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Prayer for the Saints

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
December 17, 2020 7:00 am

Prayer for the Saints

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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December 17, 2020 7:00 am

Consider your closest relationships. The people who we know and love most are the ones who we wish to please, hate to see suffer and love spending time with. Did you know that God desires to have a relationship with us that is just as personal? In this message from Dr. Boice, well learn what it means to truly know God.

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Consider your closest relationships with people we know and love most are the ones we wish to please hate to see suffering. Love spending time with. Did you know that God desires to have a relationship with us. That's just his personal in this message from Dr. James Boyce will learn what it means to truly know God thanks for joining us for the Bible study our welcome to the Bible study hour with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act biblically when Paul wrote to the Ephesians, he included a prayer for them all the things the great church leader could pass on their behalf chose to make one simple request. Let's listen together and learn what Paul prayed and why it was so important. One of the objections that Calvinists most here against their understanding of biblical teaching. Perhaps the most common of all objections is this if God is sovereign and if he orders everything according to his own perfect will and pleasure, then what is the point of praying for anything medevac.

What's the point of doing anything why witness why do good works. I do anything at all.

If what is going to happen is going to happen anyway.

Then why should we just sit back and let God work well. One answer right answer to that is that although God is sovereign. Although he does order all things according to his perfect will. As the Bible teaches, he nevertheless does so through means and one of those means is prayer and so is witnessing good works, and other things God works through means and therefore it is as correct to say is James does in his first letter, you do not have because you do not ask God as it is to say the will of God is not proper to say without understanding that if we do not pray we will not receive the means or not use the results will not follow.

Just as it is also true to say God does accomplish his purposes. I suppose there is no teaching more evident in this first chapter of Ephesians and that because here is a case where the basic outline of the chapter.

The most fundamental division of this material makes precisely that point first portion of this chapter that long sentence beginning in verse three and continuing through verse 14 stresses God's sovereignty. In the second half of this chapter with no consciousness whatsoever of any contradiction. Paul nevertheless prays that that which God is doing might continue in the lives of the Ephesians.

Matter fact, he even links it up because the phrase that begins verse 15 times the prayer to what is gone before Paul says, for this very reason. I pray see in Paul's way of thinking the sovereignty of God in all things was not a discouragement for prayer was the only really valid encouragement because he knew that God would accomplish his purpose in the lives of the Ephesians that he prayed for them. This prayer is interesting in the Greek it has typical Greek construction. There's a statement which Paul says what he is praying for and then this statement is followed by a purpose clause that indicates why he is praying for Latinos this twice. Verse 17 he says that he is asking that God will give the Ephesians. The spirit of wisdom and revelation that explains why it's an order that they might know him better. That is, that they might know God. Verses 18 and 19 does the same thing all over again as he prays that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened in order that they may know three things the hope which is called them the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and is incomparably great power for us who believe knowledge is the theme that ties all these verses together. The dominant idea is the one that occurs first, namely that the Christians in Ephesus might as Paul says no God better I think is a great need for this today as there obviously was in Paul's time.

Some years ago I was in a question and answer. For certain group that was meeting and I was asked in the context of that question and answer.

What I considered to be the greatest need of evangelical church in America today was a timely moment for me to be asked that question.

I've never been asked before. I had been working on the attributes of God and I had that in my mind. I think it might been asked that question several years before I might've said something like, well faithfulness to the word of God. Biblical teaching more demonstrable love in the Christian community or some such thing.

But on this occasion because of the way God had been reading my own thought I replied with an answer which I have not seen any recent change in all the years that have come since that question I said in my judgment the single greatest need of evangelical church in America today is the Christians might know God. The reason for that is that we have such superficial knowledge, even of biblical things to mention the superficial knowledge of God as he is in himself suicidal for so much less some people settle for what virtually amounts to ignorance ladies saying I have no other argument I have no other plea.

I only know that Jesus died and that he died for Mabel. That's all very good and yet if you don't desire to know anything more than that.

That's the equivalent of saying that you want to go to heaven ignorantly.

Some people settle for mere biblical knowledge. Again, that's a good thing. It's the basis for everything else. It's on the basis of what God reveals to us in the Scriptures that we know him as possible to Noah great deal about the Bible and have very little wisdom in spiritual things carry it a step forward. Some are satisfied with knowing about God again. That's good that there is a marvelous thing that is the thing which we come if we study the Bible faithfully.

It's the equivalent of becoming a theologian of sorts.

It's great to know these things the same time it's possible to know about God without knowing God, and that's the same thing as saying it is possible to be a theologian and still not be saved. See what all is desiring is a we might know God himself somewhat surprising to find this one looks of the apostle Paul because naturally it was from the apostle Paul that the Ephesians had learned all that they did know about God which we must understand was substantial teaching a lot of it's in this letter, the lot of us in chapter 1 we just go back a few verses. Here we find that Paul is teaching.

In short, scope a great deal about God he's teaching that he is the creator's teaching that he rules all things in a providential way that he is the author of salvation in the sense that he planned elected certain people to salvation before the foundation of the world that he accomplished that in history through the work of Jesus Christ that he directs through the Holy Spirit and the calling of men and women to faith in himself, but was talked about predestination and glorification in sanctification and adoption. And he's even reminded the Christian of the end when all things are going to be brought together in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ and the is going to submit all things to the father and God is going to be all in all it's a great deal of theology.

That is a whole seminary coursework of theology, so it would turn to Paul in St. Paul. We don't understand what you're talking about here, you pray that the Christians in Ephesus might know God, but look at all you pop them about God.

You mean to say that you can teach them properly or that they didn't get what you taught. Or perhaps you mean to say this somewhere there's a kind of hidden esoteric wisdom like in the Greek mystery religions which is yet to be revealed. Paul would replied no you just misunderstand me.

At this point I'm not talking about knowledge about God, though undoubtedly does a great deal more about God that all of us need to know including the Ephesians but I'm talking about the knowledge of God himself.

That's what I'm praying for.

I want them to know God better.

What is it mean to know God that's not such an easy question to answer.

Medevac whole books have been written about it. One of these books knowing God. The British scholar JI Packer suggests these three elements.

First, he says. Knowing God is a matter of personal dealing matter of dealing with him as he opens up to you and of being dealt with by him as he takes knowledge of you. Second, Packer says. Knowing God is a matter of personal involvement in mind, will, and feeling the believer rejoices when God is honored and vindicated, and he feels the cutest distress what he sees God flouted equally.

The Christian feel shame and grief when convicted of having failed as Lord. 30 says.

Knowing God is a matter of grace. It's a relationship in which the initiative throughout is with God, as it must be since God is so completely above us and we have so completely forfeited all claim on his favor by our sins, but this means you see in the last analysis is that the crucial idea is not so much our knowledge of God though that follows naturally but God's knowledge of us which is precisely what the apostle Paul is been stressing in this chapter, God sends his love upon us. God knows us. God chooses us personally, individually, one by one and because of that, as a result of his grace, that we on our part, are able to come to know him in a personal way that we do. We have come to him through faith in Jesus Christ. That is something we also grow in as we continue in the Christian life.

Now the second time. The apostle Paul speaks of the content of his prayers for the Ephesians seat shifts the ground somewhat or change the focus first time through.

In verse 17 he prayed that they might have the spirit of wisdom so they might know God better the second time he prays that they might have understanding in order that they might know just gone in himself, but something about that salvation which is made available to us. He spells it out. There are three terms, prays we might know the hope to achieve.

Called us the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his in comparably great power to us who believe at first one is interesting what Paul does in that phrase when he speaks of the hope to which he is called us is linked together the two important words. Hope and call that's important to say because Paul is been talking about the call of God all along and now it's as if he wants to say that I called us not to be understood is something abstract or general as if to use an image God was simply calling out to us in the fall.

We couldn't see him or anything about us or know where were going, but rather the call of God is true. Something in for something. When we begin to get that in mind we look back over the previous chapter, we find it every time he mentions the call of God always has object. It's a direction which that call sends us were called. He says in verse four in order that we might be holy and blameless in his sight.

He says further on that he calls us in order that we might have the adoption of sons and finally in the last paragraph of that opening section that we might be called to the praise of his glory. In every case, you see, this is looking to that which, in part, we have now, which is to be fulfilled in great measure hereafter that is the Christian hope see the Christian according to this definition is determined not so much by that for which he is, but by that to which he is going because we see believers in that light simply changes the way we look at other people within the Christian community Martin Lloyd Jones in his commentary tells the story of Philip Henry, who was the father of the great Bible commentator writer Matthew Henry Philip Henry in a certain young lady were in love with one another, but there was a difficulty in the relationship, and that he came from, what, at that time was regarded as a lower level of society and she came from what was regarded as a higher level of society. She was a Christian and saw things differently. It wasn't an obstacle to her, but it was an obstacle to her parents.

They sought as a barrier to the marriage on occasion when they were talking about it. They said to him, this Philip Henry sheep come from which this woman to become eventually the mother of Matthew Henry gave the immortal reply. She said I don't know where it comes from but I know where he is going and so it is using the knowledge of where we're going when marching to Zion were going to become like the Lord Jesus Christ in all respects that transforms things so we don't see other believers in the sense after the flesh anymore, but we see them in terms of what they are being made spiritually in Jesus Christ may say that this knowledge of our hope gives us certainty as well say it's not linking between hope and call which makes the Christian hope certain in common, everyday speech.

When we use that word hope, we generally use it of something uncertain, something that were hoping for, but we don't know whether or not it will common biblical language that is never the case. The Christian hope is always something sure is why it's called the blessed hope it's why it's called something in which we can be joyful. Why, because our hope is based upon the call of God in the call of God does not change because it's based in God's character so he calls us to something that word hope though it relates to that which were called is not uncertain but sure.

So we set our feet down on that we operate on that basis. Knowing that, regardless of what may happen in this life that is our destiny in Jesus Christ. Paul prays that the Ephesians and ourselves as well might come to know that more fully. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. That's what we say on Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.

All that we might know that know that better as Christian people is the second thing he sprayed that we might know the hope to which Jesus called us. Now he prays we might know the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints as to ways in which that phrase can be taken.

It can refer to God's inheritance which we would be, or it can refer to our inheritance of the things which God has prepared for us in salvation linguistically. Either one is possible, but in the context of second is to be preferred because after all, that's what Paul is praying about here that we might know that which is pertaining to us in salvation and also because in Colossians 1st chapter verse 12 is a parallel verse which makes it very clear. Paul is praying that we might know in fuller measure that which is really ours in Christ and which we will have in full measure. When we see the Lord Jesus Christ face to face of someone thinking carefully about that he or she might be saying, well, if that is so, what is the difference between that phrase and the phrase which comes immediately before when you talk about the Christian hope you're talking about that which is certain but that which we don't yet have in full measure. When you talk about the riches of our glorious inheritance you're talking about that which we have which we do not yet have in full measure. What's the difference between the two of the difference is in the difference between the word hope in the first phrase enriches in the second hope deals with confidence.

The issue here is assurance riches deals with the scope of that which God provided in the issue here is an increasing knowledge of the bolting complicity of the grace of our God. How little we know those riches of our inheritance in the saints.

We know little enough of the blessings of God. Now little about prayer and Bible study in Christian Fellowship. The sacraments in such things which are great, great blessings that so how little we know of heavenly treasures how little do we know the new Jerusalem, the beatific vision of the fact will be made like Jesus Christ forever. We know very little about that. We think very little about even the apostle Paul said on occasion. Here we see in part, we know in part, but in that they will know fully, even as also we are known, we are like that and we are sometimes very very yesterday but Paul is praying that we might not remain so we might grow in the knowledge of these things in the knowledge of these things which are intangible, but which are more real than the things we hold my changes make us citizens of that heavenly realm living in the midst of the world desperately needs these things. What is the last phrase and that we might know his incomparably great power for us to believe. John started his commentary suggests we have your answer to something that occurs as a problem in the first two when you talk about the call of God you were talking about the past God called us in eternity past, when you talk about our inheritance you're talking about the future that which we shall have an eternity to, what about this interrupt what about this world of here and now in which we live. How can we live like the people of God within inheritance like that responding to the call of God in a sinful world opposed to God's sovereignty answers and that phrase we might know that great power of God which he revealed in Jesus Christ.

I think this is the thing that Paul must've had most in mind as he wrote this because it's the thing that he picks up on which he develops and fills out the remainder of the chapter was to explain what that power is not power. He says, is the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come talk to read that without thinking of Paul's expression of his own aspiration of himself which he gives us in Philippians 310. In that book he says that his desire is this that I might know him the power of his resurrection, being made conformable to his death, that I might share in his sufferings. He says in that context, it's an order that he might somehow attain under the resurrection of the dead and their people to read that and say what was Paul in certain of his salvation was, be sure he was gonna make it at the end know it's not that at all.

Paul is actually speaking of the president what he saying is this, he says I want to know God.

So while I want to be if you will, on such familiar terms with Jesus Christ that that power of God which was seen in Christ's resurrection is also seen in me, so that in this life. As I go about my daily business among men and women who, spiritually speaking are dead in trespasses and sins that I might appear in their midst as one who is been resurrected already living in the power of Jesus Christ, that power which God demonstrated when he raised him from the dead, what a great prayer. This is for Christian people and what great knowledge is involved here, knowledge of God. Knowledge of what God has for us in the power available to us to live as Jesus Christ in this world are close by saying how are you and I ever do know that power hour. You and I to come to the point where we really do know God and live like it's only one way it's by spending time with God see if we're going to get to know another human being, we have to spend time with that person. All you learn something about another person through letters and learn something about another person from hearing what someone else has to say about them, but if you really want to get to know them personally after spend time with them one-on-one and it is no less true of our relationship to God. If you would know God you would know the power of Jesus Christ, you must spend time with God in prayer and Bible study and meditation. Harry Ironside tells the story in this respect that comes from his early ministry. He made the acquaintance of a much older man whose name was Andrew Frazier. He lived in Southern California had gone there because of his health had tuberculosis and when Ironside met him he was dying, he could barely speak above a whisper because his lungs were almost gone yet. Ironside went to visit MN shortly into their conversation. Andrew Frazier said young man tried to preach Christ for you loss. He said yes. I have only said sit down here a little bit and let's talk about the things of God together then is much as he could until his strength was gone.

Ironside said he opened up the Bible and he began to share one truth after another which struck Ironside is being so deep and so personal that before he knew it. Ironside study had tears running down his cheek said he said to the man where did you get these things can you tell me where I can find a book that will open them up to me. Did you go to a seminary or college did you learn them.

There Frazier gave this reply by dear young man I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland. There, with my Bible before me. I used to deal for hours at a time asked the spirit of God to reveal Christ, to my soul, and open a word by heart. He taught me more on my knee so that mud floor than I ever could've learned in all the seminaries or colleges in this world. A few weeks later he died. That's a secret say sod intelligence sought outstanding instruction or academic degrees, it's time spent with God because it's the hearts kneel before him. The Lord Jesus opens the great treasures of his own heart and love for us by the spray.

Our father we live in a busy time.

We live in an age where this world's affairs fights against those quiet moments that we need to spend with you father give us grace to see that understand that this world and its activities is not a friend but is rather an enemy to our souls give us grace to spend that time with you, out of which alone calms the secrets of a godly life in the power to live and serve Jesus Christ here and now we pray in the name of our Savior, even Jesus, you are listening to the Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview.

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