Summary: Paul breaks into spontaneous praise as he relates the glorious gifts of God to us.
Jim Dunn was serving as the pastor of the First Baptist Church, and his wife, Gladys, was very friendly and welcoming to people.
One particular Sunday when the sermon seemed to go on forever, many in the congregation fell asleep. After the service, to be sociable, she walked up to a very sleepy looking gentleman. In an attempt to revive him from his stupor, she extended her hand in greeting, and said, "Hello, I’m Gladys Dunn."
To which the gentleman replied, "You’re not the only one!"
Paul moves from telling the Ephesians about what he prays for them to burst into spontaneous praise. He has just described the indescribable, the limitless love of Christ. He just expressed his constant prayer, that the people will understand the depth of it. The simple contemplation of what he understood about the dimensions of the love of Christ, what God has taught him, is the explanation as to why he had to break into praise God. His doxology, or short expression of worship, comes from his understanding of the priceless gift of Jesus Christ.
Let’s look at this praise, slice it open and see what it is made of, what it is saying to us today.
Ephesians 3:20-21 – “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
I. The Direction (Him who is able….)
That is a loaded introduction. “To Him who is able” reminds me of Genesis 1:1.
The first phrase says it all. In Genesis 1:1, the answer to everything that confuses mankind about our beginning is answered in the first four words.
“In the beginning God….”
If you don’t get that right, you don’t get the rest of the book right. The Bible never tries to prove the existence of God. It just assume that any intellectually honest person will recognize that He is there. The verse starts with four words that tell us, without question, that everything began with God. He was the beginning.
John 1 begins with the same truth about Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. It begins with this, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3).
Paul doesn’t name God in this praise. It’s understood that there is only one who qualifies to receive this. His praise goes to Him who is able.
Able to do what?
II. The Description. “…to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think,”
After explaining that the depth, height, wide, length and breadth of love is immeasurable, he describes the capability of God as immeasurable. It is beyond our understanding, and even above our greatest imagination.
This is not saying that man’s imagination is small. We were created in the image of God, in body, soul and spirit.
Have you heard the axiom, “If we can imagine it, we can do it?” That comes from a point in history when the creative imagination of mankind was leading us into trouble. In Genesis 11, the people began to build a city and a tower to reach into the heavens. God saw that this was another act of self-reliance, mankind trying to create normality and notoriety outside their recognition of God.
Do you remember what God said was the problem with this independence that pulled men away from God?
Gen 11:5-7 “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.’"
Clearly, God recognized that when He empowered Adam and Eve to have creative imagination before they rebelled against them, that mankind, having rejected His pure way, would use that power of imagination and invention to further alienate them from Him.
It is interesting that their first project was an attempt to reach heaven outside of God. God knew that their tower would never reach heaven, but by the time they realized it, they would have set their rebellious imaginations into other harmful projects, many of which they could accomplish.
He, by His grace, intervened.
The point? God has given us wonderful imaginations and inventive power which is developing quickly. Our great grandparents would not never imagine that most of us would carry a thing, smaller than a small prickly pear leaf in our pockets and handbags that would allow us to talk immediately with anyone around the world who had one. But somebody imagined it, and they did it.