Reading: Ephesians chapter 1 verses 15-23.
On January 6, 1822,
• Heinrich Schliemann was born.
• He would one day achieve world renown and great wealth.
• When Heinrich Schliemann was seven years old,
• A picture of ancient Troy in flames captured his imagination.
• Contrary to what many people believed,
• Heinrich argued that Homer’s great poems,
• The Iliad and the Odyssey,
• Were based on historic facts and he set out to prove it.
In 1873, he uncovered the ancient site of Troy,
• Along with some fabulous treasure which he smuggled out of the country,
• Much to the anger of the Turkish government.
• Schliemann became a famous, wealthy man
• Because he dared to believe an ancient record and act on his faith.
The message of Ephesians is just that:
• We believe an ancient record that contains a modern message,
• And having believed, we are to act out, live out our faith.
When you became a Christian:
• Emphasise “When”.
• NO-one is automatically born a Christian, it’s a decision you make.
• When you were ‘born again’:
• You were “born rich”, you became a spiritual millionaire.
• Too many Christians have never “read their spiritual bank books”
• To find out the spiritual wealth that God has put to their account through Jesus Christ.
• They are like the late newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst,
• Invested a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world.
• One day Mr. Hearst found a description of some valuable items that he felt he must own,
• So he sent his agent abroad to find them.
• After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasures.
• They were in Mr. Hearst’s own warehouse.
• Hearst had been searching frantically for treasures he already owned!
• Had he read the catalog of his treasures,
• He would have saved himself a great deal of money and trouble.
You and I as Christians:
• Must realise that like William Randolph Hearst,
• We have great riches, great treasures at our disposal.
• These are not meant to be locked up in a warehouse, or locked up in a book,
• But they need to be unearthed and used and God’s glory.
(1). Introduction to our verses:
The apostle Paul was under house arrest in Rome:
• During this time he wrote a number of New Testament books,
• Some of those books e.g. Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians, contain prayers,
• Two prayers of Paul are contained in this letter,
• Here and in chapter 3.
When Paul prays for these Christians:
• He never requests material things.
• His emphasis is always on spiritual things and on Christian character.
• Verse 18 in the N.I.V. contains our title for this study;
• And Paul’s desire for his readers: “That you may know”.
• Paul does not ask God to give them what they do not have,
• Instead he prays that God will reveal to them what they already have.
Before we study Pauls four requests in this prayer notice two things:
First: enlightenment comes from the Holy Spirit.
• With his natural mind, man cannot understand the things of God.
• He needs the Spirit to enlighten him (1 Corinthians chapter 2 verses 9-16).
• Kathy wears glasses to bring things into focus,
• Without them she could not see clearly.
• Simon Peter’s declaration in Matthew chapter 16 verses 16-17.
• That Jesus was the Christ.
Second, this enlightenment comes to the heart of the believer (chapter 1 verse 18).
• This verse literally reads,
• “The eyes of your heart being enlightened.”
• My wife that I lover her with all my heart,
• Obviously not the pump, the organ that sends blood around my body.
• We think of the heart as the emotional part of a person,
• But in the Bible ‘the heart’ means much more than that.
• In the Bible, the heart means the inner person,
• And includes the emotions, the mind, and the will.
The Bible teaches:
• The inability to see and understand spiritual things is not the fault of the intelligence
• Many intelligent people can’t understand and see the simple truths of the Bible.
• The ability to see and understand spiritual things has to do with the heart,
• People of all races, cultures, social status and intellects;
• Have had the eyes of their heart opened by the Spirit of God.
In this section of the letter (verses 15-23):
• Paul prays that the Ephesian Christians,
• Would have their eyes opened to see four spiritual truths.
(1). That They Might Know God (verse 17b):
17I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.
• An atheist may claim there is no God for us to know,
• An agnostic may say that if there is a God we cannot know Him.
• But Paul says there is not only a God, but he is knowable,
• And we have met God in the person of Jesus Christ,
Each Christian must grow in their knowledge of God:
Obviously we are human beings not machines:
• My computer can be programmed to instantly know, receive information.
• Insert a C.D. of an encyclopaedia and my machine can copy all that information.
• As Christians we do not get our knowledge of God that way:
• We are in a relationship with God,
• As with any relationship,
• Knowledge comes over a period of time as we work on and develop that relationship.
• This way we not only become wiser, more informed,
• But we brow together in friendship and love.
We can know (experience) God in two ways:
• To know God personally is what the Bible calls salvation.
• e.g. John chapter 17 verse 3:
“And this is the way to have eternal life - to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth”.
• To know Him increasingly is called sanctification,
• e.g. Philippians chapter 3 verse 10.
For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith. 10As a result, I can really know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead. I
• To know God personally is salvation (John chapter 17 verse 3).
• To know Him increasingly is sanctification (Philippians chapter 3 verse 10).
It is not enough just to know God only as Saviour:
• We must get to know Him as Father, Friend, Guide,
• And the better we know Him, the more satisfying our spiritual lives will be.
(2). That We Might Know Gods Calling (verse 18a)
8I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
• Most days I get a calling,
• Normally it’s from someone who says, “I’m not trying to sell you anything”
• And then proceeds to try and sell me something.
• It’s normally about then myself and the caller part company.
• Penny on the other hand gets lots of calls,
• Often from friends and she can be on the phone for long periods of time.
Gods calling on our lives:
• Is not to annoy us or to get from us,
• But to pleasure us, to benefit us.
The word called or calling is an important word in the Christian’s language.
• Our word ‘Church’ is a combination of two Greek words;
• That mean “called out.”
• Paul often testified that God called him “by His grace” (Gal. 1:15);
• And he reminded Timothy that the believer has a “holy calling” (2 Tim. 1:9).
(c). Apostle Peter wrote in his letters:
• We have been “called out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9),
• And have even been “called to glory” (1 Peter 5:10).
(d). Paul reminds us here and also in chapter 4 verse 4:
• That the Christian hope that is ours is all because of this calling.
• God calls us by His grace and not because of any merit that we may possess.
• Some callings offer no hope,
• But the calling we have in Christ assures us of a positive future.
The word hope in the Bible does not mean “hope so,”
• It is not like someone who hopes to win the lottery,
• Or like a child hoping for a doll or a bike at Christmas.
The word “Hope” in the Bible:
• Carries with it “assurance for the future.”
• It is a certainty never a may be.
The Christians hope is Jesus Christ:
• Past (forgiveness – Ephesians chapter 1 verse 7),
• Present (advocate – 1 John chapter 2 verses 1-2)
• And future (we shall be with him – John chapter 14 verse 1-2).
Before we were Christians (saved) the Bible teaches:
• When we were lost, and we were “without hope” (Ephesians chapter 2 verse 12);
• But in Jesus Christ, we have a “living hope” (1 Peter chapter 1 verse 3).
Ephesus was a wealthy city:
• It was a Roman capital, and it was a seaport,
• It was a wealthy commercial center that experienced trade from all over the world.
• The temple of the Greek goddess Artemis (Diana) stood as its crown jewel.
• This temple was one of the wonders of the ancient world.
• Today, Ephesus might be an archaeologist’s paradise,
• But all of its former wealth and splendour are gone.
But the Christians who once lived in Ephesus:
• The recipients of this letter are today in heaven,
• Enjoying the riches of heaven and the glory of God!
• The fact that we too have that same living hope,
• Should motivate us to live like Christ today.
(3). That We Might Know Gods Riches (verse 18b)
I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
• This phrase does not refer to our inheritance in Christ,
• But His inheritance in us.
• This is an amazing, mind blowing truth,
• That God should look on us as a part of His great wealth!
• John D. Rockefeller was the world’s first billionaire.
• It is said that for many years,
• He lived on crackers and milk because of stomach troubles,
• These were caused because he worried about his wealth.
• He rarely had a good night’s sleep, and security guards stood constantly at his door.
• He was wealthy—but miserable!
• Ironically when he began to share his wealth with others,
• In great philanthropic endeavours,
• His health improved considerably,
• And he lived to be an old man.
• Rockerfeller’s name is forever linked with money.
• He invested it wisely and his wealth brought glory to his name,
• In a similar way God has invested in us.
• And his name will be glorified by the church,
Note: God deals with us on the basis of our future, not our past.
• Ill: He said to Gideon the cowardly wimp who was hiding:
• “The Lord is with you mighty man of valor” (Judges 6:12).
• Ill: Jesus said to Andrew’s brother,
• “You are Simon…..you shall be called Peter [a stone]” (John 1:42).
• Gideon did become a mighty man of valour,
• And Simon did become Peter, a rock.
As Christians we too live in the future tense:
• Because we are God’s inheritance,
• We should live to please and glorify Him.
The Bible teaches that:
• Christ will be glorified in us (2 Thessalonians chapter 1 verse 10),
• And we will be glorified in Him (Colossians chapter 3 verse 4)
• Knowing this should motivate the Christian,
• Lead the believer into a life of dedication and devotion to the Lord.
(4). That We Might Know Gods Power (verse 19-23).
19and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, 20which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
The apostle Paul has told us two things God has done for us:
• He has shown His love to us by making us His inheritance.
• He has encouraged our hope, by promising us a wonderful future.
Now in verse 19 the apostle Paul tells us something that will challenge our faith:
19and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
That power is like the working of his mighty strength.
Question: Do you feel weak or strong as a Christian?
• What ever your feelings,
• The fact is that each of us has tremendous power at our disposal.
One word is not enough to describe God’s power:
• So the apostle Paul actually uses;
• Many different Greek words to get his point across:
• dunamis—“power” as in dynamo and dynamite;
• energeia—“working” as in energy;
With all that divine dynamic, eternal energy, available to us!
• The good news is this,
• We don’t have to feel so weak! We don’t have to live powerless lives.
• Hetty Green has gone down in history as “America’s Greatest Miser,”
• Yet when she died in 1916, “Hetty” Green left an estate valued at over $100 million.
• She ate cold oatmeal because it cost to heat it.
• Her son had to suffer a leg amputation,
• Because she delayed so long in looking for a free clinic that his case became incurable.
• She was wealthy,
• Yet she chose to live like a pauper.
Listen if you:
• Substitute the word power for money:
• Hetty Green is an illustration of too many Christian believers today.
• They have limitless wealth (power) at their disposal,
• Yet they live like paupers (weaklings).
God dives us his power for several reasons:
(1). Because by nature we are weak.
• And no-one can live the Christian life in their own power, their own strength.
• It is not hard to live the Christian life in our own strength it is IMPOSSIBLE!
• The words of Jesus in John chapter 15 verse 5.
• “Apart from you can do nothing!”
• Jesus words to the disciples when they fell a sleep in Matthew chapter 26 verse 41:
• “The spirit indeed is willing, but the body is weak”.
(2). We are in a battle.
• There are enemies who want to rob us of our wealth,
• Other spiritual forces are mentioned in chapter 1 verse 21; and chapter 6 verses 11-12.
• We could never defeat these spiritual foes in our own power,
• But we can through the Spirit’s power.
Question: What is this power?
Answer: The power is seen in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
• In the Old Testament, people measured God’s power by His creation (Isaiah 40:12-27)
• Or by His miracle at the Exodus of Israel from Egypt (Jeremiah 16:14).
• But today, we measure God’s power by the greatest miracle of all,
• The miracle of Christ’s resurrection.
Much more was involved than merely raising Jesus from the dead:
• For Christ also ascended to heaven,
• And sat down in the place of authority at the right hand of God.
• Grand Prix;
• Christ has not only won the race but he is now on the winning podium.
• He is not only Saviour;
• He is also Sovereign (Acts chapter 2 verses 25-36).
• No authority or power, human or in the spirit world,
• Is greater than that of Jesus Christ, the exalted Son of God.
• He is “far above all,” and no future enemy can overcome Him,
• Because He has been exalted “far above all” powers.
Question: But how does this apply to you and me today?
Answer: Is found in Ephesians 1 verses 22-23, Paul explains the practical application.
• Because we are believers, we are in the church, which is Christ’s body,
• And He is the Head.
This means that there is a living connection between you and Christ.
• Physically speaking;
• The head controls the body and keeps the body functioning properly.
• Injure certain parts of the brain;
• And you handicap or paralyze corresponding parts of the body.
• We are reminded that Christ is our spiritual Head.
• Through the Spirit, we are united to Him as the members of His body.
• This means that we share His resurrection, ascension, and exaltation.
• Paul will amplify this later on in Ephesians.
The jest of it is this:
• What happens to Christ (head) will also affect us (the body).
• The body cannot exist without the head.
• We may be physically on planet earth,
• But spiritually we too are seated, in the heavenlies (chapter 2 verse 6),
Ephesians is teaching us that:
• The power of the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus Christ from the dead,
• And saw him ascended, and enthroned in the heavens
• Is available to all Christians by faith.
• His power is to “for all us who believe” (verse 19).
2 examples of that:
• In the four Gospels,
• We see God’s power at work in the ministry of Jesus Christ,
• But in the Book of Acts,
• We see that same power at work in ordinary men and women.
• What a transformation took place in Peter’s life,
• Between the end of the Gospels and the beginning of Acts.
• What made the difference?
• The resurrection power of Jesus Christ (Acts chapter 1 verse 8).
The greatest power shortage today is not in our generators or our gas tanks.
It is in our personal lives.
• God is on our side,
• He will work in us and energise us, and give to us inner supplies of power.
• God’s power is never out of commission,
• It is always actively working on our behalf.
• God is always fighting the forces of evil on behalf of the believers.
• No human strength or spiritual power from the evil world,
• Not even Satan himself, can deter or change God’s inherent power.