Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Knowing God (Eph. 1:17-19)

Ongoing knowledge of God is explained by Paul under three aspects: the hope of his calling, the riches of his glory in the saints, and in the power of the resurrection of Christ. In one sense each of these aspects will not be fully experienced by us until the second coming of Christ. The term ‘hope’ refers to the future, we are going to receive our inheritance in the future when we reach the eternal state, and we will experience the power of Christ’s resurrection when we undergo physical resurrection. Yet although the full experience will not occur until the second coming, we can experience samples of it because the Spirit functions as an earnest or foretaste of what is to come (v. 14).

The word ‘hope’ does not mean something imprecise, which is the way we often use it. Rather it refers to an assured certainty of something that believers are going to receive in the future. It describes the believer’s subjective experience as he focuses on the objective certainty of the eternal inheritance. One writer describes hope as ’faith standing on tip-toe’. God’s calling is concerned with his purpose for his people, that they become his sons and heirs. This hope is a living hope because it stimulates strong desires within Christians for the state of perfection.

Paul then says something remarkable – he says that believers are God’s inheritance. This inheritance is said by Paul to be one of wealth and glory. What does this mean? Firstly, it means that God values his people highly, and he has shown this by what he did for them. In them God has invested his vast resources of his grace. He has given them to his Son, to share his destiny. Secondly, it suggests that God regards his people as a foretaste of his own experience when the eternal world will come. Since believers are his inheritance, then his enjoyment of them will not be complete until the entire family of God is restored to his presence. Every Christian individually and all Christians corporately mean something to God. Third, the understanding of who God really is will not take place until he inherits his people, for then we will see the fullness of his abilities in providing for his people through the eternal ages.

Paul also prays that they will know God’s power in their lives. The power to which he refers is not so much God’s power as seen in creation, although that is a wonderful display of his power. Rather Paul is concerned with the transforming power released into human experience through the resurrection of Jesus. When Jesus rose from the dead, his people were united to him, and that power is given to them to enable them fulfil every aspect of Christian living. We need this divine power in order to live holy, Christ-like lives.

The display of power seen in Christ’s mighty resurrection should have at least two effects upon us. First, it should encourage us by showing that God is more than capable of dealing with our sins. Second, it should remind us of the power of sin in the lives of regenerated people, in that it requires such power to deal with it.

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