The Light and Life of His Calling!
Reading: Ephesians Ch. 1v15-19
Heart problems abound in our culture. In a society as fast-paced as ours, heart problems are inevitable. C. H. Spurgeon said: “I am a foreigner even in England and as such I mean to act. We are simply passing through this world and should bless it in our transit but never yoke ourselves to its affairs.” Matthew Henry said, “This world is our passage but not our portion.” The old Holiness preacher Bud Robinson who was shown the sights of New York by some friends as he knelt to pray that evening said, “Thank you, Lord, for letting me see New York, most of all I thank you that I did not see anything that I wanted!” Blessed are those who remain as unaffected as that with this modern world. It’s a heart thing is it not?
1. A Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation! v15-18a.
But there is another kind of heart problem which; is even bigger. You may call it blindness of the heart. You may have never heard of this problem, but I can assure you it does exist. In fact, it exists universally among non-believers, and is too often found among believers. Many have hearts that cannot see. Unfortunately, they are like Rose Crawford, who had been blind for 50 years. She had her sight restored in a delicate surgical procedure in an Ontario hospital. But she could have seen twenty years earlier. There were techniques, which had been developed that made twenty years of blindness unnecessary. Sadly, she hadn't known. She wept for joy when she could see, but she had suffered twenty years of blindness needlessly. If only someone had told her. Did you know that the heart could see? In our text, this is what Paul prays for us. He prays that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened” (Eph.Ch2v18). Did you know your heart had eyes? It does. Unless you learn to see with the eyes of your heart, you will never really see Jesus, as you should. Paul’s deepest desire for the believers is that have wisdom and revelation. When Jesus was on this earth He often said, “He that hath ears to hear let him hear what the Spirit saith.” Also, as told by John in the book of the Revelation, when writing to the churches, John was instructed to remind the saints, “He that hath an ear to here, let him hear what the Spirit saith to the Churches.”
Until now, Paul has been describing who we are and what we possess in Christ. From verse 3 through 14, we have 203 words sentence. It is as if Paul began to describe the richness found in Christ and could find nowhere to stop. He piles word upon word in an attempt to do justice to the richness of Christ's grace. And now we come to a place where he launches forth in a prayer that we might see what he's been describing. It is as if he somehow knows that mere human language can never describe adequately the glory of Christ. He knows we really need to see these truths. And he knows that all that we need is found in Jesus Christ. Already he has told us that Christ is the sum of all things. And now he prays “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. Ch.2v17). To accomplish this, he prays that we might experience a revelation that will bring us to a deep and intimate knowledge of Him. He prays that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. He desires that the light of God's revelation may shine on your souls so that you may know all that God has done for you, in you, and through you.
Intellectual understanding of Christ is not enough. Alfred North Whitehead once commented, "A merely well-informed man is the most useless bore on God's earth." We need more than intellectual understanding. We need to really see. We need to see because we need hope in a hopeless world. We need resources for our spiritual poverty. We need power to live. These things are all found in Christ. And we must see that with our hearts if we would truly see.
He speaks of the eyes of our heart. The heart in Scripture is the seat of the will, intellect, and emotions. The mind informs, but the emotions, experience.
An increase in speculative knowledge in divinity is not what is so much needed by our people as something else. Men may abound in this sort of light and have no heart ... Our people do not so much need to have their heads turned as to have their hearts touched, and they stand in the greatest need of that sort of preaching which has the greatest tendency to do this.
Jonathan Edwards in Religious Affections.
A heart in every thought renewed
And full of love divine
Perfect and right and pure and good
A copy, Lord, of thine
Charles Wesley, 18th century Methodist hymn writer.
What we are being told here is that we need to experience the wonder and the thrill of knowing Jesus better. We are told that the purpose of this revelation is that we come to the knowledge of Him. The word for knowledge here is a compound Greek word which means "intimate knowledge." In Eph.Ch.1v18 the word for know means "to know by experience." In other words, we need to experience Jesus. The old hymn says, "All that thrills my soul is Jesus."
Our souls need to be thrilled in Jesus. We need to experience personally the joy and glory found in Christ. It is much like music, or a sunset, or a delicious diner. You can represent these things logically and analytically if you so choose. A musical score, for instance, is the mathematical representation for music. A marvelous concerto; or symphony can be represented by the notes on a page. Or you can represent music by means of an audio-scope where you can analyze the varying wavelengths of sound, but this is not experiencing music. Looking at notes on a page doesn't thrill you like being surrounded by a full orchestra soaring to the heights.
Likewise, you can describe color mathematically. But you must see color to really know how orange looks. You can describe taste anatomically. You can describe the chemical reactions, which, occur when we bite into a lemon. But you will never experience the pungent sour taste of a lemon until you bite into one yourself.
We can describe God theologically. We can list His attributes, and describe His work in creation and redemption. But unless we experience God ourselves, we will never truly know Him. "Taste and see that the Lord is good," says Psalm Ch.34v8. This is what we need. This is what Paul calls us to in this passage. We must open our minds and our hearts to what God has to say to us. We do not merely need to open our minds and hearts for the sake of opening them.
G. K. Chesterton once described H. G. Wells as someone who "reacted too swiftly to everything." He said about Wells, "I think he thought that the object of opening the mind is simply opening the mind. Whereas I am incurably convinced that the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." End Quote!
2. The Hope Of his Calling! v18b.
And we do indeed have something solid on which to shut our minds and hearts. Paul prays that we would have a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him that our hearts might see the hope, the riches, and the power, which are ours in Christ. Seeing the revelation of who we are and what we have been given in Christ is what makes the difference in how we will live. Paul prays that we “know what is the hope of His calling” (Eph.Ch.1v18b). It should be apparent that we desperately need hope in a hopeless world.
A number of years ago, off the coast of Massachusetts, a ship rammed an S-4, submarine. The submarine sank before anyone could escape. The entire crew was trapped. Ships rushed to the scene of the disaster, but there was nothing any of them could do. They were forced to watch and wait. Divers were sent down to evaluate the tragic situation. One man put his helmeted ear against the vessel and listened for any sounds. What he heard was someone tapping in Morse code. Because he knew Morse code he could decipher the message. It was this: "Is - there – any -- hope?"
To those people trapped in that submarine that question had become an eternal question. But for all of us, it really is an eternal question. We need hope. At times life looks so completely dark and bleak that we virtually despair of hope.
Some people have no hope. Vincent Donovan was a missionary among the nomadic Masai people of East Africa. The Masai were victims of intense cruelty at the hands of Arab slave-traders and their European backers. The last stop on the mainland before they were carried abroad for slavery was, given a name by this proud people. They called it Bagamoyo. Bagamoyo comes from two words: bwaga, which means, "to throw or put down," and moyo, which means, "heart." As these people were captured far inland, they were then driven to the coast toward Zanzibar. They sailed from Bagamoyo, where they "put down their hearts" - with no hope for freedom. Donovan also discovered that the Masai language has no future tense. For people without hope, there's no need to think of the future. Why think of the future when there's no hope for change.
The Masai are not the only people who have felt totally hopeless. But Christians need never feel that way. For us there is hope! For us there is a bright tomorrow! God in Christ has assured us of it. But we do not need to despair of hope. We have a hope in Christ. It is the hope of His calling. What is His calling? It is who we are in Christ. The Bible teaches us that He has called us with a high calling (Philippians Ch.3v14), a holy calling (2 Timothy Ch.1v9), and a heavenly calling (Hebrews Ch. 3v1). It is the calling described in Romans Ch.8v28-30: "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son."
In other words, God has called us to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is who we are in Christ. This is who we are becoming in Christ. We are being changed to be like Christ, because He lives in us. It is a calling, which is sure. In fact, Romans Ch.11v29 says that this calling cannot be changed: "For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." God began the work in us and God will carry it on to completion. 1 Thessalonians Ch.5v24 says, "Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass." In Philippians Ch.1v6 we read, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus." In Christ we are secure. The future is full of hope for the believer, because we have been called; by a God who will not let anything deter Him from bringing us fully mature into the image of Christ.
Many years ago, 1951 to be exact, King George VI of England addressed the British Commonwealth on New Year's Eve at a moment in history when the whole world stood on the brink of uncertainty. Despondency and uncertainty filled the air. The king's own body was racked by cancer. Before the New Year, 1952, was over, his life ended. Unaware of his own physical maladies, he uttered these memorable words: "I said to the man at the gate of the year, 'Give me a light that I might walk safely into the unknown.' And he said to me, 'Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. It shall be to you safer than the light and better than the known.' " (Minnie Louise Harkins 1875-1957).
3. The Riches Of His Inheritance! v18c.
God wants us to know of the riches of His inheritance. Some people only measure riches in terms of material possessions. I heard of a pastor who said, "My car is so rusty, I need a tetanus shot to drive it." But true riches are not material. God has not only shown us who we are in Christ, He has also shown us what we possess in Christ. We possess "all spiritual blessings" in Christ (v. 3). We possess "an inheritance" in Christ (vv. 11-12). Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have all co-operated in this effort. The Father has chosen us and predestined us. The Son has redeemed us by His blood and forgiven us. The Spirit has sealed us and guaranteed us an inheritance. We are already rich indeed in Christ.
Warren Wiersbe tells the story of William Randolph Hearst's desire to acquire a valuable piece of art. It seems he had read about this piece of art and determined he had to have it. He sent his agent to scour the world to find this art. After the agent had searched for months, he finally reported that he had found the treasure. It was in a warehouse owned by Mr. Hearst it was already his! Had he taken the time to read a list of the treasures he owned, he would have found that he already possessed what he wanted.
We must begin to experience the inheritance we already have in Christ.
But not only has God given us an inheritance, He has made us an inheritance. Our text talks about His inheritance in the saints. Our inheritance is found in Christ. God's inheritance is found in the saints. In other words, God has given Christ to us and us to Christ. We are His people. We are agents of the kingdom; God has given us to the world, and also to one another. He has gifted us for ministry, and will use us to display His power and glory. He delights in us as we reach out our hands to minister in His name.
A hospital visitor once saw a nurse tending to the sores of a leprosy patient, and said, "I'd never do that for a million dollars!" The nurse replied, "Neither would I. But I do it for Jesus for nothing." Only the riches of the grace of God enables ministry like that. These are riches money can't buy.
I counted all my dollars while God counted crosses;
I counted gains while he counted losses;
I counted my worth by the things gained in store,
But he sized me up by the scars that I bore.
I coveted honours and sought for degrees;
He wept as He counted the hours on my knees.
I never knew till one day by a grave
How vain are the things that we spend life to save.
I did not know till a friend went above
That richest is he who is rich in God's love.
Craig Randall drives a garbage truck in Peabody, Massachusetts. In a garbage container one day, he noticed a Wendy's soft drink cup bearing a contest sticker. Having won a chicken sandwich the week before, Randall checked it, hoping the sticker would reveal another prize of some French fries or a soft drink. Instead, he peeled a sticker worth $200,000 which he gladly put toward the construction of a new home, reports U.S. News and World Report (11/6/95).
What we get out of life depends a lot on what we look for. Are we more likely to see each experience as trash or a potential treasure?
Bob Weniger, Ft. Collins, Colorado, Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 2.
Have we yet fully understood the wonder and amazement of what our precious inheritance in Christ really is? We should take time to consider it fully!
4. The Greatness Of His Power! v19.
Now, in order to live lives, which reveal our inheritance, we must have power beyond our own. So we are not only told who we are in Christ, whose we are, and what riches we have, we are told whose power operates within us. Part of Paul's prayer is that we would see His power. We do not have to face life in our own strength. God has directed His power toward us who believe. And it is in this power that we find the strength to live. We do not have to be exasperated with our own impotence. God has not called us to live in our own power. He has called us to rely upon His power. Our power is not enough. Our power frustrates us. Thank God we do not have to live in our power. It is power that we already have. God causes His power to work in us, as we trust Him by faith. Like a lamp plugged into an electrical outlet, the power is there, all we need to do is turn it on. And faith is the switch, which, turns on the power.
You may right now be saying to yourself, well, I really do not fully understand all of this well, I don’t understand all there is to know about electricity but I do not intend to sit in the dark until I do.
I do not understand how a black cow can eat green grass and give white milk but I still like ice-cream.
That is why Paul prays for our enlightenment. Only as we begin to see these things by faith will we walk in them. Only as we begin to see who we are in Christ will we hold our head up high. Only as we begin to see whose we are, and what God has given us in Christ will we begin to enjoy what we have. And only as we begin to see whose power we have will we begin to function on the level of that power.
Do you see what seeing with the eyes of the heart can do for you? Seeing the revelation of the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe will meet several basic needs we all have. We all need hope in this hopeless world. In Christ we have that hope. He has called us with an irrevocable calling. The future is secure. We all need resources for life. In Christ we have an inheritance. We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. He has gifted us. He has equipped us. All we need is found in Him. And we need power for living. Our lack of power is overcome by exchanging our power for His power. He has given us all we need. We stand complete in Him.
A fellow who had been reared in the city bought a farm and several milk cows. In the feed store one day he complained his best cow had gone dry.
"Aren't you feeding her right?" asked the store owner.
"I'm feeding her what you've been selling me," said the man.
"Are you milking her everyday?"
"Just about, if I need six or eight ounces of milk for breakfast, I go out and get it. If I don't need any, I don't get it--I just let her save it up."
The feed store owner had to explain it doesn't work that way. With cow's milk, like God's presence, you take all that's there, or you eventually have nothing. Asking for God's power in six-ounce doses, or asking sporadically only at our convenience, may mean that for us, the source dries up.