WHAT TO PRAY FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS EVERYTHING - PART 3 - THE INHERITANCE
These are my notes for teaching at the Cornerstone on Wednesday, June 3, 2020.
What to pray for someone who has everything.
We've been exploring the prayer at the end of Ephesians chapter one. I call it what to pray for someone who has everything. That's a bit of a play on words. First, most of us have everything and we wonder what to ask God for. Secondly, the first part of Ephesians 1 declares that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. In other words, we already have everything in the spiritual realm.
The prayer asks that the Holy Spirit would enable us to experience as fully as possible everything God has given us in Christ. The first request is to know God better. To know about him and to know him, experientially, personally. The second request is to know the hope of our calling; the new life in union with Jesus, life in God's Kingdom, conformity to Jesus, the return of Christ and eventually heaven.
Let's read the prayer and then we'll explore the third request.
For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all God's people, 16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. 17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.
REQUEST THREE: THE INHERITANCE - v. 1:18c
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people ...
A Request for a Motivational Vision
A motivational vision is one which is so simple and clear and compelling that it supplies us with energy, inspiration, and endurance to do whatever it takes to achieve the vision. It kicks our butts into action.
Martin Luther King Jr., the American civil rights leader, was one of the greatest orators of all time. I have studied his speeches and I have taught about his speeches. One of the reasons King was such a great orator was his ability to present a compelling vision. He painted pictures with his words.
Here, in this prayer, the third request is that the Holy Spirit would fill our hearts with the simple, clear, and compelling vision of THE INHERITANCE.
Why Pray for a Vision of the Inheritance?
I believe there are two reasons to pray this prayer for yourself, your family, your church.
First, the vision will fill our hearts with praise to God. It reveals him to be glorious, and faithful, and powerful, and full of grace and love for all people.
Secondly, the vision will fill us with motivation and energy to press on in faith through every challenge and difficulty. We want to reach the end in faith so we can enter into the glorious inheritance.
Whenever we take our youth group students to visit Liberty University, we plan on climbing the Peaks of Otter. It is a really hard climb, but the views on top are amazing. Those views are what keep us going, puffing and panting all the way to the top.
Focus really matters. If we're focused on today's struggles, we'll give up on following Jesus. However, if we're focused on "the view from the top," we'll be inspired to endure. In Ephesians 1:18, the motivation vision is the "inheritance."
The Vision Described
What is the inheritance that fills our vision? It could actually be two things: the inheritance God receives (verse 14b) or the inheritance we receive (verse 14a).
The inheritance God receives is his people - his possession, verse 11. In the end, God inherits a huge number of people from Israel and every people group without exception. They are fully redeemed and glorified in Christ, and shining in their new resurrection bodies. Revelation paints the picture:
(Revelation 5:9-10) And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. 10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.”
(Revelation 7:9-10, verses 4-8 is the tribes of Israel) After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
(Revelation 21:1-2) Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
(Revelation 21:9-11) “Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. 11 It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal.
In verse 16, the city is measured. It is a perfect cube, the sides of which are 12,000 stadia. In Revelation, 12 signifies completion, so the city is the complete number of the redeemed, which must be a ginormous number. 12,000 stadia is 1400 miles. 1400 x 1400 = 1,960,000 square miles = half of the USA. Plus 1400 miles high.
God's final possession is a massive number of redeemed people, all transformed, glorified, and conformed to Christ.
The inheritance we receive is final salvation in Christ. Our inheritance is confirmed and described briefly in a number of passages:
The earth: (Matthew 5:5) Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Eternal life: (Matthew 19:28-29) Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
The kingdom of God: (1 Corinthians 15:50-53) I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53 For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
The kingdom of light: (Colossians 1:12) and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Salvation: (Hebrews 1:14) Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
Salvation: (1 Peter 1:3-5) Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
The Motivational Power of the Vision of the Inheritance
Whichever inheritance is intended here in the prayer, it is a compelling vision of the future. But is it enough the energize us to stay in faith until the end? I believe so. Here are my reasons:
God will get us through what we're going through. The power of his amazing saving grace and love for us and for the whole world means that we have the supernatural resources we need to follow Jesus until the end.
We're not alone. We belong to a massive community of the faithful followers of Jesus. God intends salvation for all who will receive it and the passages in Revelation show that it is a truly enormous number of people.
God gets all the glory in the end. His purpose to redeem the universe and to unite all things under Christ will be fulfilled. Then, every corner of the universe will echo his praises. And we'll be in that chorus. That's a compelling vision for every true believer.
Join the Inheritance and You Will Inherit
The beauty of the inheritance is that it is open to all. And all of us can belong to that group because God does not favor one group over another. He does not limit grace and salvation to a single ethnicity, linguistic group, or social class. No one group is superior. Only Jesus. He is supreme over it all.
So, right now, without delay, turn your life over to Jesus. Ask him to cleanse and forgive your sins. Ask him to restore you to God. Commit to follow him with your life. Then, pray that the Spirit of God will fill your heart with the vision of that day when he transforms you into the glorious image of Jesus in the kingdom of light.