Summary: Knowing God’s power
Power Aid – Eph. 1:19b-23
Steve Simala Grant – Aug 12, 2001
Last Sunday we spent time looking at Paul’s prayer in Eph. 1:15-19, where he prays that we would know God first with our heads, with “wisdom and revelation” that leads us to a full knowledge of Him, and secondly with our hearts, where Paul asks that “the eyes of our hearts may be enlightened” so that we would know hope, who we are as God’s inheritance, and God’s power.
The last part of chapter 1 elaborates on this final request – that we would know God’s power. READ 19-23.
1. Power for us.
Before jumping in to the description of power, we need to first recognize that this power is for us. We need to see all Paul is about to say about the power of God as being available to us, purposed for us to live in and to know. As we walk through the rest of the passage, we need to constantly keep in mind that the power Paul is describing is for us who believe. Keep that in mind…
The second part of verse 19 begins the description of God’s power. Have you ever listened to someone try to describe something they are really, really excited about? Something that has completely amazed them? “It was great! It was awesome!! It was incredible, amazing, stupendous, unbelievable,” We kind of pile up words, one on top of the other, in order to try to convey some of our sense of excitement and enthusiasm. Paul does the same thing in the second part of verse 19 – he starts thinking about the power of God and I think he gets excited and starts to pile up words to describe it. We lose some of the sense of building excitement in our translations – the words are all there: “power” and “might” and “strength” and “exerted”, but we miss the building sense of enthusiasm. A popular paraphrase, The Message, captures this feeling a little more, where verse 19 says “oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him – endless energy, boundless strength!” There is an exuberance here, an excitement as the topic shifts to describing the power of God for us.
2. Power Demonstrated.
And that excitement overflows into verse 20, where God’s power is demonstrated in 2 ways – the two greatest examples of the power of God at work. read vs. 20.
A. Jesus resurrected.
The first example of the incomparably great power is the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. How much power did that take? Remember that Jesus resurrection was very different from when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead – Lazarus’ resurrection was temporary, he still would have died a second time. But in Jesus we do not have a temporary defeat of the power of death, but a permanent defeat of the power of death. In the resurrection of Jesus, we have an eternal life, a resurrected body, a deliverance from the permanence and hopelessness of death! The power of God which raised Christ Jesus from the dead was a victory – it earned a permanent hope in a new order, it provided a bridge back into relationship with God that gives us hope for eternity. All because God raised Jesus from the dead. The moment of Jesus’ resurrection is the great turning point in history – from a low, desperate point when it seemed that hope was dead, Jesus’ claim to be God’s Son in doubt, to one of victory and triumph of God’s incredible power over Satan and over death.
Remember Paul’s assertion that this same power is for us.
B. Jesus exalted.
The second example of the incomparably great power for us is the exaltation of Christ – seated at the right hand of God. We don’t talk as much about this aspect of what Jesus did for us as we do about Jesus’ death and resurrection, but it is very common in Scripture for the reign of Jesus to be linked to Jesus’ death and resurrection. It simply completes the process – Jesus died, God raised Him from the dead, now He is enthroned in heaven. But it is critical for us in understanding what is happening now – who is in control – what Jesus’ role is and what this means for us. The remaining verses elaborate on this idea of the reign of Christ, and spell out for us what it means that Jesus has been exalted.
I love how the excitement of the power of God points directly to Jesus. Think of all Paul had seen and done in his ministry – he had seen people healed in miraculous ways, he had been shipwrecked and delivered from the water and from the bite of a poisonous snake, he had cast out demons. One time, Paul preached “on and on”, a young man fell asleep and fell out a window to his death, and Paul raised him from the dead. Acts 19:11-12 tells us that while Paul was in Ephesus, “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.” But here, when He gets caught up in describing the power of God, what does he talk about? Does he list all those miracles? No, he talks about Jesus. Was he not excited about those miracles? Did he down-play them or try to explain them away or minimize them? Absolutely not! It is just that held up against the resurrection of Christ, those pale in comparison.