By Stan Brown
Ephesians 3:17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love
As we continue to study Paul’s powerful prayer, we do so with the realization that it is being answered on a daily basis in our lives. As we are empowered in our inner person through the overwhelming power of the Holy Spirit, things happen. Paul speaks of two of these in this verse (1) Our hearts are prepared to make them a dwelling place for Christ and (2) we are rooted and grounded in love as His love takes hold of us. Ah yes, we are indwelt by the Holy Spirit; we are being built up together as a dwelling place for God; and Christ dwells in our hearts.
(1) so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. The first result of the Holy Spirit’s empowerment is that Christ takes up residence in our hearts. The word dwell describes a settled dwelling place where Christ takes up permanent residence in contrast to the temporary abode described in Heb. 11:9, By faith he (Abraham) lived as an alien in the land of promise. It is the same word as used in Col. 1:19 to describe all fullness dwelling in Christ, For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him. It is not a temporary relationship. Christ settles down in our hearts. He is here to stay. Our faith has a part to play in this. He is not speaking here of the faith involved in the reception of eternal life (for by grace are you saved through faith). It is rather the faith that He is there and is not going anywhere. It is the faith that can endure through trials because we know that Christ is there. It is this fact that energizes our very lives in all that we do.
(2) The result of Christ’s dwelling in us which results from the empowering of the Holy Spirit is that we are being rooted and grounded in love. Think about it. What else could possibly be the result of Christ dwelling in our hearts? With the incomprehensible love that He displayed through the incarnation and His death on the cross it is only natural that His love would flow out through us. The source of the love that is being rooted and grounded in us is Christ. This love flows naturally into the following verse which speaks of the comprehension of the love of Christ. Paul uses two metaphors to describe our relationship to Christ’s love. The first is botanical as it speaks of the fact that His love is deeply rooted within us. Our personal roots are deeply related to Christ’s love. The second pictures the foundation upon which great buildings are built. The root and foundation of who we are as believers is Christ’s love that overflows into our lives.
This relates to Christ’s prayer where He requests for us the following, I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou didst love Me (John 17:23). The picture here is one of Christ being at home in our hearts through faith that provides an understanding of the absolutely secure relationship we have with Him.
Ultimately it is God’s love that is made real and understandable in us as the remainder of the prayer will emphasize.