Ephesians 1:17

Sermon preached on February 5, 2006 by Laurence W. Veinott. Copyright 2006. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.newlifeop.org/.

I once bought a CD collection of J. S. Bach Cantatas. It had three CD's in the package. There was supposed to be disc 1, disc 2 and disc 3. But instead of that it had two disc threes and one disc two. There was no disc one. It was packaged incorrectly. So I sent it back to the place where I bought it and they sent me a new one. But the new one was just the same as the old one. It had two disc 3's and no disc 1. So I decided to write the company and see if they would send me the missing disc. But they never bothered to answer. They don't care about their customers. They reminded me of those companies you call on the phone and the recording says that your call is important to them and then after you go through a few minutes of listening to menu options you get to another recording that says the average wait time today is 2 hours and 45 minutes.

I hate dealing with companies like that. But I love dealing with companies that will take care of you. Don't you love dealing with a company like
L. L. Bean? They love their customers. They want their customers to be happy. If you have a problem with something you bought from them—they'll take care of you. If you go to their website they have a picture of a sign that Mr. Bean hung in his shop in 1916. It said,

"Notice. I do not consider a sale complete until goods are worn out and customer still satisfied."

Even today they have a notice on their website that says,

"Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise."

And you know, those aren't just words. They back it up. You know you can depend on them. You can buy from them with confidence. It's good to know about companies like that—you know you can trust them, depend on them.

But knowing about L. L. Bean is not the most important thing in the world. Knowing about L. L. Bean can only help you in one situation—when you're buying something. But in our text the apostle Paul tells us the most important thing that we as Christians need—something that will help us in all circumstances of life. He tells us that

what we Christians need, more than anything else, is to know God the Father better.

Paul wrote,

"I keep asking that
the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,
may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may know him better."

Your great need is to know God the Father better. That's what Paul desired for the Ephesians. Knowing God the Father—that's what we need. There is nothing more helpful, more profitable than that. The first request that Paul makes for the Ephesians is that they may know the Father better.

But the great question is:

How does one come to know God the Father better?

J. I. Packer has a great little book entitled, "Knowing God". It's a great book. I'd highly recommend it. It's excellent. But you can read that book and still not know God. But that's not anything against Packer or his book. You can study the Bible and still not know God.

Indeed, have you ever noticed that some people who have lots of head knowledge of the Bible, of biblical doctrine—aren't very nice people? Have you ever known someone like that? I've known people who know Scripture, who can quote it; who know biblical doctrine, who are correct in their beliefs—yet I wouldn't want to be like them. They're not kind, they're not nice, they're not considerate, they don't treat their wives well. They're proud, they're self-centered.

But of course I don't just want to pick on other people because I've experienced some of that. I don't know if I ever told you that before I went to seminary I thought it was going to be a great, wonderful, spiritually enriching experience. I was going to go to a great, reformed seminary, I would be learning all this great theology and I would be around some of the most godly men in the world.

All those things were true. But do you know what I found when I got there? Even though all those things were true—
I had to fight against spiritual barrenness. How could that be? I was learning all this great doctrine. I was around all these people who knew so much about the Bible, so much about theology. They were godly people. So why didn't I find it so spiritually fulfilling? Part of the reason could have been that I was working, studying too hard. I was focused on head knowledge. It wasn't because there is something wrong with knowledge in itself. Part of Paul's prayer here is that the Ephesians would grow in knowledge. And in Philippians 1:9 we read what Paul prayed for the Philippians,

"And this is my prayer:
that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight,"

And in Colossians 2:2 Paul wrote,

"My purpose is
that they may be encouraged in heart
and united in love,
so that they may have the full riches
of complete understanding,
in order that they may know the mystery of God,
namely, Christ,"

So knowledge is not something that is bad in itself. John Stott writes on what our passage teaches us. (God's New Society, p. 54)

"Growth in knowledge is indispensable to growth in holiness."

But knowledge needs to be more than mere head knowledge. Mere head knowledge might even be harmful. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 8:1,

"Knowledge puffs up,
but love builds up."

We need more than mere head knowledge. We need God to reveal Himself, for God to work in our lives, to have that knowledge transform us and fill us with wonder, awe, trust and praise.

The first thing we should see is that

in order to know God better, we need God to reveal Himself.

Remember how Moses asked God to show him His glory? Moses couldn't see it without God revealing it.

We see the same thing here. What does Paul want us to know—it's not knowledge in itself—He wants us to be granted the Spirit of
wisdom and revelation—so that we can know God the Father better. The second Greek word that he uses is 'apokalupsis' which you all know from the book of Revelation. It refers to the revelation of truth. The point is that God needs to reveal these things to us. This is something that rests with God and that God gives. Otherwise Paul would not be praying to God for it.

When Paul mentions the 'Spirit of wisdom and revelation' here, He's talking about the Holy Spirit. Although it is true that the word 'spirit' is sometimes used in Scripture to refer to a mental state, like in 1 Corinthians 4:21, where Paul refers to a 'spirit of meekness' and in 2 Corinthians 413 referring to 'the same spirit of faith'—a reference to the Holy Spirit is to be preferred because He is everywhere recognized in Scripture as the source of all correct knowledge. In John 15:26 He is called the, "Spirit of truth" and in 1 Corinthians 2 it is the Spirit who reveals the wisdom of God. Thus the reference here is to the Holy Spirit. He is the spirit of wisdom and revelation.

The goal is not knowledge in itself—the goal is knowing the Father. Knowledge is only one means to the goal. It's a means that needs to be accompanied by other things. Paul refers to the Spirit of '
wisdom'. The Greek word that Paul uses is the word, 'sophia'- which means, (BDAG)

"the capacity to understand and function accordingly"

It's not enough just to have head knowledge—we need to have it translated into wisdom, that we would realize the implications of such knowledge and live accordingly.

If you're going to know God, you need to depend on God to reveal Himself to you. You need to approach this study with the greatest awe and wonder, with the greatest humility—for in this study God Himself reveals Himself to you. As
Charles Hodge writes on the word 'apokalupsis'

"It is that manifestation of the nature or excellence of the things of God,"

There is nothing greater than that. Think of it—God revealing Himself to you. Praise Him, stand in awe. Glorify His great name.

Secondly, if you want to know God the Father better, Paul tells us that

you need to think of Him in terms of His relationship to Jesus.

Who is God the Father. What is He like? Paul describes Him as,

"the God of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the glorious Father,"

There are two things here we should note.

First- it's only through Jesus that we come to the Father.

Indeed, you could look at Jesus' work from this perspective—to bring us to the Father and to make Him known to us. In John 14:6-7 Jesus said,

"I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me.
If you really knew me,
you would know my Father as well.
From now on,
you do know him and have seen him."

Jesus is the only way to the Father. Jesus came to bring us to the Father. We see the same teaching in Matthew 11:27 where Jesus said,

"No one knows the Son except the Father,
and no one knows the Father except the Son
and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

The Son reveals the Father to us. In John 15:15 Jesus said,

"I no longer call you servants,
because a servant
does not know his master's business.
Instead, I have called you friends,
for everything that I learned from my Father
I have made known to you."

Then in John 14:23 Jesus said,

"If anyone loves me,
he will obey my teaching.
My Father will love him,
and we will come to him
and make our home with him."

Through Jesus the Father makes His home in us. In John 17:21 in His great high priestly prayer, Jesus taught the same thing. He prayed,

"that all of them may be one, Father,
just as you are in me and I am in you.
May they also be in us
so that the world may believe
that you have sent me."

In Hebrews 2:13 we read that Jesus will one day say,

"Here am I,
and the children God has given me."

Now all these verses teach us that Jesus work was to bring us to God the Father.

Secondly, we should understand that He's the God of Jesus. He is the glorious Father.

Simpson writes that this phrase,

"must not be construed in detraction of the Deity of the Son, but in the light of His mediatorial subordination to the Father."

Jesus is truly and fully God. But, in order for us to know the glorious Father, we should consider His relationship to Jesus, for we are in a similar relationship to the Father because we are in Jesus. John Calvin writes,

"The Son of God became man in such a manner, that God was his God as well as ours. 'I ascend,' says he, 'to my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.' (John 20:17) And the reason why he is our God, is, that he is the God of Christ, whose members we are."

How the Father loved Jesus! You'll remember the voice from heaven that declared, (Matthew 3:17)

"This is my Son,
whom I love;
with him I am well pleased."

For our purposes what we should understand is that the Father took care of the Son.

The Father took care of Jesus. Remember just before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead He said, (John 11:41-42)

I thank you that you have heard me.
I knew that you always hear me,"

Jesus relied on the power of the Father.

Remember after He fasted for 40 days and He was hungry—the devil tempted Jesus and told Him to make the stones into bread. He was trying to get Jesus to stop trusting in the Father and His power.

But Jesus trusted in His Father and never waived because He knew His Father was the Father of glory. He is true to His promises. The Father sent Jesus. Jesus came to do the Father's will. The Father was going to take care of Him and see Him through until His mission was completed. Every step of the way Jesus, even though He was facing the most hostile and cruel enemy—trusted in His glorious Father.

We have another example in Luke 8:22f. We read,

"One day Jesus said to his disciples,
Let's go over to the other side of the lake.
So they got into a boat and set out.
As they sailed, he fell asleep.
A squall came down on the lake,
so that the boat was being swamped,
and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying,
'Master, Master,
we're going to drown!'

Now what do you think of their reaction? It's quite natural, quite normal. One would also think that it exactly met the need of the situation. They seemed to be in great danger so they woke Jesus up.

But it's interesting how Jesus reacted. We read that He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters and that the storm subsided, and all became calm. Do you remember what Jesus said to His disciples then? He said, (verse 25)

"Where is your faith?"

He rebuked them. They didn't act correctly. Their actions were not consistent with great faith. They shouldn't have been terrified.

Or think about
Jesus before Pilate with suffering and the cross looming in front of Him—the agony of facing the Father's wrath. He was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. He did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53) Remember how surprised Pilate was when Jesus refused to answer him. He said, (John 19:10)

"Do you refuse to speak to me?
Don't you realize I have power
either to free you or to crucify you?"

Jesus replied,

"You would have no power over me
if it were not given to you from above."

Jesus trusted the Father completely, implicitly. He knew He was the glorious Father.

Now what this means for you is that way God wants you to behave is totally different than most people behave, than what we think is natural or normal.

You should have such wisdom and knowledge of God that you will be unmoved in any situation.

That's what Paul prayed for the Ephesians. The Father with whom we have to do is the One who dwells in light inaccessible. (1 Timothy 6:16) He is the glorious Father, who is righteous and holy, who cannot desert us, who cannot let His promises fail. He is the One with absolute power.

Peter O'Brien writes,

"Recent study of the titles for God (or Christ) in the New Testament confessions and prayers has shown that these have often been chosen because of their particular appropriateness to the content of the prayer, word of praise, or confession. So, for example, in his introductory eulogy of 2 Corinthians 1, Paul, who praises God for the consolation and comfort he has received, calls him 'the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort' (2 Cor. 1:3; cf. Rom. 15:5 with v. 4). Other examples could be added. The titles for God in petitionary prayers often highlight some aspect of his character or saving activity that is especially appropriate to the content of the request. It is as if the prayer address is asserting: God's grace, power, and glory are unlimited; he is more than adequate to meet our needs. Here in Ephesians 1 the title 'Father of glory' has special reference to the petition of vv. 17–19 (see below). Accordingly, the full wording of the address in Ephesians 1:17 points in two directions: the first, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, looks back with confident assurance to the eulogy, while the second, the predicate 'the Father of glory', focuses on the petitionary prayer with its request for knowledge and wisdom, hope, glory, and power."

The following requests in Ephesians 1 have to do with the Ephesians realizing the full extent of the spiritual blessings that they have in Christ. The God of Jesus is our God. Just as He took care of Jesus He is going to take care of us. He is the Father of glory.

Psalm 29:1f,

"Ascribe to the LORD,
O mighty ones,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.
Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness.
The voice of the LORD is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the LORD thunders over the mighty waters.
The voice of the LORD is powerful;
the voice of the LORD is majestic."

Lastly, if you're not in Christ. What this passage shows you is that more than anything you need to know God. You need to know His salvation. You need to know His power. You need to know His Son. Without these things you will be lost.

Jesus came and died! He did it to forgive our sins, to bring us to God, to make us safe in Him forever. How can you refuse? He offers you life. Life rather than death. Go to Jesus now.