by Mike Ratliff
15 For this reason I too, having heard of the faith in the Lord Jesus which exists among you and your love for all the saints, 16 do not cease giving thanks for you, while making mention of you in my prayers; 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. Ephesians 1:15-17 (NASB)
This ministry is dedicated to the teaching of God’s truth, uncompromised, with the knowledge that in being obedient in this, God will use this to shine His truths into the hearts of His people thereby drawing them from just being professors in Christ to being mature believers who are obedient to Him in every part of their lives. I know what the former is like. I remember vividly that period prior to God drawing me to Himself, the process He used to do it, and the remarkable result afterward.
7 Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. James 4:7-10 (NASB)
In my case that process lasted for about 8 months in 2004 and, of course, is still going on. We are never going to reach perfection in this life. However, in that year, I went from going through the motions as a church member, a deacon, and a Bible teacher who spent the bare minimum amount of time in prayer, in the Word, studying doctrine, et cetera to the exact opposite by the end of the year. In January of that year God drew me to Himself. I have no other way to describe it. In any case, over the next 8 months I spent more and more of time in prayer, in the Word, studying doctrine, in worship, et cetera until that is all I was doing when I wasn’t working or eating or dealing with family issues.
By August it was full time, all the time. I am convinced that what happened over that time period was what Paul was describing in Ephesians 1:17, which I placed at the top of this post. Of course, since that time I make sure that I pray for wisdom and discernment every day. I also pray for maturity in Christ, personal holiness and Christlikeness. Why is this important? Here is vv17-19.
17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might Ephesians 1:17-19 (NASB)
Here is that same passage from the NA28 Greek text:
17 ἵνα ὁ θεὸς τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὁ πατὴρ τῆς δόξης, δώῃ ὑμῖν πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ ἀποκαλύψεως ἐν ἐπιγνώσει αὐτοῦ, 18 πεφωτισμένους τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς τῆς καρδίας [ὑμῶν] εἰς τὸ εἰδέναι ὑμᾶς τίς ἐστιν ἡ ἐλπὶς τῆς κλήσεως αὐτοῦ, τίς ὁ πλοῦτος τῆς δόξης τῆς κληρονομίας αὐτοῦ ἐν τοῖς ἁγίοις, 19 καὶ τί τὸ ὑπερβάλλον μέγεθος τῆς δυνάμεως αὐτοῦ εἰς ἡμᾶς τοὺς πιστεύοντας κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ. Ephesians 1:17-19 (NA28)
What is Paul describing in v17? He is praying that God the Father will give Christians who are maturing in Christ the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him. The word wisdom translates σοφίας, which denotes the capacity to not only understand something, but also to act accordingly. It is the latter that separates wisdom from knowledge. This is not wisdom of the world, but the wisdom that can only come from God. The word revelation translates ἀποκαλύψεως. This describes the revelation of the mystery of God. The word itself is a word picture of revealing a mystery that is hidden behind a curtain for instance. One of Jesus Christ’s purposes in His incarnation was to reveal the Father to those who were chosen. In any case, what Paul is describing is that those who truly mature in Christ are given this spirit of wisdom that the immature do not have and they are given understanding into the purposes of God. The mature are eternally focused while the immature are temporally focused.
The mature in Christ should pray for and help the immature see that their circumstances are simply for the here and now and not permanent and that it is eternity that really matters. The mature in Christ understand this. After this last election in the United States I was absolutely appalled at the reaction of so many professing Christians who wanted to impeach Donald Trump simply because they hated him and they are totally focused on the here and now. They are totally overlooking the fact that it is God who raises up nations and kings, etc. We are to be focused on eternity while we pray for our leaders.
Lastly, the mature in Christ understand that they are totally safe in God’s hands as we see in Romans 8:28-39.
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; 30 and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? 33 Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; 34 who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. 35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 Just as it is written,
“For Your sake we are being put to death all day long;
WE were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:28-39 (NASB)
Yes, evil people still do evil things. Yes, much of the visible church is still in the hands of wolves in sheep’s clothing. However, those truly in Christ are completely safe. Those who are mature in Christ, that is, those who are maturing as described above, will have a strong faith and nothing can shake them from being eternally focused.
In light of all this what I say is yes and Amen!
20 He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. Revelation 22:20 (NASB)
Soli Deo Gloria!