Message: ‘That you may know!’ Text: Ephesians 1:15-23
Introduction: Dating, engagement, it’s all about getting to know each other.
The first few years of marriage there’s still’s 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.
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.
Well, the same thing happens on our journey of faith as Christians.
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.
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?
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 there’s 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
We need God
We need God
We need God
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!
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.
Any doubts that our text this morning and the word called is about salvation?
Paul is saying ‘I’m 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!’
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)
You see, the day you were saved was just the beginning. After that,
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 what’s 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.
But, while we may never say it out loud, we still think it.
Here’s the thing. As Christians, we’re promised an unimaginable inheritance, Paul describes it as the riches of His glorious inheritance.
Christian, listen, your inheritance in heaven is secure.
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:
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.
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 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.
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…
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.
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.
The resurrection of Jesus is the key, it’s the source of power, in the lives of those who believe.
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 I’ll be brief here.
Jesus ascension and exaltation by the Father, to the throne of Heaven, assures us that there is nothing 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.”
God has set all things, in the place of complete subjection, to Jesus.
So, Christian, do not be discouraged.
Finally, Paul tells us that God has placed Jesus as head of the Church.
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…
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:
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 speaking…about you.
Jesus is alive. Let’s live in the reality and power of that… everyday!