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Sermon Outlines - Sermons From Ephesians - Paul's Prayer For The Ephesians (1:15-20)


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                     "THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS"
                Paul's Prayer For The Ephesians (1:15-20)
INTRODUCTION
1. We have seen Paul describe how richly blessed we are in Christ in the
   "doxology" of verses 3-14 in this first chapter of Ephesians.
2. Paul now proceeds to reveal what sort of things he has been praying 
   for on behalf the Ephesians...
   a. Paul does the same thing in his epistles to the Philippians and 
      Colossians - cf. Ph 1:9-11; Co 1:9-12
   b. In noticing such prayers, I find it helpful to remember that Paul
      is writing by inspiration
      1) I.e., the things mentioned were not just Paul's desire for his 
         readers, but the desire of God as well!
      2) And in most cases, what concerns are expressed in these prayers
         are just as applicable to us as they were to the original 
         recipients of these epistles
3. With that thought in mind (i.e., Paul's prayer is God's desire for us
   as well), let's take a close look at this prayer...
[Beginning with a recognition of their faith and love (verse 15) and a
mention of his unceasing thankfulness for them (verse 16), Paul then
states that in his prayers his concern for the Ephesians is...]
I. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW GOD (17)
   A. TO "KNOW" GOD IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE...
      1. More important than human wisdom, glory, or might - cf. Jer
         9:23-24
      2. It is eternal life itself! - Jn 17:3
      3. Failure to know God will lead to everlasting destruction! -
         2 Th 1:7-9
      -- Of course, we are speaking here of knowledge that comes through
         close and personal association, not casual awareness
   B. THIS KNOWLEDGE OF GOD COMES BY "A SPIRIT OF WISDOM AND
      REVELATION" (17)
      1. Paul could have reference here to either the Holy Spirit 
         Himself, or a spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit gives
      2. In either case, it likely refers to that process that was still
         going on in the first century, where the Spirit of truth was 
         guiding the apostles and early Christians into all the truth 
         (cf. Jn 16:13; 1 Jn 2:20,27)
      3. Today, we have the full and final revelation in the pages of 
         God's Word, where we can go to learn the truth about God (e.g.,
         cf. Ep 3:3-4)
[Do you "know" God?  Many people know "about" God, but it is God's will
that we come to know "Him".  Through the Word of God as we have it
today, you can allow  the "spirit of wisdom and revelation" give you
that "saving knowledge" of God Himself!
We now observe that Paul's concern for the Ephesians included their
"eyes being opened"...]
II. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE HOPE OF GOD'S CALLING (18a)
   A. IN CHRIST, WE HAVE BEEN "CALLED" BY GOD...
      1. This "calling" occurred through the preaching of the gospel -
         2 Th 2:14
      2. God is "calling" us into His own kingdom and glory - 1 Th 2:12
      3. We have been "called" out of darkness into God's marvelous
         light - 1 Pe 2:9
   B. PAUL'S DESIRE IS THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE "HOPE" OF THIS CALLING...
      1. The word "hope" means "desire with expectation"
      2. What is the expectant desire of this "calling" by God?
         a. Paul has already revealed some of this hope in verses 4-5
            1) To be holy and without blame
            2) To be adopted as sons
         b. Paul will reveal more about it later in the epistle - cf. 
            Ep 2:19-22
      3. In this way, Paul is helping to fulfill his own prayer by the 
         writing of this epistle
[Do we appreciate the "hope" of God's calling?  Again, it is through the
revealed Word of God (like this epistle to the Ephesians) that we are 
able to have our own eyes enlightened.  There is no reason for us to be 
ignorant of our wonderful "hope"!
In addition to their knowing the "hope of His calling", Paul prays...]
III. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE RICHES OF GOD'S INHERITANCE (18b)
   A. PAUL HAS ALREADY MADE REFERENCE TO...
      1. The fact that we were predestined to adoption as sons - Ep 1:5
      2. The fact that we have obtained an inheritance - Ep 1:11
      3. The fact that the Holy Spirit was given as a guarantee - Ep 
         1:14
   B. HE WILL WRITE MORE CONCERNING OUR "INHERITANCE" LATER ON...
      1. Speaking of the exceeding riches of God's grace in the ages to 
         come - Ep 2:7
      2. Speaking of how Gentiles can be "fellow heirs" - Ep 2:12-13;
         3:7
[Again we see how Paul by writing this epistle is attempting to help 
answer his own prayer for the Ephesians.
There is one more thing that Paul wanted the Ephesians, and if the way 
he elaborates is an indication of its importance then Paul more than all
else prayed...]
IV. THAT THEY MIGHT KNOW THE POWER OF GOD (19-20)
   A. A "POWER" DESCRIBED AS...
      1. Exceedingly great ("the exceeding greatness")
      2. Shown toward those who believe ("toward us who believe")
      3. In accordance with the same power that...
         a. Raised Jesus from the dead!
         b. Seated Him at the right hand of God in the "heavenly places"
            (cf. Ep 1:3)
      -- How can it be said that such power is available to us who 
         believe?  (The next section suggests how)
   B. CONCERNING THIS GREAT "POWER"...
      1. Paul gives an example in Ep 2:1-6
         a. We who were "dead in trespasses" (2:1-3) were "made alive"
            (4-5) and "raised up" (6)
         b. I.e., in Christ we who were spiritually dead have been made 
            spiritually alive - cf. Co 2:12-13
         c. This may not sound as impressive as being raised from the 
            dead physically (as Jesus was), but it cannot happen without
            the same sort of Divine Power!
         d. As Jesus said when He raised the paralytic, "Which is 
            easier...?" - Mt 9:2-8
            1) To raise the sick (and the dead), or to forgive sins (and
               make the spiritually dead spiritually alive)?
            2) Both require Divine Power!
      2. Paul speaks of its source in Ep 3:16
         a. It is through God's Spirit in the inner man that we can be 
            "strengthened with might"
         b. Just as we were "renewed" by the Spirit upon our baptism - 
            Jn 3:5; Ti 3:5
         c. So we can be strengthened by the Spirit in our daily battles
            against sin - Ro 8:12-13
      3. Paul speaks of its greatness in Ep 3:20
         a. It comes from Him (God) "who is ABLE to do"
         b. With ability that is "exceedingly", "abundantly", "above 
            all" that we ask or think!
         c. Such ability is "according to the power that works IN us" 
            - cf. Ep 3:16 ("through His Spirit in the inner man")
      4. Finally, Paul charges the Ephesians to stand strong in this 
         power in Ep 6:10ff
         a. By putting on the "armor of God" - Ep 6:11a
         b. For we are in a battle against the devil and his forces - 
            Ep 6:11a-13 (dare we fight this battle dependent upon our 
            own strength alone?)
         c. The "armor of God" described - Ep 6:14-18
CONCLUSION
1. It appears that Paul followed that saying "Pray as though it all 
   depends upon God, but work as though it all depends upon you!"
   a. For while he prayed for the Ephesians that they might know...
      1) God
      2) The hope of God's calling
      3) The riches of God's inheritance
      4) The power of God
   b. Paul takes it upon himself (with the aid of inspiration, of 
      course) to write of these things in this epistle
2. How is our knowledge of God, the hope of His calling, His riches, His
   power?
   a. Certainly it is God's will that we increase in our understanding, 
      appreciation, and application of these blessings!
   b. With the help of God's Word, especially a book like Ephesians, we
      can grow in all these things!
But before growth can occur, there must be life.  Have you been "made 
alive together with Christ"? - cf. Ep 2:5-6; Co 2:12-13
 

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