ALIVE Inheritance | Ephesians 1:15-23
Topic: New Testament Passage: Ephesians 1:15–1:23
Christopher Rich – September 29, 2019
ALIVE | The Way Unearned | Part III
ALIVE INHERITANCE | Ephesians 1:15-23
Introduction | Alive Family
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work, Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we continue our series walking the through the book of Ephesians called ALIVE: The way Unearned where we see life with God has been given to us.
In Christ, we have been made alive for a purpose. To live in the way God has created us. Both the rewards of and endurance in this life are by His grace alone so they are by nature unearned.
What does it mean to be part of your family? What are the dominant narratives that have influenced how you family has functioned (or not functioned)? What are the traits of your family? In what ways has your family flourished, and what ways has it experienced great failures? Maybe you have great fondness and affection for your family of origin, maybe much of your life has been trying to break from the family you were in and forge another path or try to begin a new legacy, only to realize so much of who you are has been shaped by your family. Maybe you think your family is pretty normal or that every other family is like yours. You get small glimpses into how different families are when you’re growing. However, the biggest contrast between your family and others (or another) is when you get engage and married. All the sudden you begin to realize how unique your family is and how “special” your in-law family is. It is clear how you see the world, deal with conflict, and engage in daily life have been influenced by your family.
Family now, inheritance later. We saw last week that to be a Christion, to be spiritually alive, to be part of the people of God is to be adopted into a new family. That apart from the work of God, you and me are spiritual orphans who are by default opposed to God. God in His grace adopted us in to his family. Ok you’ve been adopted into this family? Now what? What does this family look like? What distinguishes this family from others? How is it a benefit to be adopted into this family? It has to be more than just a transfer of status (orphan to family member) it needs to have a transformational impact on our life. It should be better to be in the family of God than an orphan. It should impact our present in a meaningful way, and it should put us on a new trajectory towards a better future. Otherwise we might as well see what we’re able to accomplish on our own what can we earn rather than receiving the way unearned. But we’ve not been left alone to endure our present and attempt earn our future. Being adopted as sons and daughters means we are greatly loved by God, and we live now with great love for our brothers and sisters. We need to see what it means to be this family with a past hope, present power, and future inheritance.
PART I | Uncommon Family | Ephesians 1:15-17
Eph 1:15-17 | 15 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,
In the last section Paul praised God for His blessing to His people to make them family. Here Paul want God’s people to see and understand how much they have been blessed as a family, with each other:
Family of Faith (In Jesus) – Back to the basics of what is true. If you are “In Christ” you are part of a family whose identity is derived from a shared saving faith in Jesus Christ as your savior and King. In a city (and region) that was both pluralistic and pagan in their spirituality and practice there are so many opportunities for people to place their hope, allegiance, and path following a plethora of other “gods and philosophies” Paul is praising and thanking God for His work in making this church a family whose faith is in Jesus exclusively. Their faith in Jesus is something so conspicuous Paul’s heard about without being present. But there is more this family has than faith in Jesus, they have allegiance to Jesus and love to the saints.
Family of Love (for one another) – If you are In Christ you are in a family characterized by your love for others in the family. God’s people have been made Alive, and adopted into His family to live a new way. This new way begins to work itself out first in our relationships with others who have been adopted into the family of God. This is what he means when he talks about our love towards the saints. If you have a catholic background you’ll misunderstand this. We’ve been adopted into the family to be Holy and blameless (1:4) so we are set apart for the service in the household of God. He writes to “the saints in Ephesus. (1:1) that means to be in the family is to be an adopted sinner who is now see as a saint before God. We now see and interact with others the way God does. Faith in Jesus leads to love of the saints (the church!) This isn’t easy because we’re seen as saints but we are also not yet perfect. We’ve been adopte into the family but we’re still difficult to engage with just a an orphan coming into a new home might be. We sin, we’re difficult. We’re not easily loveable, but we are we’re loved by Christ and we love one another. He is so thankful for their love of one another because of how uncommon it is. This didn’t come from them.
Family Prayed For – In Christ we experience and immediate family in our local church but never forget we are part of an extended family of faith. Paul prays for them because they (like we) are dependent on God. Do not cease to pray 5-7 years later still praying, because they’re still dependent and living out a way that is longer than a season but define their lives moving forward. He is praying for what matters most and what is needed most. Who God is, What He has done for us, and how we live in response.
Family Because of the Trinity - How did we become family? All flourishing families take work and cooperation. The work to make us members of God’s family was not accomplished by us. It was done by Jesus (God the Son), sent by the “Father of Glory”. We have knowledge of this work only by the revealing work of God the Holy Spirit who enlightens our hearts. Father Gives => Through Jesus = > The Holy Spirit for the purpose of us having wisdom. What is wisdom? All wisdom is based on the fear and reverence of the Lord (God is big great and glorious and us responding with humility). Wisdom, worship of God, is to be paired with knowledge of Jesus revealed to us by the work of the Holy Spirit. This revelation word is not a “oh that’s an interesting observation” or even “I just had an ‘aha’ moment”. It’s an apocalypse moment where what you know about the world apart from God is shattered by the overwhelming truth of God the Creator, your sin and separation, being reconclied by the work of Jesus in your place that changes the way you see everything else. It’s Paul referencing the encounter He had on the Damascus Road where he was on a path of destruction, met by Jesus, humbled, given a new identity and new purpose.
We need the Spirit to see the truth of Jesus who gives us access to God the Father, we are dependent.
PART II | Unearned Hope and Power | Ephesians 1:18-20
Eph 1:18-20 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,
Eyes of our Heart Opened - This is the center of our being. What we know, what we feel, what we
Because of sin our “foolish hearts” were darkened. Specifically to not be able see God as good and glorious as He is. Our heart need to be “enlightened” to what is true. Paul’s great focus is for this family not to receive some extra blessing, to have something given to them they are lacking but to actually see what they already have. He’s not praying we would have more but that we would see more of what we have.
Prayer that your heart (whole being) may have light. Bright light of Damascus Road that blind Paul to everything in his world so they can see the cosmic plan of God to adopt His people back into His family through Christ by the Spirit. I say mind and soul because he ties together a soul spiritual enlightenment with head level knowledge. The enlightenment we are to have is so “you may know”. Knowing we are part of God’s family should have a profound impact on how we understand our past (even before we were born, what is our family story?) how see ourselves now, and what the future holds for us.
Past Plan! – “Hope of His calling.” Is the literally translation. So it’s not that we’re despairing and He’s calling us to have hope. We have hope because of His calling of us. (later in 4:4 he says they hope of your calling) We need to be reminded of who we are and how God has planned to bless us. The plan is before the beginning. So you can have hope that the plan is known and effective to call you into the family. He’s saying if you’re Christian, don’t take being in the family for granted. Remember How you were called. Remember your experience of the beginning of your life with Christ AND remember that It was God who planned to love you, call you, and adopt you into His forever family not through anything you did to earn your way in but based on His good character of mercy, and love, calling you from being an orphan to be part of His family being made Holy and Blameless in His sight. What are you getting your identity from? What story are you believing? What is enlightening your past? How hopeful it is to know you’ve been called?
Promised Future- Glorious Inheritance Rich inheritance. Not stingy. Back to lavish. Your future with God and Christ will not be one of meager sustenance but of magnificent satisfaction. Paul want’s us to know about this future. God wants us to know about this inheritance for the purpose of grateful anticipation and hopeful joy. It’s not more holy to ignore or minimize the promises of God for abundant eternal life. It leads us to worship God and see His glory leading to our Joy as life with Him is better than life (or no life) without Him. We should want to desire a life that is more, greater, abundant than we have. God is so Good to let us know what is ahead for eternity is fundamentally fuller than now. I hope it’s better than now. It helps us put life into perspective. So on your best days of enjoyment and abundance you can smile and with great anticipation say “wow, life with God is going to be even better than this?!” and on your worse days you can through tears and sorrow not despair and say “Praise God it will not always be this way. This present pain is not what my future holds.” That means all we endure is temporary. It’s not how we’re going to spend eternity.
It’s not an individual inheritance but a corporate one. Joy and riches are best shared (I don’t mean communism) it is the multiplied enjoyment of shared experiences. This concept of inheritance goes back to the OT and the story of God redeeming His people FROM slavery TO the inheritance of a Promised Land (one with milk and honey, cities you didn’t build. So it’s not you and Jesus alone forever, like I inherited an awesome private island by yourself to exclusively enjoy. It’s you in a great city full of family where all the glorious riches of God are lavishly enjoyed by all people in this city. Regardless of how we experience being alive today, we have an eternal hope of a glorious inheritance of life with God and His people. It is God who shows us this hope and who gives us the assurance this hope will be realized. The inheritance is in the future. Where are you getting your sense of destiny from? What is the destination your family path is on?
Present Power- So you have a promise of a future that is greater than your present. But what about now?
Our family has be planned for and elected in the past, it will enjoy rich future for eternity, and it will endure by the power of God today. Our set identity and security destiny leads to our present capability.
The focus on the present is in God’s power. While inheritance is promised there is a power that is possessed and at work now. God is active and marshalling His power for His people today. For those who believe, we need to know God is exceedingly powerful. This power is not small or insignificant. Look at the compounding words used to describe the present power of God at work FOR His people:
Power that is overwhelming. Surpassing/immeasurable, Magnificence Strength/power might. Working of His great might is literally (The energy of the might of His strength) We need to know God’s greatness is not measurable. We cannot conceive of it. The best we do in understanding it seeing how it has been used, how it has been displayed.
God uses power to create, to be life giving. (Genesis 1 Romans 1) The focus on God’s characteristics has shifted. Early it’s God’s love of His people that leads Jesus to redeem them by His Blood (The Cross). God’s love is important, an essential aspect of His nature. But if God is only loving and not powerful then He cannot help us now, His plan from the past is meaningless, and our future is insecure. God’s POWER must be known for us to know true hope, security, and peace. If the cross is where we see the demonstration of God’s love for us as Jesus is sacrificed for us in our place. Then the resurrection and ascension of Jesus is God demonstrating His power for His people:
Resurrection - Christ Lives forever – This means God has power over Death! We don’t have to fear.
Ascension - Christ Reigns forever. Because God is Good he has power over Evil! We can change.
This power is for us because the things we are most powerless to overcome is our own mortality we will all die. And our own sin nature (we are all imperfect) The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in us to secure our place in Heaven AND it is the same power at work to sanctify us (make us look more like Jesus. This means we have been given power to not be enslaved to sin and have freedom now. Because of the Gospel it means we have access to God through Christ by the Spirit so we have access to the power of God. Not for our own gain or selfish ambition or agenda, but Power to endure and have hope when it looks like God’s agenda might be different than what we expect or it seems like He’s not involved.
PART III | Under His Authority | Ephesians 1:21-21
Eph 1:21-23 | 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.
POWER Above all, through all, for all time. Jesus is above every type of power forever. In the pantheon of our understanding of what power and authority is there is anything greater than the power and authority of God.
Seated above temporal and the material. We need to have the eyes of our hearts enlightened to understand this because we don’t conceive of power like this! Thanos… Power isn’t good. Our modern conception of power is different than what these ancient people would have thought about power. So we can think more biblically, they are in a city with governmental power that is opposed to the Gospel and that places Caesar as the name that is above every name. They were powerless in there circumstances so they have spiritual practices all around them that seem to have great power. People wouldn’t have been so into the spiritual practices with thousands and thousands of $$ of magic books if they didn’t think they worked. There was local temple to a sex goddess that had world fame and great impact on the local economy so am I guessing work was hard to find. While their faithfulness in not participating in the cult had an impact on the city it could have been personally costly too. When you’ve gone on the way unearned and there is opposition, challenges, discouragement, trials, that you don’t think everyone else is dealing with it is tempting to want to go back to all the things that seem to be “working” and powerful for everyone else. It’s hard to grasp the idea of the Power of God in situations like this. Jesus came in humility so we don’t think He’s powerful. There was no political victory, no economic victory, no societal benefit. In fact it seems like Jesus left and/or God is disengaged. Yet we see that Jesus has all authority now and forever.
POWER for when we’re powerless. Where do you want to see God active and engaged? We feel so powerless because we are! The present power you can know exists in Christ and is being directed with His purposes FOR YOU. So you can endure and be equipped to navigate. When the city is falling down when you’re tempted to go back to old ways you have a power that has been given to us that is greater than what you’ve experienced with your old gods and old ways of trying to navigate your present circumstances. What have you turned to in times where you’ve felt (or been) powerless? Know that Jesus has put all things under His feet that means the real enemy to God’s purposes and your flourishing has been put under the feet of His body. Jesus is active and reigning now AND will be experienced personally in the future.
POWER FOR THE CHRUCH Where is the power and presence of God most evident? It’s known most presently in the Church. God exercise his power through the local church. The power we need and have from God is under the authority of Jesus. He is head of all things FOR the church. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. (Rom 16:20)
Every family has a head, to be in a family is to be under authority. It’s is good for Jesus to be the head of the church because that means it will move and flourish in the direction and ways He desires. Jesus power is used FOR His Church to endure in the present and continue to towards a better future. Regardless of what we see in the hear and now we can know we’re part of a body that is participating in an eternal triumph! It is good to be in a family where we are under God’s authority. Because it means the greatest power that could be used is in us, for us, and towards us.
Because God, in Jesus, is THE authority above all others; we have peace that no one else can have a greater claim on who we are today and no one else can determine how we will spend eternity. You are safe and secure, and you’re empowered to endure and you’ve been given a purpose to help the body grow. This section Beings with blessing, ends with filling… AS Christ fills the church, the church then fills all in all.
Where are you currently feeling hopelessness? Where have you forgotten your identity in Christ? How have you forgotten what your destiny is In Christ? Remember, or have a revelation for the first time.
Where are you currently experiencing being powerless? Powerless to effect your circumstances? Powerless to help others?
Who is you highest authority? Who have you given power to or are letting define you or direct you?
Pray the Holy Spirit would open your eyes to remember your calling to Christ, anticipate your inheritance of forever life with Christ and see His power over everything for you to have life now In Christ. Know Jesus wins! Everything is under His feet, we are His body who will fill the earth as we continue to Trust Jesus.