Pray to know God
Scripture Reading: Revelation 21:10-27
Sermon Title: Pray to know God
Sermon Text: Ephesians 1:15-23
The Reason (v.15)
The Request (v.17-18)
The Result (v.18-19)
The Resolve (v.19-21)
The Richness (v.22-23)
I provide this manuscript as a courtesy. I do not follow the document word for word during the message. I also do not write the document with the intent of publication; there may be grammatical errors throughout. Unfortunately, there is not always time to proofread. I choose to use my available time for studying, finding ways to explain the truths of Scripture while keeping a balance of time for visiting and discipleship of people in the church. Thanks for understanding.
Imagine you have a good friend who is a cancer specialist, in fact, a world renowned specialist. Your friend is amazingly generous. You never feel out of place asking for his opinion or his help. He makes you feel welcome and is always there for you when you need him. He is thankful he is able to help you.
Imagine going to your friend and asking their advice with a common cold, not knowing you have cancer? It reveals ignorance about your friend and your condition. (all analogies fall apart) The point being illustrated is our ignorance of God and the ignorance of our condition is much the same as the illustration. Such is the prayer life of many Christians.
We have an almighty Father and we ask Him for help about jobs, to heal our sprained ankle, to keep us safe on our trip, but we often fail to ask Him for those things we really need. Yes, it is okay to pray for these things, but there are some very important requests we should be praying which are far more biblical.
Oh, that we would know God!
The Reason (v.15)
Paul began the letter reciting everything that is beautiful and good about salvation. He begins verse 15 by saying, “for this reason …”,The reason Paul gives thanks to God and offers unceasing prayer on their behalf is because God blesses the saints with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, God chooses the Saints for adoption as His children and making them His possession, God providing an inheritance in Christ, and God seals salvation with His Holy Spirit.
It is as if he is saying, “I do not cease giving thanks for you. God blessed your socks off and I am incredibly thankful. Because of the reality of God’s work of salvation in your lives, I am praying for you.”
Paul is motivated to pray because of doctrine. Do we pray for one another because of spiritual truths? Or, do we pray because of life circumstances? In other words, which guides our prayer life most, looking out the window of life and seeing what is going on, or looking into God’s word for spiritual guidance for our prayer?
It is okay to pray for someone to find work or that they get well from sickness. The pattern of scripture is to pray based upon spiritual truths. We need to pray with thanksgiving that the God of the Universe has seen our helpless estate and has compassion and mercy on our soul.
We need to pray with spiritual eyes and our prayer should be guided by doctrinal truths. For example, pray our love would abound more and more in real knowledge and all discernment (Philippians 1) or that we have a knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding (Colossians 1). Doctrine should form and direct our prayer just as it did for Paul.
The reason Paul prayed is because of God’s work in the lives of the Ephesians.
The Request (v.17-18)
17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
Not only did doctrine give reason for Paul to pray, doctrine formed Paul’s prayer request. Paul desired for the church in Ephesus to know and understand the truths of the opening of his letter.
Paul tells them he is praying they know God in two ways; a spirit of wisdom and a spirit of revelation in the knowledge of God.
The words in the prayer reveal Paul’s desire for the Ephesians to know God goes beyond having an intellectual understanding.
He wants them to not only know God, but to have wisdom knowledge. Having wisdom is being able to apply the truth to everyday life. When we have wisdom about God, it will show up in our daily living. We speak and people may hear what we know. We live and people may see what we know. Wisdom is application of knowledge.
A child may learn 1+1=2. But, we know the child has wisdom about 1+1 when they have one dollar and something costs two dollars and they realize they need the second dollar. When they apply the knowledge about addition to everyday life we know they have become wise.
When somebody says they believe God sees everything, but they live as though God sees nothing in their life, then that person is not have wisdom about God.
Paul also wants them to have revelation in the knowledge of God. In other words, Paul is praying that God discloses truths about Himself. There are general truths about God evident in the universe. God’s goodness, power, and majesty is evident in creation. Paul wants them to know more. Paul understands that without God’s intervention, the natural man may not understand spiritual truths. He is praying for God to reveal truth about Himself. Paul is asking God to reveal every aspect of these truths so nothing is hidden from the Ephesians.
Paul also prays that the eyes of their heart will be enlightened. The word used means to shine a light. Paul does not want them to be in the dark about spiritual truth. He wants their heart to know. The Greek word for heart actually means “deep thought”, very deep into the being of the person where their mind, imagination, and understanding is impacted. This is much more than having an intellectual understanding. This is a deep felt working of truth in the inner man.
What Paul is saying in praying this is that the Ephesians know God in such a way that it permeates their life (like being soaking wet and your shoes squeak). We should be drowning in the knowledge of God. He prays that knowledge about the person and work of God works itself deep into the emotions and intellect and effects the will of the saints. He is praying God grants them life-changing knowledge about Himself.
The reason Paul prays this is that the reality of salvation truths; the complete work of God in the believer’s life, should change people in such a way that they live differently. Paul wants these salvation truths to totally control the Ephesians.
People are effected by meeting certain individuals. Sometimes people talk about spending time with an athlete, or a leader, or a school teacher and they speak of how those people impacted their life. This is how our lives should be with the God of the Universe. When we have an intimate knowledge of God and when we come to know who He is and what He has done for us, we should live, work, and play as different people.
What a magnificent prayer. “God, reveal Yourself. Have Your people know You in all wisdom and permeate their understanding of You into the deepest recesses of their being.”
This is how we should pray for one another. Let’s not read the Bible and walk away unchanged. Let’s ask God to supernaturally permeate our thinking and living so we are people who reflect knowledge of an awesome God.
Paul continues by saying why he prays this. Paul has a desired outcome; an expected result of his prayer.
The Result (v.18-19)
The result of God’s work of helping the Ephesians grasp these truths is three-fold:
18… so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
So that you will know what is the hope of His calling (v.18)
God has called us to a living hope. Hope is an expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Biblical hope is not like hoping the weather will be nice next weekend. Biblical hope is a certain hope and not wishful thinking. We have full expectation that our hope will come to pass. We base our hope on the character of God. God is faithful and not a liar. What He says will happen for us is more certain a reality as you and I being together in this room.
Our hope is the tabernacle of God will be among men. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain. We will dwell together with God in the New Jerusalem. God will be our God and we will be His people. When we thirst, we will be given to drink from the spring of the water of life without cost.
We are to live as a people with hope. As we read the news, we are not to despair as others, but instead we are to share the reason for the hope that is within us. When our loved ones die, we are not to grieve as others, but instead we are to share the reason for the hope that is within us. We are the only people in the world with a true hope. (more knowledge of God = more hope)
Having a revelation and knowledge of God deep into our heart will help us to see the hope of our calling and live life in a way which victoriously reflects this reality.
So that you will know what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (v.18)
We do not contemplate enough of the riches of our glorious inheritance. Yes, life will be rich and glorious because we will be in the presence of a loving God. Our God is also a generous Creator who lavishes His children with goodness to be experienced. God has proven this already.
Know God and His works as His works are a reflection of His character. (chef and his dishes; artist and her paintings; athlete and her game)
The hope we have is what we read about in the Scripture reading. It is a hope of a glorious inheritance. We are joint heirs with Christ. He is our spouse. All He has belongs to us and all we have belongs to Him. We know who gets the better end of that relationship!
God made us as creatures designed to enjoy life. We have senses which allow for us to experience pleasure. Our taste buds were made so we may enjoy and taste the riches of foods and to drink from the freshest springs. God made us with eyes so we may gaze upon majestic mountains and the delicacy of flowers. God gave us our ears so they may be filled with beautiful song and to hear the sound of God’s voice as a crashing wave and a rolling thunder. Our fingers will experience the touch of lion fur as we wrap our arms around them as they lay down with lambs.
As Christ sits at the right hand of God we will gaze upon the beauty of our Savior husband. At God’s right hand will be pleasures forevermore.
As joint heirs of Christ we will live in His kingdom city. It is a city in which the gates are each made from a beautiful pearl. The street of the city is made of pure gold, like transparent glass. There is no temple in the city, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is the illumination, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. We will pick fruit that is the healing of the nations.
We will live in a new heaven and a new earth which will exist without defect or flaw. Life will move from one glorious moment to the next as swords are turned into plowshares and we find joy in our work instead of toil and sweat.
When we know God, the allure of this world with all of its hatred, pollution, corruption, and filth will not look nearly as attractive when we compare it to the inheritance God promises His children. We need to stop looking out the window and look more at God’s word.
The more we know God the more we will know of His goodness and His loving generosity. Taste and see that the Lord is good. Experience His goodness. Pray to know Him more so you may know more of His glorious inheritance.
So that you will know what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe (v.19)
If we truly know God to the utmost, we will know He is a God of great power and might. Because He is loving, generous, compassionate, and merciful, He uses His power toward us for our good. If we know our God we will know He doesn’t use some of His power, but all of His power toward us who believe.
Surpassing greatness is that which is above and beyond. (cup overflowing; a “3 Carl” portion)
Sometimes, it doesn’t feel as though God is using His surpassing greatness. Sometimes, we think God should apply just a little more power for our situation. We think God doesn’t care for me, He forgot about me, my situation is not as important.
To think this reveals an ignorance about God. God does care for His children. If we knew God, we wouldn’t feel as though this is the case. God did not spare His Son for us and He will not spare His power. (give us a car to use over the weekend, but takes the air freshener out)
God directs the surpassing greatness of His power for our good and He uses His power wisely. Don’t stand in judgment over God and how He uses His power towards us.
God’s use of His power toward us is perfect and good. God doesn’t use His power to fix our circumstances. Instead, God uses His power to cleanse us from our sin. All we see happening around us is within the power of God. He is washing us and molding us to be in the image of His glorious Son. There is no more noble outcome for us to pursue. He
And, we may have great surety in knowing, there is no greater power in our favor. God’s great power may not be defeated. It is the power behind all other powers. God’s power invented other powers. Pray to know God and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
God working His power in our favor to give us the hope of living in the kingdom of His Son; a hope of a glorious inheritance, is happening because of God’s resolve.
The Resolve (v.19-21)
God is resolved. In other words, His face is set like flint. He is resolved to accomplish that which He sets out to achieve. God does all that He pleases and nothing and no one may stand in His way.
God is resolved to accomplish His will. Paul says, the results of his prayer, the outcome of all of what God is doing, is part of God’s master plan of exercising His will. He is following His blueprint.
Paul says, these are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might. In other words, these things (these things being our hope, inheritance, and God’s power toward us) are in agreement with, they are in harmony and are conforming to God’s master plan of putting all things under the feet of Christ
19… These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
The hunger in our bellies is created for Jesus to fill. Our being blind, deaf, and lame is created for Him to heal. Our poverty is created for Jesus to satisfy with His treasures.
God has seen our need for a Savior. So, He lifted up Christ upon the cross and He raised Jesus from the dead so that we would look to Him for our salvation. Jesus’ power over sin and the hope of resurrection over death, is the only answer to provide peace of mind. Christ is the Judge of the living and the dead and Christ is the giver of eternal life. He is the world’s only hope because He is the only light in this world’s darkness.
People are looking for answers. The answer they need to hear is that the name of Jesus is above the name of, “evil, sin, destruction, and death.” Sin and death do not have the last word.” Jesus is not finished speaking and Jesus has the last word.
There is no place of darkness where the Prince of Glory will not shine His light. There is no door He may not open because He has the keys to every kingdom and every domain. No evil dictator on earth nor any principality from the domain of darkness hold sway over the Lord of lords. Every knee bows and every tongue confesses to Christ. He is supreme over all. Our Savior has first place over EVERYTHING.
God’s will is not only that Jesus Christ has supreme governing authority, that He is Lord over all things, but God’s will is Jesus be exalted as the treasure of all people.
This leads to the last point, which is about the richness.
The Richness (v.22-23)
22And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
After putting Christ over all things, God gave His Son to the church. God gives the bride a Bridegroom. The bride is not given such a worthy Groom because she is the richest, most capable, prettiest, smartest, or the purest of brides.
The angels don’t look upon the earth and say, “Oh, look there, I am sure God is going to pick them for His Son.” Instead, they say, “I can’t believe the holy God of the universe picked her! What is He thinking?”
The bride is not worthy because there is no one who is worthy for the bridegroom. The bride is chosen for the groom because of God’s sovereign choice. His choosing is unmerited favor, or as we commonly say, His choosing is because of His grace.
The bride is given to Jesus so He may display His glorious attributes. The glory of the Son is marvelously brought to complete fullness as He demonstrates His glory in saving the bride. These attributes were hidden before Creation because, before the fall of man, there was no object upon which to display Christ may demonstrate His forgiveness and grace.
The Son shows His glorious attribute of being forgiving by forgiving the brides, iniquity, transgressions, and sin. The Son shows His holiness by washing His bride in the blood of His sacrifice to make her holy, spotless, and pure. The Son shows His glorious justice by showing sin must be punished. He shows mercy by taking upon Himself the punishment the bride deserved. The bride shows the glory of the Son’s love by willingly laying down His life for His bride.
As Jesus displays His glory, our affections will exalt Jesus Christ. We will love Him above all things. We will worship Him because we find pleasure in His presence. We will desire Him above all things because He meets our every need. The exaltation of Jesus is much more than Christ having governing authority, but He will be Lord of our affections, He will be our beloved Lord.
The saving work of Christ for His bride is the most amazing and beautiful demonstration one may ever behold. It is display to be marveled about for the ages! All of the creatures in heaven and all of the creatures of the earth will look upon the Son’s demonstration of love, mercy, grace, forgiveness, and justice and they will then fully understand the supreme value of God’s beloved Son. As the bride contemplates and comes to understand this demonstration of the great love the Son of God has for His bride, the bride will value the Son more than life itself.
The church receives the Son as a gift. We receive the gift of forgiveness, compassion, mercy, justice, and love. And, in our receiving this gift, God’s glory is praised.
Paul closes his thoughts with telling of how the church becomes filled with all the fullness of God. In receiving the Son, the church is fulfilled. The character, essence, and power of God fills the church. We are filled in a way in which God’s fullness becomes our completeness. We become full by the one who fills all in all. Jesus makes us complete.
Paul prayed for the saints in Ephesus to know God; the God who works the surpassing greatness of His power so the church has hope and so the church will know they receive a glorious inheritance.
When the church knows God in this way the church lives as children of God, and as royal nation and a holy priesthood. If the saints know this God, the world no longer becomes home, but the church lives as an alien in this world. We need to be a people impacted by knowing God.
Our challenge today, as saints of God, is to read this letter and to pray this for ourselves, our family, and our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We need to pray that the glorious richness of God’s will and purpose permeates our lives so we walk in a manner worthy of His calling.
MAIN IDEA: Pray to know God and that the glorious richness of God’s will permeates our lives.