What We Possess (Part 1)
I think too many Christians are like the late newspaper publisher, William Randolph Hearst, who invested a fortune collecting art treasures from around the world. The story is told that one day Mr. Hearst found a description of some valuable items that he felt he must own, so he sent his agent abroad to find them. After months of searching, the agent reported that he had finally found the treasures. They were in Mr. Hearst’s warehouse. Hearst had been searching frantically for treasures he already owned! Had he only read the catalog of his treasures, he would have saved himself a great deal of money and trouble.
This illustrates the words of 2 Peter 1:3-4, “3 By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. 4 And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.” (NLT)
When we are reborn in Christ, we are “born rich”. The problem is that most of us do not realize this fact. Some teach that this is a material wealth. But it is better and richer than that. Considering what the real wealth is, material wealth alone would actually be pretty sad. It is a spiritual wealth. It is a sad fact of life that so many Christians do not even realize they have this wealth. But it is not enough to know we have this wealth. We must grow in our understanding of our riches is we are ever going to use them to the glory of God.
Paul desired the Ephesian Christians to understand what great wealth they had in Christ. Paul knew of their faith and love, and in this he rejoiced. The Christian life has two dimensions: faith toward God and love toward men, and you cannot separate the two. But Paul knew that faith and love were just the beginning. The Ephesians needed to know much more. This is why he prayed for them, and for us.
In the prison prayers of Paul, we discover the blessings he wanted his converts to enjoy. In none of these prayers did Paul request material things. His emphasis was on spiritual perception and real Christian character. He did not ask God to give them what they did not have, but rather prayed that God would reveal to them what they already had.
In Ephesians 1:15-23, I would like for us to notice four things Paul prayed for the believers in Ephesus and ultimately for us.
15 Ever since I first heard of your strong faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for God’s people everywhere, 16 I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, 17 asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God. 18 I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light so that you can understand the confident hope he has given to those he called—his holy people who are his rich and glorious inheritance.
19 I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power 20 that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. 21 Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. 23 And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself. (NLT)
Paul prays that:
they might know God, or grow in their knowledge of God (17b).
we might know God’s calling (18).
we might know God’s riches (18b).
we might know God’s power (19-23).
Over the next week or two, I will try to expand on each of these areas. In the meantime, please jump in and share your thoughts!