Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 18
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|Dr. Barber continues his series on Ephesians. This week he looks at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers: that they will come to a deeper understand of some things God has in store for them.|
A Prayer for Deeper Understanding – Part 2
Will you turn with me again back to Ephesians chapter 1? We’re going to be looking at verse 18 as Paul is praying for the Ephesian believers.
I had a teacher tell me one time that the thing that they loved when they were teaching was when they saw in their students that look of “Ah Ha! That’s it!” I know I had several teachers that probably were very disappointed with me being their student, especially in Algebra II. One day in class it just turned on. Isn’t that amazing? I knew all the facts and could tell about them, but for some reason they had not sunk in. They had not fallen down in there in that seed of understanding within me. I had the knowledge of it, but not the understanding of that knowledge. One day the “Ah Ha” took place. Teachers love to see that.
The apostle Paul, being the teacher that he was, is praying for that “Ah Ha” to take place in those Ephesian believers. He has just told them about their salvation. “You know these things. You’ve read these things. I wonder if it’s fallen yet into that seed of understanding in your life and into your heart,” Paul says.
Well, he’s praying for them. He says, “I don’t cease making mention of you in my prayers” in verse 16. Then he tells them how he prays. He says, “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.” He prays that God would just turn on that “Ah Ha.” He can help you to see it, really see it. Once you have understood truth, that motivates you in all that you do in life. If you just know it but don’t understand it, that may hurt you in your walk. God does that in His own way and in His own time.
In verse 18 it really says the same thing. He says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Now remember the heart there was not like it is in some cultures. The heart is the seat of emotions in some cultures, but in the Greek culture it was not. In the Greek culture the seat of emotions would be the intestines. If you’re bothered in those areas, you’re certainly emotionally affected. That was their seat of emotion. The heart was the seat of understanding. So he’s praying here that your eyes might be enlightened, your spiritual eyes might be turned on. Photizo, to give light to, to shine light upon. Paul is still praying for a deeper spiritual understanding, that “Ah Ha. That’s what you’re telling me, Lord. I see it.” In light of that knowledge of Him, we can go on in our walk.
There are three specific concerns that Paul has in verses 18 and 19. We’re only going to look at two of them now in verse 18. Paul feels like if they can understand these things, it will motivate their walk. They will do wonders in their living for the Lord Jesus Christ. Verse 18 says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling.”
Now one thing we need to understand about the hope of His calling is that when you see the word “hope” associated with God and His children, His believers, it is never, ever like the hope that is in this world. In this world when we say the word “hope” we mean something that we wish for but is highly uncertain. Never in Scripture do you find that word
“hope,” associated with what God has promised and what God is doing, as meaning uncertainty. Oh no! It’s always certain. As a matter of fact, the deepest level of assuring somebody of something is when you refer to their hope. Paul is saying, “I’m praying that you will have a deep understanding and an assurance of the hope of His calling.”
Now that word “calling” is the word klesis. It comes from the word meaning to call. One of the ways it was used is to refer to an invitation to come to something special. I like that. You send it out. You want them to be there for something. It’s a special, special bidding, a special calling that is being given. Here it is God’s invitation to man to accept the benefits of His salvation, “the hope of His calling.” “The hope of His calling” involves several things. What is involved in the calling of the Christian? If God has spoken in your heart, and you’ve responded to that, then it involves everything God has in store for you.
Go back to verses 3 through 14. Paul is simply saying, “I just told you about your calling. I just told you about what God has done for you. Now I want you to understand it deeply, deeply in your heart. It involves not only the joy of being blessed with every spiritual blessing. It involves not only the joy of being chosen by Christ before the foundation of the world. It involves being redeemed by His blood. It involves being adopted as His Son. It involves being sealed in Him with His Spirit, but it also involves the hope of His returning, and everything that is to come after He returns for His church.” That is the full payment of which we have the earnest right now.
So Paul is saying, “I want you to understand the hope, the assurance of your calling. Your calling involves everything that God has done, is doing, and wants to do one day regarding your salvation.” Now you say, “I don’t know when I was called or when was I invited.” Oh, the invitation was sent years ago. It’s found in John 3:16. Will you say it with me? “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” You got an invitation a long time ago. God has initiated a calling. You may not have responded to it yet, but when you respond to it, and you receive what God has said, then everything that calling involves you need to understand spiritually.
Where else is that calling found in Scripture? Look over with me in Romans 11. Here he’s talking about the Jewish people. This is in that very difficult passage where I believe he’s really talking about a demonstration of His power, not so much His election. In Romans 11:23, as he is referring to the Jews, he sort of gets on the Gentile’s case here. He says, don’t be arrogant, folks. Don’t think God’s written off Israel. He has not. In light of that he says in verse 29, “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” You don’t repent of that. In other words, there will be no changing of God’s mind. God called them, and He’s honoring that call. As a nation they have not yet responded, but one day they will. Many of the remnant of Israel have responded, but the calling of God is irrevocable. That’s one thing to remember. God doesn’t take back what He sends out. He’s given you an invitation. If you’ve responded, that response and that calling is irrevocable.
In 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 it speaks of their calling. I don’t want to get into the full context of this, but there’s something that caught my attention here. Many times we think God is selective to people that are more intelligent or more worthy than we think we are. Thank God He doesn’t look at it that way. He’s not a respecter of persons. Beginning in verse 26 he says, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.” In this calling God is not moved by the status of men.
I was thinking about the way man goes after learning about God. He does his research, stacks up all his information, comes to his conclusions, but he never can find what he’s looking for. I’m grateful for that because if God would have only come to those who were intellectually capable, I would have been left out a long time ago. You know, a lot of third world countries and people that are illiterate would have too. We would have to say, “Don’t bother to take the gospel to them because God favors the academic and those that are strong and those that are intelligent.” Oh no! The people who respond usually are the ones who are willing to admit that they’re poor. They’re poor in spirit. He chose the weak things. He’s not selective in His calling according to the status of men.
Look in Ephesians 4:1. I think it’s found three times in Ephesians. We’ll just look at this other one. Your calling, what does it involve? Paul says in verse 1, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you’ve been called.” Now, what does that tell us? That tells us there’s a responsibility if you’ve responded to God’s invitation. If you’ve responded to His call then there is a worthy walk that He’s looking for you to live. Your response begins something. It doesn’t end something. The walk begins at the time you respond to His invitation.
Look at 2 Thessalonians 1:11. Who is it that determines whether our walk is worthy? I’m grateful that it’s not you and me. “To this end also we pray for you always that our God may count you worthy of your calling and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power.” Who is it that makes us worthy? Who is it that determines that walk? It’s the Lord Himself. That’s another act of His grace.
In 2 Timothy 1:9 we find that calling. He tells us it’s a holy calling. Let’s look at verse 8 to catch the whole sentence. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, or of me His prisoner, but join with me in suffering for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity.” So it’s a holy calling not based on man’s works, but based on God’s grace. Isn’t that a precious thought?
Hebrews 3:1 tells us it’s not only a holy calling, but it’s a heavenly calling. “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession.”
There’s one more place in 2 Peter 1:10. He says that this calling can be made certain. In other words, you can know that it’s there. This is where a lot of people trip up. The way that you know that it’s there is by God letting you know in His own way. Romans says His Spirit will bear witness with your spirit that you’re a child of God. So often we make ourselves think that we’ve got to understand every little facet of it. Oh no! As a matter of fact, the older I get the more I’m wondering how much of it I do understand.
One of the ways that He bears witness in your life that He is there and makes you certain of your calling is the chastisement He brings and the conviction that He brings when you sin. One of the best ways of knowing that you’re God’s child is that, when you sin, God won’t let you get away with it.
2 Peter 1:10 says, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.”
So Paul sees that one of the things they need to fully understand and to deeply realize is the hope of their calling. He had just told them what their calling involved. Now they need to understand the hope of their calling. It is all wrapped up in the destiny and the glory of the believer that is coming in the upcoming kingdom. We need a deeper understanding of our calling.
You know, we try to remind one another quite frequently, not only in the preaching of the Word, but by having the Lord’s Supper. What is that? It’s a reminder of when we received the invitation of the Lord one day and entered into that covenant with Him. It’s a reminder of who we are. Do you realize folks, when you walk outside the church walls, in a sense you lose your identity? You don’t lose it, but you feel like you do. You’re on your own. You’ve got to be reminded all the time, “Wait a minute. I’m not my own. I’m bought with a price. I’m God’s property. I’ve got a calling. I responded to His invitation, and I know God’s doing a work in my life. He chose me, blessed me, adopted me, redeemed me, all these things He’s done, and I can’t live out in this world like I want to live. This calling involves a walk. I’ve got to walk worthy of this calling.” That’s what it’s all about. We try the best we can to remind each other and encourage one another, but Paul says he wants them to come to a deeper understanding of the hope of their calling.
We voice this hope in a hymn we sing all the time. It’s one of my favorite hymns, and I’m certain it’s one of your favorites.
- My hope is built on nothing less
- Than Jesus blood and righteousness;
- I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
- But wholly lean on Jesus name.
- When darkness veils His lovely face,
- I rest on His unchanging grace;
- In every high and stormy gale,
- My anchor holds within the veil.
- His oath, His covenant, and His blood
- Support me in the whelming flood;
- When all around by soul gives way,
- He then is all my hope and stay.
- On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
- All other ground is sinking sand,
- All other ground is sinking sand.
When you begin to understand what is the hope of your calling, the assurance of it, when you begin to realize that now we only have the earnest of that calling, that one day we’ll have the full payment, then whatever comes your way you can stand on what God has done in your life. You can stand on who He is and His faithfulness and love towards you. Paul felt like that was important for them to understand. He said, “I pray that you will have that deeper understanding through wisdom and revelation of the hope of His calling.”
Well, there’s another thing that he mentions here in verse 18. Paul is talking about, not only what the hope of His calling is, but also “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
“…so that you may know” The word eido is used there. It’s the word that means not so much by experience as intuitively. I mean, it drills into your heart. Eido is that perception, that being aware of, that understanding, that intuitive knowledge that only the Holy Spirit of God can give.
There are several views as to what “the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints” means. Before I go too far, remember he’s writing to Gentiles. This is his mission, to let them know that they can be in on this inheritance.
Look in Acts 26:18. Paul is talking about his ministry, and I want you to see what he says here. He’s giving his testimony, and he says in verse 16 when God talked to him, God said, “But arise, and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; delivering you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes.”
Now what are we talking about in our verse in Ephesians? “…that your eyes might be opened.” This is the ministry that God gave to Paul on the Damascus road, “to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.’” That was the ministry of Paul that God had given to him. Here he is carrying out that ministry from prison, and he says to the Ephesians there, the Gentile believers, “I’m praying that your eyes might be opened, that you have a deep understanding of the riches of His inheritance in His saints.”
What is he saying? There are several views on this. One of the ways this might be viewed is that Paul prays that the believers in Ephesus could have their spiritual eyes open to the inheritance that’s coming to Jesus of which they can be a part.
Look in Romans 8:16-17. This is one view. He talks about the fact we’re heirs. What is an heir? It means we’ve got an inheritance coming. Who are we joint-heirs with? It says in verse 16, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we’re children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God, and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may be also glorified with Him.” In other words, we have a share in that inheritance that is promised to Jesus. Some people look at “His inheritance in the saints” as being His own inheritance, that which is coming to Him to which the saints can also partake. Just think of the fact that we are given a share of what’s promised to Jesus because we’re joint-heirs with Him.
The second view that’s used there in Ephesians 1:18 when he says “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” refers to the saints being God’s inheritance. Not only is He our inheritance, but we’re His inheritance. That’s a true statement. Deuteronomy 32:9, speaking of Israel, refers to the Lord’s portion as His people. I have a problem sometimes thinking about God needing an inheritance because He owns everything. But in that light it says the Lord’s portion is His people.
1 Peter 2:9, referring to believers, says that we are “…a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” Some people view this that the saints themselves are His inheritance. That’s true. Whether he’s saying that here or not, it’s still a truth that we need to understand. I belong to Him. I’m His own possession. He considers me as His portion. Isn’t that a great thought? I belong to somebody, folks. I have His mark on me. Do you know what it is? It’s within me. It’s the Holy Spirit of God in my life and in your life.
Another view, and I think this is the view that perhaps he’s alluding to, is that “His inheritance in the saints” refers to all that is in reserve for us when we get to heaven, that which is coming, that we have not yet experienced, that which we have the earnest of, but we haven’t yet seen what’s coming. Look in 1 Corinthians 2:9. I believe this is what he’s alluding to here: “but just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
Now think about what’s coming. Just think about it. We’re going to have glorified bodies. Have you looked at yours lately? When I look in the mirror in the mornings I’m thinking, “Thank you, God, for that inheritance I have not yet received. This one is falling apart.”
What else is coming? Well, we’ve got a mansion in heaven. Remember in Revelation 21 when the new city came down finally. Well, it says that it’s His house, and we’re in there with Him. I don’t know what it’s going to look like. You see, it’s 1500 miles wide, long and high. If every family since Adam was there, we would each have 198 square miles in which to live. I like that, because I like to be by myself sometimes.
Think about what’s coming, folks. We will receive that inheritance that we only have the earnest of right now. You say, “ You mean all the glorious victories we’re having now are nothing compared to that?” You’re exactly right. What men pursue down here we’ll walk on up there. Our value system is going to be so turned upside down we’ll walk on streets of gold. Can you believe that? I mean, all of that’s coming.
There are forty-something commands from Ephesians chapter 4 to chapter 6, but we’re not in chapter 4 yet. We’re in chapter 1, and for three chapters Paul lays down what God has done, who God is, who you are, and what you have. Then in chapter 4 he says, “Alright, now do you understand it? I pray you do, because now you’re going to have to live like you understand it down here on this earth.” Why is it we need that deep understanding? Because folks, some of the things some of us are pursuing down here are not worth the time of day even thinking about in light of eternity.
I think of the man who came from Campus Crusade one time. He drew a line all the way across several blackboards that were put together. He drew a huge line, and he said, “That represents eternity. I don’t have enough chalk to draw it far enough because it would never end.” In the middle of that line he put a dot, and he said, “Listen, God wants us to live for the line, not for the dot because that dot is so small compared to eternity.” Folks, a lot of people don’t understand that.
“…the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” What do they do then? They wake up tomorrow morning, go out and beat themselves to death to make another dollar. I love Psalm 127. He says it’s vain to rise up early and work late and try to get it. You can’t ever get it. God gives to His beloved in their sleep. I just love that. He says, “Go on. Try that. Help yourself. I’m not going to follow you around. If that’s your choice, help yourself.” Sometimes I think we ought to have a Thursday night service and hang a big dollar bill from the ceiling. Everybody could come in, bow down and sing choruses to it. That’s what most people are worshipping. Why? They’re living for the dot. They’re not living for the line. They don’t understand the riches of His glory in His inheritance that’s in the saints.
That’s why Paul says, “You’ll never figure this thing out. God the Holy Spirit by revelation will give you wisdom. It’ll sink deep inside of you. It will become one of the roots of your motivation that makes you walk worthy of Him.” Then it starts dawning on you what God has done, and what God wants to do, and what He will do one day in your life.
Look at Colossians 1:12. I want you to know that you’ve been qualified for that inheritance. It’s talking about people walking worthy. This is the only time you understand this. If you’re not walking worthy you don’t have this understanding. Paul says in verse 12, “…giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” In other words, we’ve been qualified. We didn’t qualify ourselves. He qualified us, and that’s very, very important.
1 Corinthians 15:19 is another verse that I think ought to be brought in when we’re talking about “the riches of the glory in His inheritance in the saints.” It falls right in that context. “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” Do you see what he’s saying? The whole context is on the resurrected body that’s coming that we have not yet experienced. Oh woe to the person who only hopes in Christ for now. He says, “Oh man, I’m praying you’re going to get a deep dose of this Ah Ha! That’s what you’re talking about.”
The Spirit reveals to your spirit what’s coming, and folks, it’ll make you jump up in the morning. You might not jump up. I don’t usually jump up. I stagger up, but once you finally get your eyes open, it’ll dawn on you that whatever you’re doing tomorrow is in the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Every victory that you have tomorrow in this world, is nothing more than God saying, “That’s just an earnest. Enjoy my earnest today because I’ve got something coming that’s full payment that eye has never seen nor ear heard.” It’ll motivate your walk like nothing else in the world.
Who you are, whose you are, what you have in Jesus Christ. That our eyes may be open that we might see and know. Ephesians 1:14, the text that we looked at just the other day, says it’s guaranteed. It is going to come. You have already been qualified if you’re a believer. You should not be hoping in Jesus just for now. You ought to be looking for what’s coming. Ephesians 1:14 says that inheritance is absolutely guaranteed. All that salvation encompasses is guaranteed one day to all of His believers.
“…the riches of the glory” refers to one thing: It refers to the fact that Paul doesn’t have enough words to continue on to describe it. It’s unspeakable. Paul doesn’t have anything else he can say about it. As a matter of fact, he’s just sort of at a loss for words. He’s probably seeing something as the Spirit is revealing it but has no human language in which to express it. So he just says, “…the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
Well, “Ah Ha!” God loves us, absolutely loves us. He has done everything necessary for life and godliness. He has given us everything we ever could need all by grace. Not only that, oh folks, it has not even begun yet in the sense of what’s coming. There’s so much more yet to come. If we could just wake up in the morning and realize that.
“…the riches of the glory of His inheritance in His saints,” and “…the hope of a calling.” Who in the world could ever describe that? Paul says that when you see it you won’t have any trouble with chapters 4 through 6, but until you see it you may struggle a little bit.