Last week we began looking at some of the things that Paul asked his “glorious Father” in heaven to provide for the Christians in Ephesus. We noted that those are the things we need to ask God to provide for us and our families. Read Ephesians 1:18-20 to see what Paul prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would experience in deeper and more intimate or personal way. Note that he wanted them to knowthreethings, “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.
Paul first prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would know the HOPE to which they had been called. Biblical hope is not wishful desiring but a looking forward with confidence to that which God has promised but has not yet been provided. For Christians, the ideas of faith and hope are inseparably intertwined so that where there is faith there is hope or confidence in the God who is glorious and therefore able to provide for us. Read Hebrews 11:1.
Hope is always future. We don’t hope for what we have. For the Christian, that future hope that is ours is tied “to that which he has called you.” There is a little saying that says, “Life without Jesus is a hopeless end, but life with Jesus is an endless hope.”
Collectively we have been called to a fellowship of believers. The early Christians did not call themselves a church but rather an “ecclesia” or “called out” group. We are called to be His separated group that we call the church today.
Individually, in the short-term, the Bible speaks of various things we can have hope or assurance of, including our relationship with God. Read I Peter 2:9.
Once we have accepted the call to the leave darkness and become a child of God, we always enjoy the hope or assurance of the presence of God with us. Read Psalm 46:1 Jeremiah 29:11.
One long-term hope (or assurance as we would say today) is that we have been called us to spend eternity with our Lord. Read Titus 1:2. Christians think about the persecuted church and fellow Christians who are willing to suffer, even die for their faith because they know that that which awaits them is so much better. Read Romans 8:18.
As Christians we have a hope for the future that includes not only spending eternity with God, but doing so with new glorified bodies, in the presence of our Savior and with those loved ones who have preceded us in death or will join us later. Heaven, however, is more than just existing forever. It is existing forever with God in an incredible place that we cannot even begin to imagine. Read Psalm 16:10-11andRomans 8:29. We have been called to a glorious future that is overshadowed by “eternal pleasures.”
By itself, our hope should encourage us beyond measure, but Paul went on to write that he was praying that we would recognize “the RICHES of his glorious inheritance.” Some ancient texts translate this as our being God’s “glorious inheritance.” That is an idea that we do not think about often enough. We are God’s treasure. He created us in His image, so He could have a special relationship with us. When that possibility was lost because of sin, He paid an incredible price to purchase us back. It is to imagine that we are valuable to Him but think about it this way. I have children and generally they look upon me as one who is there for them and willing to help them whenever there is a need. I doubt that they think often enough of how valuable they are to me. They are worth more to me than anything I own. In the same way we are of infinite value to God and because of that He will do whatever He can for us.
There are other ancient texts that translate this to declare that we are rich in Jesus. Read what Paul wrote a little later in this letter, in 2:7 and in 3:8. 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.
The phrase, “the boundless riches of Christ” that Paul spoke of in Ephesians 3:8 is literally riches that cannot be fully understood because they are without limit. Picture this. Many of us live paycheck to paycheck, with perhaps a little extra for special things. It is estimated that Bill Gates earns as much as $10 million a day. Try to imagine getting up in the morning and having an additional $10 million in your checking account. I can’t even picture that kind of wealth. If Paul were with us today, he would say something like, “That’s nothing, imagine waking up to a whole new awareness of the riches you have in Jesus.” Read Lamentations 3:22-23.
As an added note, while Bill Gates can talk of material riches God talks of spiritual riches. Jesus spoke, as a part of His Sermon on the Mount, of the difference and urged His followers, according to Matthew 6:18-19, not to store up earthly treasure that can be lost but to store up treasures in heaven because that is treasure that can never be taken away. We are rich in Jesus with the things that are truly lasting and matter in both time and eternity.
Paul prayed that the Christians in Ephesus would be conscious of the hope or assurances they have in Jesus. Then he prayed that they might realize just how rich they are in Jesus. 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 we think of God’s power, we think of God’s power to create or the power of Jesus to perform miracles. Read in verse 20 what Paul used to describe the power of God. Read Philippians 3:10.
In verses 20-22 Paul detailed 4 things God’s power did. First it raised Jesus from the dead (verse 20a). Second, it enabled him to sit at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all competitors (verses 20b, 21). Third, it enabled Him to put all things under His feet (verse 22a). And fourth, it made Jesus the head over all things for the church, which is his body (verses 22b, 23). Each of them has implications for us today.
The purpose of Paul writing about the power of God’s power was to remind us that that same power is available to Christians. That power is a saving power that enables us to be forgiven of our sins and to be adopted into the family of God. It is also a power that enables us to live as God desires us to live. Read what Paul later said about that power in 3:30.
As Christians we have the assurance that every promise God made to us will become a reality and that assurance is what Paul called the “hope of our calling.” As Christians “we are incredibly rich” with spiritual riches that provide for us for both time and eternity. And as Christians we have available to us unbelievable power needed to live each day as He would have us live.
All of that combines to gives us reason to rejoice and seek to make each a reality in our daily lives.