15 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.
In 1779 John Newton, the poet and pastor published a song sung by millions of people called, Amazing Grace. “I once was lost, but now I’m found, was blind, but now I see.”
God the Father gives the Spirit. The Holy Spirit brings joy, counsel, conviction, and is a sign and seal of the inheritance that Christians can have access to today and will one day receive. One of the tasks of the Spirit is to reveal spiritual truths to us. The word “revelation” means to “uncover or unveil”. In other words, the Holy Spirit shows us what God sees and does.
Someone recently asked me what the secret to growing in Christ is. I'm not sure there's any "secret", but, I responded by saying something I wished I could have articulated years ago. “The application of revelation leads to transformation”, I blurted out. “What do you mean?” my friend said. “It means that when the Holy Spirit reveals something to us, if we don’t apply it to our daily life, we lose out on higher and further glimpses of God.” It’s like God saying, “Come after me. Climb this hill with me. You’ll be amazed at the view.” If we chase after God up the hill, we get to witness the amazing view from up there! Then, He says to us, “Com'on, follow me. I have another hill for you to climb. It’s a little steeper and higher, but the view is even more amazing!” If we chase after God up the next hill, we’ll get to witness an even more amazing view. And this sequence is repeated over and over again…if we apply the revelation God gives us through the Holy Spirit. If we fail to apply the revelation the Holy Spirit reveals, then we get stuck in our spiritual lives. It’s becomes easy to blame circumstances and/or people for our stuck-ness. The easiest way to get out of a spiritual funk is to apply what the Spirit teaches us. To what end? “That we will know Him better.” And better. And better. God longs for us to intimately know Him...better today than yesterday!
A Christian’s life, as we see intentionally repeated throughout the book of Ephesians, is to discover and apply what a life IN CHRIST looks like. We are to live IN CHRIST. We are to see us as God sees us! In fact, that’s really only what Christ offers us: A life IN CHRIST. But that creates a dilemma. I want to live my own life! Who wants to pray? Fast? Read and study the Bible? I don’t! But the Holy Spirit in me makes me want to obey and please God! Without a revelation of Jesus and the Father’s purposes for the church, we can’t and won’t desire to be obedient to Christ. Serve? Tithe? The Holy Spirit in you wants you to be generous, to serve! But if a Christians suppresses the Spirit and doesn’t apply what the Spirit reveals, then they’ll stay right where they are spiritually: stuck.
Paul’s passionate prayer for the church is that the eyes of their hearts will be enlightened to know (intimately) the hope to which He has called them (to live, reign, and love God forever), the riches that the church is to God, and His incomparably great power for those who believe.
God created, designed, predestined, loved, died for, maintains, and equips the church to carry out his purposes on the earth. God reveals those purposes through the indwelling Holy Spirit. The application of those revelations is what God uses to transform us!
"Dude, I can do church anywhere. I'm exploring different ways of doing church." Go ahead. That's cool. As long as you are what a church is and do what a church does. The fundamental elements of the church are:
1. They explicitly identify, both spiritually and practically, as being "in Christ".
2. They live out ALL, not just SOME aspects of church life, which are, devoting to the apostle's teaching, fellowship, baptism and communion, and prayer (Acts 2:42). If ALL of these make up your standard practices in coffee shops or nature, go for it! It doesn't mean we shouldn't "church" (used as a verb) in these places, but there ARE some organizing core principles and core practices.
GOD LOVES THE CHURCH!
Is the church perfect? Of course not. But don't confuse people with "the church". There may be people in the church that hurt other people, but, name a safe place on the planet. It doesn't exist.
Every one of us has a next step to take in applying what the Spirit is showing us. What’s your next step? By being obedient to the Spirit in you, you’ll be transformed. Throw away the weak sauce that is watered down Christianity and pursue God passionately by saying, “YES!” to God every time the Spirit reveals truth to you! You’ll begin to see. We'll see life as God sees it. The more we respond in obedience to God, the more we see!
NorthCreek Church is a great place to know and pursue God deeper. You’re invited!