Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 20
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999|
|Dr. Barber continues his series on Ephesians. This week he looks at Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian believers: that they will come to a deeper understand of some things God has in store for them.|
That We Might Know His Power – Part 2
Will you turn with me this morning to Ephesians chapter 1? We’re going to continue a message we started earlier, talking about “That we might know His power.” Let’s read verses 18 and 19: “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, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.”
Recently we celebrated resurrection Sunday, the day Jesus Christ rose from the dead, proving without a doubt that He is and always has been the Son of God. The thing that we’re trying to see here in this passage is that the very power of God that raised Jesus from the dead can be experienced in our own lives day by day.
In Philippians 3:10 Paul says, “That I may know Him.” The word “know” means not just about Him: I want to experience Him and the power of His resurrection. We can know His power; Jesus is the embodiment of that power. He told Martha, “I am the Resurrection, and I am the Life.”
Putting verses 18 and 19 together Paul has a concern that they might know the riches of the glory of His inheritance and also the hope of His calling. We looked at the word “calling” through the New Testament. We found that His calling has to do from the time we’re saved, sanctified, one day glorified, and on. The word “hope” means “expectation,” that which the Christian can look forward to and should be looking forward to. It means to understand that in Christianity salvation is just a beginning. It’s not the end. It all starts at salvation, it doesn’t end there. Part of the hope of His calling for the Christian is to realize that today is one day, but tomorrow he is to be more conformed to the image of Christ, that he is to be filled constantly with the fullness of God. Then one day in the marvelous expectation of Jesus coming forth, his body will be glorified, taken up to be with Him and then on and on and on and on.
We live in the hope of our calling, but not only that, we’re the inheritance of God. We’re to show forth the riches of the glory of being His inheritance. There are different ways we could look at that phrase. I believe he’s saying, “You are God’s possession while you’re here on this earth.” We’re to live that way and therefore, to show forth the riches of the glory of being His possession while we live on this earth.
Well, if that’s true then God certainly did not leave us powerless to do it. He didn’t say, “Do it in your strength.” Oh no! He gave us the power in which to live that out. He says, “I want you to know the power. Dunamis is the word that is used there. It refers to the ability to see something accomplished. We can know that awesome power of God in our lives on one condition. He says, to know “the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.” That’s in the present tense, who believe and continue to believe. What does it mean to believe? Simplified, it means to obey. If I obey Him, I’m believing Him. That doesn’t mean I understand everything about Him. That doesn’t mean I understand everything I’m obeying, but if God says it, that settles it. Somebody said there was a sign in a church that read, “God says it. I believe it. That settles it.” No! That’s a bad statement. God says it. That settles it. It doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. When you start doing what God’s Word says, you’re expressing your belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we start obeying we start realizing the power that He has in us. It’s not what I can do for God, it’s what God can and will do in and through me. My cooperation is absolutely demanded. I must be willing to surrender and bow and obey.
Well, when we’re willing to do that, He transforms us and conforms us into the image of Christ Jesus. It is the power to be what God wants us to be. Before we leave that thought, turn to 2 Peter 1:2-3. What does this power do in our life? What does He grant to us because of His divine ability to do what we cannot do? “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power [dunamis] has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”
I don’t know if you’ve heard the story of C.T. Studd. C.T. Studd was a great Christian. He went to a fair years and years ago and was captivated by a man pumping a well. The thing that grabbed him was how fast he was pumping and how long he was able to pump. He said to himself, “No man can do that. What kind of vitamins does he take? What kind of exercise program is he on?” He walked over to get a closer look. He found that the man dressed in Oriental garb was not a man. He was a stick figure. His elbows were hinges. He was not pumping the well, the well was pumping him. It was an artesian well. You see, there was a power that turned the man.
I believe that’s exactly what Paul is saying. He says, “I want you to know something. I want you to know it’s not you doing it for God. It’s God doing it in and through you as you bow before Him.” Listen, it’s a 200% relationship. It’s 100% my willingness to obey, yield and bow, but it’s also 100% His power, His presence and what He can do in and through me that I cannot do and certainly will never deserve.
There are three words in verse 19 that we need to look at. We’ve already looked at “power.”
His power is unsurpassed.
Paul uses two other words that are directly associated. He says in the last part of verse 19, “These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” There are three words there: power, strength and might. You say now, “What’s the difference? They’re all the same thing.” No they’re not. Why are they there? If they’re all the same thing why doesn’t he just leave it as “power.” He didn’t do that, and so these are important to understand.
We see His power is unsurpassed. His ability to accomplish something that we do not have is unsurpassed. God can do it. You’ve heard us say, “I can’t. God never said I could. He can. He always said He would.” “Resurrection power, fill me this hour. Jesus be Jesus in me.” We’ve been singing this for years, and one day God is just going to turn that little light of revelation on in our hearts, and we’re going to see it and just get free in Jesus to be what He wants us to be. I can’t, but He can.
His strength is unchallenged.
Now I don’t mean that somebody hasn’t had the audacity to try to challenge it. The Anti-Christ is going to try. Revelation tells us that. By saying it’s unchallenged I mean nobody has ever even begun to approach His strength. Even though they’ve tried to challenge it, it’s unchallenged. There is no one who can equal His strength. The word for strength is the word ischus. The word ischus refers to the inherent strength of someone. Without strength there would be no power. You’ve got to understand how these words fit together. The power is the manifestation of the strength.
Do you remember Paul Anderson? At one time he was known as the strongest man in the world. As far as I’m concerned he still is. I’ve never seen anybody any stronger. Paul Anderson came to a church I was serving once. I’ve never seen a man with such power, but I’ve also never seen a man with such strength. He took a table and had twelve guys get on it.
They had to weigh at least 200 pounds each. He got underneath it and picked up the table with twelve people on it weighing at least 200 pounds each. That’s over 2000 pounds that man was able to shoulder and pick up on his back. He was a powerful man. He had the ability. Where did it come from? He was the strongest man in the world. The power is directly related to the strength.
There are several examples of strength in Scripture. First of all let’s look at human strength. What are we supposed to do with the strength that we have? All of us have some kind of strength and power. What is it supposed to be used for? Look in Mark 12:30. Some people think, “Well, I’ve got strength, so therefore, I need to use it in serving the Lord.” Don’t say that too quickly. I’m going to show you a Scripture that says, “No you’re not.” Very clearly the Lord Jesus shows us where our human strength is to be used, and the direction it is to be put. “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” What is my energy to be used for? To put it in His direction, to make sure that I have abandoned myself to Him with all the strength I need to turn my life towards Him. That doesn’t mean I serve Him in that strength. It means that I channel everything in my life within my power towards Him to love Him with all of my strength.
Angels have strength. Look in 2 Peter 2:11. Let’s back up to about verse 4 and see if we can kind of catch the thought. Verse 4 says, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels, who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.”
Verse 11 says that angels have greater strength than men. So we see men having strength that have turned every bit of it into energy serving the Lord, not depending on it to serve Him, but to love Him, to commit themselves to Him. Angels have strength, and it’s greater than men’s. By the way, Satan is an angel.
Look at Revelation 5:11-12. God has strength far greater than the angels or men. The word is not translated “strength,” but it is the same word, ischus. It’s the word in verse 12 that is translated as “might.” It should be translated as “strength.” Verse 11 says, “And I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.’” What it’s attributing to Him is His strength that is far beyond angelic strength. His strength is far beyond human strength.
Look in Revelation 7:11-12. Again this is showing that God’s strength is far exceeding to human’s or even to angel’s. “And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying, ‘Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might[ischus] be to our God forever and ever. Amen.’” I love these creatures up there, the four living creatures. They’re the Amen corner. “Amen. Amen.” Everything you see going on up there, “Amen. That’s right. Amen. Let it be so.”
We see that God’s strength is far beyond angels’ strength, and angels’ strength is far beyond man’s strength. Now what important point am I trying to make? Well, look in I Peter 4:11. Whose strength are we to serve in then? Man’s strength, angels’ strength or God’s strength? How are we suppose to serve Him? Who is it we’re supposed to turn to? What is it that’s our source of serving Him? “Whoever speaks, let him speak, as it were, the utterances of God; whoever serves, let him do so as by the strength which God supplies.” We are not to serve in our own strength. We’re to serve in His strength. So, what do I do with my strength? I turn it towards loving Him, abandoning myself to Him in every way that I possibly can. In my own strength I turn to Him. Then He infuses His strength in me to do what I could have never done myself.
Look at the verb form in Philippians 4:13. This makes it as clear as a bell. Paul says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens [ischus] me.” So where does my strength come from to serve Him? It comes from the one who lives within me. Paul said, “I want you to know the power.” The power, the ability to do something, is directly measured to the strength of the one who’s doing it. The Lord Jesus lives in me. “Jesus be Jesus in me; no longer me, but Thee. Resurrection power.”
He’s the one who has strength far beyond me and angels. Say to God, “God, You in Your strength do in me what I could not in myself do.” I love the thought that Satan is an angel. But folks, greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world. Why in the world would we run around worried about an angel? He is greater in strength than we are; I’m not making light of that. We have a God, though, who is only going to send one angel to grab him by the nape of the neck and throw him in the abyss for a thousand years! Put your eyes on the one who has all strength and then you learn what victory in the Christian life is all about.
Well, let’s go back to Ephesians 1:19: “These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might.” In other words, everything He said there is all tied into the strength of His might. Well, His power is unsurpassed. His strength is unchallenged. A man would be a fool to challenge the strength of God for the power that He has to do what He does in our life.
His might is unparalleled
I love the way these words fit together. Dunamis is the power, the ability to accomplish something. Strength is the inherent strength. It measures the power. Someone is as strong as the measure of the power they have. This other word, kratos means “manifested dominion.” You see, “power” is just a manifestation of these other two words. “Might” is the word that means “dominating might, dominating strength.” That’s what he’s talking about here. In other words, it’s the word that nothing else could ever challenge, nothing else could ever parallel. It’s the excelling strength of someone.
You’ve probably seen arm wrestling competitions on television. Watch the ones who challenge each other. Finally one wins, and nobody can beat him. Nobody can come close to him. Well, get that in your mind. He’s the one who has dominion in arm wrestling on that contest. But buddy, when it comes to power, when it comes to strength, there is one who dominates. That’s our Lord who bodily has made Himself visible in the Lord Jesus Christ. He has might that is far beyond anything that anybody could ever imagine.
Look in Luke 1:51-55 at Mary’s song, the Magnificant. She’s praising the mighty God, the one who does what nobody could ever think about doing, much less attempt it. She says, “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. He has filled the hungry with good things; And sent away the rich empty-handed. He has given help to Israel His servant, In remembrance of His mercy, As He spoke to our fathers, To Abraham, and his offspring forever.” The key is verse 51. “`He has done mighty deeds with His arm.’”
The word “might” means He so far dominates in what He can do there is no sense in ever looking any other direction. In Colossians 1:11 that word “might” is used to show you what God can do that nobody could even come close to. It’s in accordance with what Paul has already said in Colossians. He says if you’re filled with the knowledge of His will, with spiritual wisdom and understanding, and if you are walking worthy, pleasing Him in all respects, something’s going to take place in your life. He says in verse 11 you’re going to be “strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience.” Do you know what steadfastness is? It’s the ability to bear up under circumstances no matter how difficult they are. Do you know what patience, makrothumia, is? It means to have long-suffering. Even when people treat you like dirt, you can love them and still continue to put up with them because God is strengthening you “according to His glorious might,” His domination of what He can do that nobody else could ever attempt.
Are you going through a circumstance, and it’s just whipping you? Maybe you’re going through a job change. Maybe you’re going through a difficult financial time. Maybe you’re going through a difficult time in relationships, and you’ve come to the point where you say, “Wayne, I’ve heard you say this. I’ve heard others say this, but I’m so defeated I can’t quite grasp it all.” Hey, folks, do you realize you’re in the best spot that you’ve been in a long time? Do you realize that by God’s grace He has allowed you to see how weak your strength really is? It’s only by His grace He’s allowed you to get to this dead end street in your life. Why? Because He wants to reveal to you what His strength can do, the might of His strength.”
“Strengthened with all power by His glorious might….” Why? So we can bear up under. The world looks at us and says, “Man, there must be a God around here somewhere. Look at that person. We know it’s not him because we know what human strength is. We know it’s not an angel. That’s for sure. No angel could do that. It’s got to be God.”
Look at Revelation 1:8. Jesus takes center stage here. The whole Trinity has been introduced, but in kind of an opposite order. It says the Father, the Spirit and then the Son. Usually it’s the Father, the Son and the Spirit. However the Son is the focus of Revelation. It says in verse 8, “’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” The word for almighty there is pantokrator. That is a form of kratos, but it has panto, which means “all or everything,” in front of it. In other words, He’s the ruler over everything. Let’s put it another way. “I dominate everything. There is nothing that can parallel Me.” Wait until we get to the last few verses of Ephesians where it talks about God has put every authority, every principality up under His feet. He’s subjected everything to Him. That’s the one we serve, folks. That’s the one who lives in our life. Paul said, “If you could only understand, if you could just know the surpassing greatness of His power which is in accordance with the strength of His might.” In back of every purpose of God there is the power, strength and might of God Himself to accomplish whatever God said to do.
Go back to Ephesians. Verse 19 says, “These are in accordance with the workings of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ.” In verse 20, the word for “brought about,” and the word for “workings” is the same word. It’s the word from which we get the word “energy.” It refers to something that is operated and something that is active. Paul is saying His power has already been seen in its operation, and His strength and His might have already been seen in its operation. When? When He raised Jesus from the dead. He says, “I want you to know this same power in your life everyday.”
God uses those three words again in Ephesians 6:10. Since he uses them, they are very important. In verse 10 when we get into warfare remember that warfare is not some mystical thing. Warfare is nothing more than living the normal Christian life like it ought to be lived. It’s Jesus who is our warrior and who has the strength over angels regardless if it’s Satan himself. In verse 10 he says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.”
Well, we can know His power. “You can’t. God never said you could. He can, and He always said He would.” “Resurrection power fill me this hour. Jesus be Jesus in me.” My prayer is that we’ll start realizing this. Do you know when you will realize it? It’s always in a crisis. It’s always at a time when God allows you to get to the point where you realize you can’t do it yourself. You become a candidate now for the grace of God, and the grace of God turns on the power of God according to His strength, according to His might in your life.
What has life dealt you? Are you at the bottom? Wonderful! You can’t go any further down, can you? You know that He won’t let you go because He’s the anchor to your soul. So the best place to go is up. Once you’re down that’s the only way you can go. Isn’t that right? God’s got to bring me down. The only way up is to get down. If God’s got you down, thank God. Now you can find His strength, His power and His might like you’ve never ever known it before.