Call to worship: Psalm 110
Text: Ephesians 1:15-23
On the heels of Paul's great (and longest) sentence on the grace of God in our salvation, he moves to thanksgiving and prayer. He praises the glory of God's grace for its creative effect: a people, a true and visible church, with an amplified faith in Jesus and love towards all the saints. He then prays that the God of Christ and Father of glory may not only sustain that beauty but increase it by giving us 1) a better knowledge of Himself, in which Light, our hearts might further know 2) the hope to which He's called us, 3) the wealth we have in His heavenly assembly, and 4) the (immeasurable greatness of the) power He exercises in Christ for our benefit and ministry as the Body of Christ in this world. As we move into our 'first five' series, giving focus to prayer, this text provides us with something wonderful to pray for our church as a church this year.
- Paul's thanksgiving to God for healthy churches. (1:15-16)
- Paul's prayer to God for healthy churches. (1:17-23)
- That we'd know God better. (1:17)
- That we'd know God's inheritance better. (1:18)
- That we'd know God's power better. (1:19-23)
- Read Ephesians 1.
- Why does Paul give thanks to God, according to 1:3-14? What does God's eternal grace create (1:15)? What does their faith in Jesus include or imply? What about their love toward all the saints? Can one be a healthy Christian or a healthy church that has faith in Christ but not love towards all the saints? How has their faith in Christ changed them? Have a scan of this letter. Concerning their love, what do you notice? Is it malicious? Is it partial? In the context of the letter, is it abstract?
- As these churches appear to be true, vital, and healthy, what is Paul's prayer really about? Is there ever a point at which we can sit contentedly that we're well enough in Christ? What's revealed in the simple fact that Paul prays? What is Paul's first petition? What descriptions does he provide for God? What do those descriptions mean to teach us? How do they ground prayer? Do we think we know God well enough? Do we think knowing God is but theology? How fundamental is knowing God, do you think, for a godly life in this godless world? How has a growing knowledge of God changed or helped you recently? Is this always first in our prayers?
- In view of God, for what does Paul next pray? Will we know the hope to which He's called us as we ought in and of ourselves? Why pray for such knowledge? What is the hope to which He's called us? What does Heaven have to do with earth? What does it have to do with the church (see the second half of 1:18)? Do we hold a grand valuation of God's assembly---as God does? Do we long to be with the heavenly assembly? How might that change the way we 'do life together' at present? How might that change a fairly typical vision of the Christian life today? How might that change the way we counsel isolationist Christians? How might it change the content of our prayers?
- What is the final request, beginning in 1:19? Paul gives the majority of his time to it. Do we duly consider the power of God towards us? In what ways does Paul reveal and/or reinforce what that power is? Who is this Almighty power for? Have we thought that the Church is finally indestructible? How is that so? To what end are we supposed to know, believe, and act upon this power? What is our God-given mission according to the flow of thought leading into 1:23? Can we make a knowledge of God's power towards us in Christ Jesus a regular part of our praying this year?