Paul uses a well-balanced phrase in verse 18: “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened” (Eph 1:18). Occasionally, I’ll hear a preacher rail against emotions as though emotions were inherently evil. If the gospel didn’t trigger an emotional response in us, I’d be concerned. Our emotions, however, should be tempered by understanding.
In Western culture, the heart is often associated with feelings. To the Jews and early Christians, the heart represented the center of knowledge. Emotions were associated with the intestines, believe it or not. Regardless, the Bible addresses both feelings and knowledge, but our emotions should always be kept in check by our knowledge of the truth.
The question is, what does Paul want us to see? What did he want the Ephesians to understand? What are these blessings to which we have access?
There are three.
1) We are blessed with God’s plan.
Paul says, “Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you” (Eph 1:18).
As a believer, you know that the entirety of human history is the story of God redeeming his people. Every event throughout the course of this world was designed to glorify God by saving us. It was a plan that began even before the foundation of the world. How does that make you feel? How does that impact you from day to day?
Near the end of Luke’s gospel, following the death and resurrection of Christ, Jesus appeared to a couple of his disciples. Luke says, “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Lk 24:27). Then, we’re told:
Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:31-32)
Jesus opened the eyes of their hearts. He made them see the plan of God more clearly, more fully than they had ever seen before, and it caused their hearts to burn within them.
I can just imagine the conversation. Did you hear what Jesus said? Adam, Abraham, Joseph, Moses—all of these great historical figures were part of the plan. The bronze serpent, the unleavened bread, the design of the tabernacle—all part of the plan. The law, the Psalms, the books of the prophets—every word of them was part of the plan. The rise and fall of the Assyrian and Babylonian Empires—part of the plan. God has been at work in everything so that, in the end, we might be saved for all eternity.
The hope to which God has called us should make our hearts burn (Eph 1:18; Lk 24:32). We possess the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. I can’t promise you a job promotion or a new house. But I can promise with absolute certainty that God’s redeemed children have an eternal inheritance.
2) We are blessed with God’s power.
And what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places. (Eph 1:19-20)
The entire plan of God, the plan of redemption is carried out by God’s power and his working. The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise us. The same power that created the world has recreated us. Not only do we have access to that power, but it also resides in us.
In Ephesians 3, Paul says:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)
3) We are blessed with God’s person.
Far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:21-23)
Lastly, Paul prays that believers will really comprehend the majesty of Christ.
There was a time when Timothy was overwhelmed by the criticism he received from fellow Christians. I’m afraid that I can relate. Listen to what Paul said to him:
Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Timothy 2:8-10)
What was Paul’s point? Jesus himself knows all too well what it means to suffer. Paul knew it too. But nothing and no one can hinder the plan and power of God. Paul says, “The word of God is not bound! Press on, Timothy. Press on.”
The fact is, Christ will be victorious. Keep in mind that we are heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him (Ro 8:17).
Read the last three verses again:
Christ is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:21-23)
So how do these truths help us? “Give it to me straight,” you say. “Make it as practical as a Joel Osteen sermon.” I’m not sure that I can. Even Paul seemed incapable of it which is why he prayed for the Ephesians to have divine wisdom and insight.
My prayer is that God would open the eyes of our hearts. I don’t want us to have a superficial, inch-deep understanding of the things that Paul teaches here in Ephesians. I want these realities to sink much deeper into our souls. I want us to live by them, hope by them. I want our ever-changing circumstances to be seen through them. I want us to care about nothing more in this world.