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-{Ephesians 1}
-This past week we have celebrated the very foundation of the Christian religion—Christ crucified for our sins, culminating in our celebration today of the fact that He rose again from the dead on the 3rd day, and He lives and reigns forevermore. I believe probably 99% of you could tell the story of the events of Jesus’ death and resurrection from memory. You know the facts. You know the details. Let me ask you a question: how does that affect the way you live?
-You may think: well, I’m saved and going to heaven because I believe. And those are wonderful truths of the gospel of our future glorification. But my question is how is it affecting the way you choose to live your life right now? What difference is it making now.
-There is a joke in our house about how I have all these random, useless facts and statistics in my head. We might be having a conversation and then I’d just state some fact about something and the rest of the family looks at me like: who in the world knows that stuff? Sadly, a lot of the things I should know, I don’t—maybe because my brain is filled with all this other useless stuff.
~So, a few months ago I ran across an article about the game show Jeopardy. And, just the way my brain works I thought: Hmm, I wonder if I could get on Jeopardy. If I’m going to know all this useless stuff, might as well put it to good use… So, I went to their website, and what you do is take this online test. It gives you something like 15 minutes to answer 50 questions. I thought: why not. So, I took the test. Let’s just say, you’re not going to see me on TV any day soon. Those questions came up, and most of the questions had nothing to do with all the junk I have in my brain.
-I know lots of facts about lots of stuff, but it doesn’t do me any good just knowing the stuff if I’m not able to then take the facts and use them in my life. And the same is true about knowing things about Jesus and His death and His resurrection. It’s not enough just to know facts.
-The passage we are looking at today is a prayer that Paul gives for the church to have a knowledge about the gospel and about Christ’s death and about Christ’s resurrection and about what we receive because of them. But it is not just a prayer that the church would know stuff, but that the church would live in light of the truths of Good Friday and Easter. So, the point of what I’m trying to say today is that the story of Easter doesn’t merely contain facts to be known, but it contains truths to be lived.
Ephesians 1:15–23 ESV
15 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, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked 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 above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things 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.
-In the prior passage, Paul praises God for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the spiritual blessings that are ours when we place our faith in Him. Paul says these are truths of the gospel that can be believed because Christ is risen.
-This then leads to this section where Paul tells them that He prays for them constantly. And the content of the prayer (according to v. 17) begins by praying that God would give them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. In the Old Testament the Holy Spirit would sometimes be called the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so it is a prayer that the Holy Spirit would give them wisdom and would reveal God to them in such a way that they would have knowledge. But this knowledge is more than just knowing stuff / facts. It refers to having an accurate knowledge of God and His will such that it affects one’s conduct. YOU KNOW SO THAT YOU CAN LIVE.
-He continues in v. 18 praying that the eyes of their hearts would be enlightened—that their mind and will and emotions would be aligned with what the Spirit illuminates in God’s revelation of Himself (and for us, that is His Word, the Bible). And this is done in order that they may know certain truths. And the word for know in v. 18 refers to an understanding that comes through experience.
-So, to summarize what Paul is saying: I pray that God through the Spirit would give you a correct knowledge about God that would affect the way you live. To further explain, I pray that the Spirit would illuminate truth to you from God’s revelation so that you would be able to understand by experience the truths that come from the gospel. In other words, KNOW THESE THINGS SO YOU CAN LIVE THESE THINGS. LIVE YOUR LIFE IN LIGHT OF THE TRUTHS OF EASTER.
-Paul then goes on to name three truths that He wants them to experience so that they live out what they know. The first...

1) The truth of our hope

-In v. 18 he prays that you may know and live what is the hope to which God has called you. The biblical meaning of hope is that there are truths that are foregone conclusions based on the character of God and the actions of God, so I can rest assured that these truths are true even if I don’t see them or feel them. They are true because God says they’re true, and that is the foundation of my hope.
-Paul describes is as the hope to which He called you. God called you to believe the gospel message—that Jesus is the Son of God who died and who rose. That is a truth to be trusted—you are called to that. And having believed, you are now a called one, part of His elect people. And there are blessings being part of God’s called people, and you are guaranteed these truths. This is your hope—you are in Christ, and now here are the blessings that come with being in Christ.
-Paul lists some of these blessings in the passage that comes before: you are an adopted child of God. You have been redeemed (meaning you have been purchased by God by the payment of His Son’s blood) and now you belong to Him. Paul says that your trespasses have been forgiven. Paul says that you are lavished with grace that brings wisdom and insight. He says that you will be part of the united people of God. And he says you have been sealed with the Holy Spirit, who is the down payment that all of these truths will be seen through to their completed purpose.
-So, we could say that this part of the prayer is that you know that God has assured you that you are called and you are blessed in these ways—now live like they are true and experience them in your life. It doesn’t matter the lies that you have been told or how your emotions feel right at this moment—these things are true and you are assured that they are true of you if you are in Christ, now trust that they are true and live them out.
-The problem with our modern day is that we have let our feelings determine truth. I feel this or that, so it must be true, instead of letting the truth dictate our feelings. You see this in the culture—I might be a man, but I feel like a woman, so that’s the way I’m going to live. That’s not the way it works. I could say that I might be a pastor, but I feel like the emperor of the universe, that doesn’t mean I get to rule and reign over an empire, just because that’s the way I feel.
-The truth is the truth, and I have to trust God enough to believe it and align my life to it. And Christ’s resurrection is proof and the guarantee that these spiritual blessings are true. So, we align our thinking and feeling to the truth. I might not feel like I am an adopted child of God, but because I have trusted Christ it is a fact that I am an adopted child of God. And based on that fact, I live like it. I don’t feel forgiven all the time, mainly because I do a lot of stupid sins. But, because I am in Christ and I have this hope of His calling, I choose to live like I am forgiven. If I choose not to live out the knowledge I have about this hope, I am in bondage. But if I live out the hope that I have in Christ, I can live free.
-There is an oft repeated tale that when the Civil War ended and Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation that some slave owners tried to hide this fact from the slaves to keep them enslaved. They were legally free, but didn’t live like it because they didn’t know the truth or believe the truth or whatever.
-There are wonderful truths that are our hope—the hope of His calling. These are true about all who have believed. Yet some folks don’t live like it. And Paul is praying that you would know the hope of His calling (all these things that are true about you) and that you live like it no matter what society might say, no matter what your deceitful heart might say, and no matter how you feel. Know your hope and live out your hope. There is a second truth...

2) The truth of our value

-At the end of v. 18 Paul says he wants you to know and live out what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. We might think that it is talking about our inheritance—we get spiritual riches from God as our inheritance being His child. Now, this is true—we have a lot of spiritual riches in the here and now, and we will see their fulfillment when we get to heaven. We have a rich inheritance from our heavenly Father.
-But that is not what it is talking about here. Look at what it says: Paul wants us to know (and live) according to the truth of what are the riches of HIS glorious inheritance IN the saints. Whose inheritance is it? It is His inheritance. It’s talking about what God the Father inherits through Christ. Where is this inheritance located? The inheritance is located IN THE SAINTS. Who are the saints? We are the saints. In the New Testament, when you see the word saint it’s talking about believers in Jesus Christ.
-So, Paul is praying that we would know that God considers us a rich inheritance and that this truth is reflected in our lives. Think about what this means. God considers you to be of infinite value.
-Think about earthly inheritances. We often think of money when we think inheritance. But there is a lot more to inheritance. Often, an inheritance includes items of great personal value—maybe, something like a family heirloom or an item that brings up such fond memories, and it makes that item absolutely precious in your sight. Sure, your grandmother may have left you some money, but she also left you these two rocking chairs that might not be worth $50. But when you look at those rocking chairs you remember the endless hours you would sit with your grandmother on her front porch rocking back and forth, talking about anything and everything. They have value you to you. They might not have value to anybody else, but they have value to you.
-God looks at you, someone for whom His own Son died and rose again, and He sees you as a precious inheritance, of more value than anything else in the universe. You have value to Him. And it doesn’t matter what anybody else thinks, and it doesn’t even matter what you think about yourself—all that matters is how God sees you. And this is how He sees you—you are a rich inheritance. You may be a reject when it comes to the world and society. You might think that you are a loser in so many ways. You might be alone or persecuted or whatever. Your feelings and circumstances do not change the truth of your identity.
-When God looks at you, He sees His inheritance—if you are in Christ; if you’ve trusted the gospel message; if what Easter is all about has changed your life. He looks at you and says: You see him? He’s my inheritance. My Son died for him, that’s how valuable I think he is. You see her? She’s my inheritance. My Son died for her, that’s how valuable I think she is. They belong to me.
-You know, you only get an inheritance when someone dies. Well, Christ died and rose again so that God the Father would get His inheritance—and that’s you, and it’s me. And so, when things are happening in life that make you think that you are any less than you are, and you start living your life according to those lies—STOP. Remember the value that you have to God. This is an Easter truth to live by—no matter what the world might say, no matter what thoughts my own brain might come up with, no matter what lies Satan whispers in my ear, I am God’s inheritance. I have infinite value in the eyes of my heavenly Father. Nothing else matters. And so, I’m going to live in that identity. One last truth...

3) The truth of our power

-In v. 19 Paul prays that we know and live out what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe. In one sense, it is reminding us is that God has this great power such that He has the ability to fulfill His Word, and nobody is able to prevent it. If God says that you have hope—He has the power to fulfill that hope. If God says that you have salvation—He has the power to fulfill that salvation.
-How do we know God has that power? Paul says it is because He had the power to raise Christ from the dead and then seat Christ at the place of authority. Throughout Scripture the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the proof that God has all power. You would think that the creation of the universe would be the measure of power. With the billions of galaxies that contain billions of solar systems, that’s a lot of power. But the Bible continually testifies that it is the resurrection of Christ that is the greatest display of power. And what is great is that God’s power is for us, not against us. V. 19 says that the power is toward us. He uses His power on our behalf. God uses His eternal and infinite power for the benefit of His people.
-But Paul isn’t just praying that you know the power that is at work toward you, but that you would know that this power is at work in you and through you. The power of God that raised Christ from the dead is at work in you to form and conform you to the likeness of Christ. It is at work in you to make you holy. God is able to take our hard, stubborn hearts and make them pliable to His will. God is able to take all the ugly that is within us and make it beautiful. God is able to take the decay of death that is inherent within us and turn it into a place of light and life. That is the power of the resurrected Christ in us.
-But, because of our identity with Christ, we also have the power of God at work through us. Here is the amazing thing—we have access to God’s resurrection power. No, it’s not in the sense that we can just do anything and everything like magic. However, when we are submitted to God, and we are following the path that He has for us, there is nothing that can prevent us from fulfilling God’s purposes. And this is especially seen in the authority that we share with Christ.
-Paul, in v. 21, talks about Christ having power over all rule and authority and power and dominion. It’s talking about the fact that all heavenly and earthly powers are under His authority. Everything has been placed under His feet, meaning there is nothing that exists that isn’t under the authority of Christ. Remember, after His resurrection, He said ALL AUTHORITY HAS BEEN GIVEN TO ME IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH. That means everything. And we share in that authority. The Bible says that there is going to come a day when we judge angels—we will have authority over the heavenly beings.
-But we don’t live in this power by trying to force our will on God or anything else. We live in this power when we live by faith under the submission of God’s will. How many times did Christ say YOUR FAITH HAS HEALED YOU, YOUR FAITH HAS SAVED YOU. When we live by faith and not by sight, we are living in true power. The faith that moves mountains is the faith that trusts Christ’s resurrection power will work through us when we are under submission, following His will. We have authority and power when we place ourselves under God’s authority and power. Not just any power, but resurrection power. We have power when we are under His power. One author, thinking about the power found in great revivals of old, said this:
Discovering God in Stories from the Bible (Power to Save)
The leaders of the Great Awakening had extraordinary power in evangelism and renewal. They followed an omnipotent Christ, the divine warrior, and He anointed them with His missionary presence. But this power was poured out on those who knew that they were inherently powerless without a constant dependence upon the working of God’s grace in their lives.
-This is a truth we can know and experience and live.


-I’ll conclude with this thought. You often hear the term “working knowledge.” The term speaks about having the information about a particular subject that you then use skillfully to fulfill a task. You have a knowledge about a subject and then apply that knowledge.
-I fear today that there are a lot of Christians in the world that have knowledge about Christ and His resurrection, but it doesn’t then flow out into a lifestyle. You could say that they don’t have a working knowledge about Christ and His death and His resurrection. Celebrating Easter isn’t just about knowing Christ rose, but living life in light of the fact that He rose.
-Christian, maybe you need to come to the altar and ask God to give you the faith to live in hope and power according to the value you have in God’s sight.
-But maybe you have never trusted in Christ. Sure, you know the stories, but you haven’t dedicated yourself to the one whom the stories are about. Repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and receive life.
-May none of us leave today just knowing the story of Easter, but living in light of the truths about Easter.
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