EPHESIANS, THE EPISTLE OF THE CHURCH AND THE CROSS # 4 The magnificent Prayer for the Ephesians


Ephesians 1: 15-17

Dr. Ernesto Johnson

Rio Grande Bible Seminar

Brief review of the doxology

Through doxology par excellence, Paul reveals the Great Design of God in grace for adopted children (Ephesians 1: 3-14); Follow with a magnificent prayer for the spiritual welfare of the believers. In the doxology he has marked the outstanding role of God the Father (vv.3-6a), that of the Son (vv.6b-12) and finally that of the Holy Spirit (vv.12, 13). At the end of each section the key phrase or its equivalent is repeated "for the praise of the glory of his grace".

It also repeats three times the divine motivation in carrying out this Great design: "according to the pure affection of his will," (v. 5), "according to the good pleasure, which he had proposed in himself" (v.9). ) and "do all things according to the design of his will" (v.11). The phrase or its equivalent is repeated nine times: "in Christ", "in him". In all of Scripture there has been no doctrinal worship that elevates the Triune God to such a spiritual height.

Paul emphasizes the sovereign will of God and writes that "he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blemish before him" (v.4); that will persists until the "redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of his grace" (v.7) and finally "in whom you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise" (v.13). What a path of God's grace towards the undeserved!

This doxology leaves us stunned and humiliated at such an expression of God's love, the holiness of God and the grace of God, all included in the work of the Cross. But there is one more point that deserves our gratitude. All this above unfolded came to us "for the praise of the glory of his grace, we who first expected in Christ. . . having heard the word of truth. . . and having believed in him "(vv.12, 13). His sovereign and effective call attracted us and produced in us the response to such grace in the form of faith. "For by grace you are saved through faith; and this not of yourselves, it is the gift of God "(Ephesians 2: 8).

Paul's Prayer reflects God's will for all believers

Before such a display of the "wonderful grace" of God, Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit responds with a single prayer worthy of the doxology. As is his custom in seven of his epistles, he begins with a sincere stream of gratitude for the faith that has introduced his children to this grace. His pastoral heart does not leave another reaction. But, above all, what moves him to such depth of heart is the greatness and the urgent need of the believer to enter and realize more fully these glorious truths.

Paul himself at the end of his life kept that desire from prison in Rome and now shares with us his growing passion: "And certainly, I still esteem all things as a loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whose sake I have lost everything, and I have it as rubbish to win Christ, and be found in him, not having my own righteousness, which is by law, but that which is by the faith of Christ, the righteousness that is of God Faith; in order to know him, and the power of resurrection and the participation of his sufferings, becoming like him in his death "(Philippians 3: 8-10).

It must be said with complete certainty that this prayer did not originate in Paul but in God himself, in the heart of God who paid such a price and showed his love to such an extent that he did not spare "his own Son but gave him for all how can he not also give us all things with him? "(Romans 8:32).

The Heart of God expressed in the prayer of Paul Ephesians 1: 17-19

The doxology consisted of a single grammatical sentence, that is, a verb "chose us" and a long series of participles as if Paul so passionate could not stop to breathe. In the same way the magnificent prayer that follows is a single grammatical sentence with many participles that make us grateful and humiliated to the throne of grace.

Prayer is addressed to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. Again we see in this combination of their names the intimacy of God the Father and Son. They act in perfect coordination from the Great Design already deployed in the doxology. We note that the verb is "give", the axis of the sentence. In no way does God depend on the participation of his creature. Since faith has no merit but only is a means of receiving and realizing what God has given, faith results in deep gratitude and goodwill towards the giver.

Paul echoes the pastoral heart of God and asks for "a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him" Each word brings deep meaning and practical application. Since it is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who acts and executes the grace of God in the life of the believer, his ministry is fundamental. Paul defines what is given as wisdom.

In Proverbs 8 there is a long commentary on the wisdom that the proverbial prefigures with some shade from the Old Testament. He begins by describing it but ends by pointing to the Messiah, the Anointed One. "Jehovah possessed me in the beginning, already old, before his works. Eternally I had the beginning from the beginning "(8:22). In the end "I rejoice in the habitable part of your land; and my delights are with the children of men "(8:31).

James defines wisdom as follows: "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then it is peaceful, gentle, benign, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or hypocrisy" (James 3:17). Wisdom responds to the holiness of God in his actions and in all his ways. Such wisdom in the believer will always be Christ-centered with the virtues of the humility of the Crucified.

After wisdom Paul adds the revelation. Revelation is the discernment of the Spirit opening us personally to the truths that come to be objects of our faith. They are not new doctrines or interpretations but all are well founded in the Word of God, the sword of the Spirit. In this clairvoyant way the Spirit teaches us and applies to our being the truth with a new impact.

We have all experienced the intervention of the Spirit in that moment of deep hunger and thirst for justice, in a spiritual crisis, in a study of the heart or moment of brokenness. This learning is not academic, it is totally different from teaching the classroom or writing a monograph and quotes a famous author. The Spirit itself bears witness to our spirit and we are convinced, healed and touched like that woman who touched the border of Jesus' cloak. This is what Paul asks for his people.

It is important to see the course of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of it. Such revelation or action of the Spirit is not theoretical but deeply practical and personal; it always leads us to a brokenness, a new step of faith and obedience. It results in a transformation, a learning that remains permanent; we go out more like Christ himself. This is what Paul asks of you in this magnificent prayer.

A personal illustration

In my first pastorate in Winnipeg, Canada (1949-1954), I was sad in the first two years because of the brothers' apparent spiritual coldness. The idea of ​​giving an expository series in Romans to speak clearly about the doctrinal position of the believer appeared opportune. I had read a lot of books about our union with Christ and I thought that I already knew this truth and would do them a lot of good.

One Sunday I came to preach Romans 6: 6: "Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, so that we no longer serve sin." In full preaching, the Spirit told my spirit: 'Ernesto, you are a hypocrite! You know nothing of this! 'The reproach so strong was like lightning. I was deeply dismayed. At night we knelt and in all sincerity, he said to the Lord: "Cuésteme what it costs me, I have to know this truth."

A few months passed and I received the first invitation to be a lecturer in a church in Minnesota that I knew. I arrived having studied and prepared the best possible messages after fasting and prayer. On Sunday the interim pastor told me there was another brother speaker, but he wanted me to preach in the morning. I liked it, but I wanted to reject such a proud thought. I preached on the Offering of Isaac, the entire consecration.

In the afternoon the other lecturer did not go on the platform but stayed below. I was critical of how he was going to handle the text. etc. But I did not hear a word because the Spirit revealed to me my wickedness so that I looked like a monster hanging on a cross. "Who is it, Lord?" "It's you, Ernest." For a long time I saw myself as I was and as God saw me.

Then the same Spirit spoke to my spirit: "Stand up and tell them how you are with your spiritual pride and defeated by the secret sins." But 'Lord, they are going to run me. "But I could not resist his insightful revelation. I asked for the word and I told everyone my evil, my pride and my secret sins. The sources of my being ran and I was humiliated crying. I could not take it anymore and I sat down.

At that moment the text of Romans 6: 6 came to me: "Knowing this, Ernesto Johnson was crucified with him. When I sat down I felt so relieved and free of my pain. He did not finish the service because other brothers stood up and confessed their sins. At last the service was over and the pastor asked me to preach at night. I thought inside myself that I can not: "But," Lord, I can not, I'm not worthy ". He replied: "You will never be worthy to preach, but Christ is worthy, preach."

That week was a tremendous revival. But what happened was that my whole life and my ministry took a turn; God made me know that truth of my death with Christ to the Adamic life. Of course since that day I had to go back a thousand times to Romans 6 to take my place in faith again with him. That liberating truth is not heard much, the truth is almost not heard.

This magnificent Prayer can lead us to death and to new life in the Risen One

The burden of my life has been to share the reality and power of our death with Christ two thousand years ago. Today we hear a lot that Christ died for our sins as our substitute. It's fine but it's only half; there is a truncated gospel because Christ at the same time is our representative and we die with him in that cross; we were in it and we died to the carnal dynamic that is in every Christian chest. So many speak of our position with Christ, but they are left as a doctrinal theory and not a living reality. May the Spirit reveal to us our union with Christ by faith.

Let's review how we receive Christ By hearing, we believe and receive Christ

Let's remember again how God saved us in the first moment. The preacher told us that Christ died for us and as sinners we could not contribute anything. But only by faith could we receive Christ and be saved. From the heart we received it and it regenerated us and that is how the new life began.

Truth that you were born again, but do you realize that you were also reborn crucified with Christ? The second truth is as true and powerful as the first. At the same moment we receive him as our representative and we are in solidarity with him participating in his death, burial and resurrection. See Colossians 2: 10-15; 3: 1-12; Romans 6: 1-6, 10-14; Ephesians 4: 17-32.

Paul says it with all clarity: "Therefore, as you have received the Lord Jesus Christ, walk in him; rooted and built up in him, and confirmed in the faith, just as you have been taught, abounding in thanksgiving "(Colossians 2: 6). Could it be something clearer? We enter by faith without contributing anything and now we continue to walk in Christ by faith, only believing and giving thanks for the Message of the Cross.

In that same death and resurrection God condemned sin (Adamic nature, bad dynamics) (Romans 8: 3). If we take it by faith, the Spirit will do his sanctifying work in our hearts. We can bring before God this same Pauline prayer and in due time the Spirit will do his cleansing work. This prayer is the door wide open. Will you enter by pure faith?

Yours in the message of the Cross,

Ernesto Johnson

Gordon JohnsonAuthor: Gordon Johnson

is recognized in Latin America as a lecturer. He has served as a professor at the Rio Grande Bible Seminary, Texas since 1954, being president of the institution for many years as well. He has several degrees among which he received a Masters in Latin American Studies and a PhD in Missiology.

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