Ephesians – Prayer and Praise

Peninsula Community Church

Ephesians – Prayer and Praise

August 24, 2014

Ephesians 1:15-22For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 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 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 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. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Once again we are confronted with one of those passages that we could literally park on for several weeks. There is so much contained in these few verses. It is noteworthy that in the original Greek language, this is the second longest verse in the book. It contains 169 words. But as Paul often does, he packs the text with great theological truths and encouragement for the body of Christ.

Paul commends the church at Ephesus because of their faith in Christ and their love toward all the saints. We must remember that Paul was in prison in Rome so this news had been brought to him by those who had been directly effected by their testimony. The key to this testimony is that the church at Ephesus not only had their vertical relationship with God right, but they also had their horizontal relationship right. Notice that Paul’s commendation was two-fold. He commended them for their faith in Christ that was being worked out by way of how they interacted with others. 

The problem too often is that we believe that all that matters is that our vertical relationship is in tact. Some people believe that all they need to have is a good relationship with God. But that does not jive with Scripture as we find throughout the Bible that our horizontal relationship is just as critical. Biblically our relationship with others is the defining factor of our Christian experience. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35). Throughout Scripture, God instructs us on how we are to deal with those with whom we have a relationship.

Let me ask you a question this morning. It is a relevant question. If you had someone write a letter to you or they were to write a commendation, what would they say about you? How about our church? Could they commend us on our faith? Would they have evidence that we love one another? Notice that Paul did not say that they loved some of the saints but they loved all of the saints. I have to be honest with you there have been times in the church that I have witnessed some things that would cause me to struggle that this is evidenced all of the time. But the Ephesian church was know for their faith and their love.

After his commendation of the church, Paul turns now to pray for the church. If you look closely at his prayer, you will find that Paul combines both praise and petition. While Paul is grateful for the church in Ephesus, he also makes certain petitions on their behalf. He does this, I believe, because while the Ephesians had a positive testimony, Paul did not want them to become complacent and/or apathetic in their view of God or their place in the kingdom. They were not to rest on their laurels or accomplishments of the past but were to ever be in a mode of growth and a deeper revelation of truth. Throughout scripture and life for that matter, we are constantly challenged to guard ourselves against complacency and a spirit of settling.

Paul opens his prayer by asking that two things would be accomplished in them. Paul prayed that God would give them the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, God. There are two parts to this section of the prayer. First, Paul prayed they would receive the spirit of wisdom. The Greek word for wisdom is the word “sophia.” In this context, the word means to apply the knowledge of God’s will to life’s situations. It is the right application of truth. You see wisdom is more than head knowledge, it is knowledge that is transferred from the brain to the heart and in so doing it begins to affect one’s daily life and actions. This reminds me of my closing remarks from last week’s service. God is not just interested in us knowing the truth but He desires that we make application of truth. Truth alone does not make us wise. It is the application of truth that creates a heart or mind of wisdom. Wisdom can also be defined as the ability to judge correctly and follow the best course of action based on knowledge and understanding.

The second thing Paul prayers for is that they would have a revelation of the knowledge of Him, God. The Greek word “revelation” means to uncover something that is hidden. It is the idea of taking the lid off of something to reveal what is inside. In Scripture, this revealing of truth adds to our knowledge and understanding of a subject. Paul’s prayer was that they would have the truth revealed to them. What was the truth to be revealed? It was an understanding and deeper knowledge of God. This is a critical need for us. Sometimes we focus on knowledge and that is important. I do not want to minimize that but knowledge for the sake of knowledge is futile. And as Solomon says it can make one mad. The knowledge we seek is a greater understanding of God and His workings in us. 

The problem is that when it comes to the concept of revelation, there are some who believe they have been empowered with some new revelation that is not contained in God’s word already. This is a dangerous path to venture down as we already have all of the Word we will ever need. The word is complete so we do not need a new word. What we need is a revelation of God who is the Word. As we get to know His word better and we are given wisdom to discern who He is, we will grow. I am also concerned that too many today are attempting to get some corner on a specific doctrine that will define their specific ministry but I am convinced that I do not want a specific doctrinal nuisance to define me as much I want to be known as a man of God’s word. May that be true for our church as well.

Now lets tie the two elements of wisdom and revelation together. As God reveals spiritual truth by way of revelation we are to apply this truth to our lives so that we are positively effected. Here in this text we also apply wisdom and revelation to understanding who God is and what He has done in us. This is how it works. We uncover a truth about God or His word, through revelation. We take that idea or truth and we apply it to our lives. We make a change. That is wisdom. We see that lying is wrong so we change our habits so we do not lie any more. We see that all we possess belongs to God, so we give freely and graciously to God. We see that devouring the word of God is food for our soul and is a protection for us, so we have a daily and consistent Bible reading and Bible study time. The revelation of truth changes our lives and results in wisdom. That is the prayer of Paul here in this passage.

In the second part of this prayer we find that Paul prays that the eyes of their heart would be enlightened. The purpose of this prayer was motivated by his desire to see their hearts enlightened so they would know that He is all they need. It is interesting to note that Paul uses the term the eyes of the heart. Eyes are often used as measure of a person’s inward character and life. It has been said that the eyes are a window to the soul. The eyes can betray us or they can bring testimony to the purity of our walk. It is possible that Paul is reminded of the writings of Solomon who stated Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life (Proverbs 4:23). 

In essence, Paul recognizes that what we choose defines the world we will inhabit. The eyes follow the heart and therefore seeing is a matter of inner attitude. Perception is a matter of the heart and so Paul here is praying that the Church of Ephesus will have a new perspective on who God is and what He has promised. The truth is Paul wanted them to see that.

Paul focuses here on three reasons for the eyes of the heart to be enlightened. First, his desire was that they may know what is the hope to which he has called them. Secondly, his desire was that would know what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. And, thirdly he wanted them to know what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe. 

Paul wanted the Church at Ephesus to know that they had been called to a great hope. They needed a perspective of hope rather than of fear or desperation. This hope was found in the person of Christ who came to give His life for all.  Listen to the words of Peter in I Peter 1:3-5. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Paul wanted the church to know the hope they had been given but he also wanted them to understand the inheritance that awaited them and the power that God had available for them. With these words there is no reason for any believer to live in discouragement and fear. We have a hope. We have an inheritance and we have power in and through Christ. Paul in essence is saying look guys I am praying that your perspective about life will change and that you will have an eternal perspective about what you do or what you seek to accomplish. 

Copyright © 2014 All Rights Reserved Robert W. Odom

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