Ephesians 1:15-23 Knowing God better

Sermon preached on 22nd January 2012

Knowing God better

After a formal introduction Paul begins the letter:

v3 “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.”     

Then verses 4-14 are an exposition of these blessings. God wants us to experience these blessings.  There are countries in the world that have rich mineral resources, but sadly the people in the country are very poor. This is a picture of how it can be for us as Christians.  Every spiritual blessing in Christ is there for us, but it may be we don’t benefit from it.

Why should this be?  We can look round at all the nice food at Waitrose, but we need to understand how to buy it iF we are ever to experience the goodness of the food.

So Paul, after he has explained all the spiritual blessings we have in Christ, (v4-14,) knows that talking about them is not enough.

v15-16 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped praying for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father,

First Paul points out two positives in these Christians, their faith in the Lord Jesus, and their love for all the saints (Christians).  Let’s just think about these for a moment.  Their faith is not just any kind of faith, it is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ who died and rose again for them – saving faith.  This kind of faith is very practical since it results in a love for all the saints / Christians.  If we love Christ, we should love the Church, even with all its faults and failings. God puts a love in our hearts “for all the saints” which should be greater than frictions we face from time to time.

This faith and love in a church is a sign of a healthy church, and is something to really thank God for.  But more is needed:  “For this reason … I remember you in my prayers.”  Paul knows that these Christians need to grow in their understanding as well, and so do we.

v17 “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.”

This is a good prayer for us to pray, and it has a good biblical pedigree.  In Old Testament times, God gave King Solomon a dream at the beginning of his reign, and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”  Solomon thought about it, and asked, “Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people.” [2Chronicles 1:7,10]  This in itself was a wise choice which brought him honour and riches as well.

Jesus taught the same, though in different words, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” [Matthew 6:33]

Paul had his priorities right.  He could have prayed God would give the Ephesians more riches and honour; or be saved from persecution; or for their physical needs to be met.  But he doesn’t.  He prays they would increase in wisdom and knowledge.

Godly knowledge and wisdom teach us how to live our lives and how to cope with our difficulties much better when they come.  It stops us doing stupid things, such as spending money we don’t have; using insensitive words; getting into wrong relationship. It helps us maintain healthy relationships.

However the heart of Paul’s prayer is not actually for wisdom for wisdom’s sake, but to know God better.  Being a Christian is a life of relationship with God, getting to know him better.

This knowing God isn’t just knowing about Him, but knowing Him in a personal way. To know someone in a personal way is to meet them and spent time with them.  This is how we are to know God.  In fact the word “know” is the same meaning as “Adam knew Eve.”  To know Him is to be spiritually united with Him.  Knowing Him better is the great need in our churches today.

It is fair to say that knowing God is not the priority of most people these days.  Instead of knowledge of God people want self-knowledge, believing this to be the key to success.  We love ourselves more than we love God.  To me this is just like being in a small room and breathing in your own breath again and again – it’s stale and soon begins to smell.  But when we look up to Christ, it’s like breathing in the fresh air of the Spirit.

This knowing God is foundational for a healthy Christian life.  Jesus taught this very clearly.  But it is possible to be a religious person but miss this key truth:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.  Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me you evil doers.”  [Matthew 7:21-23]

It is even possible to cast out devils and perform miracles, but miss the heart of the Christian life.

We have been made to know God, but how can we know Him?

In the world today we believe real knowledge comes from science, and religion is just about values. But science can’t explain love or beauty … or God.  Paul is talking about here is knowledge of God which comes from the Spirit of God.

So reading the Bible is the way to get to know God better.  But it’s not quite that easy!  The Scriptures contain the revelation of the God, but we also need the Spirit of revelation in our hearts.  The Scriptures are God-breathed, but we need the Spirit to open the eyes of our hearts so that we may know him better.  This is essence of Paul pray:

v18,19 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, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.

There are three things that our growing knowledge of God should teach us:

  1. The hope to which we have been called: an eternal hope, the cure for despair
  2. The riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints:  a heavenly treasure
  3. His incomparably great power for us who believe: a power from heaven

I haven’t got time to elaborate here.  I suggest you meditate on these things and ask for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation!

But I do want to say something about God’s power.  The power of God is very important in our lives and it’s not optional.  Sometimes I fill up the kettle to make a drink, and 5 minutes later wonder why the kettle isn’t boiling.  The reason is quite simple, I haven’t switched it on!  If we’re not connected to the power the Christian life doesn’t work for us either.   To help us understand better Paul gives some further explanation:

v19-20, this “power of God is like the working of his mighty strength which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms.”  The power which raised Jesus from the dead is the same power which is at work in us, to raise us from the death of sin, and to give us the power to live a new life.  Just hearing or talking about Christ’s resurrection power isn’t enough; it needs to be real in our experience as well.

This is illustrated in John 4 in which Jesus meets a woman at a well.  Jesus changed her life, and she excitedly went and told the whole town about the Lord.  Many people believed the woman’s testimony, probably because they saw such a change in her life.  Then Jesus went to the town for 2 days.  Then, and only then, did the people say this to the woman,

“Now we believe, not because of your saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”  [John 4:42]

“Now we know for ourselves”, they said.  We also need to really know for ourselves.  I know you will not be completely convinced through the preacher, or by friends, or family.  You need to know and experience to power of Christ in your own live.  Then you will say, “Now I believe, not because of your saying, for we have heard him ourselves.”

We need to walk the walk for ourselves, not just talk the talk.  We need to be participators not just spectators.

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2 Responses to Ephesians 1:15-23 Knowing God better

  1. Pingback: 5 Basic Keys to Receive the Promises of God « Biblical Truths of Daily Living

  2. Pingback: Ephesians 1 Audience « BibleOpia Blog

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