Summary: God has created us to know Him.
In verses 15-23 we find the first of two prayers that the apostle Paul offers to God for the Ephesians.
This prayer consists of two parts:
1. PRAISE (vv. 15-16)
"Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers."
Three thoughts on prayer:
a. Prayer should include more than just requests; it should also include thanksgiving.
b. Prayer should include more than just listing problems to God. It should also include giving praise to Him.
c. Prayer should include more than just making requests for ourselves. Prayer should also include intercession for others.
Paul praises God for two things:
a. Their "FAITH in the Lord Jesus"
b. Their "LOVE unto all the saints"
Faith and love form the test of Christian profession.
2. PETITIONS (vv. 17-23)
Imagine for a moment that we are living in the first century and Paul has written a letter to us (like the one he wrote to the church at Ephesus: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the saints at Ridgeway. . . ."
If Paul included a prayer in his letter to us, what do you think would be his first request to God for us? I believe it would be that we increase our knowledge of God. Look at verse 17:
"That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in THE KNOWLEDGE OF HIM."
"Him" is God the Father. Paul’s supreme desire for the Ephesian Christians is that they know God more and more.
Paul offered the same request on behalf of the Colossians: ". . . we . . . do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding: that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and INCREASING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD" (Colossians 1:9-10).
It’s interesting that Paul makes the knowledge of God his first request for the Ephesians. He could have asked that they be healed from all their illnesses or that more people might join their church or that they might be filled with joy. Instead, he prays that the Christians at Ephesus be filled with the knowledge of God.
"Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: BUT LET HIM THAT GLORIETH GLORY IN THIS, THAT HE UNDERSTANDETH AND KNOWETH ME, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord" (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
God says that the source of our joy and sense of importance ought to come not from our own wisdom or abilities or possessions, but from the fact that we know Him.
I. THIS KNOWLEDGE IS MORE THAN AN INTELLECTUAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
ILLUSTRATION: There is a big difference between knowing FACTS and knowing a PERSON. I could learn all kinds of facts about the Prime Minister without really knowing him. If you were to ask me, "Do you know the Prime Minister?", I would have to reply, "I know about him, but I don’t know him."
James wrote, "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble" (James 2:19). Knowing facts about God is good and important but knowing God goes beyond this. It is good and important to know that there is only one God, but even the demons know this and tremble.
On one occasion a demon said to Jesus, "Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I KNOW WHO THOU ART, the Holy One of God" (Mark 1:24).
II. THIS KNOWLEDGE IS A PERSONAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD.
It is a FULL knowledge of God.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, "It is almost impossible to put this truth into words, but it means that God should be real to us, and that we should be conscious of Him and conscious of His presence" (God’s Ultimate Purpose, 344).
The word "know" is often used in Scripture to describe a close, personal relationship:
1. "And Adam KNEW Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain. . . ." (Genesis 4:1).
2. "You only have I KNOWN of all the families of the earth. . . ." (Amos 3:2).
3. "The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he KNOWETH them that trust in him" (Nahum 1:7).
4. "And then I will profess unto them, I never KNEW you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matthew 7:23).