Seeing the Invisible-Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul


Seeing the Invisible-Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul

November 9th, 1969 @ 8:15 AM

Ephesians 1:15-20

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 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, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Ephesians 1:15-20

11-9-69    8:15 a.m.


On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  This is the pastor bringing the message from the first chapter of Ephesians, and it is entitled Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul; Seeing with the Eyes of the Soul.  Now if you would like to follow the message, turn to the Book of Ephesians, chapter 1.  I begin reading at verse 15:


Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus,

and love unto all the saints,

Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers;

[Ephesians 1:15-16]


Now, this is the first prayer of the apostle that is in the Book of Ephesians.  And some of the greatest prayers of all literature are in this book.  And this is the first one.  He is praying for the saints.  That includes us, for us:

That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him;

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,

And what is the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of His mighty power,

Which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies.

[Ephesians 1:17-20]


The passage that I shall expound upon: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him:  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened” [Ephesians 1:17-18].  There’s no other place in the New Testament or in the Bible that that phrase is used, “the eyes of your understanding being enlightened.”  The eyes of your understanding: dianoia, dianoia; that refers to the whole thinking man.  Whatever it is that makes you live and breathe and know and think, dianoia, the Revised Version translates it “heart.”  Not the word heart except in the sense that the heart came to represent everything that a man is, and thinks, and wills, and does; the eyes of your dianoia [Ephesians 1:18], the whole thinking you.

“Being enlightened,” phōtizō, illuminated, filled with the light.  Now the phrase is not used anywhere else in the New Testament.  The eyes of your dianoia, translated here “understanding,” the eyes of your soul [Ephesians 1:18].  But it is used in classical Greek many times.  Plato will use the phrase “the eyes of your soul.”  Ovid, in describing Pythagoras said, and I quote, “With his mind, he approached the gods, though far removed in heaven.  And what nature denied to human sight, he drew forth with the eyes of his dianoia, the eyes of his soul, the eyes of his understanding, the eyes of his heart.”  One of our great English poets spoke of the seeing eyes.  “See best by the light in the heart that lies, looking with eyes of the soul.”

Well, this is incomparably, insuperably the greatest gift God has bestowed upon the man that He made [Genesis 1:27]: the sense, the intuitive understanding, knowing things, seeing things, and seeing them with your soul.  A woman one time came up to the great British painter, Turner, who was famous for his sunsets, and she said to the artist, Joseph William Turner, “I never see sunsets like that.”  And he replied, “But, oh, don’t you wish you could?”  Seeing with the eyes of the soul; an architect does that.  Before the building comes into reality, he sees it with the eyes of his mind.  A painter does that.  The difference between a photograph and a painting is that the painter is painting with the eyes of his soul.  He sees on the inside of him.  And that’s what makes a great painting.  He’s painting what he sees and feels in his soul.  An engineer does that.  The man that built the great bridge across the Panama Canal, called the Pan American Bridge, took me to his office, and he showed me the bridge there in a little miniature, all of it carefully seen before the great span was erected across the waterway.  And that is the greatest gift of life, to be able to see with the soul.

When I was a boy, we had a little printing shop, and we had a little weekly paper.  And all the type was set by hand.  And many times, I used to go into that shop, and I’d see these little trays of all kinds of type.  All the A’s would be here, and the B’s here, and the C’s there.  And the thing was filled with those little pieces of types, little facts.  Because I’d say one of those little types is a fact; little facts.  When I was a boy, I used to go to a lumberyard.  I’d see all kinds of little facts around.  There’d be bricks here.  They’re facts, aren’t they?  And there’d be lumber there, and two-by-fours there, and one-by-twelves here; all around, facts, things.  And when I was a young man, I visited a medical school, and I saw where they dissected cadavers, human bodies.  There would be a leg there, and an arm there, and a head there.  And I remember the backbone leaning against the corner there.  And all those were facts.  Isn’t that right?  A leg is a fact.  A backbone is a fact.  But facts in themselves are meaningless unless they are put together and correlated and given purpose by intelligence and reason.

So the man of intelligence went into the print shop, and he put together all of those things here and here and here.  He put them together and printed them.  And they were articles that you could read.  Or a builder went into the lumberyard, and he took this and that and that, and he made a house of it.  Or God took those pieces of anatomy and made me.  And the great truth is not the alphabet or the brick or the leg and the arm; but the great truth is the purpose and the meaning that lies back of it.  And the great pursuit of truth is not for the fact, but the great pursuit of truth is for the meaning, the principle that lies back of it.  And that is invisible.  You have to see it with the eyes of the soul.

Now that is what Paul is talking about in this passage, the eyes of your understanding, the eyes of your soul being illuminated [Ephesians 1:18].  And this, he says, is the work of the Spirit of God [Ephesians 1:17].  The Spirit of God enlightens us.  He illuminates us.  He shows us these great truths and principles and purposes that lie in the mind of God for us and for all the universe around us.  It is God’s Holy Spirit who gives meaning, purpose back of all of the facts that we see.  Remember the beautiful passage in 2 Corinthians 4:6, “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge, to give the light of the knowledge,” has illuminated our hearts to give the light of the knowledge, “of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”  The Holy Spirit illuminates our hearts and gives us that knowledge of God, the great and ultimate truth that can be seen only with the eyes of the soul.  The Spirit of God does that [Ephesians 1:17].

Now, it is the Spirit of God that understands the things of God; that can fathom the things of God.  And He only can do it.  And the Holy Spirit of God takes the things of God, and He shows them to us, and He reveals to us their meaning [1 Corinthians 2:10].  The natural man cannot see that meaning.  And he cannot know that meaning.  In the second chapter of the first Corinthian letter in the fourteenth verse, Paul says, “For the natural man,” the unconverted man, the natural man, “receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness unto him:  neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” [1 Corinthians 2:14].  It is the Spirit of God that takes the things of God, and He orders them, and He places them in their proper place, and we see them, and it makes a great, beautiful, united whole: what God is doing and the purpose and meaning that lies back of the workmanship of God [Ephesians 1:17].

Like the building of Solomon’s temple, there was not the ring of a hammer, nor was there heard the wielding of a ponderous ax.  It was silent.  For the great architect Solomon and Hiram and those who built that marvelous, incomparable temple, made every piece, and the workman fitted it together [1 Kings 6:7].  As the architect had made every piece, so the Holy Spirit does that with us with the things of God.  He takes all of the pieces, all of the facts of God’s whole universe, including you, and He reveals to us their purpose and their meaning.  And He puts all the pieces together.  He illuminates our hearts [1 Corinthians 2:10].

Now the tragedy is that there are those who won’t see and who won’t hear and who won’t listen.  Our Lord said in the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Matthew:

They seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.  And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah saying, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive; the people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes are closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand their heart.  But blessed are your eyes, for you can see; and your ears, for you can hear.

 [Matthew 13:13-16]

And He is talking about the illumination of the soul, seeing with the eyes of the heart and of the spirit.

So many people are like cows grazing in the meadow, absolutely oblivious of the glorious panorama around her.  So many people are like dogs in the kennel, absolutely oblivious to the glorious firmament above them.  But our eyes have been opened, and our ears have been unstopped, and our hearts have been illuminated, and we can see, and feel, and hear, and understand.  God has given us that intuitive faculty.  And the Spirit has quickened us and made us alive and sensitive and full of understanding [John 16:13; 1 Corinthians 2:12-15].  And that was the prayer of the psalmist: “O Lord, open mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law,” in the universe and out of Thy law in the Book [Psalm 119:18].

Open mine eyes that I may see

Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me.

Place in my hand the wonderful key

That shall unclasp and set me free.

Silently, now, I wait for Thee,

Ready my God Thy will to see.

Open my eyes, illumine me,

Spirit Divine.

[“Open My Eyes, That I May See,” by Clara H. Scott]

That the eyes of your understanding, your soul, may be enlightened, illuminated [Ephesians 1:18].

Then he mentions three categories in which he prays for this to be fulfilled in us.  “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened” [Ephesians 1:18], illuminating that you may have the gift of sophia, that God may give unto you the spirit of Sophia [Ephesians 1:17]; that’s a glorious word and one that the Greeks magnified enormously, aboundingly.  When Justinian built the great cathedral in Constantinople, he named it St. Sophia, by far the greatest church that has ever been built.  What a tragedy that it became a Moslem mosque and is now a museum.  When you stand under the dome of that great cathedral, though it was built a thousand years before steel structure, yet that dome is so great that a solid baseball diamond could be placed underneath it; St. Sophia, dedicated to wisdom.

In the twelfth chapter of the Book of 1 Corinthians, the first gift of the Holy Spirit is sophia, the gift of wisdom [1 Corinthians 12:8].  Well, the gift of wisdom is seeing with the eyes of the soul that goes far beyond logic or reason.  The Greeks had a turn to philosophy and metaphysics that is just almost astonishing.  Zeller, in his book, outlines the Greek philosophy, presents the story in the case of a Greek sophist by the name of Gorgias.  And Gorgias could prove metaphysically, first, that nothing could exist; second, that what exists can’t be known; and third, that what can be known, can’t be imported to others.  And he proved that logically.

Or let me take another little instance of Greek logical philosophy.  There are little deductions that prove that motion is impossible.  Nothing can move.  First—now we’re going to take one, two, three.  First: nothing can move from where it is because if it moves, it’s not there.  Second: nothing can move from where it is not; but where it is and where it is not are all the places that there are, so nothing can move.  That’s good logic and good Greek philosophy.  The most illogical people in the world are those who would try to live by logic.  The most unreasonable people in the world are those who would try to live by reason.  They make the world illogical and irrational!

But God has given to man a sixth sense, an intuitive sense, an understanding that belongs to the very fiber and makeup of life itself.  And it’s this gift of seeing with the eyes of the soul, the gift of wisdom, of sophia.  It’s like a hen and she hatches eggs, but she doesn’t know they are little ducklings, and she takes them down to the edge of the water, and she stops and is so amazed when the little ducklings just go right on.  She can’t explain that.  And reason is like that.  Reason and logic can go just so far, then it stops.  But faith can soar to the heavens.  By faith we understand.  The eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews says, out of which you read, “By faith we understand that the worlds were flung into space” [Hebrews 11:3].  “By faith Moses endured, seeing that which is invisible” [Hebrews 11:27]—the gift of wisdom, sophia, seeing with the eyes of the soul [Ephesians 1:17].

And he prays that we might have the gift of revelation [Ephesians 1:17].  When you open the Book of the Revelation, that’s the first word you will see:  apokalupsis, Revelation; that is, the uncovering [Revelation 1:1].  Now what Paul is praying for us is that God will give us the gift of revelation, the uncovering [Revelation 1:17].  For you see, the things of God must be unfolded to us.  They must be uncovered for us because they are mustēria, they are mysteries.  Haven’t you heard me say so many times, “The signature of God is mystery.”  And the sign that God was there, the tracks of God, the fingerprints of God are always mystery, the inexplicable.

Now he prays that we shall have the gift of apokalupsis, of revelation [Ephesians 1:17]; that is, that the Holy Spirit may take the things of the mysteries of God and unveil them for us.  And we can see them, and believe them, and accept them, and rejoice in them, for without that gift of the unveiling, we don’t see, and we don’t hear, and we don’t understand.  Jesus said in the sixth chapter of John, “No man can come unto Me, except the Spirit of God draw him” [John 6:44].  The Spirit has to reveal the great truth in Jesus.  The Lord said by the apostle Paul concerning the Jewish nation that a veil is over their hearts [2 Corinthians 3:14-16].  And when the Jew hears, he doesn’t hear.  And when he sees, he doesn’t see, for there is a veil over his heart [Matthew 13:13-15].  Then he says, “But blessed are your eyes, for they have been uncovered.  And blessed are your ears because they have been unstopped.  For you can see, and you can hear” [Matthew 13:16].  It is something the Spirit of God has revealed to you, has uncovered to you.

And without that uncovering, you will never see, and you will never hear, and you will never understand [1 Corinthians 2:14].  If a man were to try to find God by logic and by reason, he could reason, he could enter every syllogistic, logic formula that his mind could put together,   and after he had thought ten thousand million years, he still wouldn’t find God.  You don’t know God by logic, and you don’t find God by reasoning.  A man might stand under the chalice of the sky, and looking up into God’s great firmament, he might know by reason, wherever it came from, it was from an omnipotent hand.  But that’s all he’d know by looking.  A man might stare at a sunset or at a beautiful rainbow, and he might deduct, whoever created that, loved something beautiful.  There’s no good in a sunset.  There’s no utilitarian purpose in a rainbow.  Whoever did it must have loved beauty.  He could deduce that.  Or he could look on the inside of his heart and find that he’s morally sensitive.  And he could say, “Whoever made me is moral.”  But you could look inside of you forever, and you could look at a sunset forever, and you could look at the star universe forever and never know God or His name or what He is like.

The only way you know God is through a disclosure, a revelation, an apokalupsis, the Spirit teaching you [1 Corinthians 2:13-14].  And that is a gift from God! [Ephesians 1:17].  One time, Plato was speaking about the fact that there are great truths known to us that mind cannot discover; they are revealed to us.    And Plato said it like this: a man can salute the truth by force of instinct as something akin to himself before he can give intellectual account for it.  Can’t explain it intellectually, can’t defend it logically, but I believe it.  And it is no less true even though I know it intuitively, and I see it with the eyes of my soul.

I was pastor in a college town one time, and the dean of the college brought me a book of science.  And the end of that book was the most amazing thing I ever read.  The scientist said—and he was just closing with a personal testimony—he said, “I have not believed in immortality, and I have not believed in the resurrection.  I have believed in neither.”  But he said, “Recently, my father died, and my mother died.”  He said, “Somehow, though I cannot understand it or prove it, somehow I believe that those godly parents are alive and somewhere.”  And then he added, “Though I cannot defend it intellectually, I have come to believe in both, both immortality and the resurrection.”

That’s what Paul’s talking about.  The apokalupsis, the revelation, the great truths of God that instinctively we know, but we cannot defend them intellectually or logically [1 Corinthians 1:25, 3:19].  But they are no less true as Plato says.  We must hasten.  There is one other.  “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that God may give us the Spirit of wisdom and revelation and epignōsis” [Ephesians 1:17-18].  You have it translated here, “knowledge” [Ephesians 1:17].  May I translate it actually, “experiential knowledge,” that the Holy Spirit may give to us experiential knowledge.

Well, let’s look at that for just a moment.  Look you can take all of the scientific mathematics in the world and describe with it sound, and that’s all it is.  It’s a certain wavelength, and it’s a certain going out, and it’s a certain repercussion, and you can write it all down mathematically.  You can take sound and describe it mathematically.  You can even do it visually on a screen.  I’ve seen it done.  But you would never ever know a great anthem or a great oratorio unless you sat down somewhere and listened to it!  Mathematics and science will not do it for you.  You’ve got to experience it.

Same thing about color; color can be expressed in wavelength, and in reception, and in the absorption and the unabsorption of rays.  All of it can be expressed in scientific terms.  But you would never know what a glorious painting is or a sunset or even a television picture if you didn’t look at it!  You have to experience it.  The same thing can be said about taste.  Taste can be described anatomically.  And what you are tasting can be described in chemical formulae.  But ten thousand formulae and ten thousand scientific designations and delineations would never let you know what an orange tasted like until you took it and ate it.  Now, that’s what Paul means when he speaks here of epignōsis.  Experiential knowledge, not what somebody is saying about God or denying about God, but what we experience ourselves in God [Ephesians 1:17-18]. 

And the Holy Spirit wants to lead us into that experience.  Like the psalmist said, “O come and taste.  O come and taste and see that the Lord is good” [Psalm 34:8].  Drink, my brother, eat, my brother, and see for yourself the goodness of God—experiential knowledge, like in the first chapter of the Gospel of John: the invitation to those first disciples, “Come and see” [John 1:46], or like the woman at Sychar went into the village, “Come and see” [John 4:29].  Try it for yourself.  See God.  Taste God.  Know God.  The Holy Spirit will uncover for you, reveal for you, if you’ll come [1 Peter 2:3].

I hate to quit.  Last evening in my study was a sweet family.  And the man said to me—he’s an engineer and a very brilliant man.  He said, “Not long ago, I thought I was having a complete mental collapse, a complete mental collapse.  My mind was disintegrating.”  He said, “I dreaded that outline that lay ahead from one psychiatrist to another, to another.  And all the time, my mind was disintegrating.”  He had married a godly wife.  And she persuaded him to try God.  And he said, “God has healed me and restored me my health and my strength and my mind.  And I’m more intellectually awake now than I ever was and doing better now as an engineer than I ever was.”  And I said to him, “That’s what the Book says in the fifteenth chapter of Exodus, I am the Lord who healeth thee” [Exodus 15:26].  Why don’t you try it?  Why don’t you try it?  Come and see.  Taste and see.  Drink and see.  For the knowledge of God, Paul says, is experiential knowledge [Ephesians 1:17-18].  You can test it.  You can try it.

Look all around you – there are families, and fathers and mothers, and youngsters, and teenagers who tried God, and God has blessed in ten thousand different ways.  Try God.  Try Jesus.  It’s experiential; it’s something you can taste, and it’s something you can see with the eyes of the soul.  And it’s something that will bless and save your life.  Oh, it’s just wonderful what God does for those who look in faith and trust to Him [Romans 10:9-13; Ephesians 2:8].

We must sing our song of appeal, and while we sing it—“My Faith Looks Up to Thee”—and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, a one somebody you, while we sing this song, come down that aisle and to me.  In the balcony round, we’ll wait for you, down one of these stairways; on the lower floor, into the aisle and down here to the front: “Here I am, pastor, and here I come.  I give you my hand.  I’ve given my heart to the Lord.  I pray God to give me that blessing of the illuminating Spirit to see with the eyes of my soul, and I’m coming.”  Do it now, while we stand and while we sing.