Today on Summit Life with JD Greer.
For many of you, your problem is that you've destroyed your life through terrible choices, addictions, broken relationships, and all manner of things. And Paul says good news. Not only can God speak new things into existence, he can bring life and healing back into the mess that you've made out of your heart and your life. He can repair and restore what you have destroyed through sin. Welcome to Summit Life with pastor, author, and theologian, JD Greer.
I'm your host, Molly Vitovich. You know, if you feel dry spiritually or just plain bored in your faith, then the solution is not to learn some new facts about Jesus. What you really need is to have the eyes of your heart enlightened to the truth that you already know, to see it in a new light and in the beauty it was intended. Today, Pastor JD shows us how God opens our eyes to who Jesus is and the four things we understand when we pray for spiritual sight. Are you ready for your spiritual eye checkup?
Can you read that first line? It's an E and it stands for Ephesians. Here's Pastor JD. You ever had the dilemma of having to buy a gift for a really, really, really rich person and not knowing like, what do you get for a really rich person that they don't already have? Or if they wanted it, but don't have it, they would just go out and buy it.
So how am I supposed to give them something that they need or want? Well, what do you get for a God who can literally speak anything into existence? The answer, Paul says, the one thing that God doesn't have that he really wants is you. The one thing that God didn't have that he was willing to be tortured for on the bloody cross of Calvary to obtain was you.
And that is a thought that is almost too glorious to comprehend. The God who literally had everything, who could have just wiped the creation board clean and started over, set his love on you and was willing to submit to the pain and humiliation of the cross just so you could be with him eternally. For God to create everything that there is cost him nothing. He could have done it again with no cost to himself, but in order to redeem you, to save you, it costs you his very life. And Hebrews 12 two tells us that he went to that cross with joy. For joy, he endured the cross and despise the shame. Isaiah 53 says that when he hung on the cross, Isaiah 53 says that Jesus from the cross looked into the future and he saw the offspring that his sacrifice was going to produce. He saw you and me and that made him satisfied in that moment and willing to undergo the pain. In the hour of greatest trial, you were the son of God's living hope.
You were the inheritance that he labored for and you get to share in that hope and enjoy the intensity of that love forever. Paul says, when you see how precious you are to God, that will totally transform your life. Later in Ephesians three, Paul does it again. He stops again at the end of chapter three. I pray that you may have the strength to comprehend with all the saints.
What is the breadth and the length and the height and the depth and know the love of Christ that surpasses all knowledge that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. You know, Paul does something here that I think is a little touching because it's so rare for him. He actually kind of loses his words. If you read that the right way, Paul's normal way of speaking is, I'm an apostle, I speak the words of God, you shut up. That's kind of Paul's the way he talks.
Paul here sort of starts stumbling and he says, I don't really have the ability to express this. I've got to tell you about a knowledge that really surpasses knowledge. You see the contradiction, by the way? I want you to know the love of Christ that surpasses. How do you know something that surpasses knowledge? I'm praying that you would know what surpasses.
How do you do that? Because he's not talking about a love that can be explained to your mind. He's talking about a love that can only be experienced and felt in your heart. And so he says, I want you to know the length of God's love. How long is God's love?
Well, Paul's already explained that it's from all eternity and for all eternity. Remember God chose us in him from before the foundation of the world, which means that there's never been a time when God did not know about you and love you. And there will never be a time in eternity future where he will stop loving you. That's how long his love is. How high is God's love? I want you to know the height of God's love.
Psalm 103 tells us it's as high as the heavens are above the earth. That's the measure of the intensity of God's love for you. If you want to understand the intensity of God's love for you, get out a telescope and look, because that's what gives you the picture of it. You know, the Hubble telescope is now sending back infrared images to us of faint galaxies 12 billion life years away. And about light years, about 6 trillion miles.
So 12 billion times 6 trillion. That is the measure of the intensity of God's love for you. That feeling that you get when you look out under the stars and suddenly you just imagine how small you are in this gigantic universe. It's not just to make you feel small, it's to make you feel overwhelmed with the intensity of the love that God has set on you. How wide is God's love? How wide is God's love? It literally extends to control every molecule of the universe. Marshaling everything in pursuit of his good purpose in our lives.
According to Paul, there literally is not one stray atom, not one stray electron, not one stray quark or subatomic particle in all the galaxies. The control of his love is that wide and broad. How deep is God's love? I want you to know the depth. How deep is God's love? So deep that he would reach all the way down into the filth of sin and the grave of death to make a wretched treasure. Literally becoming sin and death for us. You'll see that in chapter 2.
Dying in our place so that we didn't have to. That's how deep his love is for us. Paul says that love surpasses my ability, even as an inspired apostle, it surpasses my ability to describe it.
This is a love that you have to feel. And when you experience that love, and only when you experience it, is God going to become real to you. That's the only way that God's going to become real to you. You see right there, look at the end of the verse. Because when this happens, then you'll be filled with all the fullness of God, literally the presence of God. How does God become real to you? Feeling this love is literally the experience of the presence of God.
My favorite illustration of this, and I've given it to you before. It's like me walking along with my seven year old son. And we're walking along and I'm holding his hand and then all of a sudden I look down at him. And I'm just getting filled with this kind of fatherly pride. So I pick him up. He's getting a lot heavier now.
I can't do this much. And I kind of pick him up and I throw him in the air. And because he's getting heavy, it's about two inches now. And I catch him and I spin him around and I say, who's my boy? And he's like, I am.
And I blow a raspberry in his neck. And I just kind of just have this moment with him, right? In that moment, in that moment, let me ask. In that moment, has he become, has he become any more my son than he was the moment before? Is he any more my son in that moment than when I'm away on a business trip? No, what happened in that moment is his sense of his sonship became a lot more real to him. It's not legally he didn't change positions, but the sense of that presence became real. What Paul is talking about is the sense where suddenly God and your sonship through the presence of the Holy Spirit becomes so real to you that you no longer just understand it with your mind.
You feel it in the depths of your soul. If God is not real to you, this is what you got to pray for. Some of you want God to be real in your life, right?
How's that going to happen? It seems like Christians have all different ways of trying to figure out how God becomes real to them. For some Christians, it's in this weird kind of random confluence of circumstances. That's when God becomes real. I was unsure about asking her out, but then on our first date, we found out that she was born on May 3rd and I was born on May 11th, and our waiter told us he was born on May 7th. And if you add together 311 and 7, it comes up with 21, which is the perfect number 7, multiplied times the number of the Trinity. And May was the month I was baptized in.
Jehovah Jireh, I just knew there was a God and that she was the one for me. And you're like, you're weird, man. Don't talk like that. You're just weird. Christians are weird. He doesn't become real through a dream or a vision or a voice in your heart. That's not the primary way he becomes real. Some people in seminary will talk about how God became real to them when they first sensed God using them in somebody else's life. That's great, but that's not the primary way God becomes real to you.
He becomes real to you according to Paul when he enlightens your eyes to see and feel how wide and how long and how deep the love of God is for you. Number 3, third thing Paul prays that we see. He says, I want you to see God's power at work in you. I want you to be able to see God's power at work in you. I pray that you may know what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead. God wants us to know the power with which he is working in and around us and through us in the world. The nature and magnitude of that power is measured, Paul says, this is awesome, by the resurrection. Honestly, if I were trying to tell somebody about God's power and I wanted to pick the one thing that most demonstrated his power, I probably would have picked creation. I mean, think about creating everything out of nothing.
That seems like you couldn't get more powerful than that. In one word, just one word, God spun 3,000 billion trillion stars into existence, each one on average putting out the same amount of energy as a trillion megaton atom bombs every single second. And some of these stars now we're learning are so big they defy description. Right here in our own Milky Way, there are stars like Eta Carinae, which is 5 million times brighter than our sun.
One star, 5 million times brighter than our sun. And God just blew that into existence as an afterthought. That's power. But Paul says there's an even greater power than that at work in us. The power of resurrection. Creation may bring life out of nothing, but resurrection brings back life from the dead. You see, by invoking the power of resurrection, Paul is saying that God not only has the ability to make us into something out of nothing, to take nobodies and make them into somebodies, he also has the power to redeem bad lives and transform them into good lives. And that's really good news for some of you, because for many of you, your problem is not that you just need a little extra boost of talent. You don't just need a little more energy or a few more good ideas.
Your problem is that you've destroyed your life through terrible choices, addictions, broken relationships, and all manner of things. And Paul says, good news, not only can God speak new things into existence, if he brought life out of death through Jesus, then he can bring life and healing back into the mess that you've made out of your heart and your life. He can repair and restore what you have destroyed through sin. And Paul says to these embattled Ephesians believers, he says, in the midst of all that you're going through, you need to see the power at work in you and through you, working in every situation for you, to protect you, and to accomplish God's purposes in you and through you. There is no power on earth that can resist it. It has overcome the power of death. No wonder Isaiah said, no weapon formed against you will prosper. All those who rise against you shall fall.
Even if their ultimate power is death, you've got the power of resurrection. You're listening to Summit Life with J.D. Greer and a message titled, Open Up Our Eyes. You know, our present world defines who we are by what we do. And when asked about ourselves, we typically respond with what we do, our occupation or how we spend our days. But the Bible gives us a better answer. God tells us who we are is determined by what has been done for us by Jesus. There's freedom in that because now you aren't a product of your activities or accomplishments.
So then who are you? That's the question the Book of Ephesians answers, and we have a Bible study from our friends at the Good Book Company called Your Place in God's Plan. The eight individual studies included will show you how you can contribute your time and gifts to the church and explain how in our everyday lives and relationships we can please God and show Christ to those around us. For your gift of thirty five dollars this month, we'll send you the Ephesians study guide.
Give us a call at 866-335-5220 or go online to jdgreer.com to reserve this Bible study today. One of my favorite Old Testament stories that I think just captures what Paul is praying for here. That story in 2 Kings 6 where Elisha, the prophet, is there in Israel and he's got a servant with him. And this gigantic army, I think it's Midianites, some enemy, is coming to destroy Israel. And so the servant sees this huge army in this valley and he starts freaking out. He's like, this army is going to come, they're just going to mow right over us and kill us and all Israel and take us captive. And Elisha is just, you know, he's just kind of nonchalant, making toast or whatever, you know. And he's like, why are you not worried? And you just kind of read between the lines. Elisha kind of stops and he sort of sighs and he just says, God, open his eyes.
Open his eyes. And all of a sudden God opens the servant's eyes and surrounding this gigantic Midianite army is an even larger, in fact, much larger angelic army that is all in the hills around him. That is, you know, 10 times, 100 times bigger than this Midianite army so that those who are fighting for Elisha and the servant are greater than the ones who are arrayed against them.
Now here's the thing to notice about this story. Listen, when Elisha prayed, when Elisha prayed, God didn't send the power. He didn't send the angels and the armies. When Elisha prayed, God simply opened their eyes to the fact that they were already there.
You understand the distinction? Some of you don't need to pray for God's power. You just need to pray that God would open your eyes to the fact that it's already there. What you need is not a fresh influx of power, what you need is fresh vision to see the power that God has already provided. That's what Paul is praying for. I'm praying that you would see the resurrection power that God has at work and I'm praying that that would change you because you would realize that the one that is at work in you and for you is greater than those who are arrayed against you.
I'll give you one more thing about this story. You ever wonder why, I like to ask kind of strange questions about these stories, why were the angels in the mountains around and not in the valley in between them and the army? Because that would make me feel better if you're coming after me to attack me and the angels are right there.
But no, no, they're up there in the hills. You know why I think that is? I think that's because a lot of times when we go through life, it's not that we don't end up doing battle with the army, it's that we're supposed to be assured that the army that is watching over it, making sure that it all goes according to plan, is greater than the army that's against us. Sometimes we will battle with cancer. Sometimes God doesn't stand between us and cancer.
Sometimes he doesn't let us stand between this and joblessness or a tough marriage. But what we can be assured of is that the resurrecting power of God's armies that are surrounding us are even greater than cancer or joblessness or anything and there's not one thing that happens outside of his plan according to his power and he's able to even take the bad things and turn them to good. And Paul says what you need is not more power, what you need is fresh vision and that vision is going to come through seeing things through the resurrection. So what does the resurrection show you about your life?
Well, think about it. The cross and resurrection, was there ever a time in history where it looked like God was more out of control than the cross? Was there ever a time where it looked like evil was winning and good was dying?
No, that was it. But now on this side of it, we see that even what looked like it was out of control in that moment, God was actually very much in control and he was using what seemed like evil, he was using it for good, right? So now you look at your situation to the resurrection and say, even when it looks like God's out of control in my life and even when it looks like evil is winning, I can be assured that the same God that brought Jesus out of the grave and brought resurrection power to what was intended for evil is going to do that in my life because the resurrection changes how I see everything. And Paul says what you need is a lens to see the power at work in you and that lens is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Number four, he says, I want you to be able to see. I want you to be able to see the finality of Jesus' rule. Verse 22, Paul says, I pray that you would see that he has put all things under Jesus' feet and he's given him his head over all things to the church. I pray that you'll see that the battle's already won.
I pray that you'll see that Jesus is already securely on the throne. You know, I was watching one of these TV series shows and my wife and I were watching it together and the main character in the show somewhere in the middle of the season dies. And it's not 24. I mean, I've told you about that one before, but I think this is a new trend in TV drama. Like this is like the ultimate like drama twist. I mean, the main character dies. And I looked at my wife, I'm like, did she just die? And yeah, she looked like she died. So I went ahead and watched the next episode because I thought, well, surely she's not really dead. Well, they bury her in the next episode.
My wife's dead. But I was like, she can't because she was in the opening montage of this episode. And they keep talking about her the whole episode. And I'm like, if she was really dead, like they broke her contract and they didn't want to renew her contract so it's going to kill her off. I was like, they wouldn't keep talking about her and they wouldn't put her in the opening montage. So then I watched the next episode. She's in the opening montage again and they keep referring to her.
And I'm like, something ain't right here. And so I keep watching the first five minutes of the next five episodes and she's in the opening montage every single time. And so I conclude, she's not really dead. She's coming back. Something's not right here because she's in the opening montage.
Sure enough, you get into season three. Bam, there she is. There's been a mistake.
She's actually alive. Now, the reason I'm telling you that is this. All right, you're reading here in the midst of the Ephesians and it feels like they're being overrun. But why don't you just jump to the next episode called the book of Philippians and Jesus is in the opening montage of that one too. And then you get to the next one after that, Colossians. And then you're going to go into first and second, and he's in the opening montage for all of them. And then Hebrews and James and Jude and you get to Revelation. Man, he's in the opening montage of that one and they're still talking about it. Go ahead and fast forward to episode Revelation 22 and you're going to find out that he's coming back and that he is still on the throne and he's never been dead.
All right. And Paul says, I want you to see that. I want you to see that because when you understand that, it'll change how you see opposition against you and it'll change what you give your life to. Furthermore, notice in this verse that Paul wants them to see that the main thing that Jesus is doing in the world is building the church.
Do you see this? He's put all things and gave him his head over all things to the church. He didn't picture Jesus standing on top of Rome or Washington, D.C. It's not that he's not on top of those things. It's at the focal point of what God is doing in this world.
Listen to this. The focal point of what God is doing in this world is in the church. He's not building it in Washington, D.C.
He's not building it in the Democrats or the Republicans. He's building it in the church. And what I've often told you, listen, Paul says if that's the prominence that Jesus gives the church, then it's also ought to be the centerpiece of your life. Paul didn't understand the idea that church would be an event you attended on the weekend. The church for him was a family that you belong to that would have the deepest and most binding relationships you would experience anywhere on earth. The church was the place that Jesus purchased with his blood and it's the place from which God's power flows. If Jesus died for the church, you ought to be deeply devoted to it. You say, well, yeah, but people at the church, they had a lot of problems. Nobody knows that more than Jesus. Those problems cost Jesus his blood, but he spilled it gladly, not just for other people's sins.
He did it for yours. And here's what I contend to you. If Jesus invested his blood into the church, you ought to invest the best of your time, your energy, and your resources. It also tells us that Jesus is ready to move heaven and earth literally to pour out the power of resurrection in order to complete the mission of the church and the world. There are 6400 unreached people groups still in the world, which means people without a gospel witness. And according to Paul, here is Jesus at the head of the church saying, I'll give you the ability to reach all of them.
You just got to ask. The problem is not that he's short on power or short on compassion. The problem is that we're waiting on somebody or some church or some people within that church to say, I believe that Jesus will do what he says he'll do. And I'm going to ask Jesus to do in these people, according to the measure I see of him standing at the end of history, and I believe he's got all the authority that he says that he has. So some at church, I return to this statement that we began with all our spiritual problems are cured through vision and vision is only given by the spirit and it's only given through prayer. That's what Paul prays for us. It's what we should be praying for others. It is the model prayer he gave to us. It's what you should be praying for your family and it's what you ought to be praying for that one or two that God has put in your life to reach for Christ. Prayer is what releases the power that opens the eyes, which is why, if you could just let me real quick tell you why prayer is such a foundational part of what we do. You see, prayer is the only thing that opens people's eyes like this. It's not worship experiences that open people's eyes like this.
Paul didn't write the Ephesians with instructions on how to create a good worship experience on the weekend. We love worship experiences. We try to do them well and with excellence, but we understand that the only way that you're going to be transformed is to have the eyes of your heart open and I can't do that through adding music to it or I can't do it through alliterating my points or telling emotional stories or getting you riled up and that's an emotional high for a moment. Paul's talking about enlightenment that lasts for a lifetime and that doesn't happen through emotional thrills. It happens through prayer.
So yeah, we're going to focus on what we do on the weekends and we're going to try to do it as best we can, but understand that at the end of the day, you strip everything else away. It's got to be prayer. It's got to be prayer that opens our eyes. Our prayer is that during our study in Ephesians, you would see the hope that God has given you in the gospel, that you would see that he is in control and working in all things, that you would understand your great worth to God, that you would recognize the power that God has put inside you, that you would ask God to extend that power through you to people all over the world who have yet to hear about him. Amen?
Isn't that what you want? Amen? Open my eyes, Lord.
We want to see you. A challenging message today from Pastor JD Greer here on Summit Life. Okay, so Pastor JD, we've been talking this week about God's incorruptible love for us and for his church. What would you say to all of our listeners who are shouting as they hear you talk?
What about my local church? Where's the love? We're really struggling. Well, the first thing I'd say, Molly, is we've been there. I mean, you and I have been a part of this church for a long time and we've had seasons of thriving and we've had seasons where we felt like we were struggling. And there's no quick, you know, magic bullet.
Well, just listen to this, say this, start trying this. But what I can remind you is that God's intention is that we go and bring forth fruit, that that fruit be abundant. And God wants a closeness with you even more than you want closeness with him. And he's made that available to us in Christ. And that's what the book of Ephesians is all about. We've got a Bible study that we're going to offer you this month to go along with the messages here on Summit Life. And that Bible study is called Your Place in God's Plan.
We'd love to give it to you as a thank you gift for your support of Summit Life. And it'll help you get even more out of this incredible letter that the Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the Ephesians. This study is perfect for individual Bible study or small groups to work through together. And it comes with our thanks when you donate to support this program. Ask for your copy of the Ephesians Study Book when you call 866-335-5220.
Or you can donate and request the study online at jdgrier.com. I'm Molly Vidovitch. Have a great weekend of worship and be sure to join us next week when we continue studying Ephesians here on Summit Life with J.D. Greer. Today's program was produced and sponsored by JD Greer Ministries.
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