Yesterday I preached from Ephesians 1:15-23, and it’s quite apparent from the beginning of this paragraph that Paul is not only writing a letter, but he is likewise praying to the Father. Paul’s prayer is not lacking in theological depth. This is far removed from a shallow repetitive prayer that we’re often guilty of mumbling. Paul is serious about this prayer that involves a petition and praise.
Paul Desires for the Church to Know God
James Montgomery Boice was once participating in a Q&A session and was asked, “Dr. Boice, what do you think is the greatest lack among evangelical Christians in America today?” He paused and then responded, “I think that the greatest need of the evangelical church today is for professing Christians really to know God.” Why is it that far too much of evangelical Christianity is quite happy to go to heaven ignorant of who God truly is?
Paul’s desire for the church at Ephesus (and surrounding cities) is for these people to know God. While it’s great that they had faith and love for one another, they still needed to progress in their knowledge of God. This requires diligence and work. The reference to knowledge is ἐπίγνωσις, meaning “correct knowledge; Precise knowledge; Thorough or full knowledge.” Consider the fact that many people know about God, but they don’t truly know Him. Remember the warning from Christ
Paul Desires for the Church to Know their Hope in God
The hope of the believers, as Paul could see it, was based on three primary facts about Jesus Christ.
- Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.
- Jesus’ sovereign rule and authority over the entire universe.
- Jesus’ headship over the church.
Paul did not pray that these believers would find their assurance in their Christian t-shirt, their church attendance, or their dedication in their religion. Paul wanted these believers, people that he loved dearly, to have a firm and growing confidence in the hope that comes through Jesus Christ.
Paul ended this section by pointing out that Jesus is the head of the church. As he left Ephesus, we find in Acts 20 that the people were weeping as they knew that they would likely not see Paul again until they arrived in heaven. Paul wanted these people to know that their hope was not in him or any other religious leader. Their ultimate hope was in Jesus Christ – the risen and ruling Savior of sinners.
While we live in a happy meal society where everyone demands speed and instant success, such knowledge of God is not an instant reality. From the point of the new birth, the believer is progressively growing. To attempt short cuts to a true knowledge of God will result in knowing about God, but not actually coming to the point of knowing God.
Do you know Him? Is your life, your relationships, your worship, and your service to God within the local church indicative of such knowledge and maturity?