Easter Sunday 2020: That you may know-04/12/20

Message: That you may know!                                        Text: Ephesians 1:15-23

Introduction: Dating, engagement, it’s all about getting to know each other.

Long phone calls, spending LOTS of time together.. so much time that your parents ground you for being out so late with that ‘floozie.’ Taking walks in the park, drives in the car to lookout point… never mind.
OK, today it would be texting all the time, emailing, social media and Zoom to see each other’s face when you can’t be together in person.

The first few years of marriage theres stills a desire to get to know one another… as you begin to live together as husband and wife, you learn a lot about a person.

How she puts the TP on the hanger and what she does with her toothbrush.
Does he put the dishes in the sink until… well, until his wife does them?
How long will it take before he actually starts using the new laundry basket I bought or will he just always throw his dirty clothes on the floor?

Then the kids come and for the next 20-25 years, the getting to know you kind of fades in marriage.

It’s all about getting to know how to deal with these humans we’ve produced.

Then comes the empty nest.’ You might think it’s a time of travel and excitement with nothing tying you down… except perhaps the wife’s dog.

But what it actually turns out to be, is a rediscovering, a relearning of who your spouse is and what you both want in this new season of life. And that too can be exciting!

Well, the same thing happens on our journey of faith as Christians.

When we were first saved, wewere so excited to know all we can about Jesus we would carry our bibles around with us all the time…
OK today they’re on our phones, but I had a huge one I put in a wheel barrow to bring it with me everywhere I went.
Back then, you were hungry to learn about this new life you had in Christ.

But… life happens, years pass, and our hunger to know more about God fades into a nibble or two when we’re ‘at church’ on Sunday.

Background: OK, I know it’s Easter and this doesn’t sound like a Jesus jumping out of the grave kind of sermon. But here’s the thing.

As Christians today, it’s easy to celebrate Easter, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead… as a past historical event, with little to no idea of the enormity of what that means for us today.

It seems that there may have been some of that going on in the church at Ephesus. It’s why, in our text this morning, the apostle Paul prays that they would get to know God in a deeper, more intimate way.

Transition: So, let’s look at our text.

I. Ephesians 1:15-16  Paul give thanks and prays

For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,   I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

When Paul wrote this letter, he was under quarantine in in Rome. OK, he was in prison. But his activity was severely restricted by his physical chains…

ours is restricted by the chains of our fear of COVID-19 and the authority of our elected officials.

But take note: Paul made pretty good use of his time on lockdown, didn’t he?

Bound by chains, restricted by the governing officials, Paul’s prayer life, could not be curbed.

Paul writes that he gives thanks to God because the Ephesian Christians are becoming known for two things… a strong faith in Jesus and deep love for other Christians. That’s the good, but it seems theres bad news too.

Paul then says that he remembers to pray for them, the idea is often.  What does he pray for? In essence that Christians would grow deeper in their knowledge andunderstanding of the Lord.

It seems that they were all excited about what happened to them when they were saved,
but perhaps as time went on, they failed to take a deeper, longer walk on the journey of knowing Jesus more intimately.

I don’t believe this is far fetched or out of context. After all, remember that the church at Ephesus was one of the 7 churches Jesus mentions in the Book of Revelation. Let me remind you: Revelation 2

To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: … I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.

What happens when you fail to grow closer in knowledge and understanding of your spouse?

Your love begins to fade doesn’t it? Well that’s what happened to the Christians in the church in Ephesus.

They started well, but perhaps their desire to know the Lord,was something they did in the past, when it should have been an ongoing endeavor.

So Paul tells them, look, I love your faith and your compassion for other Christians, but… you need to renew your passion to know God, deeply and intimately.

Because if you fail to do that, you will not be able to make it, when the storms of life blow into your comfortable Christian existence.

Christian, let’s not get that comfortable.

Transition: So, what does Paul pray..

II. Ephesians 1:17-18a  General: To know God

that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened

Generally, Paul is praying that God would enable Christians to have wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the Lord.

The idea is that this wisdom, knowledge and understanding would be an accumulating, ongoing, pursuit, that draws you closer to God.

I hope you noticed that wisdom, knowledge and understanding ofGod, is not just an intellectual pursuit, it can only come from God Himself.

It’s necessary that we pray, asking God to ‘open the eyes of my heart Lord,’ as the song goes.

Listen, one of the reasons we can’t understand why things happen the way they do in the world, in our lives, is because we’re trying to use our natural eyes to figure it out.

Difficulties will never make sense.
The loss of as job will never make sense.
Sickness, suffering, death, will never make sense.

We need God

to open our eyes, to see the spiritual forces at work behind all that goes on in life.

We need God

to give us wisdom, to know how to respond to hard times.

We need God

to give us understanding, so we can find peace and comfort in a time when our emotions are running rampant.

One relevant example is found in:Luke 24

As they were talking about these things, Jesus Himself stood among them, and said to them, “Peace to you!” But they were startled and frightened and thought they saw a spirit. Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

Jesus’ disciples were freaked out… they were in panic mode… then Jesus opened their minds to understand… And that changed EVERYTHING for them, EVERYTHING!

No longer freaked out, they boldly went around the known world to proclaim forgiveness and life in Jesus Christ.

Transition: Christian, let’s never stop asking God for wisdom, knowledge and understanding of who He is and how He works.

III. Ephesians 1:18b-23 Specific requests

A. Ephesians 1:18b  Know your hope

Here Paul starts with his requests for specific ways to know the Lord deeper and in a more intimate way.

that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you

Here’s where Paul gets into the part about living in the present aspect of your salvation… not keeping the event in the past.

Paul’s use of the word called here refers to salvation, to coming to faith in Jesus as your Savior. How do I know that? Well Paul starts Ephesians 1 with a grand exposition of our salvation in Christ.

Listen:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Whohas blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us for adoption to Himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of His will, to the praise of His glorious grace, with which He has blessed us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.

Any doubts that our text this morning and the word called is about salvation?

Paul is saying Im asking God to help you remember, not only the reality of the past event of your salvation, but the power of what it means to be saved… today!

Because you were saved in the past, you have hope today, tomorrow and for your future.

What hope? The same God that saved you in the past, will continue to keep you, preserve you, guide you, watch over you… love you.. today, and the next day until He calls you home.

Paul writing about this to the Christians in Philippi said: And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. (Philippians 1:6)

Folks, getting saved by Gods grace means so much more than just a onetime event in the past that gave you your ‘get out of hell free card.’
Being saved by God’s grace, is a life long journey, of walking,side by side through life, with Jesus.

You see, the day you were saved was just the beginning. After that,

You begin to grow as sons and daughters of the King, of God, our Father.
You begin to grow into the likeness of Christ.
And you begin to grow in your ability to trust God… through the hard times… like the one you’re experiencing today.

Transition: Christian, ask God to restore the joy of your salvation, to make ‘being saved by God’s grace’ what excites and directs your steps… today.

B. Ephesians 1:18c  Know your inheritance

what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints

Paul is telling us to know our inheritance. To ask God in prayer to reveal whats promised to usthrough faith in Jesus. And then live, in light of those promises.

Truth be told, I think we all hope that when our parents die they will leave us a huge inheritance.

Not that we want them to die, but that they would save all their money and leave it to us when they die.
OK, that sounds greedy to me too.

But, while we may never say it out loud, we still think it.

Some parents leave quite a nice inheritance to their children, others, not so much.
But, we’ll never know until they pass.

Here’s the thing. As Christians, were promised an unimaginable inheritance, Paul describes it as the riches of His glorious inheritance.

Christian, listen, your inheritance in heaven is secure.

It’s not dependent upon the stock market or on how frugal your parents were.
It’s based on the very promises of a God who cannot lie or change His mind.
It’s yours, waiting for you.

And, if I read this text correctly, Paul wants us to talk about it, so that other Christians will be encouraged and those w/o Christ will want what we’re promised by God.

Be assured Christian, each blessing you receive from God today, tomorrow and the next, is a mere down payment on what He has waiting for you in Heaven.

C. Ephesians 1:19-23  Know God’s great power

1. Ephesians 1:19a  To Believers

and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe

The third truth Paul wants us to know is God’s great power.

It wasn’t easy to be a Christina in the early church:

You could lose your job, people might not buy your products, your family might disown you, the government was always looking for people to blame for their mistakes, and Christians were the likely target. And you could be killed.

Yes, a little like today, but much, much worse.

The early Christians needed theassurance that God would be with them, that He would fight for them, that He would protect them… like we do today.

And rather than worry that God might not be able to help, and fall away from their faith,
rather than come to the place one day on our journey of faith and we say “I just cant do it any more, being a Christian is just too hard.’

Paul wants us to pray for God to reveal His might, His power, to assure us that while we can’t, He can.

Listen, we need to stop trying to do the things that only God can do in our lives. Listen, we need to stop going to other people to do the things that only God can do in our lives. Because that will always fail and will only lead to a greater depth of despair.

And take note to something very important, Paul says, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the power of God is available to us who beleive.

This is not a general belief about God and Jesus. This is saving faith in Jesus.
Remember the context of Ephesians 1 is salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.

This is a great blessing to followers of Jesus, and a word of warning to those who aren’t.

Christian, today, right now, no matter what your difficulty or hardship, no matter how you’re struggling, you have the very power of God to see you through.

With God, nothing… is impossible!

Transition: What ‘s the nature of this power?

2. Ephesians 1:19b-20a  ThroughJesus’ resurrection

according to the working of His great might that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead

Paul wants us to know that the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead, is the power of God to intercede for us, to help us in our time of need. That’s something we need to know, not only intellectually, but experientially…

Because when we do, we’ll trust God from a whole new,secure, place.

Christian, the power of God that raised Jesus from the dead, is the same power that now resides in you, through the indwelling Holy Spirit.

The power to resist temptation.
The power to stand up for Jesus.
The power to hold up under persecution.
The power to stand your ground when suffering.
The power to live this new life for Jesus.

Is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and lives in you!

Easter should be a constant encouragement to the struggling Christian, that no matter what you’re going through, since God had the power to raise Jesus from death, He has the power to defeat and deliver you from whatever it is you’re facing.

Even testing positive for the Coronavirus.
Even the loss of a job.
Even a broken relationship.
Even the desperation and despair loneliness can bring.
Even the death of a loved one.

The resurrection of Jesus is the key, it’s the source of power, in the lives of those who believe.

And that’s why Easter must be more than just one day.
It’s a daily reckoning with the fact that I have died and was buried with Jesus.
But God has raised us both up from the grave
and I live a life of resurrection power, every day, every moment, as I trust in Jesus.

The resurrection of Jesus from the grave.. changes everything and is everything, in the life of the Believer!

3. Ephesians 1:20b-23  ThroughJesus’ exaltation

and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

I could spend months just talking about these verses. In fact, I will probably spend over a year doing that. You see, what Paul says here, and his prayer for the Ephesian Christians is my prayer for you at CBC and it’s the heart of what we’ll examine in our study of the Book of Hebrews. So Ill be brief here.

Not only do we need to know that the same power that raised Jesus from the dead lives in us,
we need to know the same Jesus who lived, died and was raised…
also ascended to the throne of God
and was exalted by God.

Jesus ascension and exaltation by the Father, to the throne of Heaven, assures us that there is nothing that Jesus is not Lord over.

Nothing on earth, nothing under the earth, nothing in the spiritual realm, that Jesus is not Lord over.
No illness, no disease, no brokenness, that Jesus is not Lord over.
No evil plan of man, no harm someone can desire to do, that Jesus is not Lord over.
No work of Satan and his demons, that Jesus is not Lord over.

Jesus, in Matthew 28:18 said And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me.”

All authority, all power, over all things, over all people, over all circumstances and situations, over all time.

God has set all things, in the place of complete subjection, to Jesus.

So, Christian, do not be discouraged.

Trust Jesus, place your faith,your very life in His hands.
He will show you, what victory is all about.

Finally, Paul tells us that God has placed Jesus as head of the Church.

We owe allegiance not to a denomination, not to man-made creeds, but to a King, Jesus.
What we ‘do’ as His Church, we must do at His bidding andfor His glory.

Conclusion: The Coronavirus has given us time alone, separated from the noise and demands of the world around us, and that gives us an unprecedented opportunity to get closer to God, to get to know Him in a deeper more intimate way…

We can do that because Jesus is alive…

Listen, we can’t keep the resurrection of Jesus as an event in the past.

Remember when Jesus appeared to His disciples for the second time and Thomas was there? Let me refresh your memory:

Eight days later, His disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”  Then He said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see My hands; and put out your hand, and place it in My side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” Thomas answered Mim, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen Me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” John 20:26–29

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was transformation for those first disciples. They changed the world because of it.

But I want you to take note to the last words of Jesus in that text. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Folks, Christians, Jesus was speakingabout you.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead, still has the power to transform lives, your lives.
And the world around you can be changed because of it.

Jesus is alive. Let’s live in the reality and power of that… everyday!

Let’s pray.