Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 41
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber points out the role of the Holy Spirit in strengthening the Christian for whatever life brings. He also reminds believers of the treasures they already possess in Jesus.|
A Prayer for Fullness – Part 2
Turn to Ephesians chapter 3. We have been studying the doctrine of Ephesians and now it is time to see how it applies in our life. Paul is praying in the last part of chapter 3. There are a lot of people who don’t even know what is theirs in Christ, much less have tapped into it. Paul prays for these Ephesian believers. He prays that they would experience the fullness of God in their lives.
Let’s read the prayer in verses 14-21 and get a glimpse of where we are headed:
- For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Paul is praying, in Ephesians 3:16 particularly, that the Ephesian believers might start living in the light of what they now know about their salvation. He has spent some time telling them about their salvation. Now he is saying, “Live in the light of what you have in the Lord Jesus Christ.” He spent three chapters talking about the riches of their salvation, the reasons of their salvation, and the revelation of their salvation. He wants them to have a high view of salvation.
Folks, the key to the whole Christian life is having a high view of your salvation. The greatest miracle that can ever happen to an individual is to be saved by the grace of God. Folks, until we see that as the very ultimate of our life, we are not going to understand the prayer that Paul is praying in Ephesians 3. Paul prays for these Ephesian believers that they would live lives that correspond to the wealth that they have in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Verse 16 is our focus, so let’s read it one more time: “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man.” Paul is saying, “You be strengthened according to the riches that you already have.” He is not praying that you get the riches; we already have them in the Lord Jesus Christ. We are being strengthened according to those riches.
If I were a millionaire and I was going to give out of my riches, I’d give you a token gift of $100 or $1,000 or $10. That is just out of what I have. But if I am a millionaire and I am going to give to you according to what I have, I am going to give you a $500,000 check or an $800,000 check. If you give “according to,” that immediately increases the proportion. Paul is saying, “I want you to be strengthened according to, not out of, the riches that you have in Christ Jesus.”
You say, “Well, what are those riches?” Verse 3 of chapter 1 sums them all up: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” Jesus is the storehouse of all the spiritual blessings that we could ever ask for, hope for or experience. He has already been given to us. We have received Him into our heart. He is the heavenly vault. How many of us are spiritual millionaires and are living like paupers? So many Christians don’t seem to understand that. They have not learned to tap into what is theirs in the Lord Jesus Christ.
That is the reason behind the writing of Ephesians, to know who you are, to knowwhose you are, to know what you have in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wants the Ephesiansto see these riches. He wants to make sure that we don’t mistake riches for something thatis tangible or material. These are not all of the riches, but let’s just go through them quickly.
In Ephesians 1:4, we are chosen before the foundation of the world. We are divinely significant to the Lord. In verse 5, we are adopted into the family of God. We are eternally secure. You see, in their culture, you could not disown a child that you had adopted. Therefore, once we have been adopted into the family, nobody can ever kick us out! We are eternally secure in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1:7 it says we have been redeemed and forgiven of our sins. The word “redeemed” means we have been purchased off the slave block of sin. If you are still living in sin, a slave to sin, you must not know the Lord Jesus Christ. That is why I John 3 says that he that is born out of God cannot habitually sin and claim to be a Christian. Do we still deal with it? Yes. Before Christ we chased after sin. After Christ, it chases after us. We are no longer it’s slave. That is part of the riches we have in Christ Jesus who lives in us.
In verse 9 it says we have had revealed to us the mystery. Now what is the mystery? Paul has clearly told us that it is when the Jew and the Greek can be made one in the body of Christ. It is the mystery of His church that we are a part of His body here on this earth.
Verse 11 says we have obtained an inheritance. We have got something to look forward to. Verse 13 says we have been sealed with His Spirit until the day of redemption. Chapter 4 adds “until the day of redemption.”
All of these I just mentioned are just a part of our riches that we have in Jesus Christ. Paul is saying, “I have told you what they are. Now I want you to live in accordance to that. I want you to be strengthened according to what you already have in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Let’s go to chapter 2. He says in verse 4 of chapter 2 we have new life in Jesus Christ. I John 5:12 says, “He who has the Son has the life.” You don’t have eternal life until you receive Jesus. When you receive Jesus it means you have His eternal life. In 2:6 we are seated in the heavenlies with Christ. What does it mean to be seated in the heavenlies with Christ? It simply means that now we don’t need to be standing up. We can continue to sit down. Often I sense the Lord speaking to me and saying, “I am far above principalities and powers. Let Me rule and reign in your life. Stop trying to help me out. Sit down. You are seated in the heavenlies with Christ.”
In verse 10 of chapter 2 we are His workmanship created for good works. In verses 19-22 we are a part of His family, part of His kingdom and part of His temple. The whole chapter sums it up and says we are His dwelling on this earth. We are the temples of God that the Holy Spirit lives in. All of these spiritual riches are ours in Jesus Christ.
If you are saved you don’t have to get any of those, you already have them, and you have a blank check with His name and signature. You just need to learn how to tap into them and live in the reality of what is already yours in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Well, let’s look at his prayer in verse 16. There are three things we will be able to see as to what the Christian life and victory in living in Jesus is all about. First of all in verse 16 of chapter 3 of Ephesians, he says, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power.” The first thing he prays for is that the believers at Ephesus be shown or established as being spiritually able.
One of the saddest things to me is the spiritual condition of Christians in America. We are living in an anemic country when it comes to spiritual living. You can go into a church and find people grumbling, being critical. You find defeated Christians. That seems to be the norm in most churches. Why is it you find such defeated people in these churches? People are not looking into this Book to find out what is theirs in the Lord Jesus Christ. They are not studying the Word. They are not trying to glean, “God, what did You do for me at salvation? What is mine in the Lord Jesus Christ? What are my responsibilities in all of that?” Nine out of ten Christians cannot tell you what God did for them when He died for them on the cross. When you have that low view of salvation, it is automatically reflected by a low view of scripture. You would rather read a book about the Bible than study the Word. When you are not getting into the Word, you have such a low view of Scripture, you would rather hear what some man says about it rather than what God says about it. Then it is obvious you have a low view of your salvation. If you add those two together you have nothing but a lifestyle of total defeat.
Folks, when you realize what happened to you when you got saved and what the Word of God means to you now that you are saved, you begin to tap into what has been yours all along.
However, you have not yet learned to be established as mighty in the ability that God wants to give you. The term “strengthened” there in verse 16 is the word that means “made mighty.” It is the Greek word krataioo. Some words in the Greek end in an “o”. This word ends in two o’s. That is the way some of the Greek verbs are. That is telling you something beyond just being “strengthened.” It means “to be shown to be strong, to be shown to be mighty.” It is almost the same thing that Paul prays in Philippians. Get on the inside of you what is on the outside so that you might be established as being strong.
Let me give you an example of that. Look over in James 2:21. What we are going to find here is almost an apparent contradiction. If you didn’t know about the verbs ending with those two o’s, you would have a lot of confusion in your mind. Paul says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; … not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” Verse 21 of James 2 says, “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he offered up Isaac his son on the altar?” If you read that the wrong way it may appear that his offering Isaac was what gave him his justification. You know better than that. In Genesis 15:6 it says he believed and it was accounted unto him as salvation, as righteousness. Why then does it appear James says he was justified by offering Isaac? The verb ends with that little double o. When it ends that way it simply means that he was shown to be what he had already become. It was demonstrated; he was established as being justified. In other words, something had already happened to him. Now it is put on display for all to see.
So what Paul was praying back in Ephesians is, “Yes, be strengthened, but more than that, be established as being strong people, as being mighty.” But now wait a minute. What is the illustration of somebody being mighty? How would you know that a believer is being strengthened, being established as being strong in the Lord Jesus Christ? Look at the verse. It will tell us. Ephesians 3:16 says, “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power.”
Is there a difference between might and power?” Oh, yes. The word “power” here is the word dunamis. That word means “to be able to do something, be capable.” Basically Paul is saying, “I want that which is inside of you to get on the outside of you. I want people to look at you as you live your Christian life and let them see that you have a divine ability that is operating inside of you. I want it to be more than just what you say. I am praying that it will be in how that you live.”
The verb is in the aorist passive infinitive. Aorist tense means that it takes place, it happens, it is a reality to you. Passive voice means that you can’t strengthen yourself, God is going to do it. The infinitive means what are we here for? It is a purpose tense. What are we here for? Every believer is not here just to go to church and talk about it. We are here to go out into the community and demonstrate having it real in our life.
Are you are telling me that I am supposed to be established in the midst of all my circumstances as somebody who has divine ability to live victoriously in Jesus? Absolutely. If you are saying, “I am weak, I am weak,” that is the greatest place you have ever been in your whole Christian walk. Until you come to that place of realizing what you can’t do, you can’t understand why Paul is praying for that which God alone can do in your life. Christ has come into your life. You have the riches of all spiritual blessing resident in Him. Be strengthened with power.
Well, Paul prays that they might be strengthened. Who is it that is going to strengthen us? I told you the verb was in the passive voice. Passive voice means you can’t strengthen yourself, somebody is going to have to strengthen us. The text is so clear: “according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit.” Now, hold on. You mean there is somebody that lives in us that is going to do the strengthening for us? That is exactly right. God the Holy Spirit lives in you. When you received Jesus, you also got His Spirit and His Father.
The assignment to do the strengthening is not in God the Son, it is God the Spirit. The Spirit of God comes into a man the moment he becomes a Christian. Now, you are not living life alone. You may be acting like it, but you are not. If you are trying to fight your problems by yourself, if you are trying to figure them out on your own, if you are not coming to the Word, letting the Holy Spirit of God enable you and reveal to you the things of God, then no wonder you are confused. You have a divine partner living in you, and He is in you to strengthen you with power so that you have an ability that you didn’t have before. If you will learn to tap into Him, then you will begin to learn to live in the reality of His presence.
Look in Philippians 2:12-13. I want to show you God the Holy Spirit we are talking about here. “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”
It was God’s pleasure to put His Spirit in you and in me. That is what makes us unique. That is what makes us brand new creatures. How do you know it is God, the Holy Spirit here? Look in John 14:15-18. Jesus promises that He is going to come. He is talking to His disciples in that very private time before the cross. It says in verse 15, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.”
John 14:18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” How does He comes to us? In the person of His Spirit. Folks, the Spirit of God lives in us. If you haven’t learned yet to tap into Him, no wonder you have not been established with your friends, established at your work, as an individual who possesses a divine ability because he is a believer, a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
You say, “Now, wait a minute, I am having trouble here. If I have the Lord living in me and if all these riches are mine, then why do I live such a defeated life? Why doesn’t God just kick me into gear. I should be growing. Why am I having such a struggle?” Good question.
Look at Galatians 5. You know, we’ve got a problem here. The Spirit has a big problem, and it is called the flesh. Do you know what the flesh is? That is that part of us that does what it does without God. That is one way to say it. The flesh is nothing more than what a man is without God. It is still resident in our bodies that are decaying every day. In Galatians 5:16-17 it says, “But I say, walk by the Spirit.” What do you mean “walk by the Spirit”? I mean in accordance to the Spirit. What is the Spirit doing in my life? He is there to reveal the Word to you, to convict you of righteousness, of sin and of judgment. Let Him rule and reign in your life. Paul is saying, “Live letting the Spirit of God rule and reign in your life. Live in accordance to it. Don’t frustrate the Spirit of God. Don’t grieve Him. Don’t quench Him, as we will see coming up in Ephesians.”
Well, look at Galatians 5:17. Paul says, “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.” Oh, I understand now. He is praying for me to be strengthened, to be established as being mighty in a domain of His kingdom on this earth with ability that is divine. Now I realize the Spirit of God lives in me to do that strengthening through me. Exactly right. You can spot a person who is living in accordance to the Spirit. Do you know how? The greatest sign of a person living in accordance to the Spirit is when he messes up he is willing to deal with it and call it sin and let God cleanse him and forgive him.
All right, he prays that we might be established. He prays secondly that the Spirit of God will do the establishing, the strengthening. Where does this strengthening take place? Where does it go on? If God is in me, I sure don’t feel Him in there. Now if He is in there, where is He working inside of me? The text tells you. He says in Ephesians 3:16, “to be strengthened with power through [or by the means of] His Spirit in the inner man.” What in the world is the inner man?
Let me see if I can explain it very simply. The outer man is where the body and soul reside. What is the soul? It is the mind, will and emotions.
The inner man becomes whole when the Spirit of God comes into it. That process is called salvation. It is in that inner man, that new person that you become, that new creation you are in Christ, where God does His work. That is His focus, not the outer man.
Look in II Corinthians 4:16. I want you to see something here: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.” What is the inner man? Oh folks, that is where the nature of God dwells in each one of us. We have the nature of God within us. Where? In the inner man. That is what we need to be nourishing.
Look with me in II Peter 1:4, and we will be through. “For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.” I want to tell you something. Even though our bodies are corrupting, we can escape the corruption that is in this world when we nourish the inner man and let the inner man, the Spirit in the inner man, give us a divine ability to live above and beyond what our circumstances are all about. What a prayer!