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Ephesians 1:15-23: We Know the Lord Print E-mail
Sunday, 15 October 2017

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The greatest need for the church today is to know God more. D. A. Carson says: ďThe one thing we most urgently need in Western Christendom is a deeper knowledge of God. We need to know God better.Ē What that means is that the greatest need for Trinity Baptist Church is to know God more. And what that means is that my greatest need and your greatest need is to know God more. So many things are important in life and important in the life of a local Church, but nothing is more important than knowing God and knowing Him more. If we pursue that goal with all that we are, then our lives will matter and our Church will have the greatest impact possible.

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Paul teaches this in his prayer for the Ephesians in 1:15-23. It is normal for Paul to begin his letters with a prayer report of how and what he is praying for the recipients. After his long sentence of praise in verses 3-14, we see him do that in his letter to the Ephesians. And the two sections are connected. Notice how Paul begins in verse 15. He is praying for these believers because of all the blessings that he has just laid out in verses 3-14. God has adopted them through faith in Christ, redeemed them through His blood, and sealed them with the Holy Spirit. In light of Godís great work in their lives, Paul prays for these believers. As I said in our discipleship video on prayer, it is good for us to study the prayers of the Bible so that we can learn how to pray. We can break these verses into three sections: the people, the petition, and the praise. Letís consider each of these this morning and what they teach us about prayer.

The people (v. 15-16)

Godís sovereign work is evident in the lives of the Ephesians in at least two ways. First, they are people of faith in Jesus. Look at verse 15. Paul has heard of (their) faith in the Lord Jesus. We noted that Paul might not know all of the people to whom he is writing, which indicates it was a circular letter, and the wording here supports that. He had only heard of their faith at this point. Nevertheless, he had heard that they were believers in Jesus. As he said earlier, they had heard the word of truth...and believed in him (v. 13). He is writing to people who have placed their faith in Jesusí death and resurrection. They had turned from their sins and believed in His sacrifice. God had a plan to save them through faith in Jesus and when they heard the good news, they believed in Him. They are people of faith.

Second, they are people of love toward the church. Look again at verse 15. Not only did these people believe in Jesus, they loved other believers in Jesus. God has adopted them into His family (see v. 4-6) and they love their brothers and sisters in Christ. So much so that Paul had heard about it. When God truly brings a man or woman into His family, they become people who love the church. It is part of who they are in Christ, as we shall see in chapter 4.

How does Paul feel about these believers in Jesus who love the saints? Look at verse 16. Paul is thankful to God for them. Paul knows that if they have turned from their sins and placed their faith in Christ, then God has done a work in them. If they love the Church it is because God has given them such love. And so he thanks God for them in his prayers. He loves them as his brothers and sisters in Christ and he thanks God for their salvation. We should be thankful for our fellow believers as well. We should be praying for the members of Trinity Baptist Church. We should be thankful for Godís work in their lives and that he has brought us together to serve Him. We should be thankful for the people around us who believe in Jesus and love the saints.

The petition (v. 17-21)

What is Paul praying for these believers? Look at verse 17-18a. Paul is praying that they would know God more. He is praying that the Spirit of wisdom and revelation would open the eyes of their heart to see God in all of His greatness and glory. Paul is teaching us the importance of knowing God. He could have been praying for many things, many good things, but he is praying that the Ephesians would grow in their knowledge of God.

What does this knowledge of God look like? Specifically, Paul wants them to grow in their knowledge of Godís work in saving them through faith in Christ. He speaks of this in three ways. First, he wants them to know the hope of their calling. Look at verse 18b. Through faith in Jesus, we have hope for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. The Holy Spirit is our seal and the down-payment for our future inheritance (v. 13-14). Paul prays that these believers would know the hope that God has given them.

Second, he wants them to know the riches of His inheritance. Look at verse 18c. As we said last week, we are Godís inheritance. He has chosen us and redeemed us through faith in Jesus. Paul is praying for the Ephesians that they will understand just how glorious that is. Through our union with Christ, God sees us as His treasure. Not because of any good in us, but because of what Christ has done for us at the cross. I want us all to note that this morning. If you have repented of your sins and placed your faith in Jesus, then you are part of Godís glorious inheritance. He values you as one of His own. If that is true, then why would you need to hunt the approval of men? Your identity and your value is not measured by how many friends you have or how many Ďlikesí your latest post received online. The Creator treasures you. He has sent His Son to die for you. All the value that you need is found in Him! So teenager, stop looking for value from a boyfriend or girlfriend. Brother facing a mid-life crisis, stop looking for value from your boss or your co-workers or even your family. Single person, donít think that getting married is the key to finding value. Paul is praying that believers would know their value to God! How much would that impact our lives if we could truly understand that? I encourage you to pray that for every person in this church. Letís commit to praying that for one another!

Third, Paul wants them to know the greatness of His power. Paul spends the most time on this third area of knowledge. Look at verses 19-21. The final area that Paul prays for their knowledge to grow is Godís great power. He wants them to know that His power is at work in them. And just how great is that power? Paul tells us: It is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God. The same power that gave Jesus victory over the grave is now at work in us. The same power that seated Him in the heavenly places is now at work in us. The same power that set Him over all other powers in this age and the age to come is now at work in us. Paul is praying that the Ephesians will know the power that is at work in them. If we know this power, how could we ever claim to be unable to obey? Resurrection power is working in us and through that power we can have victory over sin and live lives that glorify God! Paul is praying for us to recognize all that we have through faith in Christ. We have a great hope, we are a great inheritance, and Godís power is at work in us. Paul prays that our knowledge of these would grow. He prays for believer to know who they are in Christ, which is true knowledge of God. May we be praying the same thing for one another.

The praise (v. 22-23)

Paul began the letter with praise and he ends the prayer with praise. We have already seen the incredible power of God that is at work through us as believers. God receives the praise for that. Paul describes this even more in verses 22-23. Look at those with me. The saints of God should be full of praise for all that God has done for them in Christ. Jesus rules over all things and He is the Head of the church. Not the pastor, not the deacons, not a particular family, Jesus is the Head of the church. He has authority over all that happens in a local gathering of believers. For the Church is His Body. We belong to Him. Each and every member of Trinity Baptist Church belongs to Christ. What we do individually belongs to Him and what we do corporately belongs to Him. He has filled us up so that we may faithful representatives of Him to the world. We live out lives of obedience and victory over sin so that He will receive all honor and praise. Paul prays that our knowledge of all that God is doing for us in Christ will result in praise to our Lord and Savior. The prayer ends on this great note of exaltation to remind us again of the purpose of our salvation: to bring Him praise!

Paul prays for these brothers and sisters in Christ who are loving the Church and living for Jesus. He prays that their knowledge of God, particularly their knowledge of all that He has done and is doing for them through faith in Jesus, would grow. If you are a believer, then I encourage you to be praying this for other believers. If you are a member of our church, then I encourage you to be praying this for the other members. Paul knows that a growing knowledge of our identity in Christ will result in lives lived for His glory. The more we know who we are in Christ, the more we will live in victory for Him. If you have not believed in Jesus, then I encourage you to join with the Body of Christ today. Turn from your sins and believe in His death and resurrection. Then grow in your knowledge of God by joining a Church and praying for your brothers and sisters there. May we be a people who pray such prayers for one another. Amen.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Friday, 10 November 2017 )

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