17 Aug 2020
“having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power towards 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,…(Ephesians 1:18-20).
Having the eyes of our hearts enlightened implies illumination of our understanding that we might obtain a better comprehension and enter into a fuller enjoyment of the things we ought to know as believers. The Apostle Paul brings together three great truths which he wants the believers to know in mind and experience (through the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit). They concern God’s call, inheritance, and power. We will look at the first two at this juncture.
We know that a blind man is unable to perceive objects even when the sun is shining brightly and the strongest eyes are useless when a person is in total darkness. Likewise, the natural man is without spiritual sight or spiritual light. He has eyes, but they do not see, perceiving no beauty in Christ that he should desire Him. Thus he receives not the things of the Spirit of God and he is devoid of spiritual discernment (1 Corinthians 2:4). But those who are born again are brought out of darkness into God’s marvellous light and are given “an understanding that they may know Him that is true” (1 John 5:20) so that they are now capable to discern, understand and enjoy spiritual things. Nevertheless ignorance, prejudice, pride and the flesh ever tend to blur his vision so long as he remains in this world. The Christian is therefore in constant need of having the eyes of his heart (understanding) enlightened afresh and of praying,”Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law” (Psalm 119:18).
What Paul was praying for the believers is divine revelation, an unveiling of spiritual things, requiring a spiritual faculty to take them in, producing spiritual effects where and when the revelation is received. Paul was not asking for the believers’ minds to be furnished with new ideas. He was asking God to bestow upon them a teachable disposition, a humble desire to be instructed by God. The teaching consists of God’s enabling the mind to perceive spiritual and divine objects and to see their importance and value in such a way as to incline the affections to love them and the will to choose them.
In Scripture “hope” always refers to something future, and signifies far more than a mere wish that it may be realised. It sets forth a confident expectation that it will be realised (Psalm 16:9). We look now at the hope of God’s call. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ and into fellowship with Him and all the saints of all generations. He has called us with a holy calling, since He who has called us is holy Himself and says to us, ‘you shall be holy, for I am holy’. One of the characteristics of the holy people is liberation from the judgement of God’s law. So we are not to lapse into slavery again, for we are called to freedom. Another characteristic is harmonious fellowship across barriers of race and class, for we are called to be the one body of the Lord to enjoy the peace of Christ and forbear one another in love and to live a life worthy of this calling.
We are also called to experience opposition from an unbelieving world and an enemy who seeks to destroy us; we are called to patient endurance in the context of unjust suffering, because Christ also suffered for us.
But we know that beyond the suffering lies the glory. For God has also called us ‘into His own kingdom and glory’ or ‘to His eternal glory in Christ’. So we need to press on, to persevere towards the goal of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Put simply, it is a call to an altogether new life in which we know, love, obey and serve Christ, enjoy fellowship with Him and with each other, and look beyond our present suffering to the glory which will one day be revealed. This is the hope to which He has called us. Paul prays that the eyes of understanding of believers may be opened to know this.
The riches of His glorious inheritance
God’s inheritance points on to its end, to the final inheritance of which the Holy Spirit is the guarantee and which Apostle Peter describes as ‘imperishable, undefiled and unfading, kept in heaven for you’. For God’s children are God’s heirs, in fact fellow heirs with Christ and one day by His grace the inheritance will be ours. What it will be like exactly is beyond us to imagine but certain aspects of it have been revealed in the New Testament.
We are told we shall ‘see’ God and Christ and worship Him; this beatific vision will be a transforming vision, for when He appears we shall be like Him, not only in body but in character, and that we shall enjoy perfect fellowship with each other. This inheritance will be ‘among the saints’ as we join the ‘great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb ( Rev. 22:3-4; 1 John 3:2; Philippians 3:21m Rev, 7:9).
The inheritance is a glorious one.The central and all-absorbing Object there is the God of glory, particularly as He shines forth in the Person of our glorious Redeemer. There our souls and bodies will be glorious. Our employments will be glorious – praising and glorifying God forever and ever. We shall be surrounded by the glorious angels. Our idea of heaven, of glory, of perfection – even after the partial revelation of them in the Scriptures – is at very best defective. Yet enough is revealed to fill us with admiration, astonishment, and adoration, and in proportion as the eyes of our hearts and understanding are enlightened and as faith is exercised on what God has made known to us in His Word, our hearts will be affected and our lives influenced. There is indeed the greatness and grandeur of it all.
Our text not only includes the inheritance which God has provided for His saints and which they have in Him, but it also refers to what God HImself has in them. Bringing vessels of mercy to glory is to make known the riches of His glory (Romans 9:23). His glory shall arise out of theirs, and therefore it is said to be ‘His inheritance in the saints.’ When the saints are glorified and with Him in heaven, then “He will rejoice over them with joy: He will rest in HIs love, He will joy over them with singing” (Zephaniah 3:17).
The more our hearts are set on heavenly objects, the less power will the perishing things of time and sense have to enthrall or even influence us.
Ponder over what the late J.I. Packer wrote on Eschatology:-
“The Christian life is essentially a life of hope, a life in which nothing is perfect yet but the hope of perfection is set before us, so that we may forget what is behind and reach out to what lies ahead and press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. One of the things we modern Christians are very bad at, it seems to me, is remembering what the whole materialistic culture around us encourages us to forget: that there are two worlds not just one, two lives not just one, and heaven really is more important than earth, for heaven’s life is the goal which this life is preparation…Life here and now is preparation for something more glorious that is ahead of us in the future. We need, then, to understand the Christian hope in order to understand the Christian life”.