When you buy a new gadget, it comes with an owner’s manual that tells you how to operate it. Many of us skim the manual quickly (at best), or never bother to read it at all. That’s too tedious, and besides, we think that we’re smart enough to figure this out without reading the directions. But then we can’t figure out why this stupid product doesn’t work right! Maybe we need to go back and read the manual!
God has given us His Word as the manual for our salvation. It tells us all we need to know to walk with God and live wisely in light of eternity. But, as we do with so many owner’s manuals, we read it superficially or hardly at all and then wonder why the Christian life isn’t working the way it’s supposed to! We need to go back and read the manual carefully, asking God to give us His wisdom and understanding.
In Ephesians 1:15-23, Paul is praying that God would give the saints a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the true knowledge of Him. In 1:18-19, he elaborates on what that means, namely, that God wants us to know three essentials about our salvation that will give us assurance about our high calling as God’s people. They will give us the hope and eternal perspective that we need to endure trials. They will give us the strength to persevere in godliness.
God wants you to know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power toward believers.
1. To know these important truths, you must ask God to enlighten the eyes of your heart.
The first phrase of verse 18 is literally, “eyes of your heart may be enlightened”, which explains in more specific detail Paul’s words in verse 17, that God would give us “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better” To know these spiritual truths, God must open our eyes.
Even though God has opened our eyes to see and believe in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, we still must seek Him to enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we will come to a deeper understanding of these crucial truths. “The eyes of our hearts” refers to our total inner person, which includes the intellect, the emotions, and the will. The knowledge that Paul is praying for includes an intellectual grasp of the truth, but it also grips our emotions and brings our will into greater submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ. Having prayed then that God would enlighten the eyes of our hearts, Paul specifies three things that God wants you to know:
2. God wants you to know what is the hope of His calling.
- A. THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING MEANS THAT HE TOOK THE INITIATIVE IN OUR SALVATION. Your salvation does not rest on your choosing Christ, but rather on His choosing you. As Paul puts it (2 Tim. 1:9), “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” Knowing that you are saved because in eternity God purposed to save you and that His purpose is certain, will give you assurance you when you’re struggling with doubt or failure. It will encourage you to go on. It will fill you with thanksgiving, joy, and hope. It is “hope” that Paul here links with God’s effectual call:
- B. THE HOPE OF HIS CALLING IS THE CERTAINTY OF INCREASING BLESSING AND JOY IN CHRIST, BEGINNING NOW AND LASTING THROUGH ALL ETERNITY. When your eyes are enlightened to know objectively all that God has promised to give you in Christ, it fills you with hope in your heart. Paul describes people who do not know Christ (Eph. 2:12) as, “strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” Believers have been “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” Since God’s promises are as certain as He is faithful, the hope of our calling is not some vague, wishful thinking that everything will work out for our good. Rather, if we are the called according to God’s purpose, then we know that He is actively working all things together for our good, both in time and in eternity (Rom. 8:28)! So even in the most difficult trials, we can be filled with hope (Rom. 15:13) because we know that God has called us to salvation. Our faith in Christ did not originate with our feeble will, but with the sovereign, eternal will of God. Thus we know that He will fulfill all of His promises to us.
3. God wants you to know what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
We are God’s possession, purchased by the blood of Christ. Thus we are His portion or inheritance which He will finally and ultimately possess throughout eternity. In Ephesians 1-3, Paul is emphasizing that although the Gentiles were formerly alienated from God and strangers to His promises to Israel, now in Christ they are equal members of God’s covenant people. Just as the Jews were formerly God’s chosen inheritance, now His inheritance is in the saints, the church, made up of Jewish and Gentile believers on equal footing.
Our future is that throughout eternity we will actually share in Christ’s glory! In Colossians 1:27, Paul says that to the saints, “God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Paul wants us to get a glimpse of our glorious future so that we will live in light of it right now. We must live as citizens of heaven who belong to God. We must live as saints, God’s holy ones, separate from this evil world. So Paul asks God to enlighten the eyes of our hearts so that we will know what is the hope of His calling and what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Finally,
4. God wants you to know what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
Paul describes God’s power as “the surpassing greatness of His power,” and then goes on to say (1:19b-21) that this power is “in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.” Wow!
John Calvin said that godly people who are engaged in daily struggles with inward corruption realize that it requires nothing less than the surpassing greatness of God’s power to save us. Paul wanted not only to impress the Ephesians with a deep sense of the value of Divine grace, but also to give them exalted views of the glory of Christ’s kingdom. That they might not be cast down by a view of their own unworthiness, he exhorts them to consider the power of God; as if he had said, that their regeneration was no ordinary work of God, but was an astonishing exhibition of his power. There are at least six ways that God wants us as believers to know the surpassing greatness of His power toward us:
- A. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER THAT SAVED US. We were dead in our sins, but God raised us up. Paul encourages us to realize that our salvation is evidence of God’s surpassingly great power at work in us.
- B. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER THAT ENABLES US TO PERSEVERE THROUGH TRIALS. God’s glorious, mighty power enables us to endure trials steadfastly, patiently, and joyously, with a thankful heart to the Father. Paul prays that we would be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” (Col. 1:11-12)
- C. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER TO OVERCOME TEMPTATION AND LIVE IN HOLINESS. God’s mighty power has granted us all that we need for life and godliness, so that we can escape the corruption that is in the world by lust (2 Pet. 1:3-4). His power provides the way of escape from every temptation that we face (1 Cor. 10:13; Eph. 6:10-13).
- D. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER TO SERVE HIM FAITHFULLY. Paul explained (Col. 1:29), “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Laboring in His power is the antidote to burnout.
- E. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER FOR EVERYTHING THAT HE HAS CALLED US TO DO. Paul knew that he was able to face and accomplish whatever God called him to do when he said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Eph. 4:13).
- F. GOD WANTS US TO KNOW THE SURPASSING GREATNESS OF HIS POWER TO KEEP US TO THE END. The fact that God exerted such mighty power to save us implies that His same mighty power will keep us. 1 Peter 1:5 says that we “who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” Jude 24-25 proclaims, “To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” As Paul shows (Rom. 8:30), “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” Our salvation from start to finish is due to the surpassing greatness of His power!
So if you’re having problems in your Christian life, if things don’t seem to be working as they should, maybe it’s time to go back and read the owner’s manual! But you can’t understand this manual by mere human insight or wisdom. To understand it, you must continually ask God to enlighten the eyes of your heart. He wants you to know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power toward you. To the extent that you understand these vast spiritual resources, you will enjoy God and glorify Him forever.
- NIV Study Bible
- What God Wants You to Know