That You May Know (2)
Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him… Ephesians 1.15-17
From faith to fullness
It seems to me that, in Ephesians 1.15-23, Paul outlines a most important component of the life of faith, one which is crucial to realizing the new “dispensation” or “economy” which the Lord began in Paul’s day (Eph. 1.9, 10; Eph. 3.1-12), and which includes the work of making disciples and growing healthy churches (Eph. 4.1-16). Let’s make a few observations.
First, the passage begins with a community of people who are known to have true faith in Jesus. The evidence of that true faith is the love which issues through them (v. 15). The passage ends with the entire world being put under the feet of Jesus, and Jesus Himself, by His Church, filling all things in all things. Thus, it starts with us where we are, living out our faith in Jesus by loving one another (v. 15). From there the vision expands into an experience of the power of Jesus (vv. 19-21) as it operates to fill the world with His Presence (v. 23; cf. Eph. 4.8-10). Implied is a connection between that outcome, and all the “upside-downness” it implies (Acts 17.6, 7), and our daily experience as believers.
Second, the focal point of this passage is not what believers do in their churches – how they conduct worship, what kinds of buildings they should have, what programs to run, staff to hire, and all that with which we are so familiar, and which we regard as so crucial for healthy, growing churches in our day. The focal point of this passage is on what believers see, how they see it, and the effect seeing it has upon them. And here Paul directs us to the greatest unseeable thing imaginable, Jesus exalted in glory. We know He is exalted in glory; and while we can’t see Him there with our physical eyes, we must learn to see Him nonetheless. Seeing Him there, and participating in His “mighty power” are the bridge between our daily faith as believers and a world filled with Jesus.
Churches and church activities do not make us the kind of people who fill all things in all things with Jesus Christ. Churches and their activities can play a role in this, but they are not the means whereby Jesus fills the world with Himself. They are the vessel through which that filling occurs (v. 23), but they are not the means of that world-filling miracle.
The means for that filling of all things in all things is the Lord Jesus Himself, by His Spirit.
The Spirit of wisdom
Jesus Himself is the means for filling the world with Himself. Specifically, His Spirit, dwelling and working within each believer, is the means whereby we are enabled both to see Jesus and to know His power and glory, so that, in and through us, He fills the world with Himself.
So Paul prayed for the Ephesians to have a greater measure of the Spirit (not “spirit”, as in the NKJV) Who has the wisdom and revelation of Jesus which we need for the new economy we are pursuing by grace through faith.
The Spirit leads us to understand the wisdom of God, a wisdom so compelling, that it captures the attention and hearts of the people around us, causing them to marvel at the righteousness, justice, peace, love, joy, consideration, patience, selflessness, generosity, and goodness they see reflected in every aspect of our lives (cf. Deut. 4.5-8).
The Spirit of God is the Spirit from whom wisdom comes to us. He alone can lead us into the wisdom which Jesus Himself embodies for us (cf. Col. 2.3; Prov. 8.1-36). Jesus, Who is Wisdom authenticates and proves Himself as Wisdom by the wisdom He bears in those who are His offspring (Lk. 7.35). The wisdom that wows the world comes from Jesus, Who is Wisdom. And it is mediated to us by the Spirit of wisdom, Who brings us into the knowledge of Jesus’ power and glory. Only the Spirit can give us such wisdom. We must not count on any human exertions to make us wise. Preaching, teaching, books, courses, workshops, and all the rest can only, at best, connect us to Jesus through the Spirit. When they do this, they fulfill their purpose as avenues along which we engage the means that bears the fruit of love in us.
Only the Spirit of wisdom can give us the wisdom of God. How does He do that?
The Spirit of revelation
He does that by opening to us the revelation of God in all its forms, for He is not only the Spirit of wisdom but the Spirit of revelation as well. He gave the revelation of God to the writers of Scripture (2 Pet. 1.20, 21), and He teaches the revelation of God – which is the revelation of Jesus – to all who look to Him in faith (Jn. 14.26).
The Spirit leads us to see Jesus in all the revelation of God, both in His Word and in His world. We are not submitting to the Spirit of revelation if we are not waiting on Him and following Him and allowing Him to lead us to Jesus in all the revelation of God. Paul prayed that the Ephesians might receive the Spirit of revelation, not as some kind of second blessing, but as an ever-increasing reality in their souls, the living, teaching, convicting, correcting, gifting, fruit-bearing, wisdom-bestowing, witness empowering Presence of the Lord Jesus Himself.
Only Jesus Christ can transform ordinary believers such as we into world-filling, world-transforming witnesses, citizens, and ambassadors of the new economy God is advancing through His Kingdom. We need to see Jesus and know Jesus and participate in Jesus if we are to fulfill our calling as the new creations that we are in Him (2 Cor. 5.17-21).
Only the Spirit can connect us to Jesus. It pleases Him to use pastors and teachers, services of worship, courses of study, and our own daily reading of God’s Word to help us see, know, and participate in Jesus. But if any of these are engaged apart from the Spirit, or without His filling and leading, or for any reason other than what He is seeking, then all our activities will be of no value in fitting us to fill the world with Jesus. Apart from the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, we will remain babes in Christ, unable to fathom the depths of the riches of our loving Lord, or to know Him being formed in us and expressed through us, filling our world with Himself.
Thus it is clear that to see Jesus, as Paul intends we should, and to know Him and His power in transforming ways, we must seek the Lord for the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in ever-increasing measure and consistency, for every aspect of our lives.
1. What should be the role of churches and church programs in our discipleship? How can we know when churches are fulfilling this role?
2. Why is the Holy Spirit both the Spirit of wisdom and the Spirit of revelation?
3. How often do you seek the Lord for a greater measure of His Spirit?
Next steps – Transformation: In your daily prayer time, and throughout the day, ask the Lord to give you more of the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
T. M. Moore
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.