Tuesday, March 17, 2009

03/15/09 SERMON

Ephesians 1:19-20

I saw on the news that the space shuttle is set to launch today at about 5 PM our time. As you see that massive shuttle and the rocket that is to propell it into space it is hard to believe that it could ever get off the ground. What kind of power does it take to get something like that into orbit?

The overall power of a space shuttle at takeoff is about 12 GW or 12 billion watts of power. That is about 16 million horsepower! Sometimes we can be so weighed down by trials and troubles that we wonder as to God’s ability to launch us heavenward. But as we shall see in this morning’s message--God is able!

I. The Spiritual Blessings we have received in Christ
II. The prayer of the Apostle Paul
III. Part I--that we might know God better and realize the full extent of the future blessings that He has prepared for us
IV. The problem--how are we to ever get off the ground
V. Part II--the power of God at work in us to accomplish His purpose

I. Our need for power
A. We are humbled by the purpose that God has destined us for
1. To conform us to the image of His Son. Eph. 1:18; 3:19; 4:13; Rom. 8:29; Phil. 3:20-21.
2. The work that God is doing in our lives is not something that can be accomplished by human wisdom, human strength, or human desire.
B. We face many obstacles
1. The devil is opposed to that which God is doing in our lives. Eph. 6:10-12; the devil prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Pet. 5:8).
2. The world is opposed to that which God is doing in our lives. There is a broad path that leads to destruction which is contrary to the narrow way--most people are on that path. The world is at enmity with God--it is alienated from God, it is hostile in mind to God, it is engaged in evil deeds that are contrary to God’s Word. Though you are a citizen of heaven, and a pilgrim and stanger here on earth, you are planted right in the midst of this crooked and perverse generation. The world is ever working to conform you to itself. It does not tolerate such things as God’s truth, Christlike holiness, and Christlike love. It has no regard for those align themselves with Him.
Martin Lloyd Jones, "And then, added to all this, there is life as we know it in this world, with its changing circumstances; there is the world and its influence upon us, friends and others enticing us and attracting us to sin; there is our preoccupation with worldly things, business and affairs, and the need to make a living so as to maintain ourselves and our families! All these things, the pressures of life and of circumstances, conspire together to make it impossible for me to find time for preparation for this glory."
3. Our own flesh ties us down. The Pogo cartoon had it right, "We’ve met the enemy, it is us." Jesus said, "the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." Paul said, "For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh" (Rom. 7:18). Jesus said again, "Apart from Me, you can do nothing." We are beset by trials and troubles, illnesses and weakness, persecution and doubt--left to our own strength and wisdom God’s purpose in us would never be accomplished.
4. We need to realize the truth of the hymn, "I am weak, but Thou art strong." We need to come to grips with the reality that if we are going to be strong it is only if we are "strong in the Lord" (Eph. 6:10).

II. God has surpassing power

A. Paul prayed that we might realize what is the surpassing greatness of God’s power towards us who believe.
1. The term "surpassing" means to "throw beyond" or to "exceed." God’s power exceeds that of all other entities within His universe. The word translated "greatness," is "megathos" in the Greek. We get our prefix "mega" from that same word. If you have a hundred watt light bulb you have a lightbulb that consumes one hundred watts. A megawatt is the equivalent of having 10,000 one hundred watt light bulbs. God’s power exceeds in that kind of greatness the power of all others.
2. Four separate terms are used to describe God’s power in this passage. The reality of all four have been visually demonstrated to us in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. God has shown us His power, He has revealed it to us in His creation of all things, and again most significantly in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1. Dunamis - God’s Inherent Power
a. Greek=dunamis. Sounds like our English word dynamite. It speaks to God’s inherent ability and power.
Psalm 62:11, "Power belongeth to God.
He is "The Mighty One" (Luke 1:49).
He was revealed to John the Apostle as "The Lord God omnipotent" (Revelation 19:6).
b. The surpassing greatness of His power has been made evident in His raising Jesus Christ from the dead. He did what no one else can do. Mankind has the power--albeit only has it has been given him from God--to do a great many things. But he cannot raise a man from the dead. God alone has the power to do that.
c. A. W. Tozer, "Omnipotence is not a name given to the sum of all power, but an attribute of a personal God whom we Christians believe to be the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and of all who believe on Him to life eternal. The worshipping man finds this knowledge a source of wonderful strength for his inner life. His faith rises to take the great leap upward into the fellowship of Him who can do whatever He wills to do, for whom nothing is hard of difficult because He possesses power absolute."
2. Energeia - God’s Operative Power
a. Greek=energeia. English=energy.
b. NASB normally translates the word "work" or "working."
c. The working of the strength of His might refers to God’s operative power, His ability to carry out His work.
d. God is able to do all things. He is omnipotent. Ephesians 1:11, "(He) works all things after the counsel of His will."
e. The same word that is used here is used in the Septuagint version (the Greek version) of the OT in Genesis 2:2-3, "And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done." God’s "eternal power" (Romans 1:20) has been revealed to us in creation. God is able to do all things. "I sing the mighty power pow’r of God, That made the mountains rise; That spread the flowing seas abroad, And built the lofty skies. I sing the wisdom that ordained The sun to rule the day; The moon shines full at His command, And all the stars obey."
f. Here is Ephesians 1:19f His ability to do all things is made evident in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. God has life in Himself. He is able to impart life. God was able to raise Jesus Christ from the dead. The body of Jesus lay dead in a tomb. God brought Him back to life.
g. That same power that worked to raise Christ from the dead is at work within us. Later in this Epistle Paul concludes another prayer this way, "Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us." (Ephesians 3:20).
3. Ischus - God is Greater than All
a. Greek=ischus. Usually translated "strength" in the NT.
b. It speaks to the prevailing power of God. God’s power is inherent power; it is operative power; it is prevailing power.
c. In Mark 3:27 we read, "But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house." Jesus spoke of the prevailing power by which He was able to cast out demons. He was able to cast them out because He is stronger than Satan.
d. In the resurrection of Jesus Christ God has prevailed over death:
Acts 2:24, "And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power."
Hebrews 2:14, "He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the powerof death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives."
e. Since the fall death has reigned over man. The Devil has held the power of death over man (Hebrews 2:14). Every man has been born a sinner (Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Every man has been born destined to die-physically, spiritually, and eternally (Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death."). But God has revealed to us the surpassing greatness of His power in His ability to raise Jesus Christ from the dead. He raised Him and seated Him at His right hand.
f. Charles Spurgeon, "This power was irresistible. All the soldiers and the high priests could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; Death himself could not keep the body of Christ in the tomb; even thus irresistible is the power put forth in the believer when he is raised to newness of life. No sin, no corruption, no devils in hell nor sinners upon earth, can stay the hand of God’s grace when it intends to convert a man."
g. Because God has prevailed over death our victory in Christ is assured. We can live our lives with great confidence. We don’t have to be victims of sin. We don’t have to live in fear of death. God raised Jesus from the dead. He can save us. He can impart life to our sin-sick souls. He can change us. He can transform us.
4. Kratos - God Rules Over All
a. Greek=kratos. Normally translated "might" or "dominion."
b. God’s surpassing power is inherent power, operative power, prevailing power, and finally it is ruling power. Not only did it raise Jesus Christ from the dead, it raised Him to a position of absolute authority over all of creation. In order for God to do that He needed to have this power within Himself.
Luke 1:51, "He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart."
1 Peter 5:11, "To Him be dominion forever and ever. Amen."
Jude 25, "To the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
Ephesians 1:20-21, "Which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come."

III. God’s power is available to us

A. His power is "towards us" who believe
1. Not everyone has access to the power of God. This power is directed to a select group of people--"those who believe." It is the the sole possession of the those who believe. Those who have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ.
2. We should also note that it is power that is in fact available in us. Martyn Lloyd Jones makes the point that this power is not power that is kept in some reservoir out there, just waiting to be released to us when we say the right thing or pray the right thing. The power of which this passage speaks is already at work in us, and Paul wants us to realize the full measure of this power. It is power that is in us (that is the way the RSV translates it). That is what we read of in Philippians 2:13, "For it is God who is at work in you." Colossians 1:29, "And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me."
3. This power is in us because Christ is in us, and to the degree that we abide in Christ we more fully realize the extent of the surpassing greatness of His power. Christ’s great challenge to His disciples was not that they should do this or that, but that they should abide in Christ. "He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." Apart from Christ we can do nothing, but in Christ we can do all things.
B. It is made manifest in our salvation
1. We should note that God’s power towards us is not necessarily directed towards us in the way that we might think or choose. The same Apostle Paul who was praying that we might realize what is the surpassing greatness of His power, was writing from a prison cell. And someone might very well have asked him, "If God is so powerful why are you stuck in that prison cell?" And what we need to realize is that God’s power is revealed to us and in us in a much different way than we might think. 2 Corinthians 4:7-10, "But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body."
God’s power is not revealed to us in our deliverance from our trials or circumstances, but in God’s ability to sustain us through them. When Jesus was raised from the dead He defeated both sin and death. He defeated our chief enemies. God’s power in us is made manifest in the same way. His power in us works to accomplish victory over sin. We face trials and difficulties and many obstacles in our Christian lives. We are tempted. We are persecuted. We fail. We are discouraged. All these things happen to believers. But what makes life different for us is that God’s surpassing power is able to work through us to accomplish His will in our lives. No matter what happens to us physically, because of His power towards us we can have victory spiritually. We can obey, we can grow, we can be transformed into the image of Christ. We can maintain a good witness. We can endure. God’s surpassing power can enable us to do all that. And He can enable us to do those things no matter what trials we might face.
2. This has practical application to us in our Christian lives. God is able to work in our lives. He wants us to realize the ability that He has to work in our lives. And so we see this in Scripture repeatedly:
a. Colossians 2:12-13, "You were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him." God caused you, as a believer in Christ, to be born again. He did that by His ability. It was a work of God.
b. Philippians 2:12b-13, "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." God is at work in you. Accomplishing your sanctification. Causing you to grow in Christ. Conforming you to the image of His Son.
c. Philippians 3:21, "Who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of His power that He has even to subject all things to Himself." Because God is able to do all things He is able to accomplish our glorification.
3. Justification, sanctification, glorification all happen by the work and power of God. His resurrection power.
C. John Calvin, "Christ alone, therefore is the mirror in which we can contemplate that which the weakness of the cross obscures in us. When our minds are roused to trust in righteousness, salvation, and glory, let us learn to turn them to Christ.
We still lie under the power of death; but He, raised from the dead by heavenly power, has the dominion of life.
We struggle under the bondage of sin, and are surrounded by endless miseries, we fight a hard warfare, but He sitting at the right hand of the Father, obtains the highest government in heaven and earth, and triumphs over the enemies whom He has subdued and vanquished.
We lie here despised and lowly; but to Him has been given a name which angels and men revere, and devils and wicked men dread.
We are oppressed here by the scantiness of all our gifts; but He has been appointed by the Father to be the sole judge and dispenser of all things.
For these reasons, it is good to transfer our thoughts to Christ, that in Him, as in a mirror, we may see the glorious treasures of Divine grace, and immeasurable greatness of that power which has not yet been manifested in ourselves."


We should note also that God’s power toward us is fully realized in our relationship with Christ. Jesus made it clear that if we want to experience the power of God in our lives that it is only going to happen as we abide in Him (John 15). Apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5). But as we abide in Him we will: bear much fruit (John 15:5); have answers to our prayers (John 15:7); love others (John 15:7). The key to experiencing the power of God is abiding in Christ. Walk closely with the Savior and you will sense the surpassing greatness of His power. And you will have the confidence of the Apostle Paul, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13).

There is one more reason why people don’t experience the power of God in their lives. They want to experience the surpassing greatness of His power, but their motivation is all wrong. They want God’s power so that they can use it for their own personal gratification. They look at God as a kind of genie in the bottle and they say to God--here is what I want you to do, now do this for me. And what they don’t realize is that God is at work in us, "both to will and to work for His good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13). The secret to experiencing the power of God is making yourself wholly available to God to do His will, not to satisfy your own selfish whims. 2 Chronicles 16:9 reminds us, "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."

Heavenly Father. We praise you as the Omnipotent God of the universe. We see clearly the surpassing greatness of your power in your creation, and again in your raising of Your Beloved Son from the dead. You have defeated our greatest foe. Thank You that in You that same kind of power, that same degree of power, is at work in us. To save us from sin, to change us into the image of Christ, to one day transform our humble bodies into conformity with Him. Help us Heavenly Father to clearly see our own inability, so that we might not trust in ourselves, and at the same time help us to see your great ability, that we might readily trust in You. In the mighty name of Jesus we pray. Amen.

Pastor Jerry

No comments: