“The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” (Ephesians 1:18)
John Newton spoke a universal truth when he penned the famous line, “I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
Normally, we label those with spiritual blindness as unbelievers or those outside of Jesus Christ—but perhaps you sometimes feel as though you are stumbling in the dark in your walk with God. Did you know that spiritual blindness extends to believers as well? And did you know that the Savior who healed the blind beggars by the roadside with only a touch can open your eyes just as readily and grant your spiritual life the astounding fullness that His Spirit brings?
When the disciples asked Jesus why He taught in parables, He replied, “Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them. But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Matthew 13:11-17)
Christ Our Light!
Paul had one request for the Ephesian saints: that God would grant them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in knowing Him, specifically for giving light to their mind’s eye. This was important because once this occurred, they would see and know three things: what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power to believers. Ephesians 1:18 deals with the first two of these effects.
These elements of God’s kingdom aren’t something we can understand on our own. Once God’s Spirit fills us and reigns in our lives, He brings understanding in these three areas. He is Light; in Him is no darkness at all (I John 1:5). That Spirit of Light that lives in us guides us into all truth of God’s kingdom (John 16:13).
Why does this matter? Can’t we walk in relationship with Christ without understanding these things? Because walking in the Spirit will bring understanding of the kingdom, the answer is “no.” If we are not growing in our understanding of the kingdom of God, that is evidence that we are still walking in the flesh (I Cor. 3:1-3, Heb. 5:12-14). Understanding the mysteries of the kingdom of God enables us to grow to astounding levels of maturity and intimacy with Christ. Yet we cannot understand the mysteries of the kingdom unless He opens our eyes.
How then do you and I remain in the light of His Spirit? Jesus tells us exactly how: “…he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12). This is true because “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). As long as we abide in Him and He in us, His light remains in us.
Taking this one step further, the way we abide in Him is through communion with Him through His Word. Scripture says clearly, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding…” (Psalm 119:130; see also Ps. 119:105 and Prov. 6:23). The more we allow His Word to permeate our thoughts, His words penetrate more deeply into our inner man, granting us increased spiritual understanding of who He is and who we are in Him.
Christ Our Calling!
Calling is “an invitation.” To what are we called? Perhaps more relevantly, who are we called?
God has called us:
- By His own name (Jer. 14:19, 15:16, Amos 9:12)
- By our own unique name (Isa. 43:1, John 10:3)
- A restorer (Isa. 58:12)
- A tree of righteousness planted by God (Isa. 58:12)
- Priests and ministers of God (Isa. 61:3)
- Holy people and redeemed of God (Isa. 62:12)
- The children of God (Matt. 5:9, Rom. 9:26, I John 3:1)
- Friends (John 15:15)
- Saints (I Cor. 1:2)
- To be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:30)
- To the fellowship of Jesus Christ (I Cor. 1:9)
- To peace (I Cor. 7:15, Col. 3:15)
- To the grace of Christ (Gal. 1:6)
- To liberty (Gal. 5:13)
- To His kingdom, eternal glory, and virtue (I Thess. 2:12, 1 Pet. 5:10, 2 Pet. 1:3)
- Brethren (Heb. 2:11)
- Into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9)
- To suffering (I Pet. 2:21)
- To render blessings (I Pet. 3:9)
- To the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9)
What is the essence of these numerous elements of our calling? Paul and Peter both tell us we are called to eternal glory. Colossians 1:27 defines the “hope of glory” as “Christ in you.” This is the essence of the hope of our calling: Christ in us. In every aspect of our calling, the common denominator is the abundant, eternal life found in Christ. This is the hope laid up for us in heaven; this is the calling that extends day by day beyond this earthly life through eternity. Truly this is a high (Phil. 4:13), holy (II Tim. 1:9), and heavenly (Heb. 3:1) calling: it is an invitation by God Himself into the fullness and joy of life in Christ!
Christ Our Inheritance!
The term inheritance refers to possessions, houses, lands, or wealth in modern-day English, Biblical Hebrew, and New Testament Greek. Notice the words God chose: this is the “riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” We often define an inheritance as something passed on to heirs upon the owner’s death. However, throughout Scripture God also uses the term to describe something given to someone to pass it on to their heirs (Heb. 11:8, Acts 7:5).
This is exactly what is happening here. Scripture calls us “the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance” (Ps. 33:12). Paul confirms, “In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Eph. 2:22). We are His dwelling place, the temple of the Spirit wherein He delights to rest. We are His possession, purchased by the blood of the Son. We are valued by Him, not because of anything in us, but because of His infinite love.
And yet He also chose us for His inheritance that He might adopt us as children (Eph. 1:5) so that we could be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17)—thus receiving Him as our inheritance (Eph. 1:11): our dwelling place, our possession, our treasure, and our security. Repeatedly, Jesus defines two specific elements of what His disciples inherit: everlasting life and the kingdom of God. This is His inheritance passed on to us! Through Christ, we are partakers of the divine nature and all that goes with it. Jesus couldn’t have put it more plainly than Rev. 21:7, “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.”
Thus, it’s evident why we need the Spirit within us to open our eyes to the riches of the recognition of this inheritance. Truly “his ways [are] past finding out” (Rom. 11:33) in our own understanding. Knowing the riches of Him as our inheritance is progressing beyond mental assent to experiencing Him day by day in our lives.
Christ In You Today
Today, adopt for yourself and your loved ones the prayer of Paul. Spend time meditating on how God enlightens the eyes of your understanding, what the hope of His calling on your life is, and what the riches of the glory of His inheritance in you and for you is. What is your understanding? What does it look like when light dawns on your understanding? What hope has He given you for your walk with Christ? How is Christ being revealed in and through you today? What are some pieces of the wealth of the inheritance that is Christ? Prayerfully ponder the questions God gives to you, asking Him to open your eyes that you may more intimately know your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in each task He has set before you today.
You’ve been invited to continually behold the face of your Savior in the magnitude of His radiance and to discover the mysteries of His kingdom. Will you accept the challenge?