What we need most as a church is not a nice building.
It is not a great youth program.
It is not more financial resources.
It is to grow in our knowledge of God.
That is why we find Paul praying in Ephesians 1:17ff that God gives the church a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of their hearts enlightened, that they may know.
If this is what we need, we must know how to get it and, I think we get some hints in this text as well.
First of all Paul prays for this for the church, so it’s a gift of God, this knowledge.
Which is important not just to overlook.
I think, we need to be praying for this as a church, probably more than we pray for anything else, revive us O Lord. Don’t just let us drift along with the knowledge we have had in the past, take us deeper, take us further, help us to enjoy you more and more.
Because obviously if this is what we need, we can’t really expect it, if we aren’t going to God for it.
But there’s something else Paul does here, that I think, we can learn from, and that is he takes us to Christ, he takes us to what Christ’s done in the gospel, and he takes us what Christ has done in the church.
“I want you to know the greatness of God’s power towards us who believe, according to the working of his great might.”
Now verse 20.
“That he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 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. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
And while, that’s really all very deep, I want you to at least see at the beginning, what Paul’s doing, his approach. He believes these people need to know how much power is at work in their lives as a church.
And so he prays, yes.
But he also talks, and as he talks, he takes them to what God’s done through Christ, in order to impress on their hearts, the kind of power, that’s at work in their lives.
And then after this really awesome discussion about the ascension and exaltation of Christ and his present relationship with the church, Paul goes on in chapter 2, to talk about the new birth.
Again, as an illustration, of the kind of power at work in the church.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins, made us alive together with Christ.”
After which, in verse 11 and following of chapter 2, he looks more carefully at the nature of the church itself, talking about how God brought Jews and Gentiles together and made them one, again, as a way of helping us appreciate, the kind of resources we have in salvation.
And I mean, in just a few short verses, Christology, he talks about Christ, soteriology, he talks about salvation, and ecclesiology, he talks about doctrine, that’s a lot of theological discussion, that’s a lot of doctrine, and one of the reasons there’s all this doctrine, is because, of what Paul believes we need most.
And maybe this is finally getting at the whole point.
Because, I am hoping as you go to church, you’ll notice, that whatever church you are part of talks a lot about Jesus.
And a lot about salvation.
And a lot about the implications of our salvation.
And, not in a basic way, I hope obviously, there’s so much to Christ and the gospel for us to explore, but essentially biblical churches need to be very gospel-focused churches, and one of the reasons for that, is because that’s one of the main ways we grow.
This is what we need.
Not just by saying I am forgiven, I am forgiven over and over again, and sticking to all the basics but by going deep and seeing how beautiful Jesus is and how good God is and having our hearts so gripped by that, that we start applying those realities to the nitty gritty issues of our every day lives.
As we come and hear the gospel and we are reminded that God is for us and why He is for us and why we can be absolutely sure that He’s seeking our good, we are learning the truths we need, as we go out and face all kinds of circumstances that are difficult and confusing and, we have to take what we are learning from the gospel and actually put into practice, trusting Him and believing that He’s good, even when it’s difficult, and it’s through that process, that we are brought closer and closer to Him.
In fact, way back at the beginning, as we began talking about the church we are part of, Living Hope, we made a list of what we called Basic Principles, and these were the first two Basic Principles, we wrote.
First, we said Jesus must have first place in everything.
“When it comes to a biblical ministry, Jesus Christ is not one of the important issues.
Jesus Christ is the issue.”
And you know, no matter how long we go on as a church, we are never going to be able to get past Him.
That’s the thing.
The whole goal of our life as a church is to pursue Christ.
Which means, if you are not interested in looking at Him and knowing more about Him and loving Him, then there’s no way you can be interested in what we are seeking to do as a church.
And part of why we’ve always thought this is so important as a church is because of, the second basic principle we laid out.
We said second.
Way back at the beginning of Living Hope.
God uses the Gospel to save us and change us.
And, that’s always been such a basic principle for us.
This is what I am trying to get across.
We believe the gospel is the power of God for salvation.
From the penalty of sin.
Through the message of the gospel, God saves us from the penalty of sin.
But, listen, we also believe God uses the gospel message to rescue us from the power of sin and transform us into the image of His Son.
As one man writes,
“The gospel is not the first “step” in a “stairway” of truths, rather, it is more like the “hub” in a “wheel” of truth.
The gospel is not just the A-B-C’s but the A to Z of Christianity.
The gospel is not just the minimum required doctrine necessary to enter the kingdom, but the way we make all progress in the kingdom.
This means that the gospel is the way we grow (Gal. 3:1-3) and are renewed (Col. 1:6).
It is the solution to each problem, the key to each closed door, the power through every barrier (Rom. 1:16-17).
It is very common for believers to think: “The gospel is for non-Christians. One needs it to be saved. But once saved, you go way beyond that.”
But, as we are seeing in Ephesians 1, this is a mistake.
It’s truths we kind of know that we need to know more deeply, if we’re going to grow.
I mean, even though Paul’s sure, these people are Christians, what does he think they need, he thinks they need a deeper relationship with God, and how are they going to get that, it’s through enjoying more and more of what God’s done for them in Christ, and how are they going to get that, it’s supernatural, it’s a gift, so we need to pray, but God uses means, and one of the means towards enjoying the gospel more is continually reflecting on who Christ is and what God’s done through Christ.
Which is a big part of why we do what we do as a church.
There’s a lot going on in this world.
Every week, you’ve got all kinds of things, going on in your life.
And if you ever wonder with all these issues in this world and in your life, why do these people talk so much about the gospel and Christ and who Christ is and what Christ has done and who we are in Christ and what that means?
It’s because we are convinced there’s nothing we need more than seeing the glory of Christ in the gospel, we are convinced that our fundamental problem comes from not appreciating what God’s done through Him, how much God’s given us in Him.
We are convinced we become better husbands and wives and fathers and mothers and people, as we understand the gospel better, and apply the truths we’ve come to understand, to our everyday lives.
Which is why, we are hoping if you come to our church on Sundays you’ll be confronted from every which way with the gospel and the beauty of Jesus.
I mean, actually, you are going to see this, hopefully more and more, even down to the way we are ordering our worship services now, we are trying to design our worship services, so that even before we get to the preaching, you’ve heard the gospel and been confronted with the glory of Christ.
We’re just desperate you don’t miss this.
I guess, if we thought the thing you needed most was financial resources, we would always be talking about money. And, if the thing we thought the thing you needed most was honor and glory, we would always be trying to build up your confidence. And if we thought the thing you needed most was a comfortable life, we would always be giving you tips and strategies on how to get ahead.
But, we think the thing you need, whether you are a Christian or a non-Christian, is the gospel.
You need to know God.
You need to understand and believe and appreciate who Christ is and what Christ has done for you more and more, and because of that, as a church, we believe the most important thing we can do week after week after week after week after week after week is to humbly go back to God’s Word, crying out to God as we do, that He would help us see Jesus and be amazed by Him, so that our hearts are absolutely filled up, with love for Him.