Scripture: Ephesians 1:19-23
“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come. God has put all things under the authority of Christ and has made him head over all things for the benefit of the church. And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself.”
Paul starts out chapter one of the book of Ephesians 1:3-14, with one, long and complex sentence in the original Greek, by praising God for the gift of salvation. He praises the Father for planning our salvation, the Son for purchasing our salvation, and the Holy Spirit for applying that salvation to us. Then in Ephesians 1:15-23, which again is also one, long, complex sentence in the original Greek, the Apostle Paul prays for believers to grow in their understanding of, and appreciation for, the blessings of salvation. Now here in Ephesians 1:19-23 Paul shows us several ways in which God’s power is seen in Christ as he moves from praise and petition to declaring God’s power in Christ. There is a true story about a school fire in the town of Itasca, Texas, just before World War II that took the lives of 263 children. Almost ever family in town was touched by this horrifying tragedy. During the war Itasca remained without school facilities, but when the war ended, the town, like many others, began to grow and so a new school building was planned. This new school featured a brand new technology, something that was considered state of the art in its day and what the town would term “the finest sprinkler system in the world.” Civic pride ran high, honor students were selected to guide citizens and visitors on tours of the new facility to show them the finest, most advanced technological sprinkler system that money could buy. Never again would Itasca be visited by such a tragedy. With the postwar boom the town continued to grow, and seven years later it became necessary to enlarge the school. When they began construction on the new school wing it was discovered that their technologically advanced sprinkler system had never actually been connected to the city water supply. So crazy was this discovery that it was almost impossible to imagine. Some how connecting the sprinkler system to the cities main water supply had been overlooked. Regardless of how amazing this new system was said to be, it was useless because it was not connected to the source. Sadly this is the story with many Christians today. Far too few are really connected to Christ, the true source of our strength. There are many Christians that don’t know, understand, or appropriate the power of God that is available to them. Martyn Lloyd-Jones the Welsh Protestant preacher, who was influential in the reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century once said: “The most urgent practical question for every Christian is this: Are we aware of the fact that the almighty power of God is working in us? Do we realize that we are what we are solely and entirely by the grace and the power of God? Do we realize in our own personal lives and experiences that it is this exceeding great power of God that accounts for everything in the Christian life? I press these questions again because I am convinced that the main trouble with most of us is our failure to realize the greatness of the salvation into which we have been brought, and which we enjoy together.” Just like Jones, the apostle Paul did not want Christians to be ignorant about the greatness of God’s power that is at work in us. So Paul prayed in verse 19a that believers would understand “the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him.” Then, he related God’s power that is at work in us to God’s power that is at work in Christ. Paul did this by showing us several ways in which God’s power is seen in Christ. First, God’s power is seen in
1. Christ’s resurrection.
In verses 19b-20a Paul prayed that believers would know what is the immeasurable greatness of God’s power toward us who believe, “according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead.” When Paul thought of the immeasurable greatness of God’s power, he turned first to Christ’s resurrection. For centuries people had lived and died, and yet when Christ came to earth he prophesied that God would raise him back to life again after he died. In fact, he even predicted exactly when God would bring him back to life, after three days, telling His disciples in Mark 10:33–34, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.” What He prophesied is exactly what happened! Now what kind of power could raise a dead person back to life again? There is no earthly power that could possible do that, only a heavenly power could. You see just as the cross is the greatest display of God’s love, so the Resurrection is the ultimate display of his power. But Paul did not stop here, he also wanted believers to know that God’s immeasurably great power was not only able to raise Jesus back to life again, but is also “toward us who believe.” That is, God’s immeasurably great power that is seen in Christ’s resurrection has practical benefits for us who are believers. So, how does the immeasurable greatness of God’s power benefit us? First, God’s power benefits us as saving power. Paul said to the Roman Christians in Romans 1:16, “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.” The immeasurable greatness of God’s power is able to save anyone, everywhere. There is no one who is beyond the grace of God because no one is beyond the power of God. Today many limit the Lords power in their life because they focus is on their failures instead of His power. There are many who will say, but you don’t know how great my sin is. But I don’t need to know, because there is no sin, no struggle, no secret that is beyond the immeasurable greatness of God’s power. Not only does God’s power benefit us as saving power but second, as a sanctifying power. God’s power changes us and enables us to live the Christian life. We don’t serve in our strength but through His power. Later in his letter to the Ephesians Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Paul was proclaiming that the immeasurable greatness of God’s power that raised Christ from the dead is at work within us. It is God’s power that enables us to live godly lives. The problem is that too many Christians are not connected to Christ’s power. Just like the fire sprinkler, the system for God’s power is in place but it does not work because of unbelief and sin. That is why Paul prayed that believers would have “the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know… what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe” Ephesians 1:18–19. What about you are you connected to Christ? When it comes to His power we need more than just a head knowing, we need a heart growing.