The Foundations of All Spiritual Blessings, Part 15 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #156)
A series of homilies on Ephesians
A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”
I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.
TEXT: Ephesians 1:15-19:
15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;
17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:
18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,
19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,
Andrew Bonar said, “Revivals begin with God’s own people; the Holy Spirit touches their heart anew, and gives them new fervor and compassion, and zeal, new light and life, and when He has thus come to you, He next goes forth to the valley of dry bones. What responsibility this lays on the Church of God! If you grieve Him away from yourselves, or hinder His visit, then the poor perishing world suffers sorely!”
Leonard Ravenhill said, “There’s one thing we need above everything else; it’s something we don’t talk very much about these days: We need a mighty avalanche of the conviction of sin. David said, ‘My sin is ever before me.'”
In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “According to J. Edwin Orr, the Chinese awakening occurred in three phases. From 1900 through 1905, a significant prayer movement emerged in many parts of the nation. These prayer meetings actually preceded the Boxer uprising, and many who were involved in the prayer movement became martyrs in the revolt. The years 1906-07 were marked by a widespread awakening as large numbers of Chinese nationals responded to the preaching of the gospel. The third phase of the awakening, an extraordinary revival, began in 1908 and continued up to 1911.”
Today, we continue looking at the importance of growing in the knowledge of God and communion with Jesus Christ as believers. God wants us to know Him better, but we must have a heart that is willing to learn of Him and from Him. Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers, that “the eyes of your understanding be enlightened.”
Later on in this epistle, Paul describes unbelievers as those who have their ‘understanding darkened.’ They are ‘alienated from God,’ so they do not have the knowledge they need to understand God and His ways. However, as believers, we are given the ability, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to know and understand God’s ways and what He would have us to do. Our eyes of understanding have been enlightened.
Some scholars and some translations of the Bible propose that a better translation for “eyes of understanding” is “eyes of the heart.” The term understanding implies that only the mental faculties are involved in knowing God. But, according to Steven J. Cole, “‘The eyes of our hearts’ refers to our total inner person, which includes the intellect, the emotions, and the will. In other words, this is not just an intellectual ability to understand or teach these truths. There are seminary professors who can exegete the Greek text here, but these glorious truths do not thrill their hearts. The knowledge that Paul is praying for includes an intellectual grasp of the truth, but it also grips our emotions and brings our will into greater submission to the lordship of Jesus Christ.”
Ultimately, the knowledge or enlightenment that we gain from God is not for the sake of the knowledge itself. God wants us to know Him better so that we can love Him better, obey Him better, live for Him better, love others better, serve others better, pray better, witness better, and preach better. To this end, we all ought to follow Paul’s example and pray for ourselves and each other that we would grow in the knowledge of God and Jesus Christ.