Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Lord I Want To Be A Christian"1 (Lyrics)
I don't think that I ever heard my dad preach. If I did, I was too young to remember. I was just a wee lad in the early 1930s. He had survived being wounded several times (including at Vimy Ridge) and shell-shocked in World War I, only to have his career as a minister of the gospel (and his life) end too soon by what is known today as Parkinson's Disease. He has long gone on to be with the Lord, but the message will never die.
I still have the outline of a sermon my father preached some 80 or so years ago based on Ephesians 3:18. On reading this verse in the New International Version, it occurred to me that if my dad were still preaching, he would probably not have used the same sermon today. Why? Because he and the congregation would most likely be reading from a modern translation, whereas 80 years ago, he would undoubtedly have been reading from the King James Version. What is the difference?
Ephesians 3:17b-19a (NIV) – And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.
Ephesians 3:17b-19a (KJV) – That ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge.
Note that the third and fourth dimensions are switched.
No, it doesn't change anything, but as my dad pointed out, the version with which he was familiar fitted in perfectly with the best known of all Scripture verses, John 3:16.
For God so loved the world – That is the width of His love – it takes in the whole suffering, sinful, struggling world.
that he gave his only begotten Son – That is the length to which God went. Jesus gave His life. And God the Father watched that terrible deed, when He had but to say a word to save His Son from such an ordeal. They both suffered beyond our imagining. Why?
that whosoever believeth in him – Whosoever! You cannot sink so low as to be beyond the reach of the love of Christ. That is the depth of His love.
should not perish, but have eternal life – That is the height – the ultimate – eternal life with our Saviour.
The sermon expanded on each "dimension", then added a warning. In stressing the dimensions, we might overlook what is perhaps the most important word of all: whosoever believeth.
We need not wait to begin an eternal life with Him. The moment we repent and believe, His immeasurable love enfolds us with patience and understanding, and in all the uncertainties of life, "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV)
Prayer: Dear Lord and heavenly Father, Your love for us was at a cost to You and Your Son that is beyond our imagining. Help us, Lord, to do our best to be worthy, to live every moment with the knowledge that we are Yours. May we, in the words of the hymn, "be closer drawn to Thee". In the name of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.