1:15-17, "Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith
in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, cease not
to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,
may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in
the knowledge of him..."
we thank you for your Word, and Lord we're amazed at the
things you do. We ask you in Jesus' name that you would continue
to lead. Lord we
do not know what day or hour you will return for your church. We pray at that moment we will be living in
such a way without compromise that we might lift our heads
in anticipation, without shame and Lord that our love in
return for the incredible things you've done for us would
fuel Lord that fire within us. We again pray for the nation, our leaders, for
peace in Jerusalem Lord, and yet we know the only hope of
the world is your return, so we also pray 'come quickly
Jesus name, Amen."
"We are in Ephesians chapter 1.Interesting,
Paul again as he writes the letter, takes us through our
paces. The world
that we live in, every race begins with a starting point
and a finishing line. He says the Christian experience begins with
the finishing line and Christ said "It is finished", and
then after you get settled, you come to the starting point
in your walk. Or, the world that we live in begins with a
walk. You spend your
life working so that at some point hopefully you get to
retire, whatever people do, and move to Florida
and play golf, I don't know.
But in the Christian experience you have to retire
first and give up the work, and realize that Christ has
done it, before you can find out what he wants you to do
and how to walk. I
mean, it's a funny thing, it's all inverted, it's
all backwards. Most things in life you do, and when they're
finished they're done. The
Christian experience is done and
then you do. It's all completed before you start, in your
participation in it. So
he's trying to communicate that in these first three chapters,
that Christ has accomplished all, so that we will understand that we
are responders. God
is always the initiator, salvation is his work he's accomplished within the
counsel of his own will, that which has benefited us that
we haven't even realized yet.
And as we get to chapter 4, he begins to talk to
us about our response to those things. Now the first six verses he told us about this
incredible plan of the Father that had been initiated before
the worlds were even formed [so God must have been aware
of the fact that Lucifer was going south on him before physical matter
was created!]. That
God knew us and called us then (verse 4).
Verses 7 to 12 he began to speak to us of the Son's,
Jesus Christ's part in that. Verse 7, saying "In whom we have redemption
through his blood, the forgiveness of sins.", and what Christ
has accomplished, then insuring that inheritance for us,
to where he brings us to verse 12, "That we should be to
the praise of his glory, who first
trusted in Christ." And
in verse 13 he begins to talk to us [about being sealed
with the Holy Spirit], and that's where we left off, about
the Spirit's work in this circumstance. The Father's plan, the Son's
redemption, and the Spirit keeping us in our present situation. He says "In whom ye also trusted" speaking of
Jesus ".after you heard the Word of truth.",
the gospel, the Good News, it is "of your salvation."
Now I would remember throughout your Christian
experience, if I was you-that the gospel means Good News. If you're in a church fellowship somewhere where
what you hear every week is "bad news", I would really consider
moving. You shouldn't walk out of a church (service)
feeling depressed and beat up.
You get beat up by Satan and the world all week.
What's the sense of getting up early Sunday [or Saturday]
morning on your day off, to get beat up again?
You have to be sick to do that.
So, the gospel is Good News.
The time that we spend together studying the Scripture,
worshipping, should be a time that we're edified and confirmed
in the faith and built up. He says here, "we trusted in Christ, after we
heard the truth." That
is the Good News. In regards to our salvation, (verses 13b through
14) "In whom also,
after that you believed, you were sealed with that Holy
Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance
until the redemption of the purchased possession unto the
praise of his glory."
So he tells us that as we came to Christ we were
sealed again with the Spirit of promise.
And to the Ephesians it had a particular meaning.
They were used to banking arrangements and purchases,
it was the banking capital of Asia there, the temple
of Diana, and there in those precincts, banking
in that part of the world, they were accustomed to seeing
a seal placed on a document or a scroll.
They were accustomed to seeing a seal placed on cargo,
and it would be a stamp of authority, it would identify
ownership, it would ensure destination. If you see cattle branded it's telling you who
the owner is. Much
in the same way, remember that the Pharisees came to Pilate
and said "Set a seal on the tomb", and again that was the
authority of Rome. If someone broke that seal, the guards that
stood guard on the tomb would be killed, and the person
who broke the seal would be crucified upside down.
If they didn't catch you, they would crucify everyone
in your village, if they knew who you were.
Because the authority of Rome
was behind it, and you messed with the authority of Rome. So he says you and I were
'sealed with that [Holy] Spirit of promise' when we were
saved. And again, take note that in Revelation chapter
20 verse 3, where it talks about
Satan being bound for a thousand years, and by the way,
that's by one angel, and at that point he is cast into the
abyss, and there's a seal set upon it, that's the same Greek
word. And take note
in your studies that Satan does not have the power to break
that seal for a thousand years.
That's very important, because it tells you here
that God Almighty seals you.
And Satan has no authority to break that seal either. And yet the church is filled with people talking
about 'Satan does this, Satan made
me do this.' They're
almost promoting people for hell or something.
And don't you get tired of that?
Let's talk about the amazing things that the Scripture
tells us that God Almighty has accomplished on your behalf
in that 'he has made you accepted in the beloved--you're
in Christ. And Satan
is not moving into Christ, where you are, into that sphere.
You're sealed with the Spirit of promise. That's God's seal of ownership, it's his seal
of authority, it's his seal that
ensures your destiny. As
it tells us in Peter, there's an inheritance, as we also
talked about last week, that's kept, it's undefiled, it
fadeth not away. God would not keep that inheritance unless he
knew somebody makes it, he knows
that we'll be there. So
that inheritance is reserved for us.
Now he says that the sealing of the Spirit of promise--and
when we hear 'that Spirit of promise', certainly, as it
says in the book of Acts--this is the promise that was spoken
of in the prophets, of the Holy Spirit and the coming of
the Holy Spirit, the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.
And in that sense the coming of the Holy Spirit on
Pentecost was the Spirit of promise--but obviously the implications
here are that it means more than that, because it says 'that
Spirit of promise is the earnest of our inheritance, until
redeemed possession.' Now
what that's saying is this, the earnest--we might think
of a down-payment, that might give us the idea--is really the first installment
of a greater thing that's to be ours someday. I don't want you to confuse it like it's Christmas time and probably a lot of you are putting things
on lay-away, you give the store $10 and they put things
on lay-away for you. It's
not like lay-away, because you can change your mind and
go back and say 'Oh, I want to take that off lay-away'.and
some of you probably, sometimes feel like God has you on
lay-away, going to return you before Christmas.
That's not the same thing here.
This earnest, this word earnest is in the sense of
an installment and that is, it is a little foretaste of
the greater experience that is assured to be ours through
the work of Christ. And
it's not something to be given to be taken back again. And the idea is, all of us here this evening
[or whenever, reading this] are spoiled for this world--I
mean, when you think about your relationship with Christ,
you know. Thank God
we are somewhere where we have the freedom to worship the
way we want to, and the freedom to study the Scripture from
Genesis to Revelation. We
don't have to talk about politics every week, except the
politics of heaven. We have the freedom to study the Word of God.
Because of that, when you think of Christ, what's
your hope? We are
thinking of the return of Christ, we're looking at the prophetic
scene that's on the news, we're
waiting for the blast of a trumpet.
We're longing for the day that that 7 years is ended
[3.5 year period of Classic or Historic Pre-Millennialists,
7 year tribulation period for Dispensational Pre-Millennialists],
and human suffering comes to an end and Christ sets up his
Kingdom [on earth, cf. Zechariah 14:1-15, esp. vs. 9]. We're looking forward to a new heavens and a
new earth [cf. Revelation 21:1, read vs. 1-17, the new Jerusalem
Abraham was longing for, hoping for, mentioned by Paul in
Hebrews 11:8-10]. But either we've lost our minds, or we've all
got the first installment.
Now you know, when you talk about New-Ager's and then they're weirder
than anybody. They
can come into the corporate set-up, and they can teach their
philosophies, they bring in all this nonsense--and here
we are talking about the return of Christ and all of the
things that he has for us--and people think we're crazy. And again, I think it's sad if you're here this
evening and don't know Christ personally, you know. What is your hope? Is it N.A.F.T.A.? I mean, look what's happening on the news.
Are you hoping that the North American Free Trade
Association is going to produce a better quality of living
for you and fill your refrigerator and pay off your bills? Are you hoping for that? And if that happens, somebody's going to negotiate
the nuclear arms problems so that after NAFTA does pay off
your bills somebody doesn't blow it all up.
Are your hoping that even if they negotiate nuclear arms, somebody
takes care of industry so you can breathe the air and drink
the water? Are you
hoping that A.I.D.S. doesn't spread?
I mean, what is your hope?
Again, I think if your hope is in this world you've
got more faith than we do.
We believe something simple--Jesus Christ died, he
rose and is returning. And
he's going to blow a trumpet and catch us up off the face
of the earth. That's easier for us to believe than what you
believe [cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-56; Revelation 19:1-21;
Zechariah 14:1-15]--because what we believe is in the hands
of Almighty God, what you believe is in the hands of men.
That's scary. So
it tells us here as believers, we have been spoiled for
this world. Now again,
that is part of God's work, because he knows our tendency
to wander, he knows our tendency to get involved in other
things. You know in our thinking and hearts it's nice
on the scale of balances, we have the riches of Christ in
the eternal heavens to weigh against the things of this
world. Remember it
tells us that Moses esteemed the riches of Christ more than
the riches of Egypt
(cf. Hebrews 11:23-26-28). Thank God that we have an installment, we have
a glimmer into the Kingdom that's coming to weigh against
all the things that Satan sets before our hearts here in
this world. But I also thank God that when a Christian gets
off the course and starts to make his career his god and
when he starts to make some other thing his god, or when
he starts to make money his god, that he can't get settled
down in that. That
he ends up very frustrated in it.
And the reason is because you're spoiled for this
world--you've been touched and sealed by God's Holy Spirit
and given the first installment of something that is far
away and beyond anything that this world has to offer. You know, I love that fact--Satan is wise, he's
been at this a long time.
We see in Matthew 4 that he takes Jesus Christ on
a mountain top and shows him all the kingdoms of the world
and all the glory of them, and he says, "All of these will
I give you, because they're given to me to give where I
want to, if you fall down and worship me."
And Christ does not argue with him in the sense that
he can give them to whoever he wants--he's going to give
them to the anti-christ. But before the Bible closes off and signs off
in Revelation chapters 21 and 22, it says that John is taken
away to a great and high mountain, and he sees something
that far outshines any old thing that Satan has to show
us down here. [Revelation
21:1-17 shows the New Jerusalem, a fifteen hundred mile
wide, by long, by high be-jeweled city of pure gold, coming
down out of heaven, our new home, and future dwelling place
of God with the resurrected immortal children of God that
have been made immortal in the 1st Resurrection
to immortality (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:49-56).
This occurs after the new heavens and earth
have been created (Rev. 21:1).
Heaven on earth anybody? That's
what it says. This
is the same city Paul says Abraham was looking forward to
in Hebrews 11:8-10.] Satan has got to put glass-plus on his stuff
and got to, you know, put furniture polish on it, and gold
polish. We see there an eternal city with streets of
gold and walls of jewels.
It's remarkable the thing that God's given us to
weigh against all that's in this world.
And because you're never going to be satisfied [with
what Satan has to offer].
Again, you try to walk away from Jesus Christ,
you have a problem [if you're genuinely born-again, of the
Spirit.] [Non-Christians ,who think they're Christians, can and do walk away from Jesus Christ,
all the time. Let
me explain. If God hasn't sealed a person, even if that
person has attended a real Christian Church for 20 years,
has gone through all the motions, says the right things,
can hold a spiritual conversation with you, was baptized--the
problems of life, when they really boil up and over and
get bad enough, that person will walk--walk right away from
church, from Jesus, like they never knew him (because they
never really did know him, never had him indwelling within
them by the Holy Spirit).
But we human beings cannot discern that in an individual
until it happens. Often
times it will happen within a Christian marriage, where
problems boil up, one partner leaves--leaves the marriage,
church, Jesus. Why? Because they were never really
sealed with and by the Holy Spirit. Simple as that. How do I know? Because it happened to me,
and then the identical thing happened to a close Christian
friend of mine. All the spiritual evidence of our two wives
non-conversion steadily surfaced after the divorces occurred,
and continue to surface to this day.
Won't go into details, that's personal, and not necessary. That's why Paul warned believers to marry believers,
and not unequally yoke yourself
to a non-believer. That
means if you're a Christian, do not date non-Christians!
I highly recommend believers who think they can date
unbelievers to log onto the following article and read it:
.] So you're just
going to be miserable [if you're sealed and trying to walk
away from Jesus]. And
that's exactly how you're supposed to be.
If you're back-slidden this evening and you're miserable,
don't feel bad [laughter], no, don't feel bad about feeling
bad--just, feel bad. That's how you're supposed to feel. We all pray that you are miserable. We pray you get ulcers. We pray you don't sleep till you turn back.
Because we love you.
And you know in your heart, there isn't anything
out there that compares with what God has shown you in your
heart that lies ahead of you.
So we thank God that we have been sealed by this
Spirit of promise, and given the earnest, the down-payment,
the first installment of our inheritance, "until the complete
redemption of the purchased."
By the way, that first installment is not in regards
to forgiveness of sin, that's something that was settled
2,000 years ago. That
installment is in regards to our inheritance.
That's still ahead of us, the fullness of it. And if you go to Greece today, and there is this word
used for earnest here, is their word for engagement ring. And I like that, because it helps us from just
feeling like cargo, it helps us from just feeling like we're
in a commercial deal with God's, shipping and receiving. There's a great amount of emotion in this too,
that what's he's given to us is an engagement ring. And in a sense we're in a period of espousal.
And Paul say's he's espoused us unto one husband,
that we're the Bride and he's [Christ] the groom.
So the Holy Ghost [Spirit] has slipped the engagement
ring on your finger. I like that.
"Wherefore" Now verse 15 begins "Wherefore",
wherefore, because of everything he just said since verse
3--because of God Almighty's plan, because of the signs
of redemption, because of the Spirit's keeping us--"Wherefore
because of this, I also after I heard of your faith in the
Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints, cease not to give
thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers." (verses
15-16). Now Paul's in prison, he's got a lot of
time to pray. ".that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the
Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom
and revelation in the knowledge of him" (verse 17). Now look, he's writing to
believers. And these
are believers that of course already know the Lord, obviously,
but what he's saying is, as Paul says in Romans, that he
prays that you might comprehend with all the saints 'that
you might comprehend with all the saints what is the height
and the depth and the width and the breadth of the love
of God towards us in Christ Jesus.'
Here he's saying 'You know, I pray that God will
give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the
knowledge of him, that you might understand what is the
hope of his calling and the riches of his inheritance' and
so forth. He's saying
that there's something now that also I want you to have--it
is beyond I.Q.,
I.Q. will do you no good, the person the world considers
brilliant [like Einstein or Stephen Hawking] has no more
of a chance of learning this information than someone who
just made it out of grade-school.
It has nothing to do with intellect.
It has nothing to do with your ability to graduate
from a university--it's by revelation, it's by enlightenment,
that the youngest child who has turned to Christ, a five
or six year old is entitled to this greater revelation about
what Christ has accomplished and still has waiting for us. Or the older saint, laying on his deathbed,
waiting to check out, has access to this information, by
revelation. So he asked God to give to the saints at Ephesus now this spirit
of wisdom, revelation and knowledge--and again, it's something
that we should pray for.
God has an incredible ability to give understanding
and knowledge and insight. Look at Solomon, the wisest man that had ever
lived. What he asked
for was a hearing heart.
He asked God for the ability to hear God's leading
and God's voice. And
he ended up to be the wisest man that ever lived. Now that was not from his father. His father was a shepherd. Solomon didn't learn about the migratory pattern
of animals, he didn't learn about photosynthesis, he didn't
learn--evidently he had an incredible knowledge about all
kinds of things given to him by revelation by God Almighty.
If you're getting ready to take your final exams
I think you should cram, but I think you should pray too,
because God can do amazing things. And here Paul says, 'I Paul,
pray that God will give you the spirit of wisdom and revelation
in the knowledge of him--the eyes of your understanding
(for those of you who don't have an NIV), says 'the eyes
of your heart being enlightened'. Now he makes a reference to the Gentiles, that
their understanding is darkened.
Here Paul says, 'Pray that the eyes of your understanding
would be enlightened, that you might know what is (first
of all) the hope of his calling--first thing he asks us
to know. Now by the
way, when you hear about the blessed hope, when the hope
of the believer, the hope of the church is mentioned--realize
that the hope that worldly men have differs in a way, because
a worldly person is--it's kind of a maybe
hope--I hope I hit the lottery this month, you know what
I mean? Or 'I hope
my mother-in-law is not coming for Thanksgiving Dinner '.
You know, 'I hope my kid makes it home the first
time I give him the car keys.'
You know, worldly people have a maybe
hope. But the hope of the church, the blessed
hope, is not that kind of hope.
It's not a maybe
hope. It is identifying an established fact, that
you are bound for glory.
You have been signed, sealed and delivered by
God Almighty. And his Spirit has sealed you into the
day of redemption. You
are on your way and that is the hope of his calling.
It is a fixed, an established fact in Eternity. "The
eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may
know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches
of the glory of his inheritance in the saints."
It began before the worlds were formed.
You didn't have anything to do with it.
So when we talk about the 'hope of his calling',
we have to realize this is a reality, this is not something,
you know, where I get saved, and God's saying 'Ok, I hope
you make it the rest of the way on your own, I hope your
gonna get here, hope to see you in heaven [to some: "in
the Kingdom of God at the resurrection to immortality"],
later.' It's not
that kind of hope. It's our hope because it's a reality. We hope it happens now. It's part of our thinking, it's
part of our planning. It's
part of our life. Death
[strangely enough] is part of our vocation.
As sons and daughters of God it tells us to walk
worthy of the vocation you've been called to. What we've been called to is to be the sons
and daughters of God. Part
of our vocation is dying, and passing out of this world. Now some of us will do it in an accident, some
of us in our old age and death, some of us are going to
do it in a trumpet blast, and will be reborn again in a
twinkling of an eye, as it were, physically [some denominations
and/or theologians believing we receive Spirit composed
bodies at this point--have to wait and see]. But that's part of our vocation. For you and I, death
does not interrupt, it's not going to interrupt my plans. You know, you look at people in the world, who
don't have this hope, and death is a tragedy because it
severs relationships with loved ones.
It destroys their plans for their future.
It takes everything away from them that they thought
to possess. And yet as a believer, first of all, death does
doesn't sever our relationships [sort of like when a close
friend is moving away and says] "see you in awhile." There's a reunion, there's no severing of relationships.
Second of all, it is not an interruption of my plans,
because I am planning on going there. It is part of my plans. It doesn't take everything away from me, because
like Paul says, 'We count it all as dung [all that we have
now] that we might get there, and knowing him.'
[And king David said in one of the Psalms that it was better to
be a door-keeper in the Kingdom
than someone who dies without hope.]
The stuff we're really hankering to get a hold of
is in eternity. So that's our hope, our calling. It's part of our vocation, it's
part of our life, it's established fact.
It isn't something that, 'Oh I hope I get there.I
hope it works out.I hope when it happens it's all true"--that's
not what it's talking about.
he says, 'he prays that through the spirit of wisdom and
revelation that you would understand what are the riches
of his--capital HIS, God's inheritance in you (the saints)',
which is an incredible thought. God is going to be happier when you get there.
You know, we spend most of our Christian experience
thinking 'Have fun, we'll be there soon', you know, like
we're going to ruin heaven a little bit when we get there. Well the Bible teaches the opposite. No wonder we need the Spirit of God to minister
these things to us. That
there are certain facets of God's glory that are still not
complete, again, that the angels, it tells us, long to look
into the things concerning the heirs of salvation.