Thanksgiving and Prayer15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Accompanying David Legge sermon: Paul's Prayer List for you Part 1
Accompanying Mark Driscoll sermon: I am Appreciated
Accompanying John MacArthur sermon: Our Resources in Christ Part 1
We need to understand what it means to be a Christian in order to be able to live like one. We have to understand our position in Christ before we can practically live that out. As an example - you could have the best athlete in the world, but if doesn't understand his position as linebacker and what a linebacker is supposed to do, all his athleticism will be useless and he'll end up a benchwarmer. We need to understand our position in Christ in order to live it out.
There are many different statements in the Bible and we have to understand whether it's a statement of position or a statement of practice. As Christians, we are holy because Christ has imputed His holiness onto us - that's a statement of position. But we are also commanded to live holy lives - that's a statement of practice. We need to live what we are. That is where you see growth and maturation as a Christian - gradually you become more and more like what you, positionally, already are.
The moment we become a Christian, everything is positionally ours. We are completely forgiven, completely holy, completely righteous - in position. Because we are in Christ, and everything that is His, is also ours. What a glorious thought!
Now we need to put it into practice. But that doesn't make God love us any more than He already does!
when you understand positionally what you have in Christ, when you understand all these resources, that you were chosen in Him before the foundation of the world, that you were redeemed and your sins were forgiven and He has granted to you to be a part of His eternal plan and to call you into that great unity with which the whole universe ultimately ends up, when you realize that this inheritance is planned for you incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, when you realize that all these things are yours in Christ, that you are blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus, when you of realize that all/that is yours and that's who you are, that ought to do something about how you live, it really should. And that's the bottom line. You cannot exhort people to a certain behavior unless they understand who they are.
And so Paul here is praying that we and the Ephesians will understand. Constant exhortation without theology just brings people under guilt, it doesn't motive them. So the mature Christian understands his privileges, his possessions, checks out his resources, lives consistent with who he is.
Paul said that he had heard of the believers in Ephesus - that they were true believers who had faith in Jesus as both Saviour and Lord, and who loved each other - proof that their faith was genuine.
I used to think there were some people that were "non-victorious" Christians - meaning that they had accepted Christ as their Saviour but that they weren't living like Jesus was Lord of their lives. But you can't really do that. You can't truly understand what salvation even means if you don't accept Christ as Lord.
And you can't have a loveless faith. Genuine faith loves whom Jesus loves.
MacArthur points out that we spend a lot of time asking God for things that are already ours:
Paul is praying here Lord, deliver those Christians from frantically searching for what they already possess, give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him so that they will know what is theirs, and that they'll be able to use it in the living of life, see? Let's face it people we do spend a lot of time messing around, chasing stuff we've got. Typical Christian, Lord guide me, and the Bible already says He's trying awful hard to do that, trying to plead us to follow. We say, Lord I need strength and the Bible says you can do all things through Christ who already strengthens you. Lord, I need love; the love of Christ is shed abroad in your heart. Lord, I need grace, My grace is sufficient for you. Lord, I need peace in this situation; I already left you all My peace that passes understanding, what else is there? You see Christians scrambling around begging for what they've got, what a waste. And the Bible says you should just ask for wisdom, if you lack wisdom ask it, and wisdom is the sense not to keep asking for what you've got.
You see the point is this, Paul says God, the human mind cannot conceive of the riches of our position in Christ so to please God grant them this understanding. Only the Spirit can search the deep things and reveal them to us. Such understanding is beyond the human mind and God must enable us to understand. So he says, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory," I love those titles, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that identifies it with Him, after all we're in Christ, right? And if we're in Christ then He's our God too, and He's the Father of glory that means the one who possesses all things, all glory is His. And so he prays to that God that He may give us the spirit of wisdom in revelation in the knowledge of Him....
Now I would add to that that I think the Holy Spirit and the human spirit are also both implied. And what Paul is praying is this watch, God, send the Holy Spirit to work on the human spirit to create the right spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, because it's the work of the Spirit...
Tomorrow's scripture focus: Ephesians 1:19-23