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Ephesians 1:13-23 Introduction
Let’s face it. Believing in Jesus is hard sometimes. The vision of the world laid out in Ephesians 1:1-14 is pretty outrageous. The story of a God who loved us before the world was created; the story of a God who not only knows us, but adopted us; the story of a God who died for us; the story of a God who wants to unite all things together in his Son, the carpenter from Nazareth who died and rose again; these things are beyond belief! Many criticize Christians for simply and blindly believing unbelievable things. Does Christian Faith mean turning your mind off and simply assenting to a creed? Even in the Bible, we find people who have a hard time buying the story of Jesus. For example, in the gospel of Matthew, even as Jesus says farewell to his disciples we read: “And when the disciples saw him, they worshiped him… but some doubted.” (Matthew 28:17). The Bible clearly says that doubt and questioning is allowed. There is a time for asking questions, a time for kicking the tires, a time for being skeptical, a time for wondering. But the opposite error of blind faith is never-ending doubt. Up to a point, questioning and withholding trust will help us go forward. But only up to a point. Certain things can only happen when we allow ourselves to fully trust. A relationship can only grow deep when there is a faith in the other person. We need to put our roots down somewhere, find a home, stop questioning and start trusting. That can be scary. But it is a necessary step to growth. As C.S. Lewis says – “You can’t go on “seeing through” things forever. The whole point of seeing through something is to see something through it. To “see through” all things is the same as not to see.” In Ephesians 1:13-23, Paul says that he prays for the Ephesians that they would know all that they were sharing with him. All the astonishing things that he ascribes to God in chapter 1:1-14 are overwhelming, deep and sometimes controversial. But Paul's prayer is not that we would simply discuss these issues, but start to build our lives on them.
Ephesians 1:13-23 what role does faith and trust play? And if doubt is allowed, In our 13 In him find that Paul now turns his attention from the content of ourgospel ofto a prayer that we would passage we you also, when you heard the word of truth, the blessings, your salvation, and know our blessings.were sealed with the promisedto debate or ponder. He prays that we would buildour believed in him, These blessings are not simply things Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our lives upon these blessings. inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 15 Ephesians 1:13-23. Let’s read For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Questions 1. In verse 13-14, the Holy Spirit is described as a seal and a guarantee for “those who believe”. A seal locks something in, and a guarantee provides assurance no matter what happens in the meantime. Why do those who believe need the Holy Spirit to seal them and guarantee for them? 2. In verses 15-23, what does Paul pray for the Ephesians to know? Why is it important that the Ephesians not just receive God’s blessings, but know about them as well? What happens to us when we are less certain about what we believe? 3. Read the excerpt from C.S. Lewis below. Do you agree with his take on faith? Have you experienced your own ‘moods’ in which the promises of God seemed unlikely? What did you do in response? I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in. But supposing a man’s reason once decides that the weight of the evidence is for it. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true. And once again his wishes and desires will carry out a blitz. I am not talking of moments at which any real new reasons against Christianity turn up. Those have to be faced and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments where a mere mood rises up against it…. … That is why Faith is such a necessary virtue: unless you teach your moods “where they get off,” you can never be either a sound Christian or even a sound atheist, but just a creature dithering to and fro, with its beliefs really dependent on the weather and the state of its digestion. Consequently one must train the habit of Faith. C.S. Lewis
Questions 1. Paul prays that we know both hope (v.18) and power (v.19)? How does growing in our knowledge of God give us hope? 2. What power is Paul specifically talking about? (see v. 20-23.) What does a Christian who knows the power of God look like? How are they different from ‘a creature dithering to and fro’ as C.S. Lewis says? Practical Questions
1. What would resurrection power look like in Oakland? What role does trust and faith play in our ability to serve our city?