March 22/23

Main Text: Ephesians 1:15-23

15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love[a] toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 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, 18 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, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 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. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

We are just a couple of weeks into a verse-by-verse, chapter-by-chapter study through the New Testament book of Ephesians. To a young church needing a fuller knowledge of Christ, the author, Paul, sent a call to Christian maturity. His letter to the Ephesians carries priceless truths about our new identity in Christ and our special calling to live new.

I am convinced that as a result of this study over the next months, that you will be more confident in your position in Christ’s Kingdom and more confident in living your life for Jesus Christ. God thinks a whole lot more of you than you do of yourself. God is for you always! I can’t wait for the reality of this to sink into us as a community of faith.

There is great hope for today, tomorrow, the rest of your life, and for eternity if you are in Christ. You might wonder if you are in Christ. In verse 15 Paul gives us two indications that will be evidence that we are in Christ.

Faith in the Lord Jesus.
This means that the totality of your faith and trust is in Jesus Christ. If you trust anything other than Christ for your life here and your life after death, it is not adequate.

Your love toward all the saints. 
The life that is truly rooted in Jesus Christ always has, as its fruit, love for other Christians. This is a fruit of the Spirit. This will mean that you love to get together with other Christ followers. In spite of the fact that God’s people sometimes hurt me, I cannot hate the Lord’s faithful. I can get frustrated and upset, but in short order, I have to get right with them.

Take the test: Is your faith in Christ? Is there a love for the Lord’s people growing in your heart? If it is true of you – your future is bright and you possess The Great Hope.

This hope can be a reality, as you comprehend Christ. Webster defines comprehend as “to understand, to embrace, to grasp the significance of”. This is great hope because you will win in this life when everything is said and done. Regardless of the crazy turns life might take, you ultimately win. There is a hope that we live with! Hope comes to us because we are victors through the work of Christ on the cross. We need to live like victors. This hope must go from our heads to our hearts.

Paul’s prayer

At the end of this life we will stand victorious in Christ. This truth is so critical to the life of every follower of Jesus that Paul prayed this prayer for the church in Ephesus and for us. In effect Paul is saying, “here is what I have been praying for you guys” (verse 16).

In verses 17-18, Paul describes the specifics of what he was praying for. Four terms are mentioned in this portion of text.

A spirit of wisdom.
This is an internal revelation by God’s Holy Spirit indwelling in us. The original language meant that there would be knowledge of Christ through acquaintance and experience of Him. This goes beyond facts and data – this is an experiential knowledge. What God wants to give us comes through comprehending spiritual realities that we cannot see.

Revelation in the knowledge of Him.
Do you understand who God is? So much of your hope and victory depends on you understanding who God is. A.W. Tozer said, “What you think about God is the most important thing about us”.  Your capacity to live with hope and live in victory – even in times of testing and trials – is directly related to your understanding of who God is. If you are believing in a God and savior who is infinitely wise and incredibly attentive to you and your life, you are going to live differently. You will see your life differently. Knowledge through life experience is greater than knowledge through intellectual pursuit.

The eyes of your heart may be enlightened.
Open the eyes of my heart Lord! Not just that I would know things in my head, but in my heart. Paul’s intention here is that those that follow Christ would experience Him. His presence is here to be experienced! Into the dark human heart, God’s light of truth can shine.

So that you will know (knowledge gained through experience).
This experiential knowledge should cause us to react and respond differently to life’s challenges – a loss of a job, sickness and death, financial hardships, relational difficulties. With all that we possess in Christ and with all that we have experienced in His presence, our lives should be lived in the reality of this hope and the new life given to us in Christ.

Three things to comprehend

Last week we learned of all the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ. He blesses you. He chooses you. He adopts you. He redeems you. He guarantees your inheritance.

Paul is now expressing that he is praying that we comprehend this through experiential knowledge. Paul gives us three things that we are to comprehend in verses 18-19.

The hope to which he has called you.
What is this hope? This gives us a picture of a parent calling their child home from playing. Isaiah 43:1 says, Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.”  The fact that we have been called home to be with Christ in heaven forever should overshadow all of life’s challenges. How our day goes; how our week goes; how our year goes – is put into better perspective in view of the reality of the hope that we have in our calling to eternity with God through Jesus Christ! Our circumstances become less relevant in light of the hope of our calling. We can experience a new life here on earth, but the ultimate payoff of a whole new life will be in eternity. This is the blessed hope of our calling!

Paul was concerned that the Ephesians might lose sight of where their faith was headed. There is more than meets the eye. He didn’t want them to lose perspective. There will be a day when sickness, pain, sorrow, tears, and all of life’s trials will be over.

The riches of his glorious inheritance.
If you are in Christ you are very wealthy. The reality of our hope is that we don’t have to squeeze our happiness and joy out of material possessions. This world, regardless of all that we may or may not get, is not the source of our wealth. All that is God’s is ours in Christ (Romans 8:16-17). There are moments that we get a little taste of heaven as we experience His presence. That belongs to you. You are headed towards that forever. God forgive us when we take our emotional cues from temporary situations that have no eternal significance (2 Corinthians 4:17). May we comprehend all that we have in Christ – the hope of our calling and the glorious riches of our inheritance as his saints.

The greatness of his power.
Our inheritance is in our future, but this power is for the here and now. Paul describes this power over the next few verses 19-23. His power is immeasurable and unsurpassed. This power is explosive overcoming power. His great might (verse 19) denotes energy and stamina to do what is right. Christ and His power are above all things - with everything beneath Him - under His rule, under His feet, and under His authority. He is so powerful that He fills all and is in all. Christ’s ability to conquer is our ability. We will rule with Him. Christ has everything needed to win and we possess this power and ability through Him. This portion of text echoes 2 Peter 1:3.

This is the power that raised Jesus from the dead (verse 20). Just as Christ was raised from the dead and has been seated with God, so will we.

May we comprehend and experience all that we have in Christ! May this assured hope change the way we live.  May the eyes of our hearts see the riches that we possess in Christ – by experiencing Him!

Jesus is our great hope!

Apply to Life

This week, as you reflect on the message, think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing and fellowship as you open God’s Word together.


DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Ephesians 1:15-23

In this passage, what are some words or phrases that stand out to you? Explain your thoughts concerning these words or phrases.

When you think about hope, what comes to mind? What types of things do you hope for in your life? Is it wrong to hope in this life?

Take a moment to discuss the point at which your hope in something becomes all-consuming or ultimate. How does this type of hope lead us into idolatry?

What is the hope that Paul speaks of when he says, “that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you”?

How do you sometimes struggle to know this hope that you have been called to in Christ? In what ways do you find yourself forgetting or neglecting this great hope that you’ve been given?

Robert Robinson was a pastor that wrote the hymn Come Thou Fount and in this song he penned the lyrics: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love.” What is this proneness to wander that Robinson is expressing through this song? How do you sense this wandering tendency in your life?

Why are we prone to wander?

How can you relate this wandering with Adam and Eve’s actions in the garden just after they disobeyed God’s one command to not eat of that one tree? How did they “wander” from God?

The Gospel is good news because Jesus has taken down the dividing wall of hostility that we put up against God and invites us to be with Him, even though we’ve wandered.

Take a moment to reflect on this reality, that God finds the wandering soul and brings him home. How did he do this for you?