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God's Plan for Growth

Ephesians: Trust God & His Provision  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented
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In Ephesians 1:3–14 Paul focuses on believers’ comprehension of their resources in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God's plan for Grown comes from the 1) Prayer (Ephesians 1:15-16), 2) Person (Ephesians 1:17), 3) Promise (Ephesians 1:18), 4) Power (Ephesians 1:19-20) and 5) Position (Ephesians 1:21-23) that believers have in Christ.

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Ephesians 1:15-23 "God's Plan for Growth" Safe Haven Worship Centre. Sunday May 24, 2020. Ephesians 1:15-23 [15]For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, [16]I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, [17]that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, [18]having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, [19]and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might [20]that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, [21]far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. [22] And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV) The economic effect of the current pandemic on international monetary systems around the planet has meant wild swings in valuations and many investors are worried about the growth possibilities amidst some fragile economies. The economic approach that many governments have taken is to spend on everything in the hope of enabling recovery. Economists note that what we lack is a plan for growth based on economic fundamentals. This is the economic foundation for growth. Ephesians 1:3–14 talks about the foundation of God's plan for growth in the Christian life. The Apostle Paul has set forth the amazing blessings believers have in Jesus Christ, blessings that amount to our personal inheritance of all that belongs to Him. In the remainder of the chapter (vv. 15–23) Paul prays that the believers to whom he writes, including us, will come to fully understand and appreciate those blessings in God’s plan for growth. Where do you want to grow in your life? What stands in your way? Do you know what God wants of you? Do you know how he wants you to do it? If you come to understand what God has provided you, and in faith, put into work what He instructs, the task will be guaranteed successful. We know that the efforts will be successful, for God blesses and equips His believers what He commands. In Ephesians 1:3–14 Paul focuses on believers’ comprehension of their resources in their Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. God's plan for Grown comes from the 1) Prayer (Ephesians 1:15-16), 2) Person (Ephesians 1:17), 3) Promise (Ephesians 1:18), 4) Power (Ephesians 1:19-20) and 5) Position (Ephesians 1:21-23) that believers have in Christ. God's Plan for Grown comes from the: 1) Growth through the Prayer to God. (Ephesians 1:15-16). Ephesians 1:15-16 [15]For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, [16]I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, (ESV) Please turn to 1 John 2 In light of their marvelous inheritance in Jesus Christ (For this reason), Paul now intercedes for the possessors of that treasure. His immediate audience included not only the believers in Ephesus but probably those in all the churches of Asia Minor. Traffic by sea was brisk in those days; visitors were allowed to see the famous prisoner, Paul, in Rome; and the bond of Christian fellowship was very strong. For all these reasons it is not surprising that although about four years had now elapsed since the apostle carried on his labors in Ephesus — labors from which the people of the surrounding territories also benefited (Acts 19:10, 26) — he had been kept well informed. That is how he could say that he heard. From letters, as well as through personal reports from friends who visited him in prison, he had received considerable information from and about the churches. He heard two things that indicated the genuineness of their salvation, and for those two cardinal marks of a true Christian—faith in Christ and love for other Christians—he affectionately praises them. Those two dimensions of spiritual life are inseparable (cf 1 John 2:9–11) (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 7: New Testament commentary: Exposition of Ephesians. New Testament Commentary (95). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.) These two obvious marks of faith show the genuineness of salvation as John explains: 1 John 2:9-11 [9] Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. [10] Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. [11] But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (ESV) "KEEP YOUR PLACE IN 1 JOHN" • The love of God and the love of others is the basis for all godly growth. In the second half of verse 15, Paul praised their “faith in the Lord Jesus”. The emphasis here is on true saving belief, with the lordship of Jesus as the object of that belief. Coming to Christ in faith means submitting to him (cf Matt. 8:19–22; 9:9; 10:37–39; Luke 9:57–62), willing to give up all we are and have (cf Matt. 13:44–46; 18:3–4; 19:16–26), and to leave all and follow Him (Matt. 19:27). Paul is not praising the Ephesians for some later, supplemental act of faith but for the original faith that brought them to saving submission to the sovereign Lord. This is the same saving faith with which they entered the Christian life and in which they were continuing to live. It is the news not of their conversion but of their perseverance that provokes Paul’s thanksgiving. (Muddiman, J. (2001). The Epistle to the Ephesians (p. 83). London: Continuum.) Turn over from where you were in 1 John to chapter 3 A second mark of genuine salvation is love for all the saints, and because of such love Paul offers thanks for the Ephesian believers. Faith finds its focus in Christ and expresses itself in love to others. Such outgoing love is the evidence of genuine faith (Gal 5:6). (Wood, A. S. (1981). Ephesians. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon (Vol. 11, p. 29). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.) John described the effect of love like this: 1 John 3:16-18 [16] By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. [17] But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? [18] Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. (ESV) That is the sort of love the Ephesian Christians then had for all the saints. Significant here is the word all; they loved all their fellow Christians! The reason this is so striking, of course, is that this is often not true in Christian circles. As Jonathan Swift (himself a clergyman) so rightly observed: “We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.” Our surface Christianity arms us with what we think are proper prejudices and a rationale for criticizing those who fall short, keeping them at arm’s length. Not so with the Ephesians! That is why the word for “love” here is agape — a thoughtful, volitional, purposeful love that wills to love even the unlovely — the very love of God himself. (Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ (p. 50). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.) • Unfortunately, our love often defaults to how the world loves. They love those like them. And there is often the assumption that it starts with a feeling. But biblical love is an action not motivated by feelings but loving others like God loves us. At the time of writing, the Christians to whom Paul wrote his Ephesian letter had the right balance of faith and love, and it was for their great faith and their great love that the apostle assured them, in Ephesians 1:16 I … do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering/while making mention of you in my prayers. The apostle’s prayers for his spiritual charge are always remarkable. They are very short, but wonderfully deep and comprehensive; very rich and (magnificent) in aspiration; powerful in their pleas, whether expressed or implied; and exhaustive in the range of blessings which they implore.(Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Ephesians (p. 6). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.) Illustration: The Ephesian church not only rested its salvation but also its everyday life on Christ. The Ephesians believed Christ would take care of them through thick and thin. Their faith was not like the man who was attempting to cross the frozen St. Lawrence River in Canada. Unsure whether the ice would hold, the man first tested it by laying one hand on it. Then he got down on his knees and gingerly began making his way across. When he got to the middle of the frozen river trembling with fear, he heard a noise behind him. Looking back, to his horror he saw a team of horses pulling a carriage down the road toward the river. And upon reaching the river they didn’t stop, but bolted right onto the ice and past him, while he crouched there on all fours, turning a deep crimson. If only he had known how firm the ice really was that day … The Ephesians knew Christ had saved them and could hold them up, and as a result they were charging straight ahead. For this, Paul thanked God. ( Hughes, R. K. (1990). Ephesians: the mystery of the body of Christ (pp. 48–50). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.) • One of the best ways to grow in your own spiritual health, be in tune with God’s power and exercise that power for the benefit of yourself and others is in prayer. Perhaps we fail to notice God, His work and miss being used by God, because our prayers are shallow and selfish. If we truly want to see the mighty working of God, then prayer is that instrument that He will use. God's plan for Grown comes from the: 2) Growth through the Person of God (Ephesians 1:17-23) Ephesians 1:17-23 [17]that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, [18]having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, [19]and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might [20]that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, [21]far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. [22] And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV) The remainder of the chapter is a petition in which Paul prays for God to give believers true comprehension and appreciation of who they are in Jesus Christ, in order that they might begin to have some idea of how magnificent are the blessings that already belonged to them in their Lord and Savior. The petition is directed to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, a designation of God which links God the Father to Christ the Son in terms of essential nature (cf. Rom. 15:6; Eph. 1:3a, 17a; 2 Cor. 1:3; Phil. 2:9–11; 1 Pet. 1:3; 2 John 3). The One to whom all glory belongs is the same in essence as the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is praying that the Ephesians, and us, would be spared from frantically searching for what is already possessed, but rather would see that the great God who is our God is the source of all that we need and has it ready for us if we are open to receive it. Such a receptive attitude requires that God Himself give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. • It is tragic that many believers become entangled in a quest for something more in the Christian life, for something special, something extra that the “ordinary” Christian life does not possess. They talk of getting more of Jesus Christ, more of the Holy Spirit, more power, more blessings, a higher life, a deeper life—as if the resources of God were divinely doled out one at a time like so many pharmaceutical prescriptions or were unlocked by some spiritual combination that only an initiated few can know. There is no greater tragedy that to search for a remedy that we already possess. Peter explicitly says: 2 Peter 1:3 [3] His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, (ESV) Please turn to 1 Corinthians 2 The Christian’s primary need is for wisdom and obedience to appropriate the abundance of blessings the Lord has already given. Our problem is not lack of blessings, but lack of insight and wisdom to understand and use them properly and faithfully. Our blessings are so vast that the human mind cannot comprehend them. In our own minds we cannot fathom the riches we already have in our position in Jesus Christ. Such things are totally beyond the natural human mind to grasp. Only the Holy Spirit Himself can search the deep things of the mind of God, and only the Spirit can bring them to our understanding. Paul Says: 1 Corinthians 2:9-12 [9] But, as it is written, "What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him"--[10]these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. [11] For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. [12] Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (ESV) • God’s deeper truths cannot be seen with our eyes, heard with our ears, or comprehended by our reason or intuition. They are revealed and comprehended only to those who love Him. • Every Christian has many specific needs—physical, moral, and spiritual—for which he or she must ask the Lord’s help. But no Christian needs, or can have, more of the Lord or of His blessing and inheritance than they already has. That is why Paul tells us, as he told the Ephesian believers, not to seek more spiritual resources but to understand and use those we were given in absolute completeness the moment we received Christ. Paul continues in Ephesians 1:17 that God may give the faculty of understanding so that we can know our resources, which he calls a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. The spirit of wisdom is given through the Holy Spirit, but this spirit does not refer to the Holy Spirit Himself, as some interpreters suggest. Pneuma (spirit) is anarthrous here, meaning that it has no article before it. In such cases the indefinite article is usually supplied in English, as in our text: a spirit. Believers already possess the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9), for whom their bodies are temples (1 Cor. 6:19). Nor does it seem that Paul was speaking of the human spirit, which every person already possesses (1 Cor. 2:11). The basic meaning of spirit (pneuma from which we get such English words as pneumatic and pneumonia) is breath or air, and from that meaning is derived the connotation of spirit. But like our English spirit, pneuma sometimes was used of a disposition, influence, or attitude—as in “He is in high spirits today.” Jesus used the word in that sense in the first beatitude: “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). He was not referring to the Holy Spirit or to the human spirit but to the spirit, or attitude, of humility. In summary, Paul prays that we might be given a capacity for spiritual discernment.(Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 105). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.) Paul now prays for God to give the Ephesians, and us a special disposition of wisdom, the fullness of godly knowledge and understanding of which the sanctified human mind is capable of receiving. “Let them know how much they possess in your Son,” he says, in effect. “Give them a keen, rich, deep, strong understanding of their inheritance in Christ.” He prays for the Holy Spirit to give their spirits the right spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. Revelation, though used here as a synonym of wisdom, deals with God’s imparting knowledge to us, whereas wisdom could emphasize our use of that knowledge. We must know and understand our position in the Lord before we are capable of effectively serving Him. We must know what we have before we can satisfactorily use it. This additional wisdom goes beyond intellectual knowledge. It is far richer; and Paul desired that the Ephesian Christians, like those in Colossae, would “keep seeking the things above, where Christ is” (Col. 3:1). In his praying for the believers Paul asks God to give them revelation and wisdom in three particular areas of God’s magnificent, incomparable truth. He points to growth in understanding and living out the promises of God in the areas of God’s plan, power, and the greatness of His Person. Paul concludes that there might be the knowledge of him. He not praying that the Ephesians might come to know more about God, though they probably do have a great deal more to learn, but rather that they might know him. Knowing him and knowing about him are quite different.” (Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians : An expositional commentary (35). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Ministry Resources Library.) Quote: What then does it mean to know God? This is not an easy question to answer, any more than it is easy to answer the same question about a person. Whole books have been written about it. In one of these books, Knowing God, British scholar J. I. Packer suggests the following three elements: “First, knowing God is a matter of personal dealing. … It is a matter of dealing with him as he opens up to you and being dealt with by him as he takes knowledge of you. … Second, knowing God is a matter of personal involvement, in mind, will and feeling. … The believer rejoices when his God is honored and vindicated and feels the acutest distress when he sees God flouted. … Packer concludes, “What matters supremely … is not … the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it—the fact that he knows me.” (J. I. Packer, Knowing God (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1973), 34–36.) God's plan for Grown comes from the: 3) Growth through the Promises of God (Ephesians 1:18) Ephesians 1:18 [18]having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (ESV) The second time that Paul prays for knowledge for believers he now shifts his focus slightly, turning from knowledge of God himself to knowledge of those elements of salvation he has achieved for us. In most modern cultures, the heart is thought of as the seat of emotions and feelings. But most ancients—Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—considered the heart (Greek kardia) to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, and wisdom. The New Testament also uses it in that way. The heart was considered to be the seat of the mind and will. Emotions and feelings were associated with the intestines, or bowels (Greek splanchnon; cf Acts 1:18, where the term clearly refers to physical organs, with Col. 3:12; Philem. 7, 12, 20; and 1 John 3:17, where it refers to affections and feelings).Paul prays for the minds of believers to be enlightened. Emotions have a significant place in the Christian life, but they are reliable only as they are guided and controlled by God’s truth—which we come to know and understand through our minds. That is why we are to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within [us]” (Col. 3:16). When the Holy Spirit works in the believer’s mind, He enriches it to understand divine truth that is deep and profound, and then relates that truth to life—including those aspects of life that involve our emotions. The first thing for which Paul prays is that believers be enlightened about the greatness of God’s plan. The Greek verb is in the perfect tense, referring to a past action with continuous results. In the most comprehensive of terms, the apostle asks that believers be given understanding of the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. He prays for God to enlighten them about the magnificent truths of election, predestination, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and insight, inheritance, sealing and pledge of the Holy Spirit about which he has just been instructing them (vv. 3–14). (Barton, B. B., & Comfort, P. W. (1996). Ephesians. Life application Bible commentary (30). Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers.). • Until we comprehend who we truly are in Jesus Christ, it is impossible to live an obedient and fulfilling life. Only when we know who we really are can we live like who we are. Only when we come to understand how our lives are anchored in eternity can we have the right perspective and motivation for living in time. Only when we come to understand our heavenly citizenship can we live obedient and productive lives as godly citizens on earth. What is God's great plan? Romans 8:29-30 [29] For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. [30] And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. (ESV) That is the hope to which he has called you. Not ‘the hope of your calling’, which might be interpreted in a narrow or individualistic sense, but ‘the hope to which he [i.e God’s] has called you, which is to be understood comprehensively in relation to his calling within his saving purposes (see on 4:4). God’s calling finds its origin in the choice of his people in Christ before the world’s foundation (1:4) and becomes effective in their lives, as it did in the case of the readers, through the preaching of the gospel (Rom. 8:30). Paul uses both the noun ‘hope’ and its cognate verb ‘to hope’ to denote the act of hoping as well as the objective content of the hope, that which is hoped for. Hope in Paul is oriented to what is unseen in the future, the content of which is defined in various ways: salvation (1 Thess. 5:8), righteousness (Gal. 5:5), resurrection in an incorruptible body (1 Cor. 15:52–55), eternal life (Tit. 1:2; 3:7), and God’s glory (Rom. 5:2). This hope to which God has called them is linked with ‘the summing up of all things in Christ’, which is the final purpose of God’s saving activity in his Son (1:10). The fullness of that hope will be experienced when we receive the supreme the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. (O'Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians. The Pillar New Testament commentary (134–135). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.). Illustration: There is an interesting back story to Philip Henry, the father of Matthew Henry the commentator. He and a young lady had fallen in love with each other. She belonged to a “higher” level of society than he did, and although she had become a Christian and therefore regarded such things differently, her parents saw the disparity in social status as an obstacle to the marriage. “This man Philip Henry,” they said, “where has he come from?” To this question the future Mrs. Henry gave the immortal reply, “I do not know where he has come from, but I know where he is going.” (D. M. Lloyd-Jones, God’s Ultimate Purpose: An Exposition of Ephesians 1:1 to 23 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979), 324.) • The worth of a person is determined not by his or her background (we are all only sinners saved by grace) but by where we are going. That is the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints. God's plan for Grown comes from the: 4) Growth though the Power of God (Ephesians 1:19-20) Ephesians 1:19-20 [19]and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might [20]that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, (ESV) Some of the Ephesians were converted out of a background of magic, the Artemis cult, or astrological beliefs. The book of Ephesians was ‘written to a group of churches in western Asia Minor which needed help in developing a Christian perspective on the “powers” and encouragement in their ongoing struggles with these (evil) spirit-forces’. Paul’s prayer presupposes and emphasizes the supremacy of God’s power, which was shown particularly in Christ’s resurrection and exaltation to a position of authority over all things. In the light of this superior power of God, who works all things in accordance with the purpose of his will, there is no longer any reason for the readers to fear tyrannical evil powers (O'Brien, P. T. (1999). The letter to the Ephesians. The Pillar New Testament commentary (138–139). Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.). In verse 19 Paul uses four different Greek synonyms to emphasize the greatness of that power. First is dunamis (power), from which we get dynamite and dynamo. This power is only for Christians, for those who believe. Not only that, but it is all the power we are ever offered or could ever have. There could be no more, and it is foolish and presumptuous to ask for more. The great might/surpassing greatness of God’s power is given to every believer, not just to those who believe and then have a mystical experience, second blessing, or some other supposed additional work of grace. When we are saved we receive all of God’s grace and all of His power, and that assures us of the realization of our eternal hope. Second is energeia (working), the energizing force of the Spirit that empowers believers to live for the Lord. Third some translations include the term kratos (strength), which may also be translated “dominion” (1 Tim. 6:16) or “power” (Heb. 2:14). Fourth is ischus (might), which carries the idea of endowed power or ability. In all those ways the Holy Spirit empowers God’s children. This power was first worked in each of us when God raised us from spiritual death through faith in Christ. It is power “for us who believe.” But Paul is praying here that even after we have been raised to life, our eyes may be opened to see what we would otherwise miss: power at work in our service.( Boles, K. L. (1993). Galatians & Ephesians (Eph 1:19). Joplin, MO: College Press.) Please turn to Romans 1 Paul did not pray for power to be given to believers. How could they have more than what they had? He prayed first of all that they be given a divine awareness of the power they possessed in Christ. Later in the letter (chaps 4–6) he admonished them to employ that power in faithful living for their Lord. We need not pray for power to evangelize, to witness the gospel to others. Believers already have that power. Paul professed: Romans 1:8-17 8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you— 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (ESV) Believers do not need to pray for power to do God’s will. Paul assures us: Philippians 2:13 [13] for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. (ESV). At times all of us are tempted to doubt, to wonder if God can do a certain thing for us or through us or ultimately bring us into His presence. But when we look at what Paul specifies in verse 20, what God the Father worked in/brought about in Christ, at what He faithfully accomplished on behalf of His Son—and at His assurance that He will just as faithfully accomplish His work on our behalf what ground do we have for doubting? In light of such assurance, how can a Christian feel insecure, forsaken, or powerless? The same unlimited divine power that raised Him from the dead will raise us from the dead, and the same power that seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places will seat us there with Him. In the meanwhile, that resurrection power is at our disposal for living to His glory (Eph. 1:19–20; 3:20). We must ask ourselves do we make too little of the Ascension of Christ? How much thought do you yourself give it? Does the Ascension explicitly impact your life? God had raised Him from the dead, but not only so; this Jesus had ascended and the curtain had gone up on a new act of the drama. Pentecost had happened. The Spirit of this Ascended One had been poured out on His followers .... (We have the Holy Spirit come upon us giving us power that we never had before the ascension of Christ) (Dunnam, M. D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 31: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 31 : Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon. The Preacher's Commentary series (162). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.) Illustration: ("Car Problem") In a seminary missions class, Herbert Jackson told how, as a new missionary, he was assigned a car that would not start without a push. After pondering his problem, he devised a plan. He went to the school near his home, got permission to take some children out of class, and had them push his car off. As he made his rounds, he would either park on a hill or leave the engine running. He used this ingenious procedure for two years. Ill health forced the Jackson family to leave, and a new missionary came to that station. When Jackson proudly began to explain his arrangement for getting the car started, the new man began looking under the hood. Before the explanation was complete, the new missionary interrupted, “Why, Dr. Jackson, I believe the only trouble is this loose cable.” He gave the cable a twist, stepped into the car, pushed the switch, and to Jackson’s astonishment, the engine roared to life. For two years needless trouble had become routine. The power was there all the time. Only a loose connection kept Jackson from putting that power to work. In what could be a commentary on this story J. B. Phillips paraphrases Ephesians 1:19–20, “How tremendous is the power available to us who believe in God.” When we understand our connection with God, his life and power flow through us. (Ernest B. Beevers, as recorded in Galaxie Software. (2002; 2002). 10,000 Sermon Illustrations. Biblical Studies Press.) Finally, God's plan for Grown comes from the: 5) Growth through our Position in God (Ephesians 1:21-23) Ephesians 1:21-23 [21] far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. [22] And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, [23] which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV) Moving from Christ’s might to His majesty, Paul’s request finally is for the Lord to give believers understanding of the greatness of His Person who secures and empowers them. What great blessing we can have when we take time to set our own concerns and needs aside and simply focus on the Lord of glory, allowing the Holy Spirit to do in us what Paul asked Him to do in the Ephesians—give us deep understanding of the truth that our Lord is far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. The terms rule (archē, meaning leader or first one), authority (exousia), power (dunamis), and dominion (kuriotēs, lordship) were traditional Jewish terms to designate angelic beings of great rank and might. The point here is that the power of Christ applied in the believer’s behalf cannot be overthrown or negated or defeated, because it far surpasses that of the hosts of Satan who design to defeat it. Our Lord not only is above, but far above, everything and everyone else. He is above Satan and above Satan’s world system. He is above the holy angels and the fallen angels, above saved people and unsaved people, for time and for eternity. He is above all names, titles, ranks, levels, powers, and jurisdictions in the universe. All this is said to exalt our sense of the Divine power that so raised up and exalted the God-Man, Christ Jesus—the same power that still works in believers. (Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). Ephesians (p. 8). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.) As verse 22 specifies, God the Father put all things in subjection under His feet (a quote from Ps. 8:6; cf Heb. 2:8). There is no limit on time, as Paul said Christ will be supreme not only in this age, but also in the one to come—that is, in the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf 2:7). The church has authority and power to overcome all opposition because her leader and head is Lord of all. Jesus himself had authority because He was under the Father’s authority; He was doing His will and therefore had all the authority of God (see Matt. 8:9–10; 11:27; John 17:2). Such authority he passes on to his disciples, in as much as they go out in his name, in obedience to him, and to do his work (Matt. 28:18–20; Mark 3:14–15; John 20:21–23).( Foulkes, F. (1989). Ephesians: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 10, p. 73). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.) Most importantly, as far as believers are concerned, God gave Him as head over all things to the church, as he concludes in v. [23] which is His body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all. Christ not only is the head of the church but its fulness. Since He has such a unique and intimate relationship with the redeemed whom He loves, all His power will be used in their behalf to fulfill His loving purpose for them. He is completely over us and completely in us, our supreme Lord and supreme power. The church as verse 23 specifies is the fulness or complement (plērōma) of Christ. As a head must have a body to manifest the glory of that head, so the Lord must have the church to manifest His glory (3:10) The church,... is His body. “This is the highest honor of the church, that, until he is united to us (in physical body when he returns), the Son of God reckons himself in some measure imperfect. In a thrilling and securing wonder, He has chosen us to display His incomparable majesty. We are guaranteed to come to glory in order that we might forever manifest His praise. Jesus Christ fills all in all, giving His fullness to believers. But in God’s wisdom and grace, believers, as the church, are also the fulness of Him. (Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953-2001). Vol. 7: New Testament commentary : Exposition of Ephesians. New Testament Commentary (104). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.) The point of this great petition is that we might comprehend how secure we are in Christ and how unwavering and immutable is our hope of eternal inheritance. The power of glorification is invincible and is presently operative to bring us to glory. (Dunnam, M. D., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1982). Vol. 31: The Preacher's Commentary Series, Volume 31 : Galatians / Ephesians / Philippians / Colossians / Philemon. The Preacher's Commentary series (163–164). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.). This is just as important to us as it was for the Ephesians. In the midst of all our struggles and all the difficulties that face us, it is incredibly comforting to know that Christ has already won the victory for us, and we like him will in the end stand in glory and see this world of evil end forever. We cannot lose, but we must wait for God’s chosen time and have patience in our present trials. (Osborne, G. R. (2017). Ephesians: Verse by Verse (p. 46). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.) (Format Note: Some base commentary from : MacArthur, J. (1996). Ephesians (37–51). Chicago: Moody Press.)
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