Study on Ephesians 1:15-23
Overflowing Love and Immeasurable Power
"15For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a 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, 19and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20that 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. 22And 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."- Ephesians 1:15-23
Okay, so this is the sentence I pray constantly in life. Yeah, it's only one sentence in the original Greek, but that's not why it's such an amazing prayer. First, a little background.
This is part of the letter written to the church in Ephesus by Paul. Now, I don't have time to go into Paul's absolutely mind blowing story in all that much detail, but I want you all to know that he is writing this letter through experience. In the book of Acts Paul is actually Saul. A lot of you might of heard his story before, but Saul was a roman who persecuted Christians and was after the destruction of the church. Right before his life changed, the book of Acts actually tells us that he approved the execution of imprisoned Christians. Jesus himself comes to Saul, when Saul is in a barn, as a bright light that actually blinds Saul. Jesus reveals Himself to Saul and sends him on a journey to the city of Damascus. During this time Saul, or Paul, was blind. But he was told that a man named Ananias would come lay hands on him and he would be able to see. We also find out that God shows up to Ananias in a vision telling him that Saul, the one who once persecuted anyone who called on Jesus's name, was going to be praying and that he needed to lay hands on him and pray for his eyes to be opened. The Bible says that it was as if “scales were falling from his eyes” and he could finally see. Immediately following Saul goes out and preaches that Jesus is God's Son. Now that we have a general background on who Paul is and where he came from, we can see this letter he is writing to the Church of Ephesus is a prayer from God who is working through Paul's life. You can just tell by reading through it that God has revealed a little of himself to Paul and Paul's heart is aching to let everyone know of these revelations that God has shown him.
My parents worked for a world wide ministry called Campus Crusade For Christ for several years when I was younger, and every other summer we would all hop in the family van and drive across the country to Colorado Springs, Colorado for CCC’s biannual staff training. We’d stay on Colorado State University’s campus for two weeks as my parents went to meetings and put up booths for the conference. Us kids went to day camps with other staff kids while all this was going on.
The second to last summer that my parents were with CCC was my first time in the Jr. High/High School group and getting to know some of the local guys who played street hockey at the campus’s street hockey rink. One day the leaders gathered all the youth up and told us that the following day we would be going out to various places to share our faith and evangelize. I really wanted to give that a try, but at the last second I kind of got spooked and backed out. I went to the street hockey rink and played a couple games with the guys, while I waited for all my friends to get back.
Later that day, after everyone had gotten back, we all gathered again in the meeting room and kids got up to share all the amazing and hilarious tales and happenings of their experience. I immediately got the feeling that I had just missed out on a possible once in a lifetime experience. I all of a sudden found myself wanting to go out and share my faith. It didn’t matter who, what time it was, or where I did it. I just had to get it out. I was tremendously unprepared and inexperienced for it though, but I decided that talking to people would be best.
So I went where I thought I would find the most people. The campus’s all purpose gym/everything you could imagine building. I didn’t want to miss anyone so I literally found a seat in between the two sets of doors at the entrance/exit and stopped every person I possibly could to tell them that they should be smiling because “Jesus Loves them.” I am not making that up either. My only excuse is that I was probably fourteen at the time. I could not begin to describe the wide range of responses that I got sitting there for more than an hour interrupting people’s day to let them know the simple truth that they were Loved. Perfectly, unconditionally, infinitely…. Loved. You see, while I had no idea why I just HAD to tell every breathing human that Jesus Loves them, I think I finally understand it now.
That summer, I had fallen in Love with God. Others my age, that were around me, had fallen in Love with Him first and had gone out to let it be known. The raging river of Jesus’s Love that flowed through each of them overflowed and flooded my heart with an overwhelming since of God’s Love for me. “Not because I Loved Him, but because He Loved me first”, as 1 John 4:10 says. And once I had that Love flooding my heart, and once I fell in Love with Jesus Christ, all I desired to do or could even think to do was to flood everyone else’s heart with that same Love. I went back to Love. Loving God because He first Loved me. And Loving other’s by speaking merely a sentence of hope into their lives.
I can tell you that people cussed at me, ignoring the fact of how young I was, but that’s not what I remember most about that day. What I remember most was the lady who I stopped as she sped through the first set of doors and onto the second. “Excuse me? I just wanted to say, Smile. Cause Jesus Loves you.” Now it could have been how adorable I was at age fourteen that made her tear up ever so slightly and look me softly in the eye and say, “Thank you. I really needed to hear that today.” But, I like to think that maybe, just maybe, the river of Jesus’s Love that flooded my friend’s heart, that had flooded my heart, that flooded Paul's heart, might have just seeped into her heart just when she needed it most.
Why? Let’s go back. Because God Loves each one of us. So much so that He couldn’t contain that Love. He had to show it to us. He sent His only Son to live to die so that we can know how to love. So that we can have a perfect example of what unconditional Love really looks like. So that we can see that it’s nothing like a movie Love, but it’s a painful and hard thing that couldn’t be more beautiful. It's a love that is a verb. A Love that can only be expressed through actions.
Romans 5:6-8 says, “6For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” We see in verse eight that Jesus coming to earth was to show us, to express to us, and to flood our hearts with his love for sinners. No matter the addiction or the pain your going through; or even the wealth or the popularity, always remember to go back to God’s unconditional Love for you and know that, above all, you are Loved. And fall deeper and deeper in Love with him through reading His Word and sharing that Love with everyone you encounter.
The founder and former president of CCC once said this, “The greatest thing I could ever tell someone is of God’s unconditional Love for them.” In his lifetime he met with presidents and rulers of all kinds in several different countries. Someone once asked him if he ever got nervous standing or talking with these leaders and people of power. The strength that he finds is the same strength that works through us and that even worked through Jesus Himself. Dr. Bill Bright responded and said, “I have been given authority and empowered by the king of kings, Lord of lords, and ruler over ALL things not just on earth but also in heaven… What do I have to be afraid of?” So true.
You have to see that it's the difficulty, the pain, and the courage that is required to truly love that makes it possible to be such a beautiful, amazing, and so contagious thing. This is the Love that has flooded Paul's heart and He can't resist or hold back the urge to wish and pray for that same love and power to flood everyone else's hearts and minds.
We read in verse 17 of Ephesians 1 that Paul is praying that the Father of Glory, “may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” Paul is crying out to God that the Holy Spirit may reveal the revelation of knowing God. That, “the eyes of your hearts” may be enlightened and that we may know “What is the hope to which he is calling us.” In other words, we have hope in the future that God is calling us to, in the future that God has called us to. A friend of mine who preaches at Bethel World Outreach once said this, “A boy becomes a man when he realizes what God has called him to do and be, and he pursues it with all that is within him.” I think that goes for all Christians. Some of you are getting a feel for where God has called you and some have no idea, but the point in growing up and growing in Christ is to pursue his calling for you. And once He's revealed that calling to you, it is vital to pursue it with all your heart.
So, that we may know “the hope to which he is calling us” and, “What are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” Pretty much. God loves you so much that He can't wait to inherit you into His Heavenly Kingdom. He's looking at each and every one of us and saying, “Man, he or she is so amazing, they are so special and beautiful, I am excited, I'm on the edge of my seat, waiting for the day I inherit them into my heavenly kingdom for all eternity.” You, each one of you, individually, have the creator of the entire universe and billions of people, saying to you that you are so special, beautiful, and unique that He cannot wait to see you at his heavenly Gate. Kind of makes you feel special, huh? Can you feel His overflowing love for you yet? Is the Love that God has revealed to Paul and the love that He started to reveal in my life that summer starting to seep into each beat of your heart?
This next part continuously exceeds all my imagination and it's vastness goes straight over my head, but lets try to at least understand as much as we CAN comprehend. Paul is praying for us to know the future God has for us, how much God awaits His inheritance, and in verse nineteen,” and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his might that worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead...” I am positive you all didn't catch how huge that statement is. Paul's saying that we, the body of Christ, has the exact same God and, therefore, same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, working in and through us! The power and authority that was in Christ is now in and working through us because of his death on the cross for us. That means the Devil aint got no authority over us when we call on God's name and power. It makes sense now that we can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me. Not only that but I have Christ living in me and if we go on we see that we have the same power working in us that raised Jesus from the dead, “and seated him at (God's) right hand in the heavenly places, 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. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body.” So Paul is saying, Satan has no reign on earth anymore. Christ is our light in the darkness and even responded to Pontius Pilate when asked, “Why did you come to earth?” saying,” I've come to spread light on the dark.” and “To testify to the truth.” Whenever your going through really hard times or are confronted with temptation remember that Jesus came to the earth to shed light on the lie that you are alone, or that you have to give in or give up at some point. All you have to do is cry out to God and in His name tell the Devil that he has no reign or right to be tempting you or putting any doubt of God's perfect plan in your mind. That Jesus Christ has overcome him and that ALL things are under his feet. Because that is the power that is flowing through your lives.
Dear Lord, creator of all things and who is over and above all our pains struggles and temptations, I pray right now, because I have heard of these guy's and girl's faith in you and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for them, remembering them in my prayers right now, that you, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give them a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of you, dear God, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know what is the hope to which you have called them, what are the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints, in us, and what is the immeasurable greatness of your power toward them who believe, according to the working of your great might that you worked in Christ when you raised him from the dead and seated him at your right hand in the heavenly places, 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. And you put ALL things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. In your precious and Holy name, may your will be done. Amen.