Summary: Ephesians 1:19-23 shows us several ways in which God's power is seen in Christ.
Today, we are concluding a series of sermons on Ephesians 1 that I am calling, “God’s Supreme Purpose.”
In Ephesians 1:3-14, which is one, long, complex, glorious sentence in the original Greek, the Apostle Paul praised God for salvation. Paul praised the Father for planning our salvation, the Son for purchasing our salvation, and the Holy Spirit for applying that salvation to us.
In Ephesians 1:15-23, which is also one, long, complex, glorious sentence in the original Greek, the Apostle Paul prayed for the saints to grow in their understanding of, and appreciation for, the blessings of salvation.
Last week we looked at verses 15-19a, and examined Paul’s praise and petition to God for believers. In today’s study in verses 19b-23, we shall examine God’s power in Christ.
Let’s read about God’s power in Christ in Ephesians 1:19b-23:
19 … according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:19b-23)
Kent Hughes tells the story about a school fire in the town of Itasca, Texas, just before World War II that took the lives of 263 children. There was scarcely a family in town which was not touched by this horrifying tragedy. During the war Itasca remained without school facilities. But when the war ended, the town, like many others, began to expand and in fact built a new school which featured what was called “the finest sprinkler system in the world.” Civic pride ran high. Honor students were selected to guide citizens and visitors on tours of the new facility to show them the finest, most advanced sprinkler system technology could supply and money could buy. Never again would Itasca be visited by such a tragedy. With the postwar boom the town continued to grow, and seven years later it was necessary to enlarge the school – and in adding the new wing it was discovered that the sprinkler system had never been connected.
Can you believe that? It is so incredible that it is hard to believe. Yet, it was true. The sprinkler system was never connected to the main water supply. Sadly, that is a parable of what happens in the lives of too many Christians. Far too many Christians don’t know, understand, or appropriate the power of God that is available to them. So, Martyn Lloyd-Jones asks,
The most urgent practical question for every Christian is this: Are we aware of the fact that the almighty power of God is working in us? Do we realize that we are what we are solely and entirely by the grace and the power of God? Do we realize in our own personal lives and experiences that it is this exceeding great power of God that accounts for everything in the Christian life? I press these questions again because I am convinced that the main trouble with most of us is our failure to realize the greatness of the salvation into which we have been brought, and which we enjoy together.
The Apostle Paul wanted Christians to understand the greatness of God’s power that is at work in us. So, he prayed in verse 19a that believers would know “what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” Then, he related God’s power that is at work in us to God’s power that is at work in Christ.
Ephesians 1:19-23 shows us several ways in which God’s power is seen in Christ.
Let’s use the following outline:
1. God’s Power Is Seen in Christ’s Resurrection (1:19b-20a)
2. God’s Power Is Seen in Christ’s Enthronement (1:20b)
3. God’s Power Is Seen in Christ’s Supremacy (1:21-22a)
4. God’s Power Is Seen in Christ’s Headship (1:22b-23)
I. God’s Power Is Seen in Christ’s Resurrection (1:19b-20a)
First, God’s power is seen in Christ’s resurrection.
In verses 19b-20a Paul prayed that believers would know what is the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe, “according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.”
When Paul thought of the immeasurable greatness of God’s power, he thought first of Christ’s resurrection. For centuries people had lived and died, and that was the end. And yet, when Jesus came to earth he predicted that God would raise him back to life again after he died. In fact, he even predicted that God would bring him back to life after three days. He said to his disciples in Mark 10:33–34, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” And that is exactly what happened!