Ephesians Bible Study

The Holy Spirit is
the Heart of Christianity

Ephesians 3:14-21

Free Sunday School Lessons

Note to the teacher: Before preparing this lesson, Ephesians Bible Study - The Holy Spirit is the Heart of Christianity please read our approach to planning a Sunday School lesson.

This lesson has the same format as our lesson planning sheet.

In preparing Ephesians Bible Study, we suggest that you:

1. Print the lesson planning sheet.
2. Read the Bible passage.
3. Fill in your lesson planning sheet.

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Ephesians Bible Study

The Holy Spirit is The Heart of Christianity

Bible Passage for Ephesians Bible Study: Ephesians 3:14-21

The human need this passage meets is: The desire to be more effective for Christ.

Learning Goals: By the end of this session, each learner should be able to. . .

(Know) Understand that the heart of Christianity is Christ Himself.

(Feel) Become conscious of Christ's presence.

(Do) Cooperate with the transforming work of Christ's Spirit.


If you were to define "Christianity" in one sentence, what would it be? With the two or three people next to you, come up with one sentence that captures the essence of Christianity.

After a few minutes, ask several people to share their answers.


Even though you didn't have a long time to think about it, you came up with some good sentences.

Here's my answer: Christianity is the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. The essence of Christianity is a living person living in a living person. Christ in me; Christ in you.

Christianity is somebody living in somebody.

This concept is entirely different from every other religion or philosophy in the world!

  • Judaism is a system of laws and ceremonies.
  • Greek philosophy is a system of ideas.
  • Confucianism is a system of moral codes.

Human systems of philosophy and religion deal mainly with intellectual truths, moral conditions and external behavior.

Christianity is Christ in You - The Holy Spirit living in our heart.

At a business meeting I attended, the speaker was explaining the importance of personal development. She stressed the value of becoming a “whole person.” She listed the typical areas of life most people try to balance:
  • emotional life
  • social life
  • physical life
  • financial life
  • family life
  • business life
  • spiritual life
  • business life

  • When she came to spiritual life, she said, “I am not very religious or spiritual in the traditional sense. I am Jewish, but I only go to temple once a year to renew my vows. I don’t think it’s that important that you attend a program in a special place every week. I think what’s important is that you have it in your heart; and my philosophy is “just treat people fair.”

    Then a little later in the meeting she said, "It never made sense to me why anyone would convert from Judaism to Christianity. All we have is the rules of the Old Testament: But Christians have both the rules of the Old Testament and the rules of the New Testament.” i.e.: double the rules.

    Frankly, many people view Christianity like any other religion:

    • it’s a building you go to
    • it’s a program you attend
    • it’s a list of promises you make
    • it’s a series of rules you try to keep

Our concern today is: what do you think? Is that your concept of Christianity?

  • building?
  • program?
  • promise?
  • rules?

In this Ephesians Bible study, we'll examine seven brief verses at the end of Ephesians 3. The apostle Paul describes the essence of Christianity in a prayer he prays for the Ephesian believers.

Bible Input

Let's begin our Ephesians Bible study by looking at Ephesians 3.

Today, I want us to think together about "The Heart of Christianity."

Let’s read Ephesians 3:14-21

In this prayer, Paul gives us three major insights into the heart of the Christian life. He identifies the importance of Christ's presence, personality and power. The focus of these verses is the role that Christ plays in our hearts. First He lives in us. Next, he lives in us in order to fill us. Lastly, he fills us in order to empower us. Let's apply these truths to our lives and make them practical.

Life Application

First principle in this Ephesians Bible study:

1. Christianity is the Holy Spirit's Presence

v. 16 Christ will strengthen you through His Spirit in your inner being.

This is the third time in three chapters that Paul has made reference to the Holy Spirit living in the believer.

1:13 you were marked with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit who is God’s deposit that guarantees our future inheritance

2:22 you are a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit

When the Bible says "God lives in you" "Christ lives in you" "The Holy Spirit lives in you" -- it's the same thing

The Holy Spirit's presence in you and in me is the very heart of Christianity. It is impossible to overstate the importance of this concept.

Note to teacher: For this visual presentation, have three boxes that nest - one inside the other. For our purposes, we'll say that the largest box is RED, the medium box is YELLOW, and the smallest box is WHITE. (actually the colors are irrelevant.) Place a ring inside the smallest box, then "nest" the boxes - one inside the other. As you read the illustration, take the boxes out one at a time, until finally you reveal the ring.

If we are going to understand how God views the Christian life, we must see ourselves the way God sees us.

The red box represents our human body - the physical part of man; The visible, audible, outward part of man that God created to give us the capacity to communicate with the world around us.

The blue box represents our human soul - The inward part of man composed of mind, emotions and will. God gave us a mind to think with; emotions to react with; and a will to decide with. This is what the Bible calls yourself; your personality; it’s you.

The white Box represents our human spirit - the deepest part of man called the inner man; It is the unique part of man that God did not give to the rest of the animal kingdom. The human spirit was created to be the dwelling place for God Himself.

This ring represents Christ Himself, by His Holy Spirit. A ring represents a marriage relationship. The church is the bride of Christ.

II Cor. 11:2 I promised you to one Husband, to Christ Himself.

This is the litmus test of Christianity.
II Cor. 13:5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the Faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus lives in you?

Our daughter wrote a paper entitled, "My Personality" when she was in the fifth grade. In it she says, "I inherited a singing talent from my mother and my father, but I got my intelligence from my mom's side of the family." Even though her facts may have been a little off, I was pleased that she recognized that her gifts and abilities had a source outside herself.

God wants you to recognize that your Christian life has come from an outside source.

v. 14 I kneel before the father, from whom his whole family in heaven and earth derives its name.

v. 16 Out of His glorious riches he will strengthen you through His Spirit in your inner being.

The Source of Christianity is Christ’s Spirit - The Holy Spirit -not you.

The heart of Christianity is being conscious of Christ’s Presence.

Continue your Ephesians Bible study with more about The Holy Spirit's Presence in this audio sermon.

Second principle in this Ephesians Bible Study

2. Christianity is the Holy Spirit's Fullness

v. 17 Christ’s intention is to become so at home that He indwells, fills and transforms our entire personality

v. 19 His ultimate goal is to fill you to the measure of all the fullness of God

How this happens is implied in verse 17 and 18.

v. 17 we are rooted and established in Christ’s love

v. 18 we grasp how wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ and to personally experience this love

We used to sing a chorus, "Let the Beauty of Jesus Be Seen In Me".

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me; all his wonderful passion and purity; O thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine; till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me.

Let’s look at our Box illustration again. Here’s my human spirit. (white box)

Here’s my human body. (red box)

If my human spirit is inhabited by the Holy Spirit; then my behavior (red box) should reflect God’s Spirit.

If the Holy Spirit inhabits my human spirit, then the beauty of Jesus should be visible to others through my behavior.

If the Holy Spirit indwells and actually resides within me then all his wonderful love, passion and purity should be visible to others.

But it doesn’t always work that way. Why not?

Because what Christ discovers when he moves into our lives is a deeply rooted network of selfish thoughts, selfish attitudes and selfish desires. Let's contrast the difference:

Christ’s Love

  • Christ’s love is centered on God and others
  • Christ’s love is focused on spiritual things
  • Christ’s love is immeasurably large
My Love

  • My love is centered on myself
  • My love is focused on temporal things
  • My love is amazingly narrow and small
Learn more about becoming emotionally mature.
Christ wants to enlarge and expand our hearts until they are as big as His. When he fills your heart with his love, he will enlarge and expand your heart, but that refining process takes your cooperation, sensitivity and submission.

If we are indifferent, we hinder the Holy Spirit's activity in our lives.
If we are disinterested in learning how to love others, we grieve the Holy Spirit.

Every person has his own unique personality.
Every person has his own unique personality disorders.

Every person who becomes a Christian brings areas of selfishness with him.

Grasping the love of Christ is what transforms a self centered personality.

The disciples of Jesus were often at odds with Jesus because they had not grasped his love. They loved his teaching and were amazed by his miracles, but they didn’t understand his compassion.

At the feeding of the 5,000, the disciples wanted to send the crowd away. Jesus was moved with compassion. He wanted to feed them.

Want to learn further in an Ephesians Bible study? Listen to "Who is the Holy Spirit?" - audio sermon.

Third Principle from this Ephesians Bible Study

3. Christianity is the Holy Spirit's Power

v. 20 God is able to immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to His power that is at work within us.

Paul dramatically describes the Power of the Holy Spirit. He doesn’t say:

  • God is able to do whatever we ask Him to do.
  • God is able to do more than we ask Him to do.
  • God is able to do immeasurably more than we ask Him to do.
  • God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask Him to do.

He says:
  • God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine that He can do.

Ray Steadman, the former Pastor of the Peninsula Bible Church in Palo Alto, CA told the story of a husband-wife team of professional counselors who became Christians and joined his church.

They soon realized that there was a difference between the secular, worldly approach to problems and God’s approach. So, they changed the way they offered their services to their clients. When a new client came to them for counseling, they said, "Before we begin, we want you to know that we offer two types of counseling -- Secular Counseling and Spiritual Counseling. Which would you prefer?"

Often the client would answer, "Well, I’ve never been too religious, so if it’s all the same to you, I’d like the secular counseling."

"No problem. Just sit back and tell me all about it."

The client would pour out his soul, spill everything, and reveal every secret.

After an hour or so, the counselors would casually say, “Well, we’ve got the solution.”

"What is it?"

"Try Harder."


"You heard us, try harder! You need to bear down; focus more; try harder!

"What kind of answer is that?"

"Well, you said you wanted secular counseling. That’s the secular answer. YOU MUST TRY HARDER!"

"What would the spiritual answer have been?"

"Oh, the spiritual answer would be TRUST CHRIST!"

"You mean to tell me those are the only two options you can come up with for my problems?"

"Yes - you can either try harder or turn it over to Christ and trust Him."

I heard a college graduation speaker say, "Success depends on your will power. Will power is the only source of power the world knows."

Do you believe that? Do you live like that?

Another Ephesians Bible study - The Holy Spirit's Power - an audio sermon.

Discussion Questions:

1. What verse from this Ephesians Bible study meant the most to you? Why?

2. Why should the definition of Christianity center on Christ himself and not merely on biblical principles?

3. How does defining Christianity as a living person -- living in -- a living person, change the way you see the Christian life?

4. When Jesus comes into our lives, He intends to fill us with His love. What causes some believers to resist this transforming process?

5. Most people resist change if they are told they have to. How does the love of Christ motivate us to change?

6. How could you quit depending on your own will power and begin to trust Christ's power? What verse from this Ephesians Bible study will you memorize to help?

Author: Paul Schlieker - www.bible-study-lesson-plans.com

For any reuse or distribution of our Ephesians Bible study or any of our free Bible study materials author credit and web address is required.

Learn more about the Holy Spirit in our series of four audio sermons.
His Presence
-- His Personality -- His Power -- Our Purpose in life
An Ephesians Bible study is the basis for all four of these sermons.

Paul's book, What's Missing Inside You? contains indepth lessons on the Holy Spirit, similar to this Ephesians Bible study.

Please email us with questions or comments about this Ephesians Bible Study.

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