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Sermon #20 — Ephesians Sermons
Title: Three Whats and a Who
Text: Ephesians 1:18-20
Subject: Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians
Date: Sunday Evening — September 20, 2015
Reading: Allen Kibby and Rex Bartley
The title of my message is Three Whats and a Who. My text is Ephesians 1:18-20. — Three Whats and a Who (Ephesians 1:18-20).
In this passage of Holy Scripture the Apostle Paul told the saints at Ephesus his desire for them. These are the things he prayed that God would do for his saints. And this is my prayer for you. It my prayer for you who are his. This is my prayer for you…
As I said, our text will be verses 18-20; but I want us to begin reading at verse 15.
(Ephesians 1:15-17) (15) Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, (16) Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; (17) That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
Now this is what Paul means by God giving us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ.
(Ephesians 1:18-20) (18) The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, (19) And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places.
My text begins with a personal experience within the mind and judgment — “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.” Everything depends upon the opened eye. The scene may be fair, and the light may be bright, but if you’re blind all is in vain.
Zedekiah had his eyes put out by the king of Babylon, and then he was taken down to the imperial city, but saw nothing of that magnificent city. There were vast halls and palaces, and hanging gardens, and a city wall which was the wonder of the world. Babylon is called by the prophet “the glory of kingdoms and the beauty of the Chaldees’ excellency.” But the blinded monarch beheld nothing of all the grandeur of the Golden City. To him her beauty was no more than the beauty of a dungeon.
That is the way it is with us by nature. Spiritually, we are blind and see nothing. Fallen man has no knowledge or apprehension of spiritual things, no power to discern eternal good; but our foolish heart is darkened. Therefore the Lord must first enlighten the eyes of our understanding, or else, however precious the truth, and however clearly it may be stated, we shall never be able to apprehend it.
(John 3:5-8) (5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (6) That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (7) Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. (8) The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.
“The eyes of your understanding” are the eyes of your heart. The things of God are seen by the heart, not by carnal reason. There are a thousand things which God has revealed which we shall never understand, and yet we can know them by faith, by experience, by grace.
Our Savior says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” The purifying of the heart is the enlightening of the spiritual eye. Strange as it may seem, the true eye of the renewed man is seated in the heart not in the head. Holy affections enable us to see, and even to understand divine things. I pray that in each one of us the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened, that we may know the things of God. Oh, may God give us that unction of the Holy Ghost that gives sinners the mind of Christ and cause us to truly know all things (1 John 2:20-27).
(1 John 2:20-27) (20) But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. (21) I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. (22) Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. (23) Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: (but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also. (24) Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father. (25) And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life. (26) These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. (27) But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
Paul’s prayer here was offered for believers — for converted people, for those who had faith in Christ Jesus and love to all the saints. Yet, he says that he never ceased to pray that their eyes might be enlightened. There is a reason for that: — He who sees most still needs to have his eyes enlightened to see more. Oh, how little we see of the glory of God! How little we see of our all-glorious Christ!
Oh, may God give you, may God give me, opened eyes to see and know the Lord Jesus Christ!
(Philippians 3:1-11) (1) Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. (2) Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision. (3) For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. (4) Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: (5) Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; (6) Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.
Even those who stand on the top of Pisgah’s lofty mount and are favored to gaze into the glories of Immanuel’s land, have not yet begun to perceive the things which God has prepared for them that love him Yes, God the Spirit has revealed the glory of Immanuel’s Land to us in his Word. And we know the things revealed; but we see little (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). I pray God that if we do already see, we may see more, until our eye shall be so strengthened that the light of the New Jerusalem shall not be too strong for us, but amid the splendor of God which outshines the sun we shall find ourselves at home.
(Romans 8:18) (18) For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
(1 Corinthians 2:9-10) (9) But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. (10) But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
But if believers need to have their eyes enlightened, how much more must you who are without Christ. You are altogether blind. You were born blind; and Satan takes care yet further to darken you mind. You are engulfed in great darkness in the gloom of spiritual death. You meet with darkness in the daytime, and grope in the noonday as in the night.
O blind eye, may Christ Jesus touch you! May the Spirit bring his sacred eye-salve and make you see. Though it is not mine to give you eyes, I want to tell you what is to be seen, hoping that God open your eyes and make you see!
Here is the first what spoken of in our text. — “What is the hope of his calling?” If you would see the hope of his calling, you must be called, called of God, effectually, irresistibly called to life and faith in Christ by God the Holy Spirit. There is no seeing without calling.
Illustrations: Ezekiel 16 — The Deserted Infant
Ezekiel 37 — Dry Bones
Acts 9 — Saul of Tarsus
If God has called you to life and faith in Christ by his grace, there are some things you see (John 16:8-11).
· The Exceeding Sinfulness of Sin
· The Utter Insufficiency of Your Own Righteousness
· The Beauty, Glory, Fulness, and Suitableness of Christ as Our Savior
· The Excellency, Truth, and Blessedness of the Gospel
But what is it that Paul desires for us to see? What does he mean, when he speaks of “the hope of his calling?” What is the hope of his calling? Perhaps he is referring to that which is our hope, Christ Jesus himself. I am sure he has Christ in mind, when he speaks of “the hope of his calling.”
· Christ crucified is the only basis of hope for poor sinners. Christ is our Hope.
· “Christ in you,” the new birth (2 Corinthians 5:17), is that which gives us hope.
· The earnest of the Spirit, making us partakers of the divine nature seals this blessed hope to our hearts.
· Certainly, “the hope of his calling” includes that blessed security in grace that gives us peace in the prospect of trials and temptations in life and the death, judgment, and eternity we must soon face.
· The glorious Second Advent of our Savior is called “the blessed hope.”
· “The hope of his calling” is that good hope through grace, bestowed upon us with the gift of faith that enables us to live in the blessed anticipation of the glory awaiting us with Christ in Heaven.
(Revelation 21:1-5) (1) And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. (2) And I John saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (4) And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. (5) And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful.
(Revelation 22:1-7) (1) And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. (2) In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (3) And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: (4) And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. (5) And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever. (6) And he said unto me, These sayings are faithful and true: and the Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to shew unto his servants the things which must shortly be done. (7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
Here’s the second what. — “What the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” — Oh, what riches await us, my brothers and sisters in Christ! — A Crown of Life! — A Crown of Glory!
· The Resurrection!
· Complete Acquittal on the Day of Judgment!
· Perfection with Christ!
· The Reward of Heavenly Glory!
But this what speaks not of the riches awaiting us. Paul says, I want you to know “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” What can that be? Shall God, the Triune Jehovah find riches for himself in us? Indeed, he shall (Ephesians 2:7). — “He shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied!” — “The fulness of him that filleth all in all!”
Illustrations: The Lost Sheep
The Prodigal Son
(Ephesians 2:1-10) (1) And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; (2) Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: (3) Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (4) But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, (5) Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) (6) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: (7) That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. (8) For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: (9) Not of works, lest any man should boast. (10) For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Third, I want you to know “what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” — The power by which we believe, the power wrought in us and working in us, is the life-giving, life-sustaining, resurrection power of God (Revelation 20:6; Psalm 65:4; 110:3).
· Preservation in Our Lost Estate (Jude 1)
· Gift of Faith
· Preservation in Grace
· The Resurrection
Be sure you get this last thing. Don’t get so caught up with the whats that you miss the Who. All this power, all this grace, all this salvation, all this life is “in Christ!”
· Our Covenant Surety
· Our Righteous Representative
· Our Crucified Substitute
· Our Ascended Savior
· Our Faithful Advocate
· Our Exalted Lord
Illustration: “He who takes the son gets all.”