Summary: Paul's desire was for the Ephesians to know Christ deeply. This sermon emphasizes the need to know CHRIST, not focus on rules, issues and doctrinal minutia.
Paul’s Prayer for Enlightenment - Part 1: To Know Christ Deeply
Ephesians - Live Like You Really Are
June 2, 2012
A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available by mailing a request to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Ephesians 1:15-1:23 – Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, 16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; 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: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, 23 Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
In his book, An Anthropologist on Mars, neurologist Oliver Sacks tells about Virgil, a man who had been blind from early childhood. When he was 50, Virgil underwent surgery and was given the gift of sight.
But as he and Dr. Sacks found out, having the physical capacity for sight is not the same as seeing. Virgil’s first experiences with sight were confusing. He was able to make out colors and movements, but arranging them into a coherent picture was more difficult. Over time he learned to identify various objects, but his habits—his behaviors—were still those of a blind man.
Dr. Sacks says, “One must die as a blind person to be born again as a seeing person. It is the interim, the limbo…that is so terrible.”
I believe this story illustrates perfectly the prayer Paul prayed for the Ephesians in today’s text. Starting in verse 3, Paul explained to the Ephesians their wonderful POSITION in Christ: Chosen in Christ; predestined to all the rights of a son of God by adoption; redeemed; forgiven; incredibly spiritually RICH; secure by their sealing with the Holy Spirit.
When you trust in Christ as Savior, the Bible says you have all these precious gifts, and many, many more from the very first day of your salvation. And yet…we still don’t fully grasp all we are and have in Christ. We’re like the blind man newly given sight in the story I just told. We once were lost, but now are found, were blind, but now we see…yet, like the blind man who received his sight in the story I told, we only dimly grasp the wonder of knowing Christ and all God has in store for us. Our perception of God is fuzzy, unclear, unformed, and even deceived in many ways, and we thus we live by our old habits and behaviors in many ways.
Paul knew this, so he prayed that God would deepen their understanding of God and His plan and His riches. Glimpse Basically, he prayed for four things, but today we’ll only look at one of them:
I. FIRST, HE PRAYED THAT THEY WOULD KNOW GOD MORE DEEPLY – 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.”
Paul’s prayer that the Ephesians would know God more deeply is evident in the choice of the word Paul used for “knowledge.” The normal Greek word for “knowledge” was gnosis, but Paul uses the word EPIgnosis, which refers to a deeper, more personal knowledge. Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words gives a rather long definition of epignosis which I’ll summarize as simply “exact or full knowledge,… a strengthened form of [gnosis], expressing a fuller or a full knowledge.”
In other words, Paul prays that the Ephesians—having come to know Christ in salvation—would go deeper and deeper in their knowledge of Christ. I find it wonderful and liberating that He doesn’t pray that they would know more about Christianity, or even the Bible itself, but to know CHRIST in this deeper way. I’m afraid that we often put too much emphasis on mastering biblical knowledge as an end in itself instead of focusing on the PERSON the Bible is about! Yes, know the Word of God; but more importantly, know the God of the Word.