- Sermon Notes
This is a letter written by Paul to the church in the city of Ephesus, a very famous and large city. It thrived during the time of the Roman empire, being on a major road from Rome and Greece passing through toward Persia, Israel, or Egypt. It was located very near the Mediterranean Sea in the western portion of modern-day Turkey.
The Temple of Artemis, also known as Diana, was in Ephesus. That Temple was considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. Diana was the goddess of exuberant fertility or prolific motherhood. It was famously claimed that her statue fell from the heavens; in actuality, a meteorite fell someplace so they made a shrine and carved her image of wood.
Artisans and silversmiths made statuettes of the goddess Diana which became a thriving and profitable business.
Paul started the church in Ephesus. He spent a considerable amount of time there, probably two or three years. A major revival broke out and many, many people turned away from idolatry, receiving Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Many who had practiced magic brought their books of incantations and began burning them.
So many people believed in Christ that a great disturbance arose because the artisans and silversmiths were concerned they would lose their business. A riot then followed with the whole city in an uproar.
Several years later Paul was arrested and taken to Rome. No longer able to visit them in person, he writes this letter we have before us. He was wrongly accused and should never have been arrested, but God brings beauty out of ashes. Being a prisoner gave Paul the opportunity to write these letters to the churches that have become such an important part of the New Testament and a great blessing for us as well.
Paul writes to encourage and strengthen their faith. The church is healthy and doing well, it’s not a letter of correction like those he wrote to the churches at Corinth or Galatia. If we could capture the theme of this book in one phrase it would be, “The unfathomable riches in Christ.”
I. Faith Comes by Hearing
- In the first few verses of this chapter Paul praises God for blessing us with every spiritual blessing in Christ.
- The first half of this chapter is absolutely packed full of some of the deepest and richest treasures of who we are in Christ and all that He has done for us.
- Hearing that is one thing, responding to it is another thing altogether. Paul is commending them because after hearing the message of truth, they also believed.
- But there are different types of faith. There are some who believe, but are dead in their faith. Others believe, but it is what Jesus called “little faith;” they need to grow in their faith.
- Others hear the word of truth and take hold of it strongly and it brings growth and maturity and transformation, bearing godly fruit in their lives.
Luke 8:15, “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”
- Paul heard of their faith and knew that their faith was genuine because he also heard about the sincerity of their love.
- Faith that results in love is sincere and living faith.
- Paul heard about their faith and their love and so he prayed that God would pour out upon them a spirit of wisdom and revelation. He’s praying because he wants them to grow deeper in their faith.
- But what does it mean to have “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation”?
- The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of wisdom…
Isaiah 11:2, The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
- When you believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit who is given as a pledge of your inheritance. The Spirit of wisdom brings spiritual depth as you grow in your faith. As truth abides in your heart you will have a spirit of wisdom; a deeper wisdom that comes from deeper faith.
1 Corinthians 2:9-16 We have the mind of Christ
- Paul also prayed that God would give a spirit of revelation. That word in the Greek is apocalypsis. We generally think of that word as a negative, but it’s used many times as positive; God reveals wonderful promises for us to hold onto.
- God gives a spirit of wisdom and revelation… in the knowledge of Him. In other words, when God answers that prayer and gives a spirit of wisdom we don’t just increase in knowledge, God wants us to have a deeper knowledge of Him.
- It’s about relationship. If we only had a deeper understanding of how much God loves us, it would touch us very deeply and we would be changed.
- God reveals Himself; He makes Himself known through His Son, Jesus Christ. Listen to this prayer of Jesus Himself…
John 17:25-26, “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
- Verse 18 - Paul prays that the eyes of their heart may be ‘enlightened’; that word in the Greek is the root from which we get the word ‘photo.”
- When you take a photo you are capturing the light; when you open your eyes you receive light.
Luke 11:34, “The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness.”
- You open the eyes of your heart when you open your heart to receive the light of truth. Light reveals glory.
Illus – The sunrise the other day was the revealing of light.
A. Light brings knowledge of the truth
- Verse 18 - Paul prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened… so that you may know…
John 8:31-32, “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
- A scripture says that the enemy is the accuser of the brethren; he reminds you of your failures to keep you defeated. These things may even be true, his accusations may be spot on, but here’s the problem… There’s a lot of light that’s missing from those accusations.
- Open the eyes of your heart, Paul prays, so that you may know… the hope of His calling.
- God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, in love He predestined us to adoption as sons, in Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us. (Vs 3-8)
- If you only knew the hope of your calling; if you only knew what God has in store for you; if you only knew how much He loves you.
Illus - A few days ago our granddaughter, Aviah, told me that some kids at school said she was crazy and dumb and stupid; to which I responded, “Is it true?”
- What a beautiful opportunity to speak of God’s love.
- People miss out on so much because they do not understand the hope of their calling…
Illus - It reminds me of a story by Tim Irwin about an opportunity he and his family had to travel to Portugal and stay at a beautiful hotel…
B. Know the riches of His inheritance
- Verse 18 - Paul prays they would open the eyes of their heart so they may know what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
- Many people struggle understanding the true value of things. They overvalue the things in the world and they undervalue their own soul and the riches that are in Christ.
Luke 16:15, Jesus said to them, “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in the sight of God.”
Matthew 16:26, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeit his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
John 6:63, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.”
- In another place Paul wrote that he learned the secret of being content; he has found that the value of life is found by living in Christ.
- In the book of Hebrews we read that because of faith Moses refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ as greater riches than the treasures of Egypt.
Illus - When I was going to Bible college I remember a Valentine’s Day when we couldn’t afford cards for each other so we went into the store, picked out the ones we would have given, presented them, put them back, and walked out arm in arm. But we were going to bible college and that was exciting! It was worth it!
C. Know the surpassing greatness of His power
- Paul prays that we would open our heart that we might know the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. Notice the phrase “toward us.”
- All these things are in accordance with the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.
- In other words, the same power which raised to Jesus from the dead and seated Him at the right hand of God is the power toward us, or in behalf of us, who believe.
2 Chronicles 16:9, The eyes of the Lord search to and fro throughout the whole earth in order to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are perfectly His.
- If you know these things, you will be strengthened in your faith. Do you believe that God is for you? Do you believe that He orders your steps?
- But then Paul goes even further by saying that Christ was seated at the right hand of His Father in the heavenlies, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion.
- He put all things in subjection under His feet and then gave Him as head over all things to the church.
- In other words, those things that overwhelm us, that seem far greater than us, that trouble and discourage us, are in subjection to Him and are under His feet.
Illus - I mentioned on Wednesday that though the movie Star Wars is very popular, it suggests that the forces of good and evil are locking horns; with the power of the Dark side seeming to be equal to the good side, or the Force.
Clearly, they are trying to make spiritual comparisons; but the forces of good and evil are not equal. All things have been placed in subjection under His feet, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
- When Jesus was with the disciples on the Sea of Galilee they encountered a fierce storm that threatened to sink the boat; Jesus stood up and rebuked the wind and the waves by the word of His authority.
- All things are put in subjection under His feet; and God gave Him as head over all things… to the church.
- Verse 9-10 - in the fullness of time all things will be summed up in Christ, Paul wrote.
- If we can only open the eyes of our heart and truly know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the surpassing greatness of His power toward us, what victory we would have in Him.
Ephesians 1:13-23 NASB
13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation-having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.
15 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.