Good morning. My name is David Sorn, and I’m the Lead Pastor here at Renovation Church.
I want you to imagine you lived hundreds of years ago…
…and in the city which you lived, there isn’t much food, and you know that if you want to ever feel full again, you know you have to leave.
And just as you’re about to leave to who knows where, a great leader named Paul comes to your town…
And he tells you where you can find enough food that you can experience fullness again.
And then he gives you a map so you’ll know the way.
That, my friends, is what we’re going to see in the Bible today.
Our dear friend, the Apostle Paul is going to point us on a pathway to experiencing spiritual fullness.
That is, to a place where we can have great communion with God…where we can experience God fully…or as fully as one can on this earth.
Sometimes when I study a passage in the Bible:
I see a strong main point.
Or a list of points
Or a metaphor
But in today’s passage…what I see in my mind’s eye, is a map.
In this passage, Paul keeps building each concept upon the previous one.
It reads like a journey to be walked.
So, we’re going to walk through a map today.
A big thank you to Kiah Ortman from our design team, and also my creative kids who helped me take this concept from my brain and turn it into a visual map.
So at the start, we’re all at Beginner’s Village.
But the goal is to find our way, to what I’m going to call Fullness Mountain.
A place in our spiritual lives where we would experience God more fully.
But in order to get to Fullness Mountain, we’re going to have to journey through some other places first.
So let’s look at this pathway that Paul lays out for us.
Go ahead and grab a Bible
We’re going to want to study this.
Because spiritually, the vast majority of us are not experiencing the fullness of God like we want to.
Spiritually, too many of us have been living off meager rations for far too long.
But God wants you to know Him deeply and to know Him fully.
But to experience that, you’ve got to know the pathway to walk.
So let’s look at it:
(Ephesians 3:14-19) – NIV
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, 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.
(Title Slide: The Pathway to Fullness Mountain)
That’s what we desire.
And that’s Paul’s desire for us too.
It’s why he starts in verse 14 by saying he’s literally on his knees praying that Christ followers would get this particular truth.
It’s that important!
And so if you’re going to set out from Beginner’s Village…and say, “I’m done with the meager rations…I’m done with the surfacy Christianity…
If you’re ready to start the journey to a deeper faith, then where do you go first?
Let’s look at verse 16 again.
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
Paul is saying that the first thing he wants is for God to strengthen you for the journey ahead.
And so your first stop on the pathway to Fullness Mountain is what I’m going to call the “Strengthen Suburbs”
(Show Pathway Slides_2)
God wants to give you the power to keep walking with Him because…
…if you’re going to be a follower of Christ your ENTIRE life…
…there are going to be some hard seasons that you need to be “strengthened with power” if you’re going to endure them.
And I called this part of the journey where you get powered up, the “Strengthen Suburbs because truthfully there is an everyday, mundaneness to this part of the journey.
It’s kind of like our normal suburban living.
Get up, go to work, go to your kids’ game, clean your house, repeat.
There is a routineness to that kind of life, and in a way, so there is with how you get strengthened with power by God.
If you want to be strengthened for the journey…we need to do as many people did in the Bible, we need to sit at the feet of Jesus.
We need to develop the spiritual disciplines of, every day, opening up God’s Word and opening our hearts in prayer, and saying, “Strengthen me, Father! Speak to me, teach me.”
We need the discipline of being here every week to worship, to learn, to serve.
A huge core value of this church is that “We put God first.”
We need the discipline of prioritizing learning from our brothers & sisters in Christ in House Groups.
And let me be honest: None of those things I just mentioned are flashy, fancy, or even all that exciting at times.
They’re kind of everyday ordinary…
Kind of like the suburbs.
But that “everyday charge” is so important!
Because as humans, we’re like electric vehicles that need to be parked in the garage and charged every day
But unfortunately most of us never want to stop and take the time to sit at God’s charging station to power up.
We just want to keep running around.
Or we think our TV’s or phones are better charging stations when we’re tired.
But they’re not.
The only way you will have the power to make the journey to Fullness Mountain is through the Strengthen Suburbs
You can’t jump to this deeper experience with God by skipping meeting with Him every day or by only coming to church when you got nothing else going on.
That’s like expecting to be an elite athlete but never going to practice.
The journey starts with those daily and weekly charges.
So let me ask you: What routine do you need to put in place starting tonight, or tomorrow, to get charged up?
It’s time to get started, or to get back to this!
THE ROOTED CABIN
Before we look at the next stop, let me point something out.
This map we’re building isn’t truly linear.
It’s not that you go onto the next stage, and then leave the former one behind never to experience it again.
Think of the journey as cumulative.
You keep adding in each new step.
All right, that being said, let’s look at the next verse for the next step, verse 17
Paul wants us to be strengthened… (v.17)
so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
What Paul is talking about in verse 17 is what will happen as a result of your time in Strengthen Suburbs…as a result of you spending daily time with Jesus
And Paul gives us 3 similar words or metaphors that will result:
That 1) Christ can dwell in our hearts.
2) We can be rooted in Him
3) We can be established in love.
Let’s talk those 3 words as we look at our next stop on the pathway to Fullness Mountain…which is what I’m going to call The Rooted Cabin
(Show Pathway Slides_3).
This is the part of your Christian journey where after you’ve let God do some daily strengthening…you start to trust Jesus to do some deeper work in your life.
Let’s start with the first of 3 metaphors used in verse 17: That Christ would Dwell in us (that is live in us)
I read last week that there are two ancient Greek words that convey the idea “to live in.”
One word has the idea of living in a place as a stranger (think like, you’ve living in your airBnB), and the other Greek word has the idea of settling down in a place to make it your permanent home.
That’s the word Paul uses here for Christ “dwelling in your hearts.
Jesus doesn’t want to just visit your heart on Sundays, but he wants to make a permanent home in every part of your heart and life.
He wants to dwell in you, and for His roots to go deep in you.
I called this stage The Rooted Cabin…because I think this is a stage of the spiritual journey where you have to start doing some deeper work with Jesus.
I know in my life, I’ve had seasons where I’ve had to even literally go out to a cabin in the woods, like a prayer cabin at a place like Wilderness Fellowship.
And get away with the Lord and say:
“Why am I in this dry season?”
“Why do I keep getting angry who don’t live up to perfection?”
“Am I really rooted in you?”
“God reveal to me where I’m not letting your roots go deeper into my soul.”
And you don’t actually have to go to a literal cabin to do this sort of spiritual work 😊
It may happen if you get together weekly for a season with your small group leader or a best friend…
And you say, “Hey for the next 10 weeks, we’re going to get together for breakfast and ask each other the hardest, deepest questions:
Like: “Which compartments of your life have you not invited Christ to dwell in?”
“What is God calling you to do, but you’re not obeying him?”
It could also look like meeting with a Christian counselor to do some deeper work
It can look like a lot of different things.
But if you’re going to mature in your walk with Christ so that you can experience more of The Fullness of God in your life…
…you’re going to need to let Christ dwell in more places, grow deeper roots, and to be more established in Christ.
Paul’s 3rd metaphor (of being established) is essentially that we need a firmer foundation.
I’ve had the great opportunity to see a lot of construction firsthand over the last 3 years, but one of the more fascinating aspects of construction that sticks out in my memory from Phase 1 was when they were digging for the foundation.
Getting ready to put the footings in for our walls.
Take a look at this video from what that was happening here.
(Show Construction Day 9 video)
Title Slide: The Pathway to Fullness Mountain
I vividly remember that day.
That deep trench I was walking in was right there.
We needed a deep foundation so that these 30 foot walls would stay up!
See, the higher a building is, the deeper and stronger its foundation must be.
And the same is true with your spiritual life.
If you want your faith to reach high heights, you’ve got to dig a deep foundation.
You must let God’s roots grow deep into every part of your life.
So repeated stops at the Rooted Cabin…are key here.
THE CITY OF HEAVENLY LOVE
All right, where do we go next?
Paul prays that you
Verse 18 now…
That you may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge
If we’re going to get closer to experiencing wonderful communion with God…and knowing Him in His fullness…
…the journey will absolutely take us through what I’m going to call, the City of Heavenly Love
(Show Pathway Slides_4).
Paul is showing us that God’s love is so amazing, and so rich, but that it is something to be experienced, not just known.
That’s verse 19 - It’s the love that surpasses knowledge.
This is why Paul is on his knees praying that at this point in your Christian journey, God would give you the power to see this.
Paul actually can’t JUST tell you about it. He can’t.
You have to experience it.
Theologian and pastor Jonathan Edwards once explained this very point by saying there are 2 ways to know that honey is sweet:
He said, “You can “know” that honey is sweet without ever having tasted it.
Maybe someone told you honey is sweet, or you read about in a book
So if someone asks you, “Is honey sweet?”
You could factually, and truthfully answer, “Yes, honey is sweet.”
OR, you can get a jar of honey and actually taste, and sense, the sweetness of honey for yourself.
Edwards says that when you actually taste honey for the first time, you’ll say, “I mean, I knew it was sweet, but I didn’t really know it was sweet.”
And for many people there’s a strong parallel here for how they talk about the “love of God”
They know that God loves them, but they don’t really KNOW (that haven’t really tasted the love of God)
And even many of us as Christ followers haven’t walked the streets of the City of heavenly love enough as we should.
Sure we’ve experienced it’s bliss a few times.
Maybe on the day we accepted Christ.
Or that one time at camp as a youth
Or that time God met us on the hospital bed…at the lowest of our lows
But the City of Heavenly Love is a place that most of us haven’t visited all that often.
I mean, yes, we can say, “God loves me”
But it hardly moves us more than saying, “The Vikings have won 4 games in a row”
And in some instances, the thought of the Vikings moves us even more than saying “God loves me”
And friends, this is why Paul is on his knees praying that we would grasp how wide and long and high and deep God’s love is for you.
Because God’s love is infinitely wide for you.
God sent Jesus to die for all of your sins.
If each sin you ever committed, (every act, every thought) was each on one piece of paper…and they were all taped together for miles and miles…
The love of Jesus is wide enough to cover ALL of those sins with a wide river of grace.
He died for those sins.
God’s love is not just wide, we’re told that it is long.
God has loved you for longer than you can imagine.
It’s amazing that He even thinks of us, let alone loves us.
If someone told me that a famous person, like Viking’s Quarterback Kirk Cousins thought of me the other day and mentioned me for 10 seconds, I’d be in awe.
And I’d say, “Me? Kirk mentioned me?!”
But the Creator of the universe, the one who is infinitely worthy…
…He doesn’t just think of you, He has loved you since before you were born.
And He will love you for millions of years into the future…with a never-ending love.
Have you been here my friend? To this place in your spiritual journey?
Have you walked the streets of the City of Heavenly Love and explored His love like this?
His love is also infinitely high
His love has taken seemingly no-name people like me and you, and elevated us to become sons and daughters of the King.
We are now co-heirs with Christ
And we will walk the streets of gold in the New Jerusalem.
All because of His love for us.
And we read that His love is not only wide, and long, and high…it’s infinitely deep.
There is not a person on earth who has sinned so greatly that God couldn’t pull them out of the depths of their sin and forgive them.
No abuser, no murderer, no adulterer, no one.
God’s love is available to each person in this room.
And His love is DEEPER than you can fathom.
In John 15:9, Jesus says:
(John 15:9) – NIV (keep up until next slide)
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.
Let me ask you a question:
How much does the Father in Heaven love His Son Jesus?
A lot, right?
This says that Jesus loves you the same amount. That much.
Have you visited this city of heavenly love?
Have you explored, and experienced, and felt the great depths of God’s love for you?
THE FULLNESS OF GOD
Because that, we’re told, is actually the catalyst that will propel us toward the final goal.
This is the middle of verse 19 now:
That (it’s the progression again)
Each stage is building on the previous one.
He says: “that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God”
The goal here is what I’m calling “Fullness Mountain”
(Show Pathway Slides_5).
And I believe “fullness” as a goal isn’t actually that intuitive to American Christians
I actually think most of us think the end goal is the City of Heavenly Love.
But the pinnacle of your Christian walk isn’t that YOU Feel loved.
But that’s often what we think in our self-focused American culture.
No, the end goal, the destination, is communion and deep relationship with God.
And that God is glorified.
Or as John Piper says, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.”
And that happens when we are full of Him.
But there is a deeper experience with God to be had.
One where God never feels far from you.
One, when your heart is hurting, you go to Him first…every time.
One when you have something to celebrate, God’s the first thing on your mind.
One where you’re always going to Him for direction.
You’re walking with Him, in fullness.
And He’s as real to you as your best friend is.
And, He is your best friend.
But if you want to walk in that type of fullness with God…
You’ve got to follow the directions on this map from Ephesians 3
And remember, you don’t leave each stage behind…
You keep working in all of them.
And when you’re not experiencing God like you want, sometimes you need to refocus back in Strengthening Suburbs, or head back out to the Rooted Cabin.
And what I find so beautiful and compelling about this journey is that even when at times you reach Fullness Mountain, and you experience our God in those mountaintop moments…
Know this Christian: Even in those glorious moments, you’ve barely scratched the surface of God’s fullness.
What you’ve currently experienced of God’s fullness is like taking an old glass bottle out to the sea, and filling it with ocean water.
And then putting the cork in it, and throwing that full bottle out onto the sea.
You could say, “There it is! The bottle is full of the sea!”
Yes, but at the same time, it hasn’t even begun to experience all of the fullness that is the sea..
And God’s word promises you, believer, that for millions and endless years to come, that you’ll get to experience more and more of the vast glory and goodness of our God…
And there is fullness to be experience right now…you don’t have to wait.
So take your next step on the journey, and seek God out.
Let me pray.
Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN
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