The Hope to Which He Has Called You
November 4, 2018
There is a wonderful little story in 2 Kings 6:8-23 about Elisha and his servant. Elisha was a prophet of the Lord for the nation of Israel. And Israel was at war with Syria.
One day, Elisha rose early in the morning and saw that his city was surrounded by horses and chariots and the great army of Syria. And Elisha’s servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
Elisha said to his servant, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
As Paul gets going in the beginning of his letter to the Ephesians, he takes the time to pray to God, to the Father of glory. He prays for the church that is surrounded not by horses and chariots but by trials and temptations. And he prays that believers in the Lord Jesus Christ would open their eyes and see certain things.
Paul prays that God would give the church the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him. Paul prays that God would enlighten the eyes of our hearts. In other words, Paul prays that we would know what we already have. That we would know and understand the gospel of Christ and all the spiritual blessings that we have in him. It’s funny sometimes when we lose our keys and panic and frantically look for them, only to discover after a while that our keys were in our coat pocket the whole time. Paul prays for the church to grow in the wisdom and revelation and knowledge of our wonderful salvation in Christ. Paul prays that we would know what we already have.
In today’s text, Paul prays for three things. First, he prays for the church to know the hope to which God has called us. Second, he prays for the church to know the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints. Third, he prays for the church to know the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe. God’s hope. God’s inheritance. God’s power. We already have these three things. But the key is to know and understand and cherish these three things more and more as we wait for the return of our King.
Today, I want to talk to you about Paul’s first prayer request.
May we know the hope to which God has called us. Think once again about what God has given to you. God has given you the promise of resurrection life and glory. God has given you the new heavens and the new earth. God has given you his Son Jesus Christ. All of this is your hope. All of this is real. And you are to look forward to all of this.
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a young lady who was dying from cancer. She was a believer. And so I did my best to remind her of the hope that God had called her to. I told her that God will give her eternal life and a resurrection body after her death. I told her that soon and very soon she and all of her family members and friends who believe in Christ will be together in the new heavens and the new earth. I told her that she will meet the Lord Jesus Christ face to face, and I told her that he loves her very much. I told her all of these gospel truths so that she would know the hope to which God had called her. The young lady was talented in art and liked to draw. So I told her that she could be an artist in the new heavens and the new earth and that there is going to be a lot of stuff to draw when she gets there. I asked her, “Do you believe everything that I said?” She said, “Yes.”
Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to talk to a man whose father was dying from cancer. The father was a believer. And so was the man his son. And so I did my best to remind the son of the hope that God had called him to. I asked the son what his last words will be to his father on this earth. He said, “I love you.” Then I asked the son what his first words will be to his father in the new heavens and the new earth. First, he said that he would hug him. And then, after a pause and then a good smile, he said that the first words that he would say to his father would be, “How have you been?” We both had a good laugh. It was such a funny answer. It was such a hopeful answer too. And then I asked the son one more question. I asked him what his first words will be to the Lord Jesus Christ when he meets him face to face. The man said he didn’t know. I told him to start thinking about it more.
Brothers and sisters, what do you hope for? What you hope for starts with what your problem is. And if your problem is sin and death and separation from God, then your hope will undoubtedly be exactly what Paul prays for in today’s text. I hope that you look forward to resurrection life and glory. I hope that you expect the new heavens and the new earth. I hope that you desire to meet the Lord Jesus Christ. I hope that you know the hope to which God has called you. What would you like to do in the new heavens and the new earth? I think I would like to be a gardener when that time and place comes. And what will be your first words to the Lord Jesus Christ? Let’s start thinking about it more.
This is not easy. This is not easy because we cannot see what we hope for. We cannot see Jesus. This is not easy because we often forget the big picture. This is not easy because we have other worldly hopes. This is why we Paul prays for the church, and we ought to pray for God’s help as well. May God help us to have an assurance of things hoped for and a conviction of things not seen. May God help us to remember the big picture more and more as we wait for the Lord. May God help us to put our worldly hopes aside.
This last prayer request is huge. There are many worldly things that we hope for. We look forward to them. We expect certain things in life. We desire people and places and things. It is not necessarily wrong to do so. But our Father of glory sometimes disciplines us when our worldly hopes supersede our heavenly hope. Sometimes our loving Father crushes our hopes and dreams. Sometimes he defeats our expectations. Sometimes he does not allow our desires to be fulfilled.
This is painful. But it is good and necessary. Because it is eye surgery and heart surgery and brain surgery and soul surgery all in one.
You must know the hope to which God has called you. Therefore, you must have the eyes of your hearts enlightened (Ephesians 1:18). Your mind must be renewed and changed (Romans 12:2). Your soul must be purified (1 Peter 1:22). This is an amazing prayer request.
I therefore invite you, I encourage you, I dare you to pray this prayer for yourself, in the same manner as Elisha did for his servant. God’s has called you to a hope that is better than any other hope. May God give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him. May God have the eyes of your hearts enlightened. And may you know his hope more and more until you see the Lord Jesus Christ face to face.
Summary of Sermon
In the beginning of his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul prays to God for the church. He prays that God would help believers see, know and understand more of the hope to which God has called us.
God has given us the promise of resurrection life and glory. God has given us the new heavens and the new earth. God has given us his Son Jesus Christ. All of this is our hope. All of this is real. And we are to look forward to all of this.
This is not easy. But this is why prayer is needed.
Sometimes our Father of glory disciplines us when our worldly hopes supersede our heavenly hope. Such discipline can be painful. But it is good and necessary spiritual surgery.
May we look forward to and expect and desire Christ. And may we look forward to and expect and desire life and the world that is to come.
Questions for Discussion & Sharing
Elisha’s servant was able to see a mountain full of horses and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6:8-23). What would you have thought or felt if you were Elisha’s servant? How would that truth have helped you and your faith in the Lord?
Hope is all about what you look forward to and expect and desire. What do you look forward to and expect and desire in this world? What do you you look forward to and expect and desire in the world that is to come? In what ways might your hope need to change?
Sometimes our Father of glory lovingly disciplines us for our good. Sometimes he crushes our hopes and dreams, defeats our expectations, and does not allow our desires to be fulfilled. In what ways has such discipline benefited you in your life and helped you to know the hope to which God has called you? What was it like to go through it? What did you realize - and see - afterwards?
Soon and very soon, we will meet the Lord face to face. What will your first words be to him?