Friday, October 9, 2009


These are my sermon notes from last Sunday's sermon...


A. What is God able to do in you?
B. The life of the Apostle Paul is a marvelous testimony to the transforming power of the grace of God. I remember when I was first saved. And I was reading my Bible relentlessly. And I came to the account of the salvation of Saul in Acts chapter nine. It was an amazing thing to me! And as I read I was encouraged to know that God could save a Christian killer like Saul. But then consider what God was able to do in the life of Paul. He not only saved him, he transformed him. He made him to be the greatest missionary that the church has ever known. He imparted to him great spiritual wisdom. He made him to be like Christ. He used him to reach thousands of lost souls. His writings, inspired by God Himself, are still be used to reach lost sinners today.
C. What is God able to do in your life? We have been studying in this second great prayer of the Apostle Paul in the book of Ephesians. And we have noted that at the heart of this prayer is God’s desire that we be made to be like Christ in all respects. That He might dwell in our hearts by faith, that we might fully comprehend and realize His love, that we might be filled up to all the fulness of Christ. It is a grand prayer indeed, and it is a reflection of the heart of God in His design for us in our Christian lives.
D. Lest we think that the Apostle Paul is too far reaching in his prayer, Paul reminds us of the nature and character of the God to whom he prays. He is the omnipotent, glorious, eternal God of the heavens. Who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. And He will be glorified in His church and in His Son as He accomplishes His transforming work in our lives. His measureless power will lead to His endless praise.
E. Hudson Taylor, "How often do we attempt work for God to the limit of our incompetency rather than to the limit of God’s omnipotency."


A. God’s measureless power

1. "Now to Him who is able to do" Able=dunameno=normally translated "power"=speaks to the power and ability of God to accomplish whatever it is that He endeavors to do. God is able to do because God is omnipotent, He has all power. He is able to do anything that is within His nature and will to do.
2. God’s power is measureless. But Paul the Apostle has attempted, in this epistle, to use three different yardsticks to give to us an indication of how great God’s power is.
a. Remember Paul’s prayer in Ephesians chapter one. His prayer was that our eyes would be opened to the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. And then he put a yardstick up against that great power so that we might have an indication of just how great a power it is. And the yardstick that is given to us is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The power and ability of God is so great that it was able to vanquish our greatest foe, death itself, and raise Jesus Christ from the dead. That same power is made evident in the life of the believer, as we, who were dead in our trespasses and sins, have been made alive together with Christ and raised up with Him in the heavenly places. Believer--the resurrection power of Christ is at work in you now, giving life to your mortal body, transforming you into His image, prparing you for heaven.
b. And then we look to Paul’s second prayer in Ephesians chapter three. His prayer is that we would be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man. And then we are told that this power is according to the riches of His glory. And so we have a second yardstick by which we might measure the ability and power of God. It is according to the riches of His glory. What is His glory? It is said to be the culmination of His attributies. He is a glorious God. He is transcendent in His glory. It is beyond us. And it transcends our understanding. But we see the effects of His glory. His creation reveals His glory to us. In the words of Jeremiah 32:17, "Ah Lord God! Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee." God was able to make the heavens and the earth, He is able to give life to our sin-dead souls, He is able to conform us to the image of His Son, He is able to make us ready for Heaven. He is able because He is the sovereign and omnipotent God of the universe. Nothing is too difficult for Him. R. A. Torrey once said, "The whole secret of why D. L. Moody was such a mightily used man you will find in Psalm 62:11, "God hath spoken once, twice have I heard this, that power belongeth unto God." I am glad that it does. I am glad that power did not belong to D. L. Moody; I am glad that it did not belong to Charles Finney; I am glad that it did not belong to Martin Luther; I am glad that it did not belong to any other Christian man whom God has greatly used in this world’s history. Power belongs to God. If D. L. Moody had any power, and he had great power, he got if from God."
c. The third yardstick that is given to us by which we can attempt to measure the power and ability of God is given to us in verse 20. He is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think. Here it is measured against our prayers and our imagination. And what we are told is that His power far transcends them both. Let us consider this for a moment because it is an important point. We offer up certain prayers to God. And many times are prayers are not as they should be. We are told in Romans 8:26 that we don’t know how to pray as we should, "but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." And sometimes we ask amiss. But even when we do ask according to God’s will, our prayers are never in keeping with measureless ability of God’s ability to answer them.

We are too many times like the disciples in the boat, and the seas around them were raging, and they were fearful, but they had no reason to fear because the creator of the winds and the waves was in the boat with them. And as soon as they asked, he didn’t just save them from the seas, He calmed the seas. God is able to do beyond what you ask for Him to do in your Christian life. The Apostle Paul is a perfect example of this. Who would have ever imagined at the time of his conversion that he would become the greatest missionary the church has ever known. And yet God brought it to pass. And ever saved sinner is a testimony to the measureless power of God.
His ability not only transcends what we can ask, but it also transcends what we can think. We cannot imagine what God is able to do in our lives. The prodigal son had taken his inheritance and squandered his estate with loose living (Luke 15:13). He was destitute to the extent that he longed even to eat with the pigs (Luke (15:16). He came to his senses and decided to return to his father, thinking that perhaps his father might be willing to make him as one of his hired men (Luke 15:19). But instead the father welcomed him back, embraced him, put a robe on him, and a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet, he killed the fatted calf, and arranged a huge feast in celebration of his son’s return. The prodigal son had a thought of what his father might do, but what the father did was exceeding abundantly beyond what he thought.

1 Corinthians 2:9, "Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him." You have a thought about what heaven is going to be like, is will be far greater. God is able to do in your life beyond what you could ever imagine. Think back to when you were first saved. Remember the sorrow and the guilt and the hopelessness that you felt. Look where God has brought you, and that just a taste of all that God has prepared for you.

So, if we were to find the loftiest prayer ever uttered by man. The greatest prayer of faith that could be found in the history of godly men. A prayer that expressed the highest of spiritual aspirations. That stretched to the heights of heaven itself the faith that uttered it. Were we to find such a prayer, God’s power and God’s ability to work would far exceed what was requested in that prayer. And were we to find and discover the loftiest thought that has been thought. The greatest spiritual aspiration that has ever been thought in the hearts of men. God’s power and ability to work would far exceed what was considered in that thought.

B. Is at work within us
1. This power is not just a force that is out there having no relevance to us. It is a power that works within us. Philippians 2:13, "For it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure."
2. It is tied in with God’s ultimate goal for us. We have seen in this prayer that God’s goal is to transform us into the image of His Son. God’s ability to work in us is tied in to His purpose in our lives. In other words, the thought here is not that I would ask or think that God will give to me a million dollars, and instead God is going to give me a billion dollars. It is not about our whims--not about our selfish requests and vain imaginations. The prayers and thoughts have to do with God’s saving purpose in our lives. We have an idea of what salvation is all about, God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond that.
3. He is able to:

  • Romans 14:4, "The Lord is able to make (us) stand."
    Philippians 3:21, "Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able to subdue all things unto himself."
  • 2 Timothy 1:12, "I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day."
  • Hebrews 2:18, "For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted."
  • Hebrews 7:25, "Hence, also, He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him."

It has been said, that He will only do for us, what we allow Him to do in us. So the great need that we have is for faith. We need to trust God and His Word and determine to rely not upon ourselves, but on Him. We need to realize all that He has done for us already. What has been outlined for us in this epistle. He has chosen us, He has redeemed us, He has sealed us by the Spirit. We were dead in our trespasses and sin, He made us alive together with Christ. We were without God and without hope in the world. He made us to be fellow citizens, fellow members of His household, and fellow living stones in His temple. He has indwelt us. He is helping us to realize the full measure of His love. He is filling us up to all the fulness of God. So what is needful is for us, not to look to ourselves and our inability, but to look to God and His ability, to save us, to change us, to prepare us for heaven.

5. We should also note that it is the characteristic of the last days that men will have a form of godliness, but deny His power. (2 Timothy 3:5). The modern church is characterized by religious exercise, but lacking in faith and empowerment by God. We need to be different in this respect. God has not called us to be religious people, we are called to be His children. Living in a vital life-transforming union with Him. Nothing short of this is acceptable to God, and neither shall it be acceptable to us.
6. William Carey, "Attempt great things for God, expect great things from God."

A. God will be glorified
1. John Stott, "The power comes from Him; the glory must go to Him."
2. To attribute glory to God is not to add anything to Him, for He is already perfect, it is to acknowledge Him as He is. To glorify God is to readily acknowledge His divine worth.
3. This section of the letter to the Ephesians began with this theme and it concludes with this theme. Ephesians 1:3, "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." And as we come to the end of the doctrinal portion of the book, it is concluded with the same theme. We should realize this about doctrine--the goal of our study of the Word of God is the glory of God. Indeed, the goal of life is the glory of God. Your life might not have started that way. Maybe you were ignorant of God’s glory, you did not honor Him as God or give thanks. Make sure it ends that way. You were created by God for this purpose, that you may glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Indeed, all of creation is moving in that very direction.
4. Though this world seems to lack direction, there is a direction and purpose to it. God has a purpose in it. In the end we shall all give glory to God. This is emphatically presented to us in the book of Revelation. The God who is able to save, will receive endless praise. Revelation 4:8-5:14.

B. In the church and in Christ Jesus
1. God will be glorified in the church. He has saved us "to the praise of His glory." Remember the threefold repetition in Ephesians 1:6, 12, and 14. And again in Ephesians 2:10 we saw that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works," that God might be glorified in them. God has carried out His saving purposes in us, "In order that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places (Ephesians 3:10)."
The church exists to bring glory to God, and to the extent that the church pursues this preeminent goal God will bless her efforts. If we fail to maintain this as our goal, if we minister for other motives, we should not expect God’s assistance. And we should not this as well. God will be glorified in the church. The world thinks little about the church. She is scoffed at and ignored. Many Christians think little of the church today, and many forsake it for other pursuits. But God thinks much of His church. It is the object of His love and devotion. And we need to respect it as the God-ordained and beloved institution that it is.
2. God will be glorified in His Son. Our Lord Jesus prayed this way in John 17:4-5, "I glorified Thee on earth, having accomplished the work which Thou hast given Me to do. And now, glorify Thou me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." God the Father is glorified in God the Son and especially in His saving work on the cross. A day is coming when every knee shoud bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Thank God that many of you have already confessed Him to be your Savior and Lord. Don’t wait until it is to late to do so voluntarily. The day is coming when there will be many who will be forced to confess this truth, but apart from His salvation. Now is the time, today is the day to acknowledge Him to be your Savior and Lord.

C. Throughout eternity.
1. Paul concludes his great doctrinal treatise with this preeminent conclusion. To Him be the all generations forever and ever. Amen. This matter transcends all generations and all time. The glory of God is the chief purpose of this universe. No person is exempted. Every one of us, every generation of man, every nationality, every tribe, every tongue exists for this supreme purpose: to glorify the creator. And that has been the purpose of God’s creation from history past and will be the purpose of His creation forever and ever. "To Him who sits on the Throne, and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever (Revelation 5:13)."
Like a mighty river flowing towards the sea, so is the history of man flowing relentlessly towards this final destiny. When we, as believers in Christ, arrive in heaven, the eternal praise and worship of God will be all that will remain. There will be no room for selfish endeavor or pride, there will be no tears, there will be no illnesses, no death. There will be no room for petty problems and concerns. No room for disagreements. No room for temper tantrums. No room for grumbling against God. There will be room only for fellowship with our creator and the praise and worship of Him. As we live our lives here on earth, we need to be preparing ourselves for such a place. We need to live our lives now to the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." As we prepare ourselves for heaven, our goal here on earth should be to bring glory to God. We are going to be a part of a great heavenly choir that will sing the praises of Him. Now we are in choir practice. The lives that we live, the things that we say, the things that we do, are to be to this end. And God is able to make it so in our lives.

What is God able to do in you? Exceeding abundantly beyond what you ask or think! When you apply yourself to His will--to love Him, to serve Him, to grow in Him--you can be confident that God will work in a powerful way to assist you in those efforts.
And as He works to save us and to change us, He is glorified because the power comes from Him. It is all by His grace.

Pastor Jerry

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