The ultimate issue as to Christianity’s worth is not talk, pretty sentiments, comforting platitudes, moving illustrations, interesting wordsmithing, beautiful ceremony, but POWER. Otherwise, the gospel is not really good news.
Power is the ultimate issue (1 Corinthians 1:17; Romans 1:16; Romans 1:4; Philippians 3:10). It is completely different from our human experience (our frailty, illness, dying, sinning, weakness, decay; adversary like roaring lion).
Paul wrote the entire first chapter of Ephesians in only three sentences:
Verses 1-2 are the first sentence
Verses 3-14 are the second sentence
Verses 15-23 are the third sentence
These verses are so packed with truth and they are tightly connected, so we will survey its content as if we are looking from a satellite view—in order to get our bearings. Then we will zoom in and focus on amazing power and authority Christ Jesus exercises to the glory of God the Father and to the good of all who belong to Jesus.
Satellite View Survey of verses 15-23.
“For this reason . . . I do not cease to give thanks for you.”
What reason? In verse 14: “To the praise of His glory”, unceasing thanksgiving glorifies God because it gives Him the credit He deserves.
What is it about the lives of the believers in Ephesus that generates the Apostle Paul’s unceasing thanks to God? It is the effects of the Gospel!
Remember, Paul brought the gospel to this great city dominated by the worship of idols and demons. All the conversions caused a drop in the sale of silver idols connected with the great temple of Diana, goddess of banking and of the hunt. This drop caused a riot in the Ephesian’s coliseum, still intact today.
What did Paul witness in the lives of these Christian converts? In verse 15 we see:
Faith in the Lord Jesus
Love for all the saints
This was prime evidence that they had received new life from God—born again, regenerated. Because of what God has already been doing in their lives, as evidenced by their faith and love, Paul focuses his prayers on them.
He is asking God to do what only God can do. It is a declaration of dependence and of confidence in Him. The God to whom he prays is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has opened the way to the Father through His sinless blood shed for our sins. He is the Father of glory—shining splendor. He’s the One to ask. He can do it all.
What does he pray for?
In verses 17 and following we see that he prays for God to give them an extraordinary gift: a spirit of wisdom (skillful living, knowledge applied) and of revelation (something you couldn’t discover on your own) in the knowledge (full, experiential) of Him. Both are ours through knowing God in a full experiential way. To know God this way requires our heart to be illuminated so we can grasp spiritual truth—work of the Holy Spirit.
Why do we need this wisdom and revelation?—to know for ourselves
The hope to which He has called us—God’s calling has to do with His purposes and with our awakening to His voice. The destiny He has assigned for us is certain—it is our hope—our assured future. Paul wants the believers in Ephesus to have this hope, this certainty regarding the future rooted in their minds and hearts. Knowing where you’re headed for sure impacts how you live on the way.
Consider heading to the beach vs. heading for snow-covered mountains; traveling to a work convention versus a family vacation; heading for a campout versus heading for a resort hotel. Where you’re going determines how you prepare and how you travel.
The wealth/riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints—believers are the holy ones, the ones belonging to God—they are His inheritance—His by virtue of relationship. He will bring us to glory because we are His purchased possession, His people, His redeemed ones. He counts us valuable on account of His plans for us. He will never let us go. He prizes us as His own treasure. We are safe (Romans 8).
The immeasurable greatness of his power toward us believers. Verse 19 is where we want to zoom in. He piles on the terms for power:
Power + Immeasurable + Greatness = “Over-the-top mega power”
Great might—literally means the overcoming power of his strength.
Working/worked—it is energizing power that makes something operational.
What event in history displays the kind of incredible power Paul’s praying for believers to know?
The resurrection of Jesus Christ! That is why we’re looking at this text this morning.
Miraculous power that overcomes all enemies, the fills one with the force of unstoppable strength and that energizes dead bodies and makes them alive.
Toward us believers!! Those trusting Jesus and rely on Him to save them.
It is one thing to acknowledge and affirm that Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Paul lived in a day when hundreds of eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus Christ were still alive. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 15 not to prove Jesus had risen from the dead—that was not in question at the time. Rather, he wrote to argue that because Christ has risen, all in Christ will rise from the dead, too. These bodies laid in caskets, buried in the ground will hear the voice of the Son of God (John 5) and come to life again, immortal, incorruptible (1 Corinthians 15), never to sin or die again.
When we celebrate resurrection Sunday, we are not only rejoicing at the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We are rejoicing that His resurrection guarantees ours—if we are relying on Him as our Savior from our sin.
1. He raised him from the dead.
In Him we have life eternal that conquers the helpless, hopeless spiritual state of our past, when we were dead and trespasses and sins, and guarantees our physical resurrection from the dead (Romans 8:11). Immeasurable power of the risen King—God did more than raise Jesus from the dead.
2. He seated Him at His right hand in heavenly places—place of honor and authority (Ephesians 6).
By virtue not only of His eternal deity, but also of His resurrection, Jesus rules over all these powers and authorities (Matthew 28:18, 21). It is one thing to have the position of authority—it is another thing to wield that authority successfully.
3. He put (subjected) all things under his feet (Psalm 110:1). Like ancient conquerors who placed their feet on the necks of their defeated foes.
We experience this mighty authority of Christ in the holy freedom He gives to His ransomed ones, freed from the tyranny of sin and Satan by the infinitely greater power of Christ. He continues to exercise this sovereign authority, upholding all things by the word of His power, interceding on behalf of His saints.
4. He gave Him as Head over all things to the church (23).
The head and the body must stay connected—so we cannot exist apart from Him, our Head, and He is completed by us, members of His body—the life of God fills all true believers by the indwelling Holy Spirit and unites us to Christ and to one another. This fullness is ours in Christ. We are complete in Him, forever united in living union with Him.
The resurrection of Christ Jesus is more significant that we tend to think. According to all the rules of evidence; it is a historical fact. Yet, many doubt and disbelieve today because to rise from the dead requires a power beyond the natural power to which we are accustomed. But that is exactly the point! It is an incredibly stupendous power. It is a power that God desires us to know experientially through the Gospel and the Holy Spirit!
It is victorious power over the grave.
It procures for us a holy freedom from the kingdom of Satan.
It ushers us into a life of completion and fullness as members of the body of Christ, Head of the church.
Do you not long for such miraculous ability, operational energy, overcoming might, and intrinsic strength?
Only God has it—He displayed it at the resurrection of Jesus and in the conversion and sanctification and eventual glorification of every true believer.
It is right to ask for it—even as Paul did for His dear believing friends in Ephesus.
It is ours only in Jesus, the Risen King.