Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9; tapping into the power of God, part 10.
Tuesday November 5, 2019
Eph 1:18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,
Eph 1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.
The prayer is that we would know the surpassing greatness of His power (preposition eis: toward, in, into) toward us who are believers. Do we know the super-abounding greatness of His power that we are free to use? If you did, you would put your faith in it and strive to use it to its fullest extent.
The power to God – wisdom/understanding, obedience, and the Holy Spirit within.
The scripture reveals to us that Jesus depended upon the power of the Holy Spirit during the first advent – and in the same way, He sends each of us.
He grew in wisdom and knowledge, He obeyed all the Father’s will, and He was empowered to complete fully every aspect of the mission for which He was sent to earth.
Joh 20:21 Jesus therefore said to them again, "Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you."
Joh 20:22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
Joh 20:23 "If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained."
Joh 20:15 Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?" Supposing Him to be the gardener, she said to Him, "Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away."
Joh 20:16 Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to Him in Hebrew, "Rabboni!" (which means, Teacher).
Joh 20:17 Jesus said to her, "Stop clinging to Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, 'I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.' "
This is His first act as Lord of all power in heaven and on earth, and it is an act which inevitably conveys to them the assurance that His life and theirs is one life.
They are sent as He was sent, and so are we. The apostles had a unique ministry, but at some level we all do. The breath of the Holy Spirit is like the breathing of life in Gen 2:7, but this time it is a new life, a born-again life that is empowered, driven, and guided by the Holy Spirit.
The controversial statement in vs. 23 is most likely Jesus’ commission of the gospel to them. The verbs “have been forgiven,” and “have been retained,” are passive and only can be done by God and not by men. The power that the apostles have is to proclaim that which will both forgive or retain sin, which is the gospel, believed and rejected respectively.
There is yet no mistaking the gravity of our calling. The first official act of Jesus after His resurrection is calling His disciples in the manner in which He was called by the Father.
Faced with failure and wasted time in sin, the believer, knowing his calling, can despair, knowing and feeling how far away from being Christlike he may be, but it is the sense of need that the Lord meets. To mourn the Lord’s absence, as Mary did at the tomb that John records in this chapter, is to desire and invite His presence; and to invite His presence is to secure it.
Would you wish that you had such an intimate experience with Jesus as Mary did in the garden of the cemetery when He called her by name? Do you and I know that we are allowed to have that same intimacy with Him every day? Let us not say that we could never be like Him because of what we have been so often unlike Him. Christ’s love is persistent and it looks forward to what lies ahead. Never let go of your need of Him, for need always secures His presence.
The sense of need is what always effectually appeals to God. The soul that truly recognizes the value and longs for the fellowship and possession of Christ’s purity, devotion to God, superiority to worldly aims and interests, always attains it. If it takes longer than you imagined, remember that magnitude of time does not nullify the promise of “seek and you shall find.” It is the ‘take it or leave it’ types that never find, or those who only want as much of Christ that doesn’t interfere with their own desires, they never find.
Power is by the Spirit, but we have to participate in its use by obedience to truth through faith.
We cannot use our own efforts. But how do we know we are using our own efforts?
The easy answer is that our own efforts always ultimately have as their target things outside of the will of God; simply put – decisions toward sin are our own efforts.
The more difficult issue is when we desire to do the will of God, but in our own power. This second one is always confusing since we are commanded to be diligent and striving, but how do we do that in reliance upon God and not ourselves?
Our will has to coincide with God’s will, so how is it that we don’t use our human will? We are humans after all.
The difference between God’s power and human power can be subtle because it depends on how we think.
First off, we must ask if the difference is presented in the scripture of the NT and that we’re not trying to find an answer to something that isn’t there. In other words, is anything said about working hard to do God’s will, but in the wrong power, or is there an example given of someone working diligently to do God’s will in the wrong power?
Let’s look again at some possible examples:
2Ti 3:5 holding to a form [outward form] of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.
But they are those who pursue sin, and so they fall into the first category – effort to do that which is outside of God’s will.
2Ti 3:2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant …etc.
In fact, I cannot think of an instance in the NT where a person or a category of persons is depicted as attempting God’s will in the wrong power.
Watch Paul’s use of power in 2Co 4. It is his faith and his faith’s proclivity to doing God’s will where he finds power.
2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
2Co 3:18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
2Co 4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart,
2Co 4:2 but we have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.
Paul and the men and women involved in his ministry (ultimately meaning all of us) were given a ministry, but not a ministry alone. It was a ministry, and the Holy Spirit, and mercy. They didn’t do everything perfectly, they weren’t sinless, but they had the mercy of God through the forgiveness of God and so they did not lose heart. If they did everything right and everything worked out great there would be no temptation to ‘lose heart.’
Realizing our own frailty at times and our own sin, we might think that we have to resort to human means rather than Christ’s means. Paul throws that idea out. He and his renounced the things of shame that are hidden, and craftiness, marketing ploys, gimmicks. Rather, they openly manifested the truth that every man’s conscience desperately desires, and knowing that, powered by God the Holy Spirit, approved by God the Father, seeing the glory of God the Son, and all under the grace giving, merciful hand of God, they fulfilled their ministry with boldness.
2Co 4:3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,
It is not the fault of the faithful witness or any inability in the power of God.
2Co 4:4 in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
2Co 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.
2Co 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.
2Co 4:7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves;
Any good is only by the power of God. All we can do is to know good and do it.
2Co 4:8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing;
2Co 4:9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;
2Co 4:10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus [sin crucified], that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
2Co 4:11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus' sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
Difficulty, suffering, adversity, pressure, etc. all reveal the life of Jesus or lack of.
2Co 4:12 So death works in us, but life in you.
2Co 4:13 But having the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," [Psa 116:10 – the psalmist was greatly afflicted and put all his reliance on God] we also believe, therefore also we speak;
2Co 4:14 knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will present us with you.
There is no need to fear. God’s power will take us through. We have beaten sin and death through Christ. Christ entered heaven and no way for Him is barred to us. We will enter with Him.
2Co 4:15 For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God.
2Co 4:16 Therefore we do not lose heart [vs. 1], but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.
2Co 4:17 For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison,
2Co 4:18 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
This passage reveals that the doing of any good is only by the power of God. I cannot do the will of God in any other power than God’s. We each have a ministry and we better get to it. If we run the race that is set before us, fulfilling God’s ministry given to each of us, then we will be empowered by God to accomplish it.
The fruit of the Spirit is love. Could I love with agape and not know if it was of my own power or God’s? Not any more than I would be confused if it was gravity that made things fall to the ground or my own magic.
1Ti 6:17 Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.
1Ti 6:18 Instruct them to [3 simple things] do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share,
1Ti 6:19 storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.
I would add Phi 2:12-13 also, which we’ve spent time learning in this section.
The problem with human power is easy to identify and so at the same time the solution is easy to identify.
Human power, even when it professes to do the will of God, is always in search of something for itself.
So, a legalistic person who strives very hard to be moral and godly in the end is seeking to gain God’s merit for blessing or promotion, or is seeking to be noticed by others and thus promoted in their eyes, or is seeking to judge and put down others who fail to keep up with their own toil. If self is the final reason for doing any religious thing, it is human power because that is not the will of God. We are called to do good for Jesus’ sake and so God will only empower us in that path.
1Co 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord wills, and I shall find out, not the words of those who are arrogant, but their power.
1Co 4:20 For the kingdom of God does not consist in words, but in power.
So, in fact, they have no power, only words. They are false teachers, and false teachers always are looking for something for themselves.