Summary: Paul prays that we get to know God better so we see better the blessings he has in store for us now and in eternity.
Imagine your fright if you found yourself strapped into a chair that was tilted so far back you were looking up to the ceiling. Before you can turn your head to get your bearings the chair starts to vibrate as a low rumble pulses through the room. The rumble increases in volume until it crescendos into a roar and now the chair is really shaking, as if there’s a giant rocking the room in which you are stuck. What scenario do you think I’m describing? A set up you would find at a haunted house this coming Halloween? A new ride at Disneyland? What I am trying to describe is what an astronaut might experience at the moment of liftoff. Since an astronaut will have trained for that moment for months, I don’t think she would be frightened at being strapped into a seat that is shaking while there is a deafening roar all around her. Instead I think that the astronaut would be excited and thrilled. After all, she is in a position that millions of others would love to be in: on the way into space to see the stars and to experience weightlessness.
In the same way, fellow Christians, you are in a position that millions of others ought to envy. Because of your faith in Jesus you are strapped to the most potent power in this world, and you are going places! It might not feel that way when you look at your ho-hum life with its challenges. But that’s why you’ve come here this morning—to receive again a God’s-eye view of reality. We’ll be given such a view as we continue our sermon series on the New Testament book of Ephesians and learn the truth about Christ’s power and a Christian’s position.
It was the Apostle Paul who wrote this letter to Christians living in the city of Ephesus. Paul spent three years there, longer than he had spent anywhere else on his missionary journeys. So it may be a little surprising to hear Paul write: “I 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” (Ephesians 1:17). Didn’t the Ephesian Christians already know God well after learning about him from Paul for three years? Why did Paul pray that they would know God even better? And why is this also your pastor’s ongoing prayer for you? We should want to keep getting to know our God better because that knowledge is a blessing. Listen to what Paul went on to say: “I pray 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 his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18, 19a).
“You’re richer than you think!” That’s an advertising gimmick by Scotia Bank, but it’s also the truth Paul wanted his readers to understand. The better we come to know our God, the better we’ll see just how rich we are with blessings. Oh it’s true, your life now might not seem so glamorous—the Apostle Paul’s life sure wasn’t. Do you remember where he was when he wrote this letter? He was in prison! Yet he was certain that he and every other believer was in line for a glorious inheritance as God’s holy people. Here’s how the Apostle John described that inheritance. “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them… 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’ 5 He who was seated on the throne said… 7 ‘Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children’” (Revelation 21:3-5a, 7).
What awaits believers? A life without sadness. A life without pain. A life without disappointment. A life of eternal joy! No amount of money can buy such a life; it’s a gift from God to all those who continue to put their trust in Jesus for forgiveness. That’s what was meant when John was told that those “who are victorious will inherit all this” (Revelation 21:7).
And what will happen to those who are not “victorious”? What will happen to those who let themselves be sidetracked by the temptations of the world? John also wrote, “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur” (Revelation 21:8). Do you have such a God’s-eye view of eternity? Or do you suppose that when you die that’s it? I would urge you not to draw that conclusion until you’ve taken a good look at the Bible and its teachings. There are only two places you can spend eternity: heaven or hell. But how can we be certain that we’ll avoid hell—especially when the verse we just read said that’s where liars will go? Can we ever make it through the week without lying? When the teacher asks why we didn’t get our homework done, we say it’s because something came up—implying something unavoidable. The truth, however, is that we just didn’t apply ourselves. Or we may lie to the government about how much money we make so we don’t have to pay taxes on it. Or we may say to those who ask us for help that we don’t have the time, when we really just don’t want to make the time. If we are such liars, how can we look forward to the glorious inheritance of heaven? Shouldn’t we instead be bound for an unimaginable pain-filled eternity in hell? The Apostle John tells us how to avoid that place. He wrote: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life…” (Revelation 22:14a).