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Praise to the God of Unlimited Power

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Praise to the God of Unlimited Power

Ephesians 3:20-21

When I mention the word doxology, some of our seasoned saints will probably think of the song we used to sing from time to time called The Doxology– Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, praise Him ye creatures here below, praise Him above ye heavenly hosts, Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Aaaaaaa-mennnnn. Do any of you remember that song?

Well, though we don’t sing the song any more, the first two words of that song pretty much define doxology – praise God. A doxology is a hymn of praise to God. The term comes from the Greek word for glory – doxa. We’ll have more to say about that later. The Apostle Paul was fond of doxologies. We find them at various places throughout his writings. For example…

         Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!

          For  who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?

         Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again?

         For  from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.  To Him be the glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:33-36)

 

         Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Philippians 4:20)

 

         Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17).

         Those are doxologies. These in particular are moments in the letters of Paul when he breaks out in loud praise to glorify God. You will note in these doxologies that there are two common ingredients. First, there are one or more things about God which trigger the praise. It may be His unsearchable wisdom or His eternality or His role as Creator; but there is some quality or attribute of God which sets us to singing His praise. Second, there is the recognition of and desire for God’s glory. To Him be the glory. It is not as though we are adding something to God which He doesn’t possess. No. We are recognizing that which He does rightfully possess. We are desiring that glory to be acknowledged.

                 

The doxology here in Ephesians 3:20-21 is a fitting culmination to the prayer of vv. 14-19. In this doxology, we are called to praise the God of unlimited power.

I. God’s unlimited power works in the lives of believers (v. 20).

            A. The focus is on God’s power. There are three words

                 which rivet our attention on God’s power.

                        1. To Him who is able to do…

                        2. According to the power…

                        3. that works within us…

                        4. We have already seen in Chapter 1 that this is the

                            Power that raised Jesus from the dead, enthroned

                            Him in the heavenlies, and enthrones us with him

                            (1:19-20).

            B. God’s power is unlimited power.

                        1. hyper = beyond

                        2. hyperekperissou = quite beyond all measure, to

                            an extraordinary degree, infinitely beyond.

                        3. Beyond all we can ask or think.

Peter O’Brien comments, “Not even the immensity of the request in the preceding verses nor the unfettered ability of the human imagination can provide any limit to Gods mighty ability to act.” (O’Brien, Ephesians, p. 267)

APPLICATION: Now, we need to be sure we understand this statement in context. There are those who would lift this statement about God’s power and apply it in a way that violates its intent. The context of this statement is the prayer of the apostle in vv. 14-19. What kinds of things is he praying about here? Things of a spiritual nature. Things that only God can accomplish in the human heart. To fill us with spiritual power, to ground us in love, to enable us to grasp the vast dimensions of Christ’s love, to fill us with His fullness in Christ. Those are requests which cannot be answered by anything less than the limitless power of God.

So, we must be careful not to turn this announcement of God’s power into a selfish, carnal thing. This is not a license for us to make out our Christmas list for all the big toys we want and hand it over to God as if He were some sort of cosmic Santa Claus.

The focus of this prayer is not creature comforts. It is not houses, cars, and bank accounts. The focus here is on spiritual realities that we will never experience apart from the power of God working in us. The focus is on things related to Christ’s kingdom.

Why would these kinds of requests cause the Apostle to praise the unlimited power of God? Beloved, it is because these things don’t happen in us apart from God’s power. The fallen, carnal, rebellious nature with which we are born resists the love of Christ. It resists having Jesus at home in our hearts. Our fallen nature cannot grasp the love of Christ or grow into His fullness. So, God must do something in us or these spiritual realities will never be ours.

Are you having trouble being holy? Are you struggling to break free from the grip of some sin? Are you frustrated by your lack of spiritual maturity? Do you feel imprisoned in grief or bitterness? And compounding these troubles you find yourself insufficient to change it? Good. Now we are getting somewhere.

Your God is not limited in His ability to work in your life to bring real spiritual change and maturity. In fact, He is capable of doing infinitely more than you ask or think.

Dear church, do we see gaps in our ministry that need to be filled? Do we see weaknesses which need to be strengthened? Do we see opportunities before us which require resources beyond us? Do we need new staff, new strategies, new vision and enthusiasm? Good. The God to whom we pray is able to do more than we ask. We can bring our extravagant requests to Him knowing full well that our requests and our imaginations cannot exhaust His power to give.

TS – Limitless power. That is a quality worth praising. Our doxology is triggered by such things.

II. Glorify the God of unlimited power (v. 21).

            A. To Him be the glory.

                        1. Glory is the word doxa. This word in NT Greek

                            takes its meaning from an OT background.

                                    a. The OT word kabod means glory. The

                                        root idea is heaviness or weight. It came

                                        to refer to something or someone who

                                        possesses greatness or is impressive.

                                    b. The word often refers to the manifestation

                                        of God’s greatness and splendor. Glory is

                                        an impressiveness that shines out and is

                                        radiant. God’s glory is expressed in His

                                        attributes and His actions.

                        2. To glorify God is to acknowledge and praise His

                            Manifested greatness, beauty, and perfection.

                                    a. We are not adding to God something He

                                        lacks. We do not impart glory to God by

                                        praise.

                                    b. Rather, we are recognizing and praising

                                        God for the glory which He already

                                        Possesses in His very being and which is

                                        Expressed in His many actions.

                                    c. We are expressing our desire that the

                                        glory which God possesses would be

                                        recognized and praised by others.

            B. The theater for the expression of God’s glory is the

                 Church.

                        1. We have already seen that the church is a place

                            in which God’s glory is displayed.

                                    a. God’s glory is displayed in His gracious

                                        choice to save sinners (1:5-6; 11-12).

                                    b. God’s manifold wisdom is displayed in

                                         the church (3:10).

                        2. The church is the entity through which God

                             displays His glory and in which God is glorified.

                                   

a. God displays His glory in the saving of

                            sinners and incorporating them into the body

                            of Christ – the church.

                        b. The church, those who are redeemed and who

                            belong to Christ, in turn glorify God and praise

                            Him.

            C. The glory of God in the church is Christ-centered glory.

                        a. The church exists through Christ’s saving work.

                        b. The church is made up of those who are in Christ.

                        c. Thus, the glory of God in the church cannot be

                            separated from the glory of God in Christ.

            D. The glory of God continues through all eternity.

                        a. To all generations while this world exists.

                        b. Forever and forever when the eternal state begins.

                        c. This is true because God is eternal and eternally

                            deserves praise.

            E. The church acknowledges and affirms the glory which

                 Belongs to God alone.

                        a. Amen is a word which means “so be it” or “yes, it

                            is so.” It is like saying “we heartily agree.”

                        b. So, our response to the idea that God deserves

                            eternal glory is “Yes, Yes, That’s Right, We

                            agree, May it be so!”

APPLICATION: As I have reflected on this doxology, it occurs to me that the second half helps us to keep the first half in proper perspective. In other words, our desire to ask God to display His power on our behalf is kept in proper perspective by our recognition that God alone deserves glory.

What keeps us from using the power of God as an excuse to make self-centered, self-serving requests of God? The thing that keeps our prayers and priorities in proper balance is the over-arching desire for the glory of God. Ask yourself as you pray, “If God answers this prayer, will it be for His glory or mine? Will this prayer result in God being magnified? Is this prayer motivated by a desire to be satisfied in God or in the things that God’s power can do for me?”

Do we want our church to grow for our glory or God’s glory? Do we want to be healed for our comfort or for God’s glory? Do we want to get married for our satisfaction or for the glory of God?

To keep the glory of God always in the forefront of our lives is the greatest antidote for the poison of idolatry. It is the greatest corrective to shallow, self-centered praying. It will help to neutralize the toxin of pride.

CONCLUSION:

Doxology really presents a great pattern for living all of life. How would your life be different if you lived with an awareness of God’s greatness followed by expressions of praise? It could radically reorient our lives. We need to train our hearts and our eyes to see the greatness of God in everything. After all, Paul has already told us that He works all things after the counsel of His will. So, all around us we need to see the greatness of God at work. In our personal lives, at work, in the church, in creation, through history we can put on our doxology glasses and see how impressive and majestic God is.

Then we will be constantly flowing with praise. The glory of God will be often on our lips. It will fill our prayers. It will change the way we look at everything from a simple gratitude for a meal to how we respond to tragedy.

God give us minds to understand His glory, eyes to see His glory, hearts to feel His glory, and words to praise His glory so that we may live all of life in doxology.

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