• Lucas McKown

Rooted and Grounded in Love (1 of 3)


Often, the source of things is more interesting than the thing itself. For example, the fact that all lakes in South Carolina are manmade. Yeah, lakes are cool and interesting. (Personally, I find them kind of gross.) But the idea that there were no lakes here not that long ago blows my mind. How did this area look? How did this area look without Jocassee, Hartwell, or Keowee? Or let me ask y’all a question, and we can see if y’all can guess it. From where does the Colorado River get most of its water? …It gets most of its water from snowfall. The source of its water is melting snow off mountains. Another wild example is where the phrase “unleaded gas” came from. Who has seen this? Probably all of you, multiple times a day. Well, behind that, there were years of a legal battle between a lone scientist and oil companies to get lead out of gasoline. Now, it is all unleaded, but it used to all be leaded. The phrase has just stuck around for 50 years.


In all those cases, the sources are just as interesting, if not more interesting than the thing itself. So, what about love? Our theme is “rooted and ground in love”. We must ask “What is love and what is its source?” Let’s look at the text of focus: Ephesians 3:14-21.


[14] For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, [15] from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, [16] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, [17] so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, [19] and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. [20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)

The structure of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is like that of most other letters in the New Testament. It starts by answering the question “What has God done?”, then it ends with answering “What are you to do?” In Romans, the first eleven chapters are about what God has done, and the last five are about what you, as a believer, should do. In Ephesians, it is split right down the middle. There are six chapters; the first three talk about what God has done, and the last three are instructions for whoever believes what God has done. So, as you have probably noticed, our text is right on the transition between the two parts. Paul is ending his talking about what God has done, and he is about to talk about what the believer should do.


Typically following this transition is a “therefore”. We see this in the first verse of chapter four. What does this mean? Overall, you see “God has done this, therefore do this.” What does this tell us? Well, there is a causal structure. One thing is causing the other. The second is because of the first. The first is; therefore, the second is. Let’s look at the process of dropping a ball. I let go; therefore, the ball drops. The ball drops because I let go. Me letting go of the ball has caused the ball to drop. Learning this, what does it tell us? It tells us that only because of the good that God has done in the Christian, can the Christian do good, can the Christian please God. God’s good work has caused the Christian to be able to do good works. So, I ask you this: Can someone who is not a Christian do good? Can someone who is not a Christian please God? Romans 8 says it clearly, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Does it leave it there? Absolutely not. The next sentence in Romans 8 is “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact, the Spirit of God dwells in you.” There is hope for those in the flesh; they can be made to be in the Spirit. And if the Spirit of God dwells in you, if God has worked in you, you can, then, please him. God has worked; therefore, you can work.


We now know where the passage is in the whole span of Ephesians. How does this help us understand what the passage is saying? It tells us that all these good things come from God. They are something that God has done. They do not come from you or anything else. James writes that “every good and perfect gift is from” God. So, what is the source of this love in which we are to be rooted and grounded? Its source is God, the God of love. What is the source of the strengthening that Paul talks about in this passage? God. What is the source of power? God. The source of faith? God. The source of knowledge? God. He is the source of all of this. That is why Paul concludes the passage by giving him glory. It is all from him and for his glory. Paul is setting up his commands to the Ephesians, making sure they know that their obedience is only because of God.


Also, since God is the source of all of this, it makes sense for the passage to begin with a plea to God for these good things.


[14] For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, [15] from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, [16] that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, [17] so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. (ESV)

Paul prays to God, the source of every being, heavenly and earthly, that God may grant the Spirit and Christ to you, according to the riches of his glory.


Notice Paul bowing his knees to the Father. His position shows submission to the Father. He knows that if he wants anything he must go to God. Why is his submission important? Well, let’s compare it to a similar situation. Let’s say you want something from someone who has authority over you. Let’s say you need a pencil from your teacher, and you walk up to him with your chest up and say, “give me a pencil.” At that point, you are failing to recognize who that person is. That person is in charge; you are not. It is the same way when we go to prayer. We must recognize to whom we are speaking. We are not talking to a bud or dude. We are talking to God, maker of heaven and earth, controller of all things, source of all that is good. When we recognize this, we recognize that prayer is no small thing. It leads us to be grateful for being able to go to our God.


Paul not only bows his knees to show his recognition of who God is, but he then says who God is. He is the one “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” Paul is pointing to God as the creator. The Jews would talk of their father Abraham, and they would say that he is after whom they have been named. Now, Paul is pointing to someone far greater than Abraham. This someone is not only who everyone on earth is named, but heaven also. He is the source of all living things.


Now that Paul has laid the foundation for his prayer, recognizing to whom he is praying, he states the reason for his prayer. He prays that God grant the Christians “to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in [their] inner being.” Paul knows that, for the Christians to be strengthened, the strengthening must come from God. There is also some interesting here. Not only is the strengthening to be granted by God, but it must be delivered through God; they are “to be strengthened with power through his Spirit”.

Paul also prays for God to grant “that Christ may dwell in [their] hearts through faith.” Paul prays that God grant himself to his people. There is no better gift than God himself, and that is what we have in Christ.


Paul humbly prays for God to give himself and all that comes with him to his people. What does it look like when God does this? Well, Paul says this next.


that you, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, [19] and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (ESV)

First, it looks like being rooted and grounded in love. What love are we to be rooted and grounded in? The love of God, the source of true love. What other love would we be grounded in? No other love is so solid. That “love” you feel from your girlfriend or boyfriend is nothing compared to the love of God. That love will come and go, but the love of God will not. The love of your friends, your aunts, uncles, grandparents, and parents are shifting sand compared to the love of God. You are to be rooted and grounded in the solid ground of the love of God.


Secondly, once we are rooted and grounded in love, it is to “have strength to comprehend with all the saints” the vastness. The vastness of what? Most translations don’t say exactly. This is because the Greek is a little unclear. It either means the vastness of God’s love or God himself, who is love. I think that it is talking about the love of God because that is what was just talked about and is where the passage goes next: “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge”. This love is so vast that we cannot even fully know it, and this love fills us “with all the fullness of God.” What great a love! We receive it though we cannot fully know it, though we do not deserve it.

Remember this love is given not because of what we have done, but because of what God has done. We are not good. We have done nothing to deserve this. We were enemies of God. We hated his guts. Yet, he loved us. Yet, he has given himself to us. Christ, who is God, gave himself up for us even though we could not please him, even though we were his enemies, even though we rebelled against him. This is the love in which we are to be grounded. What other love would you want to be grounded in? There is no love greater than this. We have no greater picture of true love than the love that Christ has shown us. If we recognize this, who else would we give glory to than God? That is why Paul says what he says next.


[20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (ESV)

Paul continues by proclaiming the great love of God because God is he “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think”. Now, think of all things. It’s impossible, right? The same goes with what God can give us. He is not only able to give us all that we ask or think, but he can also give us far more abundantly than all that we ask to think. Think of all the things that you could possibly ask for. Yes, he can give far more abundantly than all that. But, does he? Not necessarily. This is because he wants to give you more than you can ask for. You may ask for money, but he can give you something infinitely more valuable: trust in him. You may ask for a good boyfriend or girlfriend, but he can give you something infinitely more valuable: intimacy with himself. Could he give you money or a significant other? Absolutely, but it might not be what is best for you. God gives and withholds out of his grace. When he withholds, he is doing it out of the same grace and mercy with which he gives.


What is the great gift that he has given? Well, it is that thing through which he gives. It is the power at work within us. It is the Holy Spirit. Again, we see the greatest gift is God himself. The most satisfying thing is God. What brings most joy is God. Our greatest purpose in life is to enjoy and glorify God forever. It is what is most fulfilling, so if you are looking for this fulfillment somewhere else, you are not going to find it. If you are looking for it in a screen, person, or valuables, your not going to find it.


Finally, it is to this great God that glory is to be given. Let him be glorified in the church. How do you glorify him? You kill sin. You reflect him more fully by resembling the likeness of his Son. If you don’t kill sin, you will fail to reflect the glory of God, and, therefore, fail to do what you have been made to do; this will kill you. So, as John Owen said, “kill sin or it will be killing you.”


If you are a believer, humbly pray for God to grant you power through the Spirit, that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. In this, be rooted and grounded in what God has done, in how he has shown his love in the Gospel. How unfathomable the love is that he has shown us! Finally, give God the glory; recognize that you have provided nothing towards your salvation except the sin that made it necessary, leading you to kill sin and proclaim the goodness of God to everyone you know.


If you are not a believer, know that you are an enemy of God. You are in a losing fight with your Creator, and if you do not turn from your sin and believe in him, you will face wrath that you cannot imagine. Just how he gives to the believer an incomprehensible amount, so is the torment that awaits you incomprehensible. Turn from your sin; recognize that it is nothing compared to the riches that are found in Christ. And believe in the triune God of the Bible: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

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