The verses in Ephesians 3:16–21 are special to me. They’re special because it was a prayer my father prayed over me during the Georgia Conference camp meeting in the middle 1990s.
My friend Bane James had asked me to speak at one of the morning sessions. At the close, Bane asked my father to come and pray for me. Dad laid his hands on me and closed his prayer by quoting Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 3.
Little did I know that my father would be with the Lord in a few short years. Soon afterward I became superintendent of the Georgia Conference.
Since 2001, I have had the privilege of serving the IPHC in various general church leadership roles: Discipleship Ministries, World Missions Ministries and now as the General Superintendent. But I am keenly aware of the twenty-four years of general church service my father provided as the General Treasurer and General Secretary-Treasurer.
I am often in meetings in what was his office in Oklahoma City. I often see and touch documents that he signed in his official role for the IPHC.
The IPHC Core Value related to All Generations, which is our focus this year, has given me the opportunity to reflect on the past, the present and the future.
I was a history major at the University of Georgia. The study of history is still keen to me, wherever I am. You’ve seen those historical markers on the side of highways? That’s me slowing down to read them!
I love reading old newspapers or old documents. My Dad kept excellent records, and at one point we still had personal checkbook registers from the 1940s and 1950s. Not a bad way to see how a family spent money in the past!
I remember in the middle 1960s, when the IPHC general offices were still in Franklin Springs, Georgia, that the church safe in Dad’s office was stolen. It was found a few days later in a field several miles away. As a teenager, I went with my Dad to meet the sheriff and claim the papers that had been scattered from the safe, which had been broken open.
The thieves thought there was money in the safe, but they were disappointed! Instead, the thieves found documents that had no value to them. In some instances, the documents were unintelligible, such as the ones I picked up scattered over the field written in strange characters.
I asked my Dad, “What are these?” He replied, “Those are Chinese deeds to IPHC properties in China that were confiscated by the communists after 1949. We’re keeping them for the future.”
All that past, whether personal or not, continues to have an impact on my life. Those experiences with my father helped shape my understanding of the present and future. They remind me that my actions today are part of something that God has been doing in the generations before me. It reminds me that those who will be the action figures of tomorrow will be part of God’s ongoing work in Ephesians 3:20, God “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think” (KJV).
Twice in Ephesians 3 Paul began sentences with, “For this reason…” (3:1, 14, NKJV). The work of God “to all generations” (3:21) finds its reason in Ephesians 1–3. There the eternal purposes of God are revealed in Jesus Christ.
The sin that has alienated humanity from God, and us from one another, is reconciled through the cross of Jesus Christ. The destiny of the Jew to bless the alienated Gentile is brought together in what Paul calls the “mystery” (1:9; 3:3, 4, 9), that Jew and Gentile are together in Jesus Christ.
I like the older King James Version translation of “For this cause,” in Ephesians 3:1 and 14. It reminds me of a similar phrase in 1 Samuel 17:29, where the young shepherd David, facing an arrogant, profane, and godless Philistine, calls out this challenge, “Is there not a cause?”
It is for “this cause,” expressed in the reconciliation of the world to God in Christ, that each generation carries on its gospel mission. “For this cause…”:
1. Each generation is confident of divine strength, “according to the riches of His glory” (3:16).
2. Each generation is confident that Christ dwells “in your hearts by faith” (3:17).
3. Each generation discovers afresh the power of Christ’s love, “which passes knowledge” (3:17-19).
4. Each generation by faith discovers that Christ “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” by and through the Holy Spirit “that works in us” (3:20).
Whenever I’m with a group of young adults, whether at a local congregation, YouthQuest, Accelerant, March for Life or with my own grown children and young grandchildren, I often hear my father’s voice praying Ephesians 3 over me and over them. I feel his hand on my shoulder and my head. I sense from his spirit one generation intentionally, and literally, handing “this cause” to another generation.
It’s our cause and our time beckoning us to renewed faith and love in Christ, “to all generations.”
By Doug Beacham
This article was published in the February 2018 issue of Encourage.