Stephen Caswell ©1999
Looking For Something More
The late newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst invested a fortune in collecting works of art. One day he read of an extremely valuable work that he determined to add to his collection. His agent searched the galleries of the world but to no avail. Finally, after many months of effort and at great expense, the agent found the prized artwork. It had been stored in one of Heart's own warehouses all along! Had he read the catalogue of his treasures he would have saved himself a great deal of money and trouble. This story parallels Christians who are always searching for something more because they don't understand what they already have in Christ. They should look at the bank balance. We receive God's wealth by faith and invest it by works.
Last Sunday morning we saw the work of the Holy Spirit in our salvation. Verses 13 and 14 speak of the Spirit's seal and guarantee. After Paul glorifies God for His gracious salvation, he prays for the Ephesian believers. He doesn't pray for their daily needs, physical or spiritual. He doesn't pray for grace in trials. He prays that they might comprehend the riches God had already given them. Like the newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, they didn't realize the great wealth they already owned. I believe that we too are like the Ephesians. We don't understand just how rich we are. Paul's prayer can be divided into 2 parts.
Ephesians 1:15-16 Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:
a. For Their Faith In The Lord Jesus
Paul heard of the faith of these Ephesian saints. Verse 13 tells us that they heard the Gospel and believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit had given them new life and sealed them as God's children. Paul was always thankful to God, and especially so when people believed in Christ. Paul continually gave thanks to God for His work of grace in their lives. He knew that their faith was founded in God's grace toward them. They had testified to it and Paul had heard.
b. For Their Love For All The Saints
But their faith didn't remain alone. It showed itself in love for all the saints. This is commendable. James tells us that faith without works is dead. Right faith that produces nothing is dead orthodoxy. 1 John 3:16-18 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.
Do you love people in general but not individually where you might have to do something? The Ephesians didn't do this. They followed the Lord's command to love one another. Love can only reveal itself through actions. It is not a warm fuzzy feeling. Love sees a need and meets it if it can. Inactive love is useless. Galatians 5:13-14 For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The Ephesians are to be commended for their love for all the saints. They put their faith into action.
Love is Everywhere
After eighteen months in the ministry, a pastor went to his file cabinet to pull out the "Love" file. He discovered he didn't have one. Impossible! It must be misfiled. He searched among Faith and Fasting, between Healing and Heaven. Perhaps it was sandwiched by Christology and Christian Ed. After all, these have to do with Love don't they? But it wasn't there, nor was it found after Money or ahead of Missions. When he stopped to reflect, the Holy Spirit solved the mystery. The Love file was scattered, yet not misfiled. Parts of it were found under Patience, Kindness, Humility, Trust, Hope, Loyalty, and Perseverance. But the pastor found the greatest part of the Love file, squarely-centered and deeply-seated, in Forgiveness.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 speaks of the most excellent way to serve God, through love. Do you love the saints? How do you show it? Recently Partners International came here and shared how they serve in many countries. Some here decided to support a child. That is love in action. We can give to missions too. We can cook a meal for someone who is unwell or mow our neighbors yard when they're away. A word of encouragement, or prayer. Really it is just a matter of being sensitive to the opportunities that God gives us. But love is not real unless it costs us something. Love must be active. After thanking God for the Ephesian believers, Paul prayed for them.
That God Might Give You The Spirit of Wisdom And Revelation
Ephesians 1:16-17 making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
Paul was satisfied with the Ephesians faith and Love. But he knew they needed to grow more. So he Paul prayed that God might enable them to know all that they possessed. Paul realized that this required God's help. So he prayed that God might give them a spirit of wisdom. This of course would come through the Holy Spirit's illumination of the Scripture. Unless God reveals spiritual truth to us then we will remain in the dark. This is one of the Spirit's ministries. John 16:13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. God gave His Spirit to us for this purpose. He wants us to know spiritual truth.
But we must cooperate with Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9-16 But as it is written: “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For “who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him?” But we have the mind of Christ.
We cooperate with the Spirit of God by reading the word of God and obeying it. But this passage implies more than a casual glance at the word. The Holy Spirit teaches us comparing spiritual things with spiritual. We can't do this in a few rushed minutes. This involves meditation upon the word. God longs to teach us, but we must be willing to give Him the time. Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. To let God's word dwell or live in us richly means that it has access to all of our life. As we read the word we should ask, How does this apply to my life? We should ask God to speak to us through the word. S.P.E.C.K. Sin to avoid, Promise to claim, Example to follow, Command to obey, Knowledge of God and Satan. As we do this, God will give us wisdom, the ability to look into the heart of a matter, and revelation, the unveiling of something previously hidden. But what in particular will God give us wisdom and revelation in? Paul lists four things He will reveal.
a. To Know God Himself
b. To Know God's Calling
c. To Know God's Riches
d. To Know God's Power
a. To Know God Himself
The word knowledge in verse 17 means full knowledge. Paul wanted the Ephesians to come to a full knowledge of God. When we come to Christ we come to know God as our Savior. But this is just the beginning. As we walk with Him in the Christian life we discover that He is our Master whom we must obey. He is also our Father that provides for His children. If we allow Him to have the central position of our life we discover that He is our closest Friend. Paul prayed his prayer for the Ephesians because such knowledge doesn't happen automatically. It takes time and commitment to build any relationship, especially our relationship with God. In fact he uses the optative mood for the verb give in verse 17. This mood is not certain, it is conditioned on the response of God's people. God reveals Himself to those who seek Him. Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself also in the Lord, And He shall give you the desires of your heart. God reveals Himself to us as we seek Him with all our hearts. When our delight is to know God, He grants us our request. He does this through the word as we meditate and pray. The hymn writer says it so well, Beyond the sacred page, I see Thee Lord, My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word. God has given us His word to read. He reveals Himself in the word as we spend time together. But this cannot be rushed, it takes time, commitment and obedience. God must have first place in our life if we would know Him fully. We must reach out to Him in faith.
b. That We Might Know God's Calling
Ephesians 1:18 the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, The second thing Paul prayed was that the eyes of their mind might be enlightened to know the hope of His calling. Paul prayed that they might have spiritual eyesight to comprehend the hope we have in Christ. Most people in the world have no hope. They don't know what will happen when they die. They have no certainty. We were once like this. Ephesians 2:12 That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But the Christian has a sure hope. A steadfast hope. The Christian's hope lies in the return of Jesus Christ for His Church. Paul wanted them to know for certain their future with Christ in glory. God has a wonderful future prepared for His people. The sad thing is that many Christians don't know about their inheritance in Christ. Many believers haven't taken the time to read about it in the word.
1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. One day soon Jesus Christ will return for His bride the Church and take her back to glory to spend eternity with Himself. The verse in 1 John says that we will be given glorified bodies, immortal bodies. This is wonderful news for believers. We will also be reunited with our loved ones that have passed away. This is why it is called the blessed hope in Titus 2:13. The word know in verse 18 means to know how. Because we have this hope we know how to think and live in an appropriate way while we wait. 1 John 3:3 Everyone who has this hope keeps himself pure even as He is pure.
c. That We Might Know God's Riches
The riches spoken of here are not our riches in heaven. But the riches that God owns in His saints. Why should God place such a high value on redeemed sinners? Because He sees them in Christ. He paid an extravagant price to redeem the church. God has invested so much in His people. Therefore they are precious to Him. God sees the final beauty of believers after they have been glorified in Jesus Christ. God deals with His people on the basis of their future, not their past or present. Believers will bring glory to God for all eternity as trophies of His great grace. After all we are His workmanship. He has made vile sinners into saints through His Beloved Son. Christ will be glorified in His saints. What a marvelous thought, that God should place such value on us. It is really quite incredible, yet it is completely true. The riches of God's glorious inheritance is the saints. His glory shines through them.
Paul's prayer for the Ephesians is that they might know God in a deeper way. That they might know the hope they have in Jesus Christ, that they might realize how precious they are to God. In the light of all this, our natural response should be to live for God, to serve Him out of love. But how can we live the Christian life? How can we please God when we still struggle with our old sinful nature, the world and the Devil? Paul assures the Ephesian believers that God's power toward them is sufficient. In fact it is great.
Tony Evans Becoming A Weight Lifter
Just imagine that Tony Evans decided to enter the Olympic games as a weight lifter. You ask him how he is going to do it. To your surprise he informs you that he has spent a lot of time talking with Dean Lukin. He has found out Dean Lukin's secrets. Tony has been able to learn the right techniques and he knows how to plan a good strategy. Do you think that this would be enough? I think that he is still missing one important thing. The muscle strength to lift those enormous weights. It is not enough just to know how to lift the weights, you also need the power. The same is true in the Christian life. God wants us to know Him closely. He wants us to know that He loves us and has wonderful plans for us. God also wants us to know how to live the Christian life. But finally He wants us to know that He has the power to do so.
d. That We Might Know God's Power
Ephesians 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power
God's power toward believers is great. Paul says that it is exceedingly great. He uses four different words for power to get his point across. Wiersbe translates it like this, " What is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the operation of the might of His strength. " God wants us to know the power that He has made available for our Christian life. We lay hold of this power through faith and prayer. God's power is sufficient for every situation. How great is God's power? What has it accomplished? Paul tells us in v 20-22.
1. He Raised Christ & Seated Him On The Throne
Ephesians 1:20 Which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, God displayed His great power in raising Jesus Christ from the dead. Romans 1:3-4 Concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. God raised Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit. And He is living today by this same power. This power is available to us.
2. He Subjected All Under Christ
Ephesians 1:21-23 far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
After Christ's resurrection and ascension the Father placed His Son at His right hand, in a position of highest authority. He is sovereign over all the angelic realm, the Church and the world. But how does this help us here? How can we have God's power in our life today?
Power of a Refreshed Spirit
In driving piles, a machine is used by which a huge weight is lifted up and then made to fall upon the head of the pile. Of course the higher the weight is lifted the more powerful is the blow which it gives when it descends. Now, if we wish to impact our age and society with ponderous blows, we must see to it that we are uplifted as near to God as possible. All our power will depend upon the elevation of our spirits. Prayer, meditation, devotion, communion, are like a windlass to wind us up aloft. It is not lost time which we spend in such sacred exercises, for we are thus accumulating force, so that when we come down to our actual labor for God, we shall descend with an energy unknown to those to whom communion is unknown.
The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus Christ lives in us today. We simply need to draw on His strength through prayer and faith each day. Romans 8:11-14 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors—not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. Paul's desire was to continually experience Christ's resurrection power in His life. Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, The problem is not God's power, but us. We don't take the time to have fellowship with God. Therefore we remain powerless. To know God's power we must spend un-rushed time alone with Him daily.
Use It or Lose It
A fellow who had been reared in the city bought a farm and several milk cows. In the feed store one day he complained his best cow had gone dry. "Aren't you feeding her right?" asked the store owner. "I'm feeding her what you've been selling me," said the man. "Are you milking her everyday?" "Just about. If I need six or eight ounces of milk for breakfast, I go out and get it. If I don't need any, I don't get it--I just let her save it up." The feed store owner had to explain it doesn't work that way. With cow's milk, like God's presence, you take all that's there, or you eventually have nothing. Asking for God's power in six-ounce doses, or asking sporadically only at our convenience, may mean that for us, the source dries up. Whether or not we realise it we need God's power every day. This power can only be accessed by prayer and faith.
As we step out in faith relying on the Lord for strength He empowers our lives. We must simply take God at His word and determine to live in His strength day by day. 2 Corinthians 5:7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. God's grace is always available to those who draw on it. Look at the difference between the disciples before and after Pentecost. After the crucifixion they went into hiding fearing for their lives. But after Pentecost they boldly testified for their Lord. Even when the Sanhedrin threatened them and beat them they continued to preach the risen Christ.
Paul prayed that God might give the Ephesians a spirit of wisdom and revelation. So that they might know four things.
a. To Know God Himself
To know God intimately we must allow Him to have first place in our lives. It is only as we seek Him with all our hearts that He reveals Himself to us. Do you want to know God like this? If so, Will you spend time alone with Him in the word? It is only as we dig deeply into the word that we see the wonder of our God. We should ask His Spirit to teach us. He longs to.
b. To Know God's Calling
Many of God's plans for believers are revealed in the word. They centre around the return of Jesus Christ for His church. Have you grasped how wonderful this will be? Do you study this in the Word? Are you looking for the blessed hope of His coming? Do you know what you have been called to?
c. To Know God's Riches
The Church is the riches of the glory of His inheritance. What a wonderful truth that God values us, so much. He has invested so much in His people. They are His precious treasure.
d. To Know God's Power
How do believers live the Christian life? By drawing upon God's great power. The resurrection power of Jesus Christ is available to us. This of course is experienced through the Holy Spirit. Are you spending time each day with your Lord in prayer to prepare for the day ahead? Are you drawing on God's power each day by faith? A prayer less Christian is a powerless Christian! I pray that we will all want to know more fully our riches in Christ. How do you use them? You receive them by faith and spend them through works.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.