"EYES WIDE OPEN"
Westgate Chapel 6/9/96 a.m. Ephesians 1:15-23
- ISN’T it amazing how we can have our eyes open and not see things around us?
* Familiarity with your surroundings will do that.
• Londoners walking and not even looking up when Big Ben strikes.
• Curators at the Louvre in Paris, strolling around world-famous art and not even looking.
* Preoccupation with other things will do that.
• Some of the strangest people you have ever seen ride the underground in London....but the regular commuters, buried in their morning paper don’t even give a second glance.
• Or Moms talking while their kids are tearing up the restaurant, or the store..and don’t even see the china display about to be toppled over.
* Not wanting to see.
• Like the fight that we witnessed in the Swiss town of Villeneuve...and people who didn’t want to get involved, walked by as if they had not even seen what was taking place.
- IN Ephesians 1:1-14, Paul praises God for having blessed us with every spiritual blessing, in Christ Jesus.
* Every spiritual blessing in Christ (vs. 3).
* Chosen, before creation, to be holy and blameless in His sight (vs. 4).
* Adopted as sons through Christ (vs. 5).
* Redeemed from slavery to sin and death (vs. 7)
* Forgiven of all our sins (vs. 7).
* To the praise of His glorious grace (vs. 12).
* Included in Christ (vs. 13).
* Marked with the seal of the Spirit (vs. 13).
- NOW, in verses 15-23, he prays that God will open our eyes to grasp and apply the fullness and significance of these blessings.
- PAUL uses a combination of "praise and prayer" in these verses.
* Praise, because in Christ all blessings are ours.
* Prayer, that we may recognize, appreciate, and use what we've been blessed with.
- VERSES 15-16 read,
"For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, (16) I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers."
- IN verse 15, it is the faith and love at work in the Ephesian church that stirs Paul to praise and prayer.
- HE is so excited about what is happening in the lives of the believers there, and prays, in verses 15-23, for even more revelation for them.
* This is in keeping with what Jesus taught in Luke 8:18, that "whoever has will be given more."
* In other words, those who are paying attention and living in the center of God's will, and walking in His presence and power, will be given even more of God's presence, wisdom and power.
* Those who are content to dabble on the fringes of God's presence will be the poorer for it.
* And those who do not pay attention will lose what they "think they already have."
- PAUL would like to see the Ephesian believers doing even better...so he prays, not for more blessing, but that they would recognize and understand the significance of the blessings they already have.
- HE prays for the work of the Holy Spirit in them, to produce wisdom and revelation, so that they might know God better.
- VERSE 17 says,
"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."
- THE ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit in every believer is to....
* Lead us into truth (John 16:13),
* And to empower our obedience to that truth (Romans 8:9).
- IN this case, Paul prays that the Holy Spirit would lead the believer to know God better.
- IT is important to understand here what Paul means regarding knowing God.
- THE Hebrew word for knowledge, used in the Bible, joins the "knowledge of understanding" to the "knowledge of experience". The two concepts are inseparable.
* In other words, using their definition, let's say that your goal is to know how to fly an airplane.
* Understanding the principles of aerodynamics, knowing airplane systems, and FAA regulations do not mean that you know how to fly an airplane.
* Even graduating from ground school, and passing the FAA exams, do not mean you know how to fly an airplane.
* You have to demonstrate that you can put all of that knowledge into practice (experience) by actually flying an airplane. Then and only then do you know how to fly and airplane.
- LIKEWISE, knowledge of God does not stand by itself, as valuable in itself alone.
- IT takes knowing about God and experiencing His work in your life to really know Him.
“We are hiding our spiritual impotence behind correct doctrine” (Jim Cymbala)
- THIS is the kind of knowledge that Paul is praying for in verse 17.
- KNOWLEDGE of God and experiential holiness are two inseparable parts of one spiritual concept....growth in Christ. You cannot have one without the other if you intend to grow spiritually.
* Without knowledge, the pursuit of holiness has too many dead ends of defeat and/or detours into fanaticism.
* Without holiness, the pursuit of knowledge leads to spiritual pride, and elitism...which lead to death.
- THERE is a great difference between knowing about God and knowing God.
- PAUL goes on, in the remaining verses, to pray that the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened, so that we may know...recognize and experience.....three specific aspects of God's work in our lives.
1) God's hope
2) God's power
3) God's rule
II. eyes to recognize god's hope
- FIRST, Paul prays that we may know (recognize and experience) the hope to which we were called.
- VERSE 18,
"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...."
- WHY the eyes of the heart? Why not the eyes of the mind?
- BECAUSE the heart is that spiritual entity from which action and response spring.
- J.I. PACKER says that the Christian life is made up of "head, heart and legs."
* With the head, or intellect, we receive and process information...in this case about God.
* With the heart, or emotion, we respond...and accept or reject the information about God.
* With the legs, or will, we live out what we have become in Christ.
- PAUL wants the heart to recognize the hope and inheritance of the believer because he knows that the heart is the well spring of action.
- YOU can be emotional, even about the things of God, and not be a Christian. But you cannot be a child of God and not have your emotions involved in your faith.
- WHAT is it that Paul wants the heart to recognize? The hope to which you were called.
* Why did God call you to become a child of His? For what purpose were you, with all the saints of history, called and adopted into God's family?
* His call wasn't a random or purposeless whim. He had a specific objective in mind.
* The purpose of His call is for you to leave eternal death and judgment behind, and enter into the "hope", the glorious future that Christ holds in His hand and in which all other believers will share (see 4:4).
* It is the expectation of this "glorious future" that brings hope to the way we live and what we experience in the present.
* Peter describes our future as imperishable, undefiled, unfading, kept in heaven (I Peter 1:4).
• We will see God, and worship Him with the angels.
• We will be like Him.
• We will enjoy perfect fellowship with one another.
• All sickness and sin and death will be forever destroyed.
• We will reign with Him for all eternity.
- IN addition to this hope there is also an inheritance, shared with all the saints, and found only in Christ.
- THE whole New Testament describes this inheritance. It is rich and varied. In addition to its eternal components, in this life it is the privilege of:
* being free from the guilt and condemnation of past sin.
* being chosen to belong to Jesus Christ.
* being His saints.
* being liberated from the judgment of God's law.
* being free from the life that had previously enslaved us.
* living in victory over all sin.
* being called to serve the King of kings.
* being in harmonious fellowship with God's people, across all apparent barriers.
* being joined with Christ in His suffering.
- THIS is the hope and inheritance of God's call. Paul prays that we not only know this, but live it also.
- HOW do you think the above would affect our lifestyle, if you and I had eyes to recognize and apply God's hope?
III. eyes to recognize God's power
- NEXT, Paul directs our attention to the power of God because it is only His power that will get us from the point of our original calling to our final inheritance.
- HE prays that we be given eyes to recognize this power, and in knowing it to apply it to our lives.
- VERSES 18b through 21,
"I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know......his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power 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, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come."
- PAUL is convinced that God's power is completely sufficient.
- HE prays that we "may know the energy of the might of His strength" (verse 19)....in fact, the "immeasurable greatness of it " for us who believe.
- HOW can we become convinced this power? How do we know what it is? By looking at the public demonstration of it in the resurrection and exaltation of Christ over all things.
1) Christ was raised from the dead.
2) Christ is seated at God's right hand in heavenly places.
3) Christ is head over all things.
- MAN is mortal. He can't avoid death.
- MAN is fallen. He can't avoid evil.
- AND God has demonstrated ultimate power over both in the person of Jesus Christ!
- THIS then is our secret to life!
A. Christ's resurrection from the dead
* Death is an inevitable enemy. We can stall it but can't escape it.
* No human power can prevent it or bring a dead person back to life.
* The fear of death is the basis of all human fears.
* BUT GOD has done what man cannot do...He raised Christ from the dead and Acts 2:27 says His body didn't even begin to decompose.
* God didn't just restore a dead, decaying Jesus to life. He stopped death and its process.
* He raised Jesus to a new immortal life.
* That power is at work in us to overcome physical death and the decay of spiritual death.
B. Jesus Christ's enthronement over all power and dominion.
* Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Psalm 110 says His enemies are His footstool.
* He is above every rule, authority, or power. No human or demonic entity is greater than His power.
* Christ has won the victory over darkness and sin on the cross and, one day soon, He will eliminate it forever.
* Evil is under His feet right now, and one day it will be destroyed forever.
- HOW would you and I live differently than we do now, if we had eyes to recognize God's power available to us?
iv. eyes to recognize god's rule
- IN the remaining verses in Ephesians 1, Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus recognize the headship of Christ over all things in heaven and on earth.
- VERSES 22-23,
"And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way."
- PAUL is not done with the exaltation of Jesus:
1) He reminds is of His resurrection from dead (vs20).
2) He reminds us of His reign over all things (vs 21).
- NOW he reminds us that this mighty power means also that Jesus is head of the Church.
* God made Jesus head over all things. There is nothing that is outside of Christ's authority that is of any concern to the Church.
* So the church has, as its head, the one who is in charge of the universe already. Hallelujah!
- AND we are His body.
"From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work." (Ephesians 4:16)
- WE are, the expression of Jesus, in His fullness, for the world to see.
- AND we are that only because He fills us with Himself. He directs us. It is His fullness. He fills us.
- THE Head fills the body with powers of movement and coordination, and speech, and perception, and thereby inspires the whole body with life and direction.
- OUTSIDE of Him we are absolutely nothing.
- SO we are completely owned by Him, completely dependent on Him.
- HOW differently would you and I live, if we had eyes to see the rule of God in Christ?
- THERE it is....eyes to see,
* Your hope and inheritance in Christ.
* His incomparably great power for us who believe.
* His rule over all things.
- IF we saw these things as vividly as we see the material things in our lives....how differently would you and I live every day?
- LORD give us eyes to recognize and hearts to apply your hope, your power, and your rule in such a way as to transform our lives and bring glory to your name.