- Thanks For Salvation (verses 15-16a)
- Prayer For Illumination (verses 16b-17)
a. The Author - By God
b. The Means - Through Wisdom And Revelation
c. The Subject - To Know Christ
d. The Instrument - The Eyes Of Your Heart
- Prayer To Know Hope (verse 18b)
- Prayer To Know Inheritance (verse 18c)
- Prayer To Know Power (verses 19-23)
a. Infinite (verse 19b)
b. In Christ (verses 20-23)
Now it's good to see you all out this Monday evening to our Bible study here in the Hall, and we're glad to see you. We hope and trust that as we meet together round God's word, studying His word, that we will see our Lord Jesus Christ, and our prayer will be that we will love Him more and more.
If you have your handout from last week - perhaps you don't have it, there were some on the way in, but maybe you missed that - but if you have it, it would be helpful to you. I want you to add a few other little points to that handout from last week also, because we're reaching the fourth and the fifth point of that handout - and we're going to look, first of all, at the fourth point and then we're going to tease out a little bit the fifth point. But let's read Ephesians chapter 1 again to refresh our minds - and I read this every week, and I don't apologise for it because it's a beautiful chapter of the word of God.
"Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus: Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all".
We began, last Monday evening, thinking of the prayer of Paul - Paul's prayer list for you, and for me. We spent several weeks - we're on our eighth study now - but we spent six weeks looking at all the blessings that we are blessed with in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus. We looked at the whole history of salvation. Then we began last week, from verse 15, looking at the prayer, Paul's prayer list for the saints in Ephesus - and we also looked at how this is the list of prayer requests that Paul intercedes for every believer in Christ across the whole world. We looked last week at how he thanked God for their salvation, how he saw within them the combination of their faith rooted in Christ, but also how they were walking in faith day by day. We saw the combination of that faith with the possession of love which was practised, which was the fruit of that faith in the depths of their spirit - that it bore a love one for another. The only way that they could know that they were born again was this combination of the faith of Christ, with the love of Christ.
Then he prayed in verse 16, right through to 18, for illumination. We saw how, through the word of God, we have God's revelation to us - but we also saw that it's very simple to read the word of God and to misinterpret what is on these pages. Therefore Paul prayed that the saints in Ephesus, Christians everywhere, would have from the Holy Spirit a knowledge, a revelation, that they knew what the word of God was really saying. We learnt how only God could give that - that the means of it was through this spirit of wisdom and revelation, the purpose of it was to know Christ Jesus. We saw that the instrument of it was the eyes of our hearts - that we don't know Christ through our IQ or intellectually speaking or academically. We can know about Him in that way, but to know Him: it is a thing of the heart. Then we learnt, thirdly, that Paul prayed for that hope; that that hope would purify them, that it would fill them. As Peter said: 'That hope of seeing the Lord Jesus Christ' - the blessed hope that one day He would come again for His own people and they would see Him, they would be conformed to His image, because they had been predestinated to that day.
Now we turn to the fourth point that we have down on our sheet - verse 18. He says: 'The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling' - one - 'what are the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints' - two - 'and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe' - three. A three-fold prayer request of Paul. We've already looked at the hope, but then Paul says: 'I pray that the Holy Spirit of God would reveal to these Christians in Ephesus the inheritance that they have. That they would know the great blessings that God has given them'. There are two possible meanings for this inheritance. Of course, we learned in weeks gone by that Paul has already spoken about the inheritance that we have. And, in fact, we read those verses in this sense: that we have been made the inheritance of God. We are God's people, we are washed in the blood of Christ, we have the seal of the Holy Spirit - His mark upon us and therefore through grace, through redemption, we have become God's purchased possession. That's what verse 11 says if you turn back to it. We read it in this way: 'In whom also we have obtained an inheritance', or 'we have become an inheritance', 'being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will'. That's what Paul wrote to Titus, was it not, in chapter 2 and verse 14? Listen: 'Who', Christ, 'gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works'. Peter spoke about it - 1 Peter 2:9: 'But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light'.
Isn't it glorious? We have been made God's possession! Didn't we learn when we were thinking of the sealing of the Holy Spirit, how manufacturers around our world, when they put a seal or a stamp upon their product, that they love to be able to stand over it. They love to be proud of it - the wonder of wonders of the grace of God, the amazing grace in Christ is this: that as God looks down on us, His people - rooted and grounded and washed in the blood of Christ - He looks at a peculiar people. He looks at a special people. He looks at a pure people, a jewel for Him, His treasured possession. Of course, the second meaning of this phrase 'inheritance' can be this - and this is what it means in the context of the rest of the chapter as we read through it: that it is we, we will inherit something in the future through Christ. You see God's plan is not simply to save us - not even to save us, and then to have us serve Him down here - but there are so many things in the future that God has prepared for them that love Him. It can't be entered into through eye-gate or even through the mind. The amazing thing is this: that this verse seems to indicate that He will possess this universe. He will take, He will capture a redeemed universe through His saints! Isn't that amazing? That He will use you and use me! The word of God says that 'He will come with ten thousands of his saints', and He will bring us down here, and we will reign with Him!
It is amazing, isn't it? Just before World War II in the town of Ataska in Texas, a school took fire and burnt down, and 263 lives of little children were taken. Like many places in Ulster, there was scarcely a town in which someone wasn't affected with a family losing a child. After the war they built the school again and they began to expand it and do it up, technologically speaking, and in their new school they had a prized possession. They had learnt from the past and they put in what was called 'the finest sprinkler system in the world'. They were making sure that this thing would never ever happen again. Civic pride ran high - they thought 'this will never happen, the school will never burn down'. And they even got their prefects and their teachers to bring people, day after day, into the school to show them around at the intricate detail of the safety features within the school. After the post-war boom, when more money came into the school, they decided they would expand and they would build another wing. And as they were adding the wing to the school it was discovered that the sprinkler system had never been connected. What an incredible story! It's foolishness beyond belief, isn't it? How they could have everything at their grasp, even everything at their use, yet alas the parable tells us what has happened to so many children of God - that untold power and resources and blessings are available to every believer in Christ, but so many never hook up! So many never get in touch, never plug in, and they become impotent and shamefully useless in the hands of Almighty God!
What Paul wants these Christians in Ephesus to do is, as he looks at this passage, not only to realise the inheritance that they have but - fifthly - he wants them to know the power that they have through God in Christ. Look at the verses - verse 18, the third part: 'That [you] might know what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ'. God wants you and I, my friend - listen - to know the power that is available to us! To know the dynamite, the atomic power that we have to be saved, and then to go on to live the Christian life before men and women in our world. Paul asks God: 'Oh Lord, give them that spirit of wisdom and understanding and revelation, discernment; that as they read the word of God, that the Holy Spirit would come, lead them into all truth, interpret the word of God to them, and then they would come deeper and deeper and deeper into the knowledge of the heavenly realms of the riches and the blessings that they have in Christ Jesus the Lord'. He prays that they would have a deep appreciation of the power of God, that they would realise - and you know what he's been talking about all through this first chapter - that they would realise the power that is behind election, the power that is behind predestination, behind adoption, behind sanctification, the power of God that is behind the bestowal of all these blessings, behind the preaching of the word of God, behind that blessed hope, behind everything that we have as an inheritance, and the power behind what has made us an inheritance in Christ. If you could see this passage of scripture written on music, every note is leading upward. It's coming to the crescendo, it's coming to the grand finale of what Paul has been leading to right throughout this whole discourse of salvation and Christian blessing.
What's it leading to? First of all it's leading - as your first point says under 5 - to show them God's infinite power. God's power! The purpose of what Paul is trying to bring out here is the potential of God's power - 'What is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe'. F.B. Meyer put it like this: 'It is power. It is His power. It is great power. Nothing less would suffice. It is exceeding great power beyond the furthest cast of thought'. To emphasise the magnitude of God's power - Paul can't really do it in language that we understand, because you can't do it in any language - and Paul describes the greatest exposition and exhibition of divine power that has ever been known in the history of mankind. Verse 20, this power was demonstrated and 'wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead'. He goes on: 'and set him at his own right hand in heavenly places'.
If I were to ask you what you believe the greatest demonstration of God's power was, you might say to me: 'Well, it must be creation. That in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth and the universe. He created all the angelic beings, the whole solar systems, everything! Was that not the greatest? In a word it all came into being'. You might say: 'Well, it must be the Red Sea, where God parted the sea for His children to deliver them from Egypt'. You might say it's the plagues that hit Egypt, every one representing one of their false gods, to curse them and to let the people of God go from them. You might even say it's the incarnation - God manifest in flesh, great mystery of godliness: God, contracted to a span, incomprehensibly made man. You might say that is the greatest thing. No! Paul tells us that the greatest demonstration of the power of God is found here: He wrought, He demonstrated His power in Christ when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in heavenly places.
Why is that the greatest demonstration? Do you know why? Because all of hell, all the demons, all the devils and principalities and powers were massed, united together to frustrate the plans of almighty God. They wanted to keep Christ in the grave, but God triumphed - Hallelujah! God triumphed and pushed Him, by the power of His almighty being, out of the ground, out of the burying place, and brought Him back to life. Christ's resurrection, Christ's glorification and exultation were a shattering blow to Satan and all his hosts on that glorious day when He rose Him again from the dead. God's victorious power was displayed as never before! As I've said, no one can describe or explain such power, but Paul tries to do it - and he uses several words with the same idea. He uses the words of the vocabulary of dynamics. Look at the verse - verse 19: 'what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ when he raised him from the dead'. According to the working - note that word, 'working', of the 'strength' - the second word - of His might - the third word - which He 'energised' in Christ - the fourth word - when He raised Him from the dead.
Someone described that sentence like this: 'The words seem to bend under the idea'. Do you see what Paul is trying to get at? The first word he uses - 'power' - the power of God, which was manifest, demonstrating - is the Greek work 'dynamus' (sp?). It's the word that describes inherent power, raw strength and the power of God. God is demonstrating His raw ability and strength by working according to the working. That word 'working' speaks of operation, it's the Greek word 'energia' (sp?). It's the word that we get energy from, it speaks of great strength. God was working His great 'dynamus' - His great power - through the working in Christ, through the strength of the strength. 'kratos' (sp?) - it means 'might'. Then the last word, 'energised', is 'iscus' (sp?). Do you see what it's trying to say? This working, this effective or operational power, the 'energia' - the working of God - was there at the resurrection. What is the word that he's using? If you turn to chapter 3 and verse 7 you see it, he says: Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power'.
That's what the word is - 'energia' - something that is working, but not just working, but working effectually, it's having the desired effect. God was demonstrating His power at the resurrection and, praise God, it had the desired effect! The word 'kratos' speaks of the power in-working right within, the ability to conquer. It's talking about Wellington's ability to conquer Napoleon at Waterloo. It's what we read in chapter 6 and verse 10, look at it: 'Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might'. The strength of God, energising, not only effectually working in the life of a believer, but effectually working in the resurrection of Christ and also being seen in the bodily strength that is vital within the resurrection of Christ. Paul wants, through this tirade of language, he wants us to look at the resurrected Christ, the Lord of glory standing there on the resurrection morn. He wants us to see the immensity of the power of our God. He wants us to bow at the Saviour's feet and worship divine omnipotence - strength that isn't just executed and fails, but the strength of God that is effectual, strength that is inherent, that is deep within the being of God, that can never fail, strength that is there and displayed, the ability to conquer never failing - always conquering!
Do you not want to fall at His feet? This is where the power is: at the resurrection and, yes, at the cross and we love the cross - that was the supreme display of the love of God. But the greatest manifestation of God's power was when He resurrected His Son and when He set Him at His own right hand. But before Paul begins to analyse the power of God in the resurrection, do you know what he wants us to see? And if you don't see it you're missing everything! He wants to see, incomparably, the great power for us who believe! You see, Paul isn't just demonstrating all this so that we can be theologians, so that we can be 'biblical clever-clogs' and know everything about the power of God. But he is demonstrating to us, through an illustration of this great power in the resurrection of Christ, that this dynamic, dynamite power is available to us who believe. It's available in salvation, isn't it? Isn't that what Romans 1 verse 16 [says]? 'For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power' - the 'dynamus' - 'of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek'.
There might be someone here, and they're not a Christian. They've never been born again. They don't know the life of God flowing through their body, soul and spirit - and maybe you think that you've committed a sin that is unforgivable. You have dirt on you, mind or soul, that you feel can never be cleansed, you're too dirty. My friend, when you see the power of God raising Christ from the dead, there is no one too unredeemable! There is no sin that's unforgivable! There is no sinner that's unsaveable! But Christian, that power is available not only in salvation - and this is what many of them miss - it's sanctification. Look at chapter 3 and verse 20. He talks about this: 'Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us'. God's power! That dynamic, dynamite change that should be going on, chemically, within all of us.
Paul talks again, Romans 6:3 and 4: 'Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life'. What's this power for? It's power to save, it's power to sanctify, it's power to know! Is that not why Paul prayed in Philippians 3 and 10: 'That I might know him'? The only way we can know Him is to know His power in our lives. Can I ask you: Paul said 'That I might know him and the power of his resurrection' - do you know the power of the resurrection in your life? 'What do you mean?' I mean that this divine power is available to every believer in Christ! I'm not story telling tonight, this is real! I'm talking about real things, real life, things that matter! God has imparted to you - it doesn't need to be done again, He's done it - He has given you the divine power that rose Christ out of the grave! Do you have it? Oh, you do have it! Have you realised it? Have you tapped into it? Do you know it's there? Are you using it? As one Christian writer put it: 'Many Christians, today, the system is in place but is dysfunctional because of ignorance, or sin, or unbelief'.
Paul's prayer is, if you're not experiencing this, that God would give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation that you might know Christ, that you might know the inheritance that you have in Christ, that you would know the mighty power that Christ had wrought in Him at the resurrection there, and then as He ascended to Glory and sat at the right hand of His Father. That you, in your life - your life that you mightn't think is too important, your life that you think is insignificant, that God isn't really interested in and you can't do much for God, you're not a great thinker, you're not a writer, you're not a preacher - but yet God has imparted to you the resurrection power of Christ! But one thing matters, and that is that that power is dependent upon our fellowship with God. Oh, don't miss that whatever you do. It's dependent - the knowledge of it, the experience of it. It's like Samson - you remember that awful passage in Judges 16 where he said: 'I will go out as at other times before, and shake myself. And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him'. He was out of touch with God!
God displays His power infinitely through salvation and sanctification, and then [in] verses 20 to 23 we see that He displays His power in Christ in many ways. The first way is this: in the resurrection, that we've already been talking about in verse 20. The resurrection - it was the supreme expression of the power of God, 'Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places'. This is what F.B. Meyer says about this: 'There is a marvellous lift there from the grave of mortality to the throne of the eternal God who only has immortality, from the darkness of the tomb to the insufferable light, from this small world to the centre and metropolis of the universe. Open the compasses of your faith to the measure of the measureless abyss, and then marvel at the power which bore your Lord across it'.
Do you see it? The power of God that took Christ from the tomb, and took Him to Glory, and brought Him into the realms of Glory, and set Him there at the right hand of His Father. You see, the resurrection of Christ was the first event ever like it in all of history. You might say, 'But people were raised from the dead before. There was Lazarus, there was miracles in the Old Testament'. But all those folk rose from the dead to die again, but He rose in the power of an endless life. Isn't that what Paul says [in] 1 Corinthians 15? 'Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming'. He is the first like Him! He is the first to rise from the dead like that! With the power of eternity running through Him! Never to die again! There will never be another Calvary! There will never be another tomb! He will never have scars upon His flesh again. And, here, Paul describes - inspired by the Holy Spirit - the resurrection of Christ through the Father God. Yet Jesus Himself said - didn't He? - 'I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again'. Yet He ascribes the resurrection to the Father and the only way of explaining it is this: He said, 'I and my father are one'. There in the resurrection we see both together in that unity. What a display of the oneness of God in His resurrection!
Then in the second half of verse 20, you see it in His exultation. This is so interesting, because Paul links the resurrection, in its powerful importance, to the ascension. Cast your mind back to the end of the gospels, and you see the disciples gathered there, and Jesus had risen from the dead, He had ministered 40 days upon the earth to little groups and to big groups. Then He gathered His disciples together around Him and said: 'Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth'. Then a luminous cloud descended, and with their dazzled eyes they watched their Saviour slowly gliding up to Glory, as He sat at the right hand of the Father on high. What would you have given to be there? One writer said: 'Can you imagine the music, the perpetual starbursts of colour, the shouting of myriads and myriads of angels at the enthronement of the Lord Jesus Christ?' Can you imagine what that moment was like, when the Lamb slain came in there with His own blood and the angels marvelled, and the Father, if He could stand, stood to welcome home His Son?
There is power in the ascension because it says that God made Him to sit. You know, this is beautiful - we read about it in the book of Hebrews that He sat down. Now that is a sign of authority, but it is also a sign of the finished work - that He sat down in heavenly places. Watchman Nee says: 'Christianity begins not with a big 'do', but a big 'done''. It's finished! It's over! Everything is done! He did it! Oh, that thrills my heart! As I walk this pilgrimage, and I try and I try and I try to be holy, I try to serve, I try to strive to be more like Christ, and all along He's saying: 'My son, my child, why are you striving for all that I've done already?'. It's wonderful! There He sits, with the work done, at the right hand of God - and do you know what that signifies? It signifies a place of privilege. We read about it in Hebrews 1:13 - listen: 'But to which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool?' - none of them! That is a place of privilege reserved for Christ, it's a place of power. "Hereafter," He said, "shall ye see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of Heaven". The right hand of power! It's a place of distinction and in Hebrews 1 and 3 we read: 'Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high'. It's a place of delight, the psalmist says in [Psalm] 16 and [verse] 11: 'at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore'. It's a place of dominion, 1 Peter 3:22: 'Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him'. A place of privilege, power, distinction, delight and dominion is reserved for one Man: Jesus Christ!
You know, the ascension does at least five things. It completes the resurrection. You see, when the Lord rose from the dead, there He was and He yet [hadn't] ascended to Heaven, and it would not have been complete unless there was a man - a physical being of God-man who was in heaven. Do you get it? That at this moment, as we sit here, there is a man like us in every way, except sin, in heaven - and He's at the right hand of God! It means, secondly, that He became the firstfruits of His people. Because He has risen, because He has ascended, it guarantees for us that there is a day coming when we will rise, when our bodies will be redeemed, when we will be glorified, exalted - every believer in Christ! Thirdly, it began a ministry of intercession for His people. See what we've been singing this evening, what we have been praying? It all goes through the Lord Jesus Christ, our great High Priest there, who interprets that worship and prayer and it's offered through Him to God the Father. Praise His name! Fourthly, from that position that He is in there at the right hand of the Father, He is the dispenser of the holy word of God. Do you get it? When He ascended He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.
But most significantly, the ascension means His super-exultation above all things. Now I want you to see this, as we close our meeting this evening, verses 21 and 22 - that He has become, through that resurrection, through that exultation and ascension: 'Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [He] hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all'. Paul again, he can't describe our Lord, can you describe Him? I can't. He couldn't either, even inspired by the Holy Spirit. He had to stack up all these words and [do] you know [how] he puts it? Verse 22 really means this: 'that He is put above every title', (verse 21, I beg your pardon), 'every title that can be given'. Have you got that? Christ is exalted above every conceivable intelligence, every angelic being, demonic, human - whatever they be, He is above them all! One writer put it like this: 'Above all that anywhere is, anywhere can be, above all grades of dignity, real or imagined, good or evil, present or to come'.
My friend, you can't imagine anything greater than our Lord. Men's imaginations run wild, don't they? Sometimes theologian's minds run wild also! But yet they cannot think of anyone, of any being, greater than our Lord. He is above all! He has been exalted to that place of pre-eminence.
Verse 17: we learned that Paul asked for us, and prayed for us, that we would have 'epignosis', which was knowledge - that deep deep knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, that revelation of Him through the Holy Spirit. And friends, if you have that, and if God begins to give you that, do you know what you'll see? The exalted Christ! Now can I say this? - 'Whom having not seen we love', isn't that right? We've never seen Him, we've never gazed upon Him and sometimes we're in prayer, or we're meditating, or we're listening to preaching, or we're around the table and we're trying to conceive, or even imagine, what the Lord was like when He said certain things, or when He did certain things. Then when we come to pray to Him, we imagine Him as He was on the earth - that is not the way He is now. Friends, we need to understand this: we worship the exalted Christ! We worship the glorified Christ, who is ascended to Heaven. The courts have rung with the singing of angels! God has praised His Son! He is exalted! Let's get it right! He is the Lord and there will never be an age when He would be out-ceded or far exceeded.
My friend, this should give us spiritual goosebumps. We should be excited at what our Lord has done and who He is, and the power that has been manifest in His being. Now this humbles me: this is the power of my Lord Jesus, yet He wants me there. Does that not amaze you? He wants you and I there. He said in John 17: 'Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world'. It says in these verses that He has power over created beings, human and spiritual. You see, there's a hierarchy of angelic beings, whether they be good or evil. It's a bit like the rank in the army, but the word of God is saying that He is far above, verse 21: 'all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come'. He's above all demons. He's above all angels and archangels. He's above every man! He's above all!
Paul says, in this world, and in the world to come - and that would be better translated: 'in this age and in the age to come'. What it literally is speaking of is the literal 1000 year reign of the Lord Jesus Christ - the millennial reign. It's saying this: that until then, and when that is achieved and accomplished and consummated, that He alone will be the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! Verse 22 says that He has power over created things: '[He] hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church' - all the rest of creation, although universal dominion belongs to Him now, the word of God says He doesn't exercise it all, He doesn't demonstrate it all - but there is a day coming when He will! Hallelujah!
Are you downhearted this evening? Are you? Are you discouraged? Do you feel belittled by the circumstances of this pitiful existence that you feel? Listen to Paul! 'For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us'. Then, finally, verse 22 and 23 speak, and this is the crescendo, this is the climax that Paul has been leading up to - that God's power has been revealed through the resurrection, the ascension, and all the outflow of that. But the miracle and the mystery is this: that God has revealed His power towards His church. '[He] hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all'. This is the mystery that was never revealed before, the church is not in the Old Testament. It was revealed in Christ and through Christ and - here it is: that this Christ has been given as the head of the church! No other head! No pope! No moderator! No minister! No elder! No pastor! Jesus Christ alone!
But that is not primarily what that verse means, its meaning is more staggering than that. It means that this almighty Christ has been given as a gift to you and me. Isn't that amazing? Is it any wonder that Paul said: 'this unspeakable gift'? The miracle of grace is also this, and I mean this sincerely, verse 23: 'Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all'. What Paul is saying here is this: that until Jesus Christ receives the inheritance of His own peculiar people, He will be incomplete. That's what Paul's saying - now, not incomplete in His character, but incomplete in the body. You've never heard of a body without a head, or a head without a body! It's amazing, as Calvin says, that Jesus Christ, as He is at this moment of time, does not want to be regarded as whole until we are home.
Is there a temptation, my friend that you can't get over? Is there a trial? Is there a burden? Is there an obstacle that you feel that you cannot face? Think again, for we have the powerful Christ! Glory to His name!
We're going to stand and sing:
'He is Lord! He is Lord!
He is risen from the dead,
And He is Lord!
Every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess,
That Jesus Christ is Lord!'
And then we'll sing the second verse: 'He's My Lord!', standing to sing.
Lord Jesus Christ, we acknowledge Thee as our Lord, as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, as the worthy inheritor of all things. But Lord Jesus, it humbles us to think that You consider Yourself incomplete without the blood-bought throng. Lord, we are Thy bride and we say: 'We love Thee, Thou art altogether lovely'. We pray that, moment by moment, that through the spirit of wisdom and revelation that You would peep through the lattice, and give us glorious glimpses of Thy blessed person. Amen.
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the eighth tape in his Ephesians series, titled 'Paul's Prayer List For You - Part 2' - Transcribed by Trevor Veale, Preach The Word.
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