Wednesday, August 27, 2014

MORE THAN ABLE (Ephesians Chapter 3)

Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (NASB).

Able to do 

Able to do what we ask 
Able to do what we think 
Able to do what we ask or think 
Able to do all that we ask or think
Able to do above all that we ask or think 

Able to do abundantly above all that we ask or think 
Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think

The reality TV series “Extreme Makeover” featured episodes in which families that had faced some extraordinary hardship were provided a home that was rapidly constructed to meet their specific needs.  Interior, exterior and landscaping work were completed by a team of workers.  All the materials and labor were donated.  The family, off on a paid vacation during the time of construction, were brought to the site where they awaited, behind a bus, the unveiling of their new home.  The host of the show then yelled to the driver, “Driver move that bus!” The home was then revealed to a chorus of “oohs” and “aahs” and thanks.  The new home was above and beyond what was expected.

Say a prayer.  Think a thought.  God is able to do more, exceedingly more, exceeding abundantly more.  It is by “the power that works within us” that He does this.  Paul’s first prayer in this epistle was that the Ephesians would be Spirit-led to understand the “immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” made evident in Christ’s resurrection (Ephesians 1:19-20).  The empty tomb of the Risen Savior testifies to God’s ability to accomplish what He has purposed to do in our lives.  Paul’s second prayer in this epistle had to do with comprehending the love of Christ which “surpasses knowledge” (Ephesians 3:19).  That work that God has undertaken is founded and completed according to the “breadth and length and height and depth… (of) the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:18).

There are countless examples in Scripture that illustrate God’s ability to supersede expectations in the manner in which He works.  But one relates especially to the matter at hand.  The prodigal son left his father’s house and “squandered his property in reckless living” and found himself in need (Luke 15:13-14).  Wallowing in the mire with the pigs—and longing to “be fed with the pods that the pigs ate”—he “came to himself” and purposed to return to his father (Cf. Luke 15:17-20).  He supposed that he might gain employment as one of his father’s hired servant.  But that’s not what happened.  His father not only took him back—he embraced him and kissed him.  He not only welcomed him--he clothed him with a robe, a ring, and shoes.  He then killed the fattened calf and held a celebration.  His Father’s capacity to forgive (to restore) was above and beyond the expectations of the returning prodigal.

Having said all of that—there is a particular matter than verse 20 relates to.  What is work that God is doing that is “exceeding, abundantly beyond?”  According to the context it is us being “filled up with all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:19).  It is the end point of salvation that is spoken of here—being brought into complete conformity with Christ in the perfection of the work that God has begun in us.  Salvation is bigger in scope than we can now imagine.  We might assume it to include forgiveness (Cf. Ephesians 1:7), and so it does, but it is bigger than that.  We might suppose it to involve growth in Christ, and so it does, from one state of glory to the next (Cf. 2 Corinthians 3:18)—but it is still bigger than that.  We understand it to lead to a future glorified estate when he “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21), but what does that entail (Cf. 1 John 3:1-2)?  How can we perceive or comprehend what that must be (Cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12)?  His salvation “to the uttermost” (Cf. Hebrews 7:25) is as a mountain peak lying above the clouds.  We anticipate it, but the full measure of its glory eludes us.  But God is at work in us and is more than able to finish the glorious work He started (Cf. Philippians 1:6).  “He is able, more than able, to accomplish what concerns me today.  He is able, more than able, to handle anything that comes my way.  He is able, more than able, to do much more than I could ever dream, He is able, more than able, to make me what He wants me to be.”

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