A farmer planted two fruit trees on opposite sides of his property. The one he planted to provide a hedge hide the unsightly view of an old landfill; the other to provide shade to rest under near a cool mountain stream which ran down beside his fields. As the two trees grew, both produced began to flower and bear fruit. One day the farmer decided to gather the fruit from the tree nearest his house " the one used to provide a hedge from the landfill. As he brought the fruit inside the house, he noticed that it was a little deformed " the symmetry of the fruit was not very good, but still the fruit looked edible. Later that evening, while sitting on his porch the farmer took one of the pieces of fruit for a snack. Biting into the fruit, he found it to be extremely bitter, and completely inedible. Casting the fruit aside he looked across the field to the other tree over by the mountain stream. After walking across the field, the farmer took a piece of the fruit from the other tree and bit into it. Find the fruit to be sweet and delicious he gathered several more pieces of fruit and took them to the house.
The fruit was greatly affected by the nutrition of the root. Just as the tree grew by the landfill to be bitter, and the tree by the stream produced sweet fruit, so the Christian has a choice. He can either put down his roots into the soil of the landfill of fleshly pursuits, or into the cool refreshing stream of the person of Jesus Christ. We must understand that the root bears the fruit and the only way to truly bear fruit is through the work of Godhead in and through us. The fruit of the Christian is the outward evidence of the inward motivation that God is doing the work. Being made strong inwardly by God’s Spirit leads to Christ’s being at home in our hearts that produce delicious eatable fruit. That’s what makes God’s love so incomprehensible to the human mind or understanding. In our sin nature we don’t see it or understand it, but when Christ gets a hold of your life in the gospel we begin to understand this great mystery of love. (v18)
A love that is wide enough to embrace the world.
John 3:16 says “"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
A love that is long enough to last forever.
1 Cor 13:8 says “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
A love that is high enough to take sinners to Heaven.
1 John 3:1-2 says “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.”
A love that is deep enough to take Christ to the very depths to reach the lowest sinner.
Phil 2:8 says “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
A W Tozer said this about the incomprehensible love of God “…Because God is self-existent, His love had no beginning, because He is eternal, His love can have no end, because He is infinite it has no limits, because He is holy it is the personification of all spotless purity, because He is immense, His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea…”
This is the love that Paul is praying about for the church and it should be the same list for us as we pray for one another. When Christ settles down in our lives He begins to display His own love in us and through us. Without the deep roots of Christ’s love in our hearts were are incapable of loving anyone or anything …….meaning by God’s standards. Paul prays that we “may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth” (v18). What Paul is saying to us is that we take hold of these truths and to seize them for ourselves. Paul knows that this is impossible but he calls us to stretch out of our comfort zones and with some spiritual exercising. Why? Because it produces healthy fruit that is pleasing to a holy God who gives us the resources and abilities to love as Christ loved.
This is hard work considering the Christian life is not about introverted or individualistic imprisonment. We can only truly come to understanding this fully when we demonstrate this love of Christ “with all the saints.” We can only come to a better, fuller understanding of His love in community…..as a local body of believers!
The best place where this starts is under the preaching of God’s Word.
This happens when we study the Word of God together.
This happens when we share our knowledge of God with others.
This happens when we observe it in our brothers and sister.
This happens when our hearts go upward in worship instead of horizontally and self-focused. We need each other in order to comprehend God’s word…that’s what makes up the church. BUT! In order to understand this love of Christ we must be first rooted and grounded in love. Establishing these roots on a solid foundation is based upon the love of Christ in our lives. This is the strongest foundation of love and these roots grow deep because they are connected to Christ and His love. The absence of love is the presence of sin. Because sin and love are enemies. The loveless love of a person is rooted in ungodliness. And godly life is serving, caring, tenderhearted, affectionate, self-giving, self-sacrificing life through Christ and His work in and through us. What do these deep roots of Christ love look like?
We know the depth of someone’s love for us by what it costs Him.
With Jesus sacrificing His life for us, it assures us of deeper love than if he only sacrifices a few bumps and bruises…this wouldn’t seem like much of a cost. The bible says “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
We know the depth of someone's love for us by how little we deserve it.
Paul penned these words to remind us “and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:5-8
We know the depth of someone's love for us by the freedom with which they love us.
If a person does good things for us because someone is making him, when he doesn't really want to, then we don't think the love is very deep. Jesus said “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father." The Hebrew writer explains this sacrificial love “looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb 12:2
What does that love look like so that you and I can understand this side of God’s incomprehensible love?
There is a story I came across about a group of American prisoners of war during the Second World War, who were made to do hard labor in a prison camp. Each had a shovel and would dig all day, then come in and give an account of his tool in the evening. One evening 20 prisoners were lined up by the guard and the shovels were counted. The guard counted nineteen shovels and turned in rage on the 20 prisoners demanding to know which one did not bring his shovel back. No one responded. The guard took out his gun and said that he would shoot five men if the guilty prisoner did not step forward. After a moment of tense silence, a 19-year-old soldier stepped forward with his head bowed down. The guard grabbed him, took him to the side and shot him in the head, and turned to warn the others that they better be more careful than he was. When he left, the men counted the shovels and there were 20. The guard had miscounted. And the boy had given his life for his friends.
The question was asked where I found this story! Can you imagine the emotions that must have filled their hearts as they knelt down over his body?
Think about it Church family! In the five or ten seconds of silence, the boy had weighed his whole future in the balance, a future wife, an education, a new truck, children, a career, fishing with his dad—and he chose death so that others might live.
This is exactly what Christ did on our behalf! Jesus said “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:9-13
This is what it means to know the love of Christ! As Paul says “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…” (v19) This is somewhat confusing language because it’s impossible to know what is beyond knowledge. That being said though! We can experience it through our own lives as He grabs you from Hells doors and calls you His own. This knowing is not just of intellectual knowledge as you would learn in a classroom setting. Paul is referring to the whole package of God’s incomprehensible grace. What did you experienced in the heart when you were captivated the moment Christ took a hold of your life and never has let go and never will through the knowledge of His word? Scottish reformer Samuel Rutherford wrote this from a prison cell “Love, love (I mean Christ’s love), is the hottest coal that ever I felt. Oh, but the smoke of it be hot! Cast all the salt sea on it, it will flame; Hell cannot quench it; many, many waters will not quench love.”
It’s the idea…. If you haven’t experience this love, no words will do. For those of us who have experienced this, no words will quite do. What does Paul mean when he says “the fullness of God” (v19b) There is no way this side of Heaven we will fully understand or grasp this knowledge of God. To help us understand the fullness of God we need to ponder and reflex upon His attributes the things that God does outside of time and space to reveal His glories. The word “Full” speaks of total dominance, For example…. A person who is filled with rage is totally dominated by hatred. A person filled with happiness is totally dominated by joy. To be fill up to all the fullness of God means total dominance of one’s life that is hidden in Christ. All our desires and aspiration should be centered on Christ for our lives, not the other way around. In a nut shell or the Coles Notes this means “The divine love of God is totally dominated by the Lord with nothing left of self.” And the beauty of this is that God’s supply is abundant, unlimited and far beyond our comprehension. Look at (v20) “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,” We can only comprehend a portion of this when we have a high view of God and His amazing grace.
God is able…..
Able to do
Able to do what we ask.
Able to what we think
Able to do and ask or think
Able to do all that we ask or think
Able to above all that we ask or think
Able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think.
Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask and think.
The means by which God answers prayer is given in the expression “according to His power that works in us.” That is only found when we rest in Christ and when we reflect upon… How wide, how deep, how long and how wide His love is for us and that is only found in the gospel. We need to seriously pray for each other this prayer as a church family….So that as a family, we understand, taste the riches that flowed from Calvary so that we can love and serve one another with the glory of God. Why? As we talked about a couple of weeks ago…. The Heavens are watching and the angels are leaning in to see and observe what this incomprehensible love looks like in the life of a sinner. Peter wrote “Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.” 1 Peter 1:10-12