Eph 1:15-23 For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God’s people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 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.
Eph 1:17b “ I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened “
-This revelation is not about secret knowledge. Many have turned the Christian faith toward
-Paul is saying “I hope you have read the fine print of your faith in Christ.” There is good news in there!
18 I pray 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 his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Paul puts emphasis on the God’s power in the rest of the chapter
• God’s Incomparably great power
• In a strongman competition a champ is declared but there are competitors within range of the title. Paul’s emphasis is not similar. Its not 1st place with close competitors. No other competitors capable of being in the same conversation.
• What is more: That power is available to us. ALL the time. The question is: Is it turned on in your life?
o When hurricane hit South Florida, the home of a woman who the news only referred to as Norena was one of many that was severely damaged. The elderly woman received an insurance settlement, and the repair work began. However, when the money ran out, so did the contractor, leaving an unfinished home with no electricity.
o For 15 YEARS!
o Norena has been living in that dark, unfinished house for 15 years. No heat when the winter chill settled over South Florida. No air conditioning when the mercury climbed into the 90's and the humidity clung to 100 percent. Not one hot shower.
o Without money to finish the repairs, Norena just got by with a small oil lamp and a small propane stove. Her neighbors didn't seem to notice the absence of power. Acting on a tip, the mayor of Miami-Dade got involved. It only took a few hours of work by electrical contractor to return power to the house.
o The first thing Norena did was take her first hot bath in a decade and a half.
o "It's hard to describe having [the electricity]…to switch on," she said. "It's overwhelming."
o Can you imagine living without power for 15 years. Can you imagine someone going day after day with no power simply because they refused to ask for help? Or didn’t know what to do? Because they refused to let someone know they needed a hand? Because they felt like they could make it on our own.
• If you had to point to one of the biggest character flaws in the American church today it’s for way to long we have been living without power. We’ve been just getting by like Norena but we don’t have the power on.
• Paul will focus his thought in the rest of Chapter 1 on two areas of power available to all believers.
- Resurrection level power available through:
The Incomparably Great Power of Prayer
• Paul has been circling around the topic of prayer for several verses now. Mostly in reference to his personal prayer habits. Through his example he is reminding us how powerful the God we are praying to is.
• Eph 1:19 That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
• Have you ever called out to someone in a time of need? Have you noticed that who you call is directly related to two things:
1. How much you think they care about you
2. How capable you think they are to help you
• Who do you call? o When your car breaks down in the middle of the road?
o When your doctor gives you some results that are scary ?
o When you are out of control and can’t fight your way on your own out of addiction?
o When you need advice on a big life decision?
• When we pray we are calling on the one who has adopted us and loved us with an everlasting love. And whose power has raised the dead.
o That wins any strongman competition I know of. More love than even the most committed parent can muster.
• When we pray we are calling on the one whose name is Matchless, whose power is matchless, whose love is matchless. No force, spirit, power, authority or god is above our God.
• And his power is available to us everyday. Paul is saying I pray your eyes are opened to how much power you have access to!
The Incomparably Great Power of the Church
• Eph 1:22-23 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
• Lets reread that last verse of chapter 1:
o the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
• The church is the fullness of Christ.
• What God has accomplished in the church—giving us a secure identity, an unshakable joy, and a longed-for salvation—is a work of mysterious love and grace.
• Why would God be so kind to us? Why would God make us so rich with blessing? It’s not because he thinks we are so great. It’s because he identifies us with his Son. He calls us the body of his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the head, and we have our new life in him.
• Pressing into this verse a little more: The church carries the power of community in a culture filled with isolation.
o I don't want to romanticize this because I've seen churches where there was little, if any, sense of community. But I also know that many churches, if not most churches, do provide a strong sense of community. I need community and you need community and each city needs community because when there's a strong sense of community, everyone wins.
• Oh, I know the church has problems; after all, I'm a pastor and I've been in local church ministry for 20 years. But I also know that there is nothing like the church when she's working right and functioning as a life-giving community
o In an interview shortly before his death, Dallas Willard, a philosophy professor who wrote widely on spiritual formation in the church, was asked about the challenges facing the church. Dr. Willard spent much of his life addressing the problem of why the church isn't raising up more people who look and act like Jesus. At the end of that two hour interview, Willard was asked this pointed question: "When you look at how off track the church is, do you ever just throw up your hands in despair?" Willard smiled and said, "Never." "But how can you not?" the interviewer asked. "Because," he said, "I know Christ is the head of his church and he knows what he's doing.
• I want to encourage all of us to see the church—as the primary instrument of God in this world AND our community of faith—and make sure that we're all on board with our time, our talents and our treasure to see her become all that the Lord Jesus has called her to be.
• The church is plan A and there is no plan B. It has been called to be a big part of the solution to the problems of our lives and the problems that impact our community and our world. There is almost nothing more rewarding than being part of a church like that!
• Don’t go to church. Be the church.
New Series: Ephesians
• The text we're looking at today is from Paul's letter to the Ephesians. This book was written
about three decades after Jesus' crucifixion. It's written to some people in and around the city of Ephesus.
• It was not just a couple dusty streets with a few dozen houses, goats, and donkeys. In its day,
Ephesus was like Hong Kong, Tokyo, or New York City. It's believed to be the fourth largest city
in the first century world.
• If you strolled through the town of Ephesus in the first century, you'd find several structures:
o One of the structures was the Temple of Artemis. It was one of the Seven Wonders of
the Ancient World. The footprint of that temple was about the size of a football field and
had 127 60-foot marble pillars. It may have been the largest building in the world when
it was completed. This wonder was just outside the city gates of Ephesus.
o Ephesus also had a BIG theater. It wasn't the largest theater in the Roman world, but it
seated 25,000 people. The Greeks built it and the Romans expanded it when they took
o Another main structure in Ephesus was called the agora, the entranceway. This structure
was a triple archway into the marketplace. In this marketplace you could buy anything. It
was 100 yards by 100 yards like two football fields side by side.
o So welcome to Ephesus.
• Paul arrived in Ephesus 6-7 years before he wrote Ephesians. He began talking about the grace of God in sending Jesus. The church gets formed in the region around Ephesus. Paul was there for over two years, and then he left. He left people who had new hearts—but they were new hearts with old habits, and people were drifting back into the vices of sexual immorality, rage, malicious speech, etc.
• So just a handful of years after Paul left Ephesus, he wrote that group of Jesus followers to give them a refresher course in what it meant to be people of Christ. That refresher is the letter of Ephesians that we have in our Bible.
Ephesians is all about Identity Formation
• Because so much of how we live is shaped by our perception of our identity, For the first three chapters of the book basically all Pail does is say, "Remember who you are, remember who you are, remember who you are.
o Remember how God loves you, remember how he poured out mercy on you
o Remember how he stepped into your life when you were spiritually dead and gave you CPR of the soul.
o Remember how he brought Jewish people and non-Jewish people together in one body,
• He really doesn't tell them to do anything until chapter 4, he just talks about identity and where we should find our truest identity.
• So many people I know find their primary identity in what they do.
o But if you're a successful businessman or business woman and the market shifts, do you go from being a somebody to being a nobody? Your identity should not hinge on the housing market or the stock market. That's a flimsy core. If being a businessman is your secondary identity, that's great. But it shouldn't be your primary identity.
• Others find their identity in their looks. There are beautiful people out there who fear aging—women who are afraid to turn 30, or 40 or 60!
o Be careful about your primary identity being your looks! Proverbs says that beauty is fleeting—because it is! Beauty should not be your primary identity; it cannot last.
• Children are another thing we easily make our primary identity—we often find ourselves wanting their approval or living through their successes or failures. But dangerous things happen when you make your child your core identity.
o So how do you love a kid dearly and deeply while maintaining that you had an identity before that child entered your life, and you will have an identity when they leave?
• See, this issue of identity is important for us to figure out!!!!
Eph 1:3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavens in Christ.
• Paul comes out of the blocks with praise to God for blessing us so much. Blessing us with every blessing.
• Every Spiritual Blessing. IN Christ.
o 11 Times in 12 verses you will see In Him, In Christ.
o We must root our identity in Christ. Everything we could want or need is found in him.
• And as we explore a little further in Ephesians chapter 1, we see He will pull out 3 specific Identity Shaping Blessings we that have been made known in Christ:
We have been Adopted in Love
• Eph 1:4-6 For he chose us in him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in love before him. 5 He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
• When Paul writes to the churches in and around Ephesus and says that in love God adopted them, he is writing to an abandonment culture. He is writing to a culture where babies were routinely abandoned.
• Outside the eastern gate of Ephesus, the edge opposite the theater and the harbor, there was a garbage dump where people would frequently bring babies they did not desire. I have read that there was a physician to the north of Ephesus in the city of Pergamum who wrote a manual on how to measure the dimensions of the child to increase the odds of picking one who would make a strong slave. Given the culture, the slave children considered themselves the lucky ones.
• Paul writes to these people and says: If you have come to know Jesus, your most defining moment isn't who threw you out but who took you in. He picked you out, he picked you up, and he took you home. Has anybody here ever been dumped? Dumped by a fiancé? Dumped by a spouse? Dumped by a kid who shut you out? Dumped by a company? Have you ever run a business and invested in an employee only to have them join a competitor, taking your customers with them? Has any of this ever happened to you?
• Paul is saying to those who feel abandoned…you belong. The King has adopted you. You are clothed in heavens robes.
• Why did he adopt you? Look again at verse 5 and 6: He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ for himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he lavished on us in the Beloved One.
• God lavished on us he love because at his core he is love. He is a good Father who has pulled us into his family in the most intimate of ways.
We have been Redeemed by Grace
• Eph 1:7-10 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he richly poured out on us with all wisdom and understanding. 9 He made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he purposed in Christ 10 as a plan for the right time[e] —to bring everything together in Christ, both things in heaven and things on earth in him.
• Ephesus had one of the largest slave markets in the Roman world. In the marketplace in Ephesus, you not only bought spices from the East, purple cloth from Thyatira, and the latest fashions from Rome; you could also go into this marketplace and buy people.
• It wasn’t a pretty reality. But it was the reality that everyone knew and Paul spoke into it in a way that would translate.
• Now, if a slave has had an encounter with the saving Christ, Paul wants him to know that his primary identity is not that of a slave to his/her owner. There was someone else who paid for him—who bought him. And when Paul uses the term, "In him we have redemption through his blood," he's saying, "Okay, listen: the adoption program that God used wasn't money. When Jesus hung on the cross, he was paying the adoption cost to bring our souls to God."
o Christianity is not about doing enough for God so that he finally likes you.
o No, God buys us—he redeems us—through Jesus hanging there on the cross
• Paul was writing to a culture where people were bought and sold, and he says, "Look, do you know that somebody bought you? Do you know what that means? It means you're someone's children. Someone paid for you….to set you free"
We have been Marked by God’s Spirit
• Eph 1:13-14 In him you also were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and when you believed. 14 The Holy Spirit is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of the possession, to the praise of his glory.
• In the first century The seal is a mark of ownership. For a paper document you could make a seal with melted wax into which you would press your family ring or crest, leaving an indentation. When the wax dried it made a seal. That seal marked the ownership of the document
• While the idea of sealing is not common to our ears today we still mark things we own to show possession.
o Coolers, Backpacks, Water Bottles, etc
Back to Ephesians context: a wax kind of seal wouldn't work for every marking. For example: livestock, so people started branding with hot irons. A brand is also a seal—a mark of ownership.
• Slaves were tattooed with the family seal of the estate they're serving. If you’ve seen Glatiator you see the tattoo on Russell Crowe’s arm which identifies him as belonging to Rome.
• Paul is writing to this kind of culture—a culture in which people are literally marked to show who owns them, who has purchased them, and to whom they belong. Paul is saying, "Do you realize that when you came to believe, you received God's mark upon your life?" And the mark is a promise; the seal is God whispering, "You're mine. You're mine. I've adopted you, and you are mine."
• The mark isn’t a physical one, it’s a spiritual one. God is going to mark us and shape us by the work he does in our heart.
• Its not only proof it a promise that God fulfill in eternity.
• the Holy Spirit is a guide through life for us leading us into the depths of relationship with God.
Ephesians is a call to come back to foundations of the faith. To the root identity of life in Christ. All other sources of identity building fall short compared to this.
• Adopted in Love
• Redeemed by Grace
• Marked by the Spirit