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Four things you desperately need to know

Back to all sermons Revival

Date: January 2, 2022

Speaker: Eric Stillman

Series: Revival

Scripture: Ephesians 1:15–1:23

This morning, I am beginning a new sermon series entitled Revival. My hope in this series is to lead us into a life of deeper prayer, where we ask for God to bring greater spiritual life to us individually and collectively, and through us to bring His salvation and redemption to our world.

 

This morning, I want to look at Ephesians 1:15-23. Now that Paul has listed the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, and has let them know how thankful he is for them, he continues to let them know how he is praying for them. Take this to heart this morning:

 

Ephesians 1:15-23 - For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,  16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  17 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.  18 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, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,  20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,  21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,  23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. 

 

Paule has reminded them of every spiritual blessing that is theirs in Christ. He lets them know how thankful he is to God for them, and how often he prays for them. But what specifically does Paul pray for them? This section reveals the answer: A deeper knowledge of God. An understanding of the hope to which they are called. A comprehension of the rich inheritance they have in Christ. And faith in the great power that resides within them. Let’s look at these things one at a time

 

  • God better

 

  1. 17 - 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.

 

Without the Spirit revealing God, we can not know Him.

 

2 Corinthians 4:4 - The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

 

And even though we know him, we don’t see clearly. Our eyes deceive us. Our minds deceive us all the time. Help me to see clearly. Be thou my vision! The Spirit would reveal God so that you might know Him better. We can not just know God on our own through study. The Spirit must reveal God to us. You think you know God but you don’t. Ask the Spirit to reveal God to you. Look at Jesus Christ and learn who the Father is.

 

John 14:8-10 - Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us."  9 Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?  10 Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.

 

If you truly knew His glory, you would not seek it elsewhere. If you knew His love, no one else’s love would captivate you. If you knew His grace over you, no one else’s opinion of you would affect you. If you knew His holiness, you would take sin more seriously. If you knew His mercy, you would live your life in constant gratitude. Oh, that the Spirit would help us to know God better!

 

  • The hope to which they were called

 

18 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,

 

Know the hope to which he has called you. How badly do we need hope, a reason to get up in the morning, a reason to believe that tomorrow will be better, and ultimately faith that there is something beyond this life, that death is not the end, that love is eternal, that there is a happy ever after?

 

What we have to look forward to makes all the difference in how we live today. Send two men to prison. Tell one that his family is waiting for him when he gets out. Tell the other that his family has left him and moved on and wants nothing to do with him. Which one will have a better chance of enduring? Our ability to endure suffering and trials in the present is linked very much to our view of the future.

 

So what is the hope to which we are called? The best sermon on hope was probably given by Jonathan Edwards when he was 18: Our bad things will turn out for good. Our good things can never be taken away. And the best is yet to come.

 

Our bad things will turn out for good

 

Romans 8:28-29 - And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers

 

The first hope is that God works all things together for good for those who love him. Even the death of a loved one or crippling illness can be used by God, if we submit to Him, to conform us to the image of His Son, as fatherly discipline to train us for godliness and greater joy. Or to prepare us to minister to others. This is why we can rejoice in our sufferings – not because of our sufferings but in our sufferings - because we know that God does not waste suffering, but uses it for our good and for the salvation of others.

 

Our good things can never be taken away from us

 

Ephesians 1:13-14 -  And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,  14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory.

 

The Spirit is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. All we have in Christ won’t be taken from us. As Paul writes in Romans 8, nothing will ever separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. And we are storing up treasure in heaven.

 

The best is yet to come

 

The Biblical writers grasp for language to describe what it will be like on that day. Revelation talks about no more suffering, seeing God, healing, intimacy. It uses marriage imagery – like a bride beautifully prepared for her husband. Marriage supper of the lamb. Streets of gold. Beauty. Intimacy.

 

1 Corinthians 2:9 - However, as it is written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him"--

 

Romans 8:18 - I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

 

Philippians 1:21 – For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

 

Know the hope to which you have been called!

 

  • Know your inheritance

 

18 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, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 

 

The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.

 

1 Peter 1:3-5 - Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

 

We will see God, and we will be made like him. We will have perfect fellowship. All his wealth is ours in Christ. We are heirs.

 

Romans 8:15-18 - For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, "Abba, Father."  16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children.  17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs-- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.  18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

 

 We will see God and worship Him, be like Him, enjoy perfect fellowship with him and each other.

 

If we knew the inheritance ahead of us, would we be so concerned about money and possessions this side of heaven? Would we not give it all for that which truly lasts?

 

Matthew 13:44-46 - "The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.  45 "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls.  46 When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

 

  • The power available to them

 

18 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, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,  19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength,  20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,  21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 

 

His power for us who believe. He has conquered death and put all things under his feet. He has authority over everything. Paul wants them not just to know what is ahead, but about the power that is available to them today.

 

The same power that conquered the grave lives in us by His Holy Spirit. The ability to destroy the power of sin in our lives. To overcome addiction. To heal disease. To restore relationships. To forgive anything. To cast out demons. This power lives in us.

 

Do you say:

 

I can’t get past the hurt – you can by His power

I can’t overcome this addiction – you can by His power

I can’t forgive – you can by His power

I can’t make it another day suffering like this – you can by His power

 

John 14:12-13 - I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.  13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.

 

Why don’t we see this? Could it be that we have put our hope in the things and people of this world? Because we have not believed in the inheritance we have but are still chasing the treasures of this world? Because we are too concerned about our own kingdoms to seek His? Because we are still the center of the universe?

 

Do you want to see more of His power and victory? Repent of your sin and submit to God. The more you are in Him, the more you allow His power to work in and through you.

 

Let’s pray along with this passage.