Ephesians– overview of 3:1-9; tapping into the power of God, part 23
Wednesday November 27, 2019
The cross is the power of God. We only yield our lives to God when we see that He yielded His for us in the Person of Christ.
Again, Christ and all that He represents is the power and wisdom of God. He gives us the power to yield our entire lives to Him. We simply have to make the decision to do it, applying the word of God, the truth, to every aspect of our lives.
1Co 1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block, and to Gentiles foolishness,
1Co 1:24 but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1Co 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
Christians witnessing to others can find themselves occupying their time in explaining how the cross of Christ ought to influence men, whereas they ought to occupy their time in so presenting the cross of Christ that does influence men. They can give labored explanations of faith and elaborate instructions regarding the method and results of believing, while they should be exhibiting Christ so that faith is instinctively aroused. Those onlookers at the crucifixion who beat their breasts and returned to their homes with awe and remorse were not told that they should feel compunction; it was enough that they saw Christ crucified.
The world needs to see Christ crucified.
Gal 3:1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?
The very fact that it was a Person, not a system of philosophy, that Paul proclaimed was sufficient proof that he was not anxious to become the founder of a school or the head of a party (division in Corinth). It was to another Person, not to himself, he directed the attention and faith of his hearers. And that which permanently distinguishes Christianity from all philosophies is that it presents to men, not a system of wisdom to be understood, but a Person to be relied upon. Wisdom comes only after Christ has been relied upon.
In Christ we see how truly man is God’s image, and how fit a medium human nature is for expressing the divine. Christ is the glory of God, and we all with an unveiled face are transformed from glory to glory.
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.
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–to settle for something far less than God’s way because of our failures. Paul throws that idea out. He and his renounced the things of shame that are hidden, and craftiness, marketing ploys, gimmicks. It is like politicians who have to use these techniques because they have nothing good to actually offer the voters.
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.
Every believer has a ministry that can only be fulfilled by open manifestation of the truth, powered by God, with clear sight of the glory of the Son of God and gracious giving.
Only God, and no one else is admitted to your inmost consciousness. There is a deep part of every person where no others are allowed except the One that created it. To shut Him out of our inmost consciousness is to cut ourselves off and to be alone at our core. Not even God is alone, existing eternally as Trinity. To be alive with God in our innermost being is to also be alive with others in the unity of love. It is spiritual suicide to cut ourselves off from God.
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.
Things will get very difficult at times. Those times are real tests of faith and perseverance in them will put a lot of muscle on your faith.
1Co 1:18 For the word of the cross is to those who are perishing foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Jesus is our example. The Exodus generation were in the test of the wilderness. The water from the rock and the manna from heaven was their example. These plainly showed them that God would make all of nature bow to their needs if they pressed forward to their God appointed destiny: but most of them shrank from the hardships and hazards of the way, and could not lift their hearts to the glory of being led by God and used to fulfill His greater purposes. So, why do we have hardships and hazards along the way? They reveal our faith or lack of – simple.
And, none in Israel were excluded. For all passed through the Red Sea and that meant that they were all baptized into Moses, meaning that they were all pledged to his leadership and also to freedom in the wilderness (free but in an environment of hardship). No believer in the church is excluded from the hardship that will come from living the Christ-life.
There is something that we might call a decent life and there is the Christ-life, the best life. The first one we might call “getting by,” and let’s call it a second prize. The Christ-life is the first prize. A believer must make up his mind. He may win the first prize; he may win the second: he cannot win both, and if he tries, he will win neither.
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.
This is Paul’s boldness (vv. 12-14). 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.
[quote from Joe Aldrich] “There is a faith life style summed up in Hebrews 11:13: “All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance.” And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth.
Pastors of all people must make this confession. It is the Magna Carta of Christian living. These heroes of the faith abandoned any hope of ultimate fulfillment in this life. They determined to ever be foreigners in their own countries, to live as aliens in their own land.
No city on this earth, no geographical location, no second home in the mountains has foundations which will last. We should abandon all hope of being satisfied and fulfilled with what is temporal. Our heartache is eternal, and no temporal bicarbonate will ease it. Nothing less than seeing Jesus face to face and dwelling in his presence will ever satisfy our deep longing. It’s a longing for home, and this world will never be our home.
Much of the Christian community acts as though this world is its home. Materialism is rampant. We have followed the gospel of the worldling who hopes that by doubling the cost of his new home he can double his happiness. This perverted gospel cripples the impact of countless Christians. The visible mark of faith is an alignment with an eternal home which creates an attitude and life style marked by its contrast with the secularism of our day. This alignment refocuses everything else. It changes our goals and objectives. It redirects our gifts and abilities and resources. It redefines our mission. Suddenly eternity with the Lord is everything, and his purposes become critical as we prepare for that great day. The “alien and stranger” lives for the possibility of hearing his Master say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Like Moses, he looks forward to the reward.
Pastors must be examples to the church of total stewardship. They should richly enjoy all that God has given, but their heavenly citizenship should be obvious. The deceitfulness of wealth, of any treasure but God himself, is a dangerous time bomb. Some pastors err in the other direction. They parade their poverty and continually let their needs be known, and then praise God for his wonderful provision. Be careful, and pray for balance.” [end]