To Know Him
One year my wife and I led a canoe trip for a camp in northern Manitoba. There was no civilization for several miles and so when it got dark at night, since there were no yard lights to illuminate our camp site, it was dark. One evening, we lost something in the campfire area after dark and even though we used our flashlights to try to find it, we couldn't see very well and it was very difficult to find. The next morning, when the sun was shining, it was very easy to find and to see anything for it was well illuminated.
Sometimes we are so much in the dark about things. For example, do you know what it says on these screens? Right now you are in the dark about that. Spiritually, the same thing is true. We have such great gifts from God. Do you remember God’s gifts which we talked about yesterday? Chosen, Adopted, Set Free, We Know His Secret Plan, Inheritance, Sealed With His Spirit. It is amazing how often we do not see just how good God is or how blessed we are. It is amazing that we do not know all of what it means to be a Christian.
Paul prays a very important prayer for the people of Ephesus in 1:15-23. He prays that they will have their eyes opened to see. He prays that they will see and know four things.
1. Know a personal relationship with God.
2. Know what it means to live in Christian hope
3. Know the wonder of what we will inherit.
4. Know His power working in us.
In other words, he prays that they will really know what it means to live a full Christian life.
This is my prayer for all of you. I pray that you will come to know God better and to know all that he has done for you, is doing in you and will do for you. My prayer is that all of us will know these four things.
Illustration. Four boxes each with a reverse message which is revealed when a light within the box is turned on.
I. To Know Him Better 1:17
The first prayer, is a prayer to know God better. "I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better."
Switch on first light.
Do any of you know anyone famous?
How well do you know them? Point out that it is a superficial knowing or if they do know someone well, point out the possibility and reason for such intimacy.
Sometimes we know God only in this way - we have heard of him but we do not really know him. This prayer is a prayer to go beyond the superficial.
There is an excitement when a young man and woman first get to know each other. It is the joy of first acquaintance. When believers first come to the faith, they come to know God with the knowledge of first acquaintance. This prayer is a prayer to go beyond first acquaintance. When a couple has been together for 30 years in a growing, loving relationship, we can say that they know each other well. It is this kind of knowledge of God which we need. It is the knowledge of personal relationship. It is a real, deep and full knowledge. It is a dynamic and experiential knowledge. It is the knowledge of close friendship.
B. Source of Knowledge
Do we know God in this way? Do we desire to know God in this way? How do we come to know God in this way? The prayer indicates the source of such knowledge. It is first of all through the unveiling ministry of the Holy Spirit. God's Spirit will enlighten us to know Him personally if we are open to such enlightenment.
The other source is wisdom which is experiential knowledge. As we walk with God, and apply his Word to our lives, and allow every experience in life to draw us closer to Him, we will come to know Him.
How great to know that we can come to know God and that God reveals himself to us.
Why is it so important that we pray this prayer and that we come to know God better? First of all it is important in order that we can have a relationship of friendship and intimacy with the creator of the ends of the earth. What a privilege! People like to have friendships with significant people, but usually find that they cannot get really close. We have the privilege of being close to God. Such a friendship is a great privilege.
Knowing God will also make a difference in the way we live. We once spent some time with some American friends. After we had been with them for a while, I noticed that I was starting to talk like them. We often begin to imitate what we live with closely. When we come to know God closely, we will begin to be like him. When we know Him as a God of love, we will learn to live in love. As we see Him as a holy God, we will live in holiness.
I pray that you will desire to know God better.
II. To Know The Hope To Which He Has Called Us 1:18
A second prayer is to know the hope to which God has called us. "I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you..."
As Christians, we have been called to hope. God has changed us from people who have no hope to people who are filled with hope. Yet so often, we live without hope. We live as if there is no hope. What kind of a difference would it make if we knew, I mean really knew the hope to which we have been called?
What difference would it make if we really knew that we would not fail in becoming holy people?
What difference would it make if we knew that in whatever we do for God, we cannot fail?
There are some people today who say that as Christians we should always be healthy and always be wealthy. This is a shallow and unfulfilling promise. The hope to which God has called us is much better than that. He has called us to joy when we are rich and when we are poor. He has called us to peace when we are healthy and when we are sick.
Many Christian adults do not know that hope. You are young and I want to challenge you to seek to know the hope to which he has called us as a daily, living experience.
What difference does it make if we have a knowledge of things to come and a clear understanding of what we are going to?
It is a tremendous encouragement in a world which is full of fear and despair. When people are wondering if the world will be destroyed by a nuclear bomb, or an earthquake, or war, we know that the future of the world is not in the hands of random forces. "I know who holds the future and I know who holds my hand."
This encouragement permits us to live in hope and confidence. Whatever happens in the world, whatever happens to us, we know where we are going. Even though the path may be dark and bitter, we know the end to which we are headed a and so are able to face whatever comes with calmness.
III. To Know The Riches Of His Glorious Inheritance In The Saints 1:18
The prayer continues, "To know...the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints."
A. To Know
At first view, it seems that this simply repeats what was just said, namely that we would know what it is that we will inherit. But when we look at the wording of the text, it says something different. It does not say to know OUR inheritance, but HIS inheritance. Paul prays that the believers will understand what it is that God is going to inherit, and that is us. We are God's inheritance.
I have sometimes thought about what I will inherit, but not very often thought that I am someone's inheritance, and not just anyone's, but God's!
Is God going to create for himself a shoddy and poor inheritance? What kind of an inheritance is worthy of God? The text calls it a rich and glorious inheritance. Knowing something of what God is like we know that it is a holy and pure inheritance. God is preparing such an inheritance for himself and we are that inheritance.
Do we really grasp the fact that we are God's holy and glorious inheritance?
What a difference it will make when we grasp who we are. We are not junk, we are God's glorious inheritance. What a wonder to know that this is how God thinks of us! What an exalted position this places us into!
Furthermore, it will make a huge difference in the way we live every day when we come to have a clear knowledge that we are God's holy and glorious inheritance.
IV. To Know His Great Power 1:19-23
Finally, Paul also prays that they will know the power of God available to them. "To know...his incomparably great power for us who believe."
A. His Power
One year, I put some crushed rock on my driveway. I began by shovelling along the edges with a spade in order to remove the old shale from the driveway. That was better than trying to do it with my hand, my power was increased by what the spade could do. Then my neighbour came along with his front end loader and scrapped the rest of the driveway to clear off the old shale. This was much better than trying to do it all with a shovel. Again I increased my power by using the tractor. Later that afternoon, a guy came with his big loader. The whole four yard load was in one bucket and with three sweeps along the driveway he had spread the crushed rock so that I had to do very little spreading with rake and shovel. Once again I increased my power by using an even more powerful tool. Each time I dwarfed the power I had with something more powerful.
The power of God dwarfs the greatest human display of energy. The names of the powers of earth are deities invoked, angelic powers, earthly kings and demons. The text says that God's power is greater than every name that is named. There is a sense of fear in regards to the power of the earth, but God's power is much greater. It is described in the text as power, working, might and strength.
When a prisoner faces his executioners, when a hold up victim looks into the barrel of the robbers gun and when the people of Rwanda stare into the murderous machine guns of their oppressors, we realize that people have power, they have the power to kill. People have the power to kill, but not to make alive.
God, has the power not only to kill, but also to make alive. And he has demonstrated that power in raising Jesus from the dead. God's power is life giving power.
The wonderful thing is that that power is "for us."(19) God's great power which dwarfs all powers is available not just to us, but is there for us!
What is even more amazing as we read this text is that Jesus, who is sovereign over all, has been given as head to the church. The term "head" means both source and authority. Jesus is the source and authority of the church and is over all things. The church is a monarchy in which Christ is not only supreme ruler, but also source of life and saviour. God's whole plan is incomplete without the church and therefore, we are an integral part of all God is doing. His power is at work among us through the risen and exalted Lord.
Sometimes you may feel so small, weak and ineffectual. But that is not the way it really is. If we would only know the great power at work among us. What is possible since the Lord of all is at the head of our church? What power do we have since the power of the one who gives life is there for us. His power transforms us and enables us to live as agents of change in a dark world. Instead of being anaemic, we have energy. Instead of being weak we have power. Instead of being fearful, we have boldness.
May we truly know the power of God available to us.
Just as you did not know what was on those signs before the light was put on, we need to have our eyes opened to see what really is.
Thus it is important that we pray this prayer. I will pray for you that these things will be yours and I appeal to each of you to pray for one another that these things will come to be in each life. Let us pray for one another that we will truly know God and all he has done and will do for us and through us so that we can be and do all he wants.