Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Knowledge Is Power

Part 9 in a series through the New Testament book of Ephesians 

You can listen to this sermon here.

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, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (1:17-19a). 

A Prayer for Knowledge 

Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in 1:15-23 begins with commendation (vv. 15-16a) and ends with supplication (vv. 16b-23). It could also be said that the prayer beings with praise and ends with petition. 

Paul addresses his prayer to God the Father. There is a twofold description of the Father in verse 17. First, the Father is “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. 1:3). This title does not indicate that the Father is superior to the Son. There is subordination yet equality within the Godhead. Second, the Father is “the Father of glory.”

In this prayer, Paul requests “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, [would] give [the Ephesians] the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him” (v. 17). “‘Spirit of wisdom’ refers to the Holy Spirit’s secret working in Christians to give them insights into God’s Word and the saving knowledge of him” (ESV Study Bible, p. 2263). (Some versions read “spirit,” not “Spirit.”) “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). As in the eulogy (1:3-14), all three persons of the Trinity are in Paul’s prayer.

We know that there is a big difference between knowing about someone and really knowing that person. You can know lots of facts about a famous person, but only his friends and family really know him.

God desires that we know him, not merely know about him. 

How can we know God more deeply? That’s not an easy question. With humans, it takes time and communication. Getting to know God requires the same things. Reading and meditating on God’s word, prayer, and obedience are needed if we want to know God better.

Open Up Your Eyes

Paul prays that the Ephesians would have “the eyes of [their] hearts enlightened” (v. 18a). He desires that they might more fully understand and appreciate how God has blessed them. He has already said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (1:3).

Obviously, when Paul mentions the “hearts” of the Ephesians, he is not referring to the blood-pumping organs within the bodies of the Ephesians. We often use the word “heart” in a figurative sense (e.g., “I love you with all my heart”). Paul is saying that he wants their thoughts and feelings opened to a fuller knowledge of God and his salvation.

There are three realities that we who are believers should know.

1. We have hope in God. 

Paul prays that believers would know “what is the hope to which [God] has called [us]” (v. 18b). Without Christ, there is no hope (cf. 2:12). But in Christ, there is a “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3), a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), and a “sure” hope (Heb. 6:11, NIV 1984). We do not grieve “as others do who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).

2. We have value to God. 

Paul prays that believers would know “what are the riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in the saints” (v. 18c). “‘In the saints’ means that the inheritance is found in, or consists of, these people” (Klyne Snodgrass, Ephesians, p. 74). We are God’s possession. He chose us, he redeemed us, he adopted us, and he sealed us.

3. We have power from God. 

Paul prays that believers would know “what is the immeasurable greatness of [God’s] power toward us who believe” (v. 19a). God is working out his plan for our lives with the same power that “raised [Christ] from the dead” (v. 20).

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