Ephesians 1:15-23: Paul’s prayer of Thanksgiving
Prepared and preached for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, July 16, 2017
Do you know those light switches that control the lighting from soft and dim to full strength. They are called rheostat because they control the energy level. I was reading for this sermon and John MacArthur made the illustration that many Christians are like those switches. They barely get past the “on” part in terms of output. And they have no idea the remaining power that can bring such tremendous light. It seems like most of the church today has the rheostat at the lowest position possible, doesn’t even understand what yet is available to them.
We have so much in Christ. We have so many spiritual benefits. I like what Barclay wrote:
“The Christian life could be described as getting to know God better every day. A friendship which does not grow closer with the years tends to vanish with the years. And it is so with us and God.” [Barclay]
It is necessary that we let our friendship with Jesus grow closer. We must grow in our relationship with Jesus. In Ephesians 1:15-23 Paul shares a prayer with the church at Ephesus or the churches in that area. In this prayer we hear the richness of who we are in Christ. Paul desires that they understand their great salvation.
Theme: My theme today is that I will explain Paul’s prayer for the church at Ephesus.
My application for you: Pray for others and pray like Paul. Pray with great worship. Be Amazed by Jesus.
Let’s read Ephesians 1:15-23:
For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that 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. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, 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, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far 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. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
- Paul prays that they will grow (look at verses 16-17).
- Notice in verse 15 Paul says “for this reason.” Some translations translate that as “therefore.” This goes back to the previous section. Paul had been writing about their salvation in Christ.
- Paul now writes that he has heard of their faith in Christ.
- He has heard of their love for all the saints.
- We could have some interesting thoughts on saints. I read a lot of articles, usually they are called blogs and I subscribe to more scholarly blogs because I want to know the source. I read Dr. Tennant’s blogs, he is the President of Asbury Theological Seminary. I read Dr. Witherington’s blog he is a professor at Asbury. I read John Piper and John MacArthur and Dr. Albert Mohler, he is the President of Southern Seminary. Most of these are emailed to me and I will read them on my iPad or iphone. Often times these articles are Theologically, or about leadership, or book reviews. Many times I save them in my application called Evernote. Then for about four years I have received articles from Churchleaders.com. I receive several a day and read them digitally. Anyways, on the churchleaders.com articles one can comment. I very rarely comment. But one time an article really bothered me. I forget what it was but I think they were dealing with sin lightly. I don’t like dealing with sin lightly. People commented back to my comment in disagreement. But one commented in agreement and said, “We are never called sinners in the New Testament once we are saved.” We are always called “Saints.”
- Think about the power of that. We are not saints based off of what we have done. We are saints based off of what Christ has done and our trust in Him.
- Based off of sanctification and justification you are declared righteous in God’s sight. You are made holy. You are set apart for Him.
- 1 Cor. 6:11 says it all: Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
- Now, verse 16: Paul continues to pray for them.
- How much are we praying for our brothers and sisters in the church?
- How do we pray?
- Pray like Paul. Pray spiritual prayers.
- Verse 17: that 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.
- Paul prays for them and us to have knowledge of Him.
- Paul prays that they would have a spirit of wisdom. This is likely not meaning the Holy Spirit. They have the Holy Spirit already. This is likely a spirit meaning an inner attitude of wisdom, or quality of wisdom, or demeanor of wisdom.
- Paul prays that God would “reveal” the knowledge of Him.
- The idea of “revelation” has the idea of “pulling back a curtain and showing what is behind it.” You know it is like the Wizard of Oz when Toto pulls back the curtain and reveals the wizard. Paul is praying that we have the revelation from God and this shows us the awesome knowledge of Him.
- Notice the powerful words in this verse: “Father of ‘glory.’” God is the God of all glory. He is awesome!
- There is more that could be talked about here. I could talk about each of the words, but I must move on.
- In verse 18, Paul goes into what knowledge he prays for them: I pray thatthe eyes of your heart may be enlightened, 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…
- Paul wants them to know the “riches” of their calling. The calling is from God.
- What are the riches of the glory of the inheritance?
- Whose inheritance?
- We have an inheritance in Christ.
- But this says that we are God’s inheritance. The church is God’s inheritance. The church is Jesus’ inheritance. The church is the bride of Christ.
- Paul thinks this is a big deal and he launches into worship and doxology.
- In verses 19-23 Paul worships: “and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These arein accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far 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. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”
- The strength of God’s might.
- God brought about our salvation in Christ.
- He raised Him from the dead.
- Seated Him at the right hand in the Heavenly places.
- He is above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every name.
- All things are in subjection under His feet.
- He is the Head of the church.
- There is a lot of cross reference with this which I can give to you in writing. You can get them on my blog but here they are: Christ’s position of authority is described four ways (v. 21): (1) above all other thrones or powers (evil forces; cf. Col 1:16); (2) over every other name (cf. Php 2:9-11); (3) all things are under His feet (see Ps 8:6; 1Co 15:27; Heb 2:6-9); (4) He is head, that is, ruling authority, over all things for the benefit of the Church (HCSB), His body (v. 22; cf. 1Co 12:12-27). The second part of v. 23, which says the Church is Christ’s fullness, probably refers to divine power and glory (see Col 1:19; 2:9) and here is passive. That is, the Church is what He fills with His glory and power.
- Let me be more specific with application. These are in the first person as I apply them to myself.
- I must pray for other people and churches.
- I must pray spiritually.
- I must pray for spiritual needs and not merely physical needs.
- I must pray giving thanks for others (verse 16).
- I must pray that God gives wisdom (verse 17).
- I must pray that God reveals Himself (verse 17).
- I must pray that we know Jesus better and deeper (verse 17).
- I must pray for enlightenment, that God enlightens us so that we may know His riches and glorious inheritance in us (verse 18).
- I must pray that we know His power and strength (verse 19).
- I must praise the Lord (verses 20-23)
- He raised Jesus and sat Him at His rights side.
- Jesus is far above all rule and authority.
- God placed all things under His feet.
- Jesus is the head of the church and the Church is His body.
We have full power in Christ. We have a full salvation in Christ. Are we following Him? Are we pursuing Him?
Talking about pursuing Christ John MacArthur shares:
A noble Puritan pastor certainly had this in his heart, a man by the name of Thomas Vincent who lived in the mid 1600’s. And he wrote a wonderful little book. The title of it is The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ. What a magnificent thought. The true Christian’s love to the unseen Christ. And he built it on Peter’s statement in 1 Peter 1:8, “Whom having not seen you love.”
Listen to some of the things he said. “The life of Christianity consists very much in our love to Christ. Without love to Christ we are as much without spiritual life as a carcass when the soul is fled from it is without natural life. Faith without love to Christ is a dead faith. And a Christian without love to Christ is a dead Christian, dead in sins and trespasses. Without love to Christ we may have the name of Christians but we are holy without the nature. We may have the form of godliness but are holy without the power.”
Then he went on to say this. “If Christ has their love, their desires will be chiefly after Him. Their delights will be chiefly in Him. Their hopes and expectations will be chiefly from Him. Their hatred, fear, grief, anger will be carried forth chiefly unto sin as it is offensive unto Him. He knows that love will engage and employ for him all the powers and faculties of their souls. Their thoughts will be brought into captivity and obedience unto Him. Their understandings will be employed in seeking and finding out His truths. Their memories will be receptacles to retain them. Their consciences will be ready to accuse and excuse as His faithful deputies. Their wills will choose and refuse according to His direction and revealed pleasure. All their senses and the members of their bodies will be His servants. Their eyes will see for Him, their ears will hear for Him. Their tongues will speak for Him. Their hands will work for Him. Their feet will walk for Him. All their gifts and talents will be at His devotion and service. If He has their love, they will be ready to do for Him what He requires. They will suffer for Him whatever He calls them to. If they have much love to Him, they will not think much of denying themselves taking up his cross and following Him wherever He leads them,” end quote.
I hope we are all encouraged by our faith and trust in Christ. I hope we can pray spiritually like Paul. I hope we are so amazed by God that we cannot help but follow Him and share Him.