EPH 3:4 And by referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ,
EPH 3:5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;
EPH 3:6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel,
EPH 3:7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.
Paul was made a minister of this wonderful gospel (good news) according to the gift of God’s grace, as Paul was set apart from the womb for this purpose.
It was according to the working of God’s power that this grace was given to Paul. In other words, it wasn’t Paul’s preparing for it, planning for it, other people grooming him for it; all of which would be human effort without God. He was called and the power of God mysteriously made it happen.
We say mysteriously, because we cannot know how the sovereign predestination of God coexists with the free-will of man, in this case Paul, to believe and willingly go.
Yet Paul would say that he had no choice. Called into God’s service, in which the particulars are mapped out by Him, if you are going to go into God’s service, you have no choice in the matter. Yet, you do have the choice of entering into God’s service or not.
The kingdom of God is like a treasure in a field or a pearl of great price. Seen, whether stumbled upon or sought, the finder will enter. And yet still, he will continue to be challenged with selling all that he has to buy it, i.e. experiencing the full extent of the treasure, which is Christ Himself.
1CO 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.
1CO 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me.
Paul is saying here that he didn’t apply for the job. That would only mean that he thought himself worthy and qualified, which is his own power without God.
Being called means that he doesn’t have a choice but to be that steward God chose. Yet, that doesn’t mean he has no choice in the matter, but it does mean that if he is going to do the will of God for his personal life, then this path or stewardship is the only one open. He still has to choose to follow it. And also, since it is a path sovereignly chosen by God, if Paul refuses it, he must come under judgment for that.
And because he didn’t himself prepare and apply for this stewardship, it is not a paid position, meaning, he does not earn compensation for it, but rather, whatever God chooses to compensate.
1CO 9:18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.
So, there is a reward. It is to accomplish the requirements of the stewardship.
Therefore, God makes us what we are. We chose for it, but only God can accomplish it. His power works mysteriously in us, but the promise is that it will work.
We must be clear about our responsibility, without which the power of God will not be an experience.
The power of God is always available to the believer since the Holy Spirit always lives in him and the word of God is always available to him. That power must not remain a potential, like a capacitor or a battery that remains out of a circuit. God’s power must flow, and unlike the mass of electrons in capacitors, which are always limited, God’s power is unlimited.
Paul found that the power of God worked mightily within him, COL 1:29.
COL 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions.
COL 1:25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,
COL 1:26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints,
COL 1:27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
COL 1:28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.
COL 1:29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
Paul knew what his share was and he did it. It was clear to him that he was called to carry out the preaching of the word of God and he did it. It was for that purpose that he labored according to God’s power and he found just how mighty that power was.
Certainly, the power of God working in Paul did not force him to labor and strive. If that were true, then power wouldn’t be a gift to be used, as what grace is.
Paul was called by God, knowing where to go, he went. He wasn’t forced to.
ACT 13:2 And while they were ministering to the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."
ACT 13:3 Then, when they had fasted and prayed and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.
ACT 13:4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia and from there they sailed to Cyprus.
ACT 13:5 And when they reached Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews; and they also had John as their helper.
We also know that as Paul went on to Asia, John Mark decided to go home. These men were not forced.
ROM 9:1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit,
ROM 9:2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart.
ROM 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh
That is not the desire of a man forced. It is the desire of a man who loves God and man.
God’s power is a gift to be used, and so it is grace. It is not forced into operation, which is bondage.
How could any of us strive according to God’s power if we are not seeing ourselves and our lives in light of His truth concerning Him, us, and the world around us? How could I have any power against temptation to sin and evil if I am not filled in my mind with the good of God’s plan and convinced of its life and blessing? How could I possibly find the power to always do good unto others if my mind is not filled with the truth of its value and eternal repercussions? It’s not that hearing the word turns on a magical switch within me. (I have met people who claim to listen to God’s word for decades and who seem, in my opinion, to have no manifestation of Christ.) We could hear Scripture without listening or understanding.
It is knowing and understanding with insight that allows me to tap into the power of God.
EPH 1:8 In all wisdom and insight
EPH 1:9 He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him
EPH 1:10 with a view to an administration suitable to the fulness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things upon the earth.
His power working in me has to be in accordance with my own intellect, conscience, and will, or else it is not a part of me.
How could that possibly happen when my intellect or knowledge is void of God’s, or my conscience is void of His values, or my will is void of God’s own desires? It cannot.
I am to be consciously choosing God’s will, which is the only way that I can be obedient. Obedience can only happen when faith is its foundation. We put our faith in the revealed purpose of God, the revealed truth of God, which gives us wisdom and insight.
So, it is all on us? Not so fast. It is telling that some Christians seem to emphasize one or the other of the sources of power, when both should be equally emphasized. What is the other source?