is the kind of love you are to have for one another.

How wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Christ? Think of the cross of Christ. I'm not talking about what happened on the cross. I'm talking about the actual cross. It points up to the heavens, and it points down to the depths. It points to the east, and it points to the west. The love of Christ is like the cross – it points to all points of the compass and to all corners of the universe.

How wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Christ? Think of the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile, between man and God. The love of Christ broke down, smashed down, and destroyed the wall that separated Jew from Gentile and man from God (Eph 2:14f).

How wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Christ? As the eternal Son of God, Christ in heaven had glory and majesty. He was very God of very God. By Him were the heavens and the earth and everything in them made. His almighty arm held up the sun and moon and stars. The praises of the cherubim and seraphim perpetually surrounded Him. The full chorus of the hallelujahs of the universe unceasingly flowed to the foot of His throne. He reigned supreme over all creatures. He was God over all, blessed and exalted forever. When Christ took on our flesh He emptied Himself of all of this pomp and glory. Instead, He took on our sin and our shame, our misery and our grief, our fallenness and our depravity. He made Himself nothing. He took on the nature of a servant. He humbled Himself. He emptied Himself out of love (Phil 2:5f).

How wide, how long, how high, how deep is the love of Christ? Think of what happened on the cross. He Who was King of the universe became obedient to death. He Who was the Son of God became a man of sorrows. He suffered, He bled, He died. He was forsaken by the Father. He endured the torments of hell. He suffered all of this out of love.

Paul prays that the Ephesian church will "grasp", "seize", "get hold of" (vs 18) this wondrous love of Christ. He prays that they will "know this love" (vs 19) – that is, experience it personally in their hearts and lives. Paul prays that the Ephesian church will make the love of Christ their love. And, Mark & Annette, I pray that as a married couple you also will make the love of Christ your love.

The Apostle Paul tells you how to make Christ's love your love. He prays that you may be "rooted and established in love" (vs 17b), he prays that "Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith" (vs 17a), and he prays that God "may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being" (vs 16b). These are three different ways of saying the same thing: you need to have a relationship with Christ. For Christ's love to be your love you need to have a relationship with Christ.

Mark & Annette, this is nothing new for either of you. During pre-marital counseling you both told me how important Christ is to your marriage relationship. But let me tell you again: you need to keep Christ as the center of your relationship; you need to live for Him Who died for you; you need to spend time with Him every day in prayer; you need to read and study His Word in daily devotions, in family devotions, and in the company of other believers; you need to worship Him every Sunday. And, as you find yourselves being drawn closer and closer to Him, you will also find yourselves growing in His love – in His love which is so wide and long and high and deep.

I have pointed out to almost every couple I have ever united in marriage that there are four words for love in the Greek Bible. A healthy marriage needs to have all four kinds of love.

The first is "eros." This is a "getting" love. Eros is usually associated with sexual love. The basic element is a desire, a will to possess seeking satisfaction. Eros exists because it sees something desirable in another. Eros flickers and fades as the winds of desire rise and wane.

The second word for love is "stergo." This is a "caring" love. This is the natural love which we have for others. As human beings we love others as part of humanity. This love recognizes that all men are closely bound together, dependent on each other, and obligated to each other because of their common humanity. This is the love that we show to a neighbor in need or that we have for the poor and hungry we try to assist.

"Philos" is a third word for love. This is a "sharing" love. This word expresses the affection we feel for those close to us. It is called out of the heart by the pleasure one takes in another. It is the love between friends or among family. It is based on common interests, common attractions, and a close sharing of many things.

The final Greek word for love is "agape." This is a "giving" love. It is a love which impels one to sacrifice for the benefit of the other person. This love seeks to give rather than to get. Agape love keeps on loving even when the other person doesn't respond; agape love keeps on loving without asking for anything in return.

"Agape" is the word used in Ephesians to describe the love of Christ. And, Mark & Annette, this is the kind of love that you will find yourselves growing in as you draw closer and closer to Christ.

What happens when you have this love, this agape love, this love of Christ? Don't forget, this is a love that always gives rather than gets. Agape love is Christ's love – a love which is so wide and long and high and deep. It is "agape" love which allows a husband and wife to clothe themselves with "compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience" (Col 3:12). It is "agape" love which allows them to bear each other's faults and forgive each other (Col 3:13). It is "agape" love which is patient and kind; which does not envy or boast; which is not proud, rude, self-seeking, or easily angered; which keeps no record of wrongs; which does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth; which always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (1 Cor 13:4-7).
Topic: Friendship
Subtopic: Examples of True
Index: 1323

Little Chad was a shy, quiet young fella. One day he came home and told his mother, he'd like to make a valentine for everyone in his class. Her heart sank. She thought, "I wish he wouldn't do that!" because she had watched the children when they walked home from school. Her Chad was always behind them. They laughed and hung on to each other and talked to each other. But Chad was never included. Nevertheless, she decided she would go along with her son. So she purchased the paper and glue and crayons. For three whole weeks, night after night, Chad painstakingly made thirty-five valentines.
Valentine's Day dawned, and Chad was beside himself with excitement! He carefully stacked them up, put them in a bag, and bolted out the door. His mom decided to bake him his favorite cookies and serve them up warm and nice with a cool glass of milk when he came home from school. She just knew he would be disappointed -- maybe that would ease the pain a little. It hurt her to think that he wouldn't get many valentines -- maybe none at all.
That afternoon she had the cookies and milk on the table. When she heard the children outside she looked out the window. Sure enough here they came, laughing and having the best time. And, as always, there was Chad in the rear. He walked a little faster than usual. She fully expected him to burst into tears as soon as he got inside. His arms were empty, she noticed, and when the door opened she choked back the tears.
"Mommy has some warm cookies and milk for you."
But he hardly heard her words. He just marched right on by, his face aglow, and all he could say was: "Not a one -- not a one."
Her heart sank.
And then he added, "I didn't forget a one, not a single one!"
This is what happens when the agape love of Christ, the giving love of Christ, the love which is so wide and long and high and deep fills us. We realize then that life's greatest joy is to give His love away – a thought that brings to mind the saying:
It isn't a song until it's sung.
It isn't a bell until it's rung.
It isn't love until it's given away!

Mark & Annette, my hope and my prayer and my confidence is that the love of Christ – which is so wide and long and high and deep – is your love until death do you part.
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