It's not about this life, beloved. This life is incidental. It is secondary in purpose. It's not our best life now.
Our best life is still to come. and an elaborate ceremony. Other churches do it in a simple and straightforward way. Don says that no matter how much your church celebrates communion, it's so very important to be aware of God's true intent behind it so that we can fully experience the endless blessings and benefits available to us as we come to the Lord's table. Right now, Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word with a second half of his message called Communion and Church Unity here on the Truth Pulpit.
Well, Paul takes it another step further. We thank God for each other as we come to communion. There's another aspect of Paul's prayer that I want to show to you that would help us cultivate the right attitude not only today but going forward as well.
A spiritual attitude, an attitude of prayer, and I would term it this way in our second point. As you thank God for each other, go another step further and pray for each other's spiritual understanding. Pray for each other's spiritual understanding. We need the help of the Holy Spirit to grow in Christ. And if you look at verse 17, you can see how Paul continues to pray. He prays in a way that advances the spiritual interests of his readers. And we follow the example and we pray for each other in a way that advances each other's spiritual interests because we love each other, because we're grateful for one another, because we see this pattern laid out for us in Scripture. Look at verse 17, Ephesians chapter 1 verse 17.
Actually, let your eye drift back up to verse 16, because it kind of flows out of that. Paul says, I do not cease giving thanks for you while making mention of you in my prayers. Okay, so he says, I pray for you. And someone might ask, Paul, why don't you tell me how you pray for me? What is it that you ask God to do as you're praying for me?
Well, the magnitude of the generosity of the apostolic heart is such that it's overwhelming. He says, here's how I pray for you, verse 17. He says, I pray that, here's the content of his prayer.
I pray 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. He's praying for their spiritual understanding. He's praying that God would enlarge their capacity to grasp the magnitude and the truth of their salvation. He's asking that God the Father would do a work through the Holy Spirit that would provide greater wisdom and greater understanding, illumination of what it means to belong to Christ. A revelation in the knowledge of him.
Paul is asking that the Spirit of God would be at work in the hearts and minds of these people, giving them further insight and unveiling God's purpose in Christ for them. It's a recognition. It's a recognition that we are still spiritually dull in our understanding, which is not a criticism. It's simply a recognition that, as natural fallen men in the flesh, living in a world that is dominated by the devil, even as redeemed individuals, we don't get it all. We don't see it all.
We don't have the fullness of the picture in front of us. And you and I know by sad personal experience how true that is. Something goes wrong in life. Somebody responds to us in a way that we wish they wouldn't. Problems start to multiply on this earth, and suddenly we are consumed with the present. We are consumed with what is going on horizontally in time, and we've lost sight of the magnitude of the salvation that belongs to us. We get wrapped up in politics. We get wrapped up in trials, in work, and all these other things.
And we forget, and we don't get it. And Paul says, I want you to appropriate. I want you to live in the conscious realm of the great blessings that God has given to us. And so I'm praying that God will do that work in your heart so that you would more fully appropriate, more fully appreciate the magnitude of this salvation that Christ has bought for us, which we today are remembering at this table. You see, Paul was praying not for their physical health, as we tend to do, as tends to multiply our thoughts even in prayer. Wasn't praying for their financial prosperity, as far too many preachers today want to drive our attention to, as if financial blessing was the only mark of the blessing of God.
Please, do you realize, this is an aside, this one's for free. Do you realize, do you realize how paltry, how meager it is to focus people's attention on the financial prosperity of their lives as a sign of the blessing of God? How paltry that is in comparison to the sacrifice of the eternal Son of God that we remember here today?
How can you compare those two? How can you make something physical the mark of the signature blessing of what was obviously a spiritual work at great cost to the Son of God? That's foolish. That robs salvation of its very meaning to turn our attention in that direction. And so, as we contemplate the reality of our salvation, as we pray for one another throughout the life of our church and whatever years the Lord gives to us together, look at what Paul prays for. What spiritual understanding did Paul ask for? How did he ask God to enlighten their eyes?
Well, we're going to see two aspects of it. As we pray for each other's spiritual understanding, as Paul prayed, first of all, he wants them to better appreciate the hope of God's call. The hope of God's call.
Look at verse 18. He says, I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that... You see, he's focused like a laser. He's not just praying in general. He says, here is specifically what I'm praying for you. I want you to have your heart enlightened by God, so that you will know what is the hope of his calling.
What are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints? He says, I realize that life here on earth is going to dull your sensitivity to these great invisible spiritual realities. And so I'm asking the Spirit of God to do an invisible work in your heart to expand your comprehension, to expand your affections, to give you a greater appreciation for what belongs to you as a Christian. I want you to know the hope of God's call. You who are preoccupied with life as it is here and now on earth, I want you to understand that salvation is about something far greater than that.
I want you to understand that the eternal reality that belongs to us as Christ dwarfs what you're experiencing right now. Paul is asking God to help his readers more fully appreciate that one day, soon, makes me tap my toes in anticipation. One day, soon, just around the corner, just a little bit longer, and we're going to be with Christ face to face in all his glory. We're going to be with the Lord, we're going to share in his glory. That is the great hope, that is the great certain expectation that belongs to us as being the privileged recipients of this great salvation which we remember at the table today. Turn over to John chapter 14.
John chapter 14. It's not about this life, beloved. This life is incidental.
It is secondary in purpose. It's not our best life now. Our best life is still to come. John 14 verse 1. Jesus said, Do not let your heart be troubled. Believe in God.
Believe also in me. In my Father's house are many dwelling places. If it were not so, I would have told you, for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, oh, the magnitude and yet the utter simplicity of the words that Christ uses to describe our future hope. He says, I will come again and receive you to myself, that where I am, there you may be also. Christ is going to come for you.
He's going to come for me. He's going to receive us. He's going to gladly welcome us into his presence, into this place that he's been preparing for us, because this great Son of God, who lavished his grace upon us at the cross, he wants us to be with him.
Where I am, there you may be also. Christ saved us so that we could be with him. He went away, as it were, to prepare a place for us. And the time is coming soon when everything's going to be ready. And that which was spoken of 2,000 years ago is going to find its fulfillment. We're almost there, beloved.
We're almost there. We're almost about ready to enter into that glorious inheritance of being with Christ, and where he with his infinite love, his infinite omnipotence, his infinite knowledge, his infinite grace, goodness, kindness, this place that out of that magnificent heart, toward his people, he's been getting ready for us to share in together. Paul says, I'm praying for you to understand, to somehow grasp the magnitude and the significance of this. Because if you can grasp something of that, it's going to make everything earthly pale by comparison. Everything shrinks in the presence of Christ. And everything about our struggles in this life shrink in the presence of the thought that we are one day going to be with him, because he wants us there. We wouldn't be there if he didn't want us there. Can you imagine? The eternal Son of God wants us to be with him.
I'll be honest. I think about this aspect of salvation a lot, and the more I think about it, the more I realize I just don't have any capacity to understand how great and glorious and wonderful that's going to be. But somehow, we ask God to help us. Somehow, we're mindful that this is something to anticipate.
It is a certain hope, a certain expectation that trumps everything bad and negative and sorrowful about this life. Paul says, I'm praying for my readers to understand that. We look at that. We look at each other in gratitude that the Lord's done the same work in your life that he's done in mine.
We say, you know what? I want the Lord to help you embrace that and understand that too. God will bestow riches on us. Untold riches of an order of magnitude that is incomprehensible to human thinking. He's going to bestow that on us at the end of the age. And Christ secured infallibly that great magnificent blessing for us at the cross that we remember here today. It's our inheritance, Paul says.
He describes it as an inheritance. That which belongs to us in advance, it can never be taken away. And so, beloved, as we go through life together, corporate body of believers, that's our shared destiny. That's what we share together is what's going to happen to us.
It belongs to you as much as it belongs to me. This is what we share together in life in the body of Christ. Part of what we share, part of what unifies us, part of what brings us together as believers, is the remembrance, is the ever deepening understanding that there is a future glory, a future capstone, a future completion to being a Christian that will belong to us in heaven.
Paul says, I want you to understand that. I want you to love and grasp that in ever deepening measure. How can we comprehend such great unseen realities? How can we hope in that which we cannot see? Well, you see, in our own strength we can't.
In our own natural approach to life we won't. We need spiritual help from God. We need spiritual help from our Savior to more fully appreciate and appropriate that which already belongs to us by our position in Christ. And so, because, beloved, because we love each other, because we recognize the shared salvation that we have and that we're grateful for one another, we ask God to make visible, as it were, to our spiritual understanding that which is not visible to our physical eyes. Oh God, lift up our affections. Oh God, remind us of that which belongs to us, which has been promised to us in our word.
Oh God, let that be the controlling motivation and affection of our lives. Do you realize that if God answered that prayer for us as a body of believers, how wonderful life would be? Do you realize how wonderful it would be not to be consumed by the problems of day-to-day work and relationships and all of that stuff? And to let your heart be molded and shaped by the great expectation of future blessing that is so glorious human lips can't describe it? Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to live? Wouldn't that be a wonderful way for us to go through spiritual life together as truth community? Paul says, I want you to know that. And so as we remember the sacrifice of Christ, as we remember the outcome that that has guaranteed for us, we look at that and we look at each other and we respond and we pray for each other to see the spiritual truth that defines our lives.
Your work, your marriage, your children, your relationships, your future on earth is not what is the defining reality of your life. The defining reality of your life as a Christian belongs to a future realm that is yet unseen but is certain in its fulfillment. It's not just that Christ died so that our sins could be forgiven. That would be glorious enough as it were. It would be, in one sense, it would have been wonderful if Christ had just restored us to a neutral position to deliver us from wrath. That would be wonderful. That would be cause for eternal gratitude.
Do you see it? Beloved, do you see it? That he not only took away our demerit, he gave to us a position of eternal privilege that transcends everything about this life. And one other thing that it should do for you is that even the things that you most treasure in this life should start to pale in comparison to the glory that's yet to be revealed. If there's any hesitation on your part to go to heaven because you want to cling a little longer to what's here on earth, ah man, rethink your priorities, would you? I love everything that's going on in my life right now, but if God took it away and took me right now to be in the presence of Christ, that's what it's all about. That's the point of my existence, is to be with Christ. Because however wonderful your loves and relationships are here, that's not the final purpose of your redemption. Your final purpose is to be with Christ, the one who bought you.
And that's where your ultimate final affection should lie. If we could see how wonderful, how gracious, how magnificent the riches of that are, there wouldn't even be a contest about where we wanted to be. Paul says, I pray that you'd understand that. I pray that your mind would be captivated by the hope of what it means to belong to Christ, who died to pay the price of your redemption.
When I'm thinking rightly about life, I'm living for one moment. One moment to be in the presence, the physical presence of Christ, and to be able to look into his face, to see his glory, and say, Jesus, thank you for what you've done. That's what an understanding of our salvation will do. It narrows our focus to our future hope. Now, Paul isn't done praying. He wants them to grasp the significance of the future hope for sure, but he also prays that they would see something of the greatness of God's power that is at work in their lives. He said in verse 18, I want you to know the hope of your calling.
And in verse 19, he joins that with something else, and he says, And I'm praying that you would see what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe. Most of this life, we feel weakness and distress, don't we? We're conscious of physical weakness.
We're conscious of failings in our own life and of those around us. And sometimes we lose sight of the power of God, because it's not visible in front of us. And so Paul is praying, I want you to see, I want you to grasp in your mental sight the power of God toward us who believe. And then he explains what that power is like.
He says there in verse 19, he says, Notice how he piles up synonyms. The working of the strength of his might. Power, strength, and might. And what he's praying here is that I want you to understand that the very highest power of God is at work in your salvation. It's at work in your life right now, even if it doesn't seem like it, even if you don't feel it. I'm praying that you would understand that the power that saved you is the same power that's keeping you. That power will deliver you into the presence of Christ without fail. And what's that power like? Well, it's the same power, verse 20, which God brought about in Christ when he raised him from the dead.
The literal historical time and space resurrection that left behind an empty tomb that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. That power is the same power that's at work in our lives as believers today. Paul says, I want you to understand that. And as we look at Paul's pattern, we say, well, of course, that's the way we should pray for each other.
I thank God for you. I pray that God would cement in your heart a confidence in the hope of His call that is going to culminate in you being in the presence of Christ. I pray that God would help you understand and appropriate and put your confidence in the fact that the power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that's at work in you now. Our spiritual privilege in Christ is incomprehensible.
And yet we ask God to help us understand it a little bit more so that we would drink of it and that our lives would be transformed by it. Those are the kinds of realities that we remember as we come to communion here today. We remember the exalted head of our church, the Lord Jesus Christ. We remember His death for us. We remember the benefits that He has secured for us in our salvation. And so it is with grateful hearts today that we come to the Lord's table.
Don Green, bringing our time for today to a close. Well, friends, you're listening to The Truth Pulpit, and we hope you've been blessed and that you'll join us on our next broadcast. Meanwhile, if you'd like to support this ministry financially, we invite you to visit thetruthpulpit.com. Once there, simply click on the Give button. That's thetruthpulpit.com. We'll continue our series called The Priority of Unity next time. I'm Bill Wright, hoping you can join us then, as Don Green continues teaching God's people God's Word here on The Truth Pulpit.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-25 19:23:02 / 2023-03-25 19:31:12 / 8