Prayer for Revelation – Ephesians 1:15-18

In this sermon Tim preaches on the first part of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in verses 15-18. In this prayer Paul prays for revelation, and Tim shares about how the Holy Spirit gives us revelation so that we can know God better!

Sermon preached by Tim Giovanelli on Sunday March 7 2021.

SERMON NOTES:

Ephesians Week 5

Last four weeks, we’ve kicked off our new series in Ephesians…  

  • I thought Adam did such a wonderful job last Sunday in helping us understand and experience the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • Loved that in that one verse in Ephesians, we get the past, the present and the future…
  • The past promise of the Holy Spirit, the present deposit of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the future inheritance of those who have the Holy Spirit. Brilliant. 
  • To be honest I’d love to continue on just talking about that… after all the language of the New Testament is dripping with the life of the Spirit.
  • We may not get to physically walk and talk with Jesus… but we get to experience his presence through his Spirit alive today!

Let’s read Ephesians 1:15-18 (wondering where we are up to – diagram)

  • It changes gear a bit now… because Paul goes from reminding them of the glorious riches of the gospel… that they have received when they believed…
  • To a prayer for the Ephesians… so from sermon to prayer… 
  • And I hope that we will learn to pray as boldly and as extravagantly as Paul… and that we may experience what he prays for us to receive! 

Ephesians 1:15-18 

For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 

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. 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. Amen.

Now the prayer continues for another 5 verses that we will look at next week… 

  • And that is about receiving power for us who believe… 
  • The same power we are told, that raised Jesus from the dead. So that is a biggie!
  • I’m assuming that needs a whole another week to unpack… unless you want to be here until midday? Do you? Do you?
  • So let’s focus today on this great prayer for wisdom, for revelation and for enlightenment..

Well what a blessing to hear the Apostle Paul pray

  • Remember this is the prayer of a man who was a persecutor and hater of the early church and Christians…
  • He thought the gospel was foolish, to be eradicated and those who believed it, to be punished.
  • And then he had a revelation. The eyes of his heart were enlightened… when on the way to Damascus to persecute Christians, the risen Jesus appeared to him.
  • He saw Jesus. He came to know Jesus. He confessed Jesus as Lord. Jesus changed his life.
  • So he prays that they may have the Spirit of wisdom and revelation that they may know Jesus. 
  • I assume, like he did. This is his prayer. 
  • Because knowing Jesus more deeply will change everything!

We’ve already heard Paul preach… 

  • This is a very, very rich book… 
  • Already we have heard him preach in those first 14 verses about the glorious riches of the gospel…
  • About salvation, about the gift of the Holy Spirit, about forgiveness and redemption 
  • About receiving grace and peace!
  • It is ok to feel overwhelmed…he has already preached about being chosen, adopted, about our glorious inheritance…
  • But all that leads Paul to remember the people who he had done life with in his 2 years in Ephesus and to pray for them!

I wonder do you ever do that? You think of someone… and immediately you just want to pray for them

  • That happens to me all the time… (call out people)… oh they need prayer!
  • Paul loves the children of God in Ephesus… and so he prays for them!
  • And I love hearing him pray… listen again… 

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. 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…

So Paul’s amazing prayer comes amidst awful circumstances… 

  • He is not on a spiritual retreat on the beaches of Sydney. He is not even in a beautiful church
  • He is in prison, going on 5 years now… 3 in Caesarea, 2 in Rome…
  • He prays that they may know Christ like he does!

Now I am sure there were other prayers… maybe not as eloquent, that Paul prayed…

  • Prayers like… help!!! Do you ever pray like that?
  • I am sure Paul probably prayed for release from prison? From his circumstances…
  • I am sure he probably asked why? 
  • Why God are you letting this happen to me? Has anyone ever prayed that?
  • And “Why?” was a perfectly good question for a student of the Old Testament…
  • The Book of Psalms are full of agonised prayers of why…

Think the prayer of Psalm 6: “My soul is deep in anguish, how long, Lord, how long? Turn Lord and deliver me. Save me because of your unfailing love.”

  • But by grace, Paul does not pray for himself… or his circumstances… but thinking of the Ephesians and their faith in God and love for one another. 
  • Verse 16, “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers”
  • And so we get an insight into the prayer life of the Apostle Paul. 

And so we boldly join Paul in praying… 

  • I want to know you God, the one who fully revealed himself in his Son, Jesus Christ. 
  • I want you to know – that is the major burden of this prayer…
  • I want you to know God… not just about God… but to know intimately, personally, the God I met on the road to Damascus and who has been with me ever since.

Now just a quick aside, How does Paul address God?

  • As a Jewish man and student of the Old Testament under Rabbi Gamaliel, he would have prayed to “The God of Israel.”
  • That is how his people had known God… through his actions in the story of the Old Testament… 
  • But now he prays to “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 
  • The God he prays to… the God he wants us to know closely… is the God who revealed himself in Jesus! 
  • The one who said in John 14 “if you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”
  • Hello?
  • Nothing compares to the revelation he had received and we can receive in meeting Jesus.
  • This is God’s full revelation. The one who laid down his life for us.
  • I want you to know this God.
  • And the benefits of knowing this God. 

Now this assumes that God can be known…

  • Which is why we need revelation and enlightenment… 
  • Maybe just to equip you a bit in apologetics… that is giving a reason for our faith… the idea of revelation is so important!
  • We can guess about God or even if there is one from what we see… and much of history is humanity’s attempt to know God… and we create God in our own image…
  • But to know God… well really he needs to reveal himself to us!

And I think it is the same in any relationship

  • In order to know anyone deeply, the person must reveal who they are to us. 
  • That’s why women always ask men “what are you thinking…” Haha…
  • Victoria sometimes asks me this… and usually I can testify that I am not thinking about anything. Maybe like some old rugby league game I once watched or something?
  • But its just because they want to know us… and what… if anything is going on inside us! Who are we?

I had the privilege of studying theology in Vancouver, 15 years ago at Regent College and made many lifelong friends…

  • But I remember there was this one guy – Rob… he started the 2nd year I was there… and he was good looking, carried around a guitar… 
  • So I made assumptions about him… I guessed about what he was like…
  • Ohhh I judged him… Oh… in my mind… how I judged him! 
  • Too cool for school… what a… haha!
  • But then a group of us used to go on these amazing weekends away to Galiano Island and someone invited Rob.
  • And I got to know him… I got to really meet him.
  • Ouch… he was a really, really nice guy…
  • Turned out he had been the son of a missionary Doctor in Angola who had given up everything to serve the poor through their civil war… 
  • And Rob had had polio and his legs were weakened… and he had had lots of struggles in his own life.
  • And we became friends… and I came to know this amazing bloke!

You see, you cant know someone until you truly meet them and they reveal things about themselves…

  • And in the same way, Paul prays that we will come to know God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus reshapes any guessing we may make about God.
  • God is not the universe… or like water… or an angry lightening thrower… or the fertility goddess Artemis.
  • God is Jesus who heals the sick, casts out evil, who stops and has compassion on the broken… who teaches in grace and truth!
  • God is most fully known in the Son who lays down his life on a cross so that we can be forgiven and redeemed and become the children of God. 
  • Paul prays, may you know this God!

And to know in this way… Paul prays that we (verse 17) may be given the Spirit of wisdom and revelation. That the eyes of our heart may be enlightened to know the hope to which we have been called! 

  • That you may know!
  • He is not asking that God would give them the Holy Spirit… that is done! You’ve received the Holy Spirit when you believed.
  • Instead he is praying for a particular work of the Holy Spirit…
  • He is asking that the Spirit give the Ephesians wisdom and revelation

Now, wisdom refers to skill – to know how… 

  • So Paul prays they will get the know how’s of the how’s to know… that clear? Haha!
  • The know how’s of the how to knows…
  • Good… moving on…

And revelation – the Greek the word here is apocalypso… from which we get the word apocalypse…

  • Now we sometimes wrongly use this word to refer to awful cataclysmic events…  
  • In 1st century it simply means an opening up… an uncovering… like that of a door opening or a curtain at a theatre revealing the stage…
  • Paul is asking that God may pull back the curtain so that we might know more fully, the God that Jesus knows and is…
  • So we join in that prayer – pull back this curtain so that we might know you.

Just to finish today…Why is this Paul’s prayer…. 

  • Why does he, when he remembers them… why is this the first thing he longs for them to experience? Wisdom, revelation, enlightenment?
  • An intimate knowing of God in Christ…and the hope to which he has called you?
  • And I think the answer, is because if we can see God clearly, everything else comes into perspective and makes sense. 

The predominant worldview in the West is scientific materialism… that what we see is what we get…

  • That there isn’t hope beyond the grave. That there is only what we can measure and touch and see.
  • Indeed there isn’t really hope in this life at all. 
  • Like Jack Nicholson in As Good as it Gets when he says “you make me want to be a better man.”
  • Oh hang on wrong quote… I mean when he says; “what if this, is as good as it gets.”

But Paul knows that if we get revelation, and know God in Jesus Christ, everything else becomes clear. 

  • It makes sense of why we exist, why there is something and not nothing
  • It makes sense in light of Jesus, as to why we are broken and fallen and need help
  • It makes sense of our searching for meaning and purpose and to experience love.
  • It makes sense of our longing for eternity and to know who God is. 
  • In the words of verse 18; “that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people.”

And then once we know, we get a new set of glasses through which to see the world.

  • Paul was just another religious extremist and then he met Jesus. He had a revelation
  • The curtain was pulled back and he met Jesus and it changed everything…
  • Once he knew God, we was capable of love. Love that is patient, love that is kind, that is not self seeking, not easily angered or keeping record of wrongs…
  • I think he wrote something about that once.
  • He discovered a purpose and a message worth living for, worth dying for…

CS Lewis once said “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”

  • Do you want to know true reality? True life?
  • May you know Jesus Christ. And by and through him… see everything else clearly!

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. 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…

Amen!

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