Sermon Notes • November 8

Ephesians 1:17-19

Read Ephesians 1:17-19.  

Notice Paul described the God he was approaching in prayer as “the glorious Father.” Nothing will encourage us more when we pray than remembering the nature of the one to whom we are speaking. Here Paul remembered that the God he was asking to bless the Ephesian Christians was a “glorious Father.” God has both the resources and ability to do anything. If He desired to bless His people, He could do it. Remembering that, when we present our requests to God enables us to have confidence that He is able to answer us.

Paul noted that the God he was approaching was also their “Father.” In verse 4 of this chapter Paul said God was going to adopt us into His family, making God “our Father who is in heaven.”. Because God is our “Father” we can go before Him with the confidence that He will welcome us and will be anxious to answer. We are His children.

Paul requested his “Glorious Father” to give to the Christians in Ephesus “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” When Paul was asking God to enable the Christians in Ephesus to “know him better” he was praying that the Christians who knew Jesus as Savior would get to know Him in a deeper and more personal way. 

When we talk about knowing God better, we can be referring to a greater intellectual knowledge that comes through the study of Scripture. That should always be a goal of believers. Here, however, Paul had a different “knowing” in mind when he prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would know God better. The word Paul used for knowing is related to the Hebrew word used in Genesis 4:1. Read that verse. Paul was praying that the Christians would know God in a more personal way, in a more intimate way. 

Paul’s prayer request for the Christians in Ephesus was also his personal prayer for himself. Read Philippians 3:10. 

Paul went on in his prayer for the Ephesian Christians and asked that the “glorious Father” would give them “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation” and that “the eyes of their heart may be enlightened.”

Paul did not pray that they would receive the Holy Spirit but that the Spirit who is within would enable them to know God better. 

One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus known to us in a deeper, more real way as He reveals more of God to us. The truth is that we cannot know God apart from His revelation. To an extent God has revealed Himself in His creation so the heavens declare His glory but in a deeper sense we can only really know God through His self-revelation in the Bible. Read I Corinthians 2:9-11. We have been given the Holy Spirit who alone can make known the things of God to us. He will do that primarily through Scripture, which is why every Christian should make the study of the Bible a priority.

Paul went on to write that he was praying that the Spirit would open “the eyes of our heart so it may be enlightened.” Paul was not suggesting our hearts have eyes but was using an image that combined the idea and seeing with that of seeing with the full self. With our eyes we see things and when we talk about our heart, we are talking about that part of us that enables both feeling and commitment. The imagery of eyes is one used in God’s Word to describe our seeing truth so we can respond positively to it. Read Matthew 6:22-23.  

Scripture stresses the importance of seeing the things of God. Read Psalm 119:18. Scripture stresses the importance of a commitment to what we see in God’s Word. In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians he used the imagery of the eyes to describe the importance of understanding the things of God. Read II Corinthians 4:18.  

Often, we say to someone, “Did you see that?” God wants to say to us “Did you see the spiritual truths that can enrich your life?” 

What specifically did Paul want the Christians in Ephesus to see? Read Ephesians 1:18-19. Paul wanted the Christians to knowthreethings. He wanted them to know “the HOPE to which he has called you,” the RICHES of his glorious inheritance in his holy people” and the “POWER” that was available to them as believers.

First Paul wants us to know more deeply the hope to which we have been called. Keep in mind that when the Bible speaks of our hope it is not talking about a wishful desire. Biblical hope is a certainty we have because of the promise of God. It is “hope” only in that it has not yet occurred, but we look forward to it with certainty because of our confidence in the one who promised it. Read Psalm 25:3-5.

The phrase “to which he has called you” is intended to challenge Christians to look beyond the present to the ultimate victory that is ours. Our ultimate hope to which God has called us is eternity with Him. Read Romans 5:2.  

We live in very uncertain days as has been demonstrated over the past 10 months as we have been impacted by the Coronavirus. In the midst of that uncertainty, as Christians we have the assurance that God is in complete control, that He will care for us as He has promised, and ultimately Jesus is coming again to set up His perfect kingdom. That is our hope, our confidence so we remember that ultimately this world is not our home, but our citizenship is in heaven. 

The Christians in Ephesus were living in scary times. The society in which they lived was hostile toward them. They faced a very uncertain future. If that sounds like today, well it is and the answer we have is the same as that which Paul gave to them, we have “HOPE to which he has called you.” Hope is a precious thing to have. 

By itself, that hope should encourage us beyond measure, but Paul went on to write that he was praying that they would recognize “the RICHES of his glorious inheritance.” 

We are so rich in Jesus. A little later in this letter, in 2:7, Paul wrote, in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” Still later in this letter, in 3:8, Paul wrote about the privilege he felt in being called “to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.” There can be no doubt that we are truly rich because of the redemption God has provided for us in Jesus. We are children of God and therefore unbelievably rich in the things that matter. Read Philippians 4:19.  The challenge we all face as Christians is to discover just how rich we really are and then to claim those riches for our daily living.

Finally, Paul prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would know the “POWER” that was available to them. Paul said that the incomparable power of God is available for us who believe. Whenever I think of God’s power I think first in terms of creation. I cannot begin to imagine the power of a God who spoke and stars appear, who spoke and the earth took shape, who spoke and the land and oceans are divided. Then I think of the power of Jesus who said “rise up and walk” to a hopeless cripple and he walked again. I think of the power of Jesus who touched a blind man and eyes that had never seen could suddenly see everything. I think of Jesus standing at the tomb of Lazarus and telling him, after being dead for 4 days and having started to decay, to come forth alive. That, to me, is power beyond imagination. But when Paul wanted to describe the power of God, he wrote about the power God demonstrated when, according to verse 20, “He raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.” In Philippians 3:10 Paul wrote, “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection.” 

Think about Paul’s prayer. He prayed that the Christians in Ephesus, and by extension each of us, might know in a deeper, more intimate way the only true hope we have for both time and eternity. He prayed we might know in a deeper and more intimate way the incredible riches that are available to us because we belong to the family of God. And he prayed that we might know in a deeper and more intimate way the power of God available to us because we belong to God.

Is that the prayer we have for ourselves and our family? Are we willing to do what is necessary to gain that deeper and more intimate knowledge?