Hope, Riches, Power (Ephesians Sermon 6 of 54)
May 24, 2015 | Andrew Davis
Grace, Joy, A New Creation
On July 16, 1969, three men sat reclining side by side in chairs trying to control, I would imagine, their breathing and calm their hearts from beating too wildly for the mission that was about to unfold, the journey that was about unfold for them, the longest and most dangerous journey any human beings had ever attempted. It would be a journey of almost a quarter of a million miles. Amazingly, as they looked out the window of the little capsule that they were sitting in, they could see their destination right there in the window, the Moon. For those three men were Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin. They were the Apollo 11 astronauts who successfully landed on the Moon and as they were on the launching pad there and the countdown was nearly it's end, it would have been reasonable for them to think about the kind of power it was going to take to get them to the Moon. I would have been thinking about it if I were sitting on a rocket that size and understood that they there were 36 stories of liquid rocket fuel under me at that particular moment. As they were counting down and about to light it. Those guys had a very casual attitude, "Let's light this candle." That kind of thing. But, the incredible power it was going to take came from the Saturn 5 rocket. Now, for me as an engineer, I am amazed at engineering achievements and I think that the Saturn 5 might be one of the greatest, one of the pinnacle achievements of human engineering in all of human history. It was the culmination of almost a decade of research as a result of John F. Kennedy's challenge to our nation and to it's scientists to, within the space of that decade, put a man on the Moon and return him safely back to Earth. It culminated in the staggeringly powerful Saturn 5 rocket, still the tallest, heaviest, most powerful rocket that has ever been launched from the surface of the earth and delivered a payload into outer space. The Saturn 5 was as tall as a 36 story building. That's taller than any building in Durham, 58 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty. It weighed 6.5 million pounds at launch. It could deliver 1/4 million pounds, actually more than 1/4 million pounds into orbit. As it was launched, the powerful liquid oxygen engines gave the rocket over 7.5 million pounds of thrust causing the earth to shake like an earthquake for miles around. The total power of the Saturn 5 was equal to that of 85 Hoover Dams. That was the power for their journey to the Moon, the greatest physical journey ever made.
Now, as we come to Ephesians 1, it describes a journey more astounding than that. Far more astounding, if you understand it. The infinite journey of a sinner from dead in transgressions and sins to perfection in heaven, the New Heaven and the New Earth. Just as it was reasonable for those astronauts, to understand to some degree and to trust the kind of power it would take to deliver them to the moon and get them back, so I believe that it is imperative for Christians to understand and trust God's power for our journey. That's what's in front of us this morning as we look at Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in Ephesians 1. Paul prays for Christians to understand the astonishing journey that lays ahead of us, and the almost inconceivably great power that God is going to work in us and around us, to deliver us in the end, to Heaven. The power of Almighty God.
That the Eyes of Your Heart be Enlightened
Context: Paul’s Prayers for the Ephesian Christians
Now, he begins in verse 18, as we are right in the middle of Paul's prayer for the Ephesian Christians, “that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” Now the overall context here of Paul's prayer settled into Ephesians 1, one of the most richly theological chapters in all of the Bible. It begins by praising God the Father who has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” This God, Our Father, “chose us in Christ before the creation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless in His sight.” “In love, this Father, predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ.” It was the Father who sent the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shed His blood on the cross. We have been “redeemed by His blood,” it says in verse 7. And we have received redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We should understand this. In verses 11 through 14, Paul talks about how that Gospel, the finished work of Christ, was delivered to individuals on Earth. Delivered, in this case, to Ephesians who lived in ancient Turkey. They “heard the word of truth, the Gospel of their salvation. Having believed, they were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit of God.” He calls the Spirit, the deposit, the pledge who guarantees our full inheritance. That means that the Holy Spirit takes some of our final inheritance, who is ultimately God, fellowship with God in Heaven, He takes some of that and makes it available to us right now, into our hearts. This brings us directly to Paul's prayer for the Ephesians in verses 15 through 19. Paul says that ever since “he heard about their faith in the Lord Jesus and the love for all the saints, he has not stopped giving thanks for them remembering them in his prayers.” He's talking about his prayer life for them. We looked at this last week.
Paul’s First Prayer: Knowledge of God
Paul prayed that by the power of the Spirit, that by a “Spirit of wisdom and revelation,” they would know God better. They would be developed in their knowledge of God. That God the Father would dispatch, would unleash the Spirit of God in their hearts to the result that they would know God better than they have ever known Him before. We talked about that last time. But, he has still more of the ministry of the Holy Spirit in view here in his prayer life. He wants more for the Ephesian Christians, and so he continues in his prayers. He prays that they would understand the secret working of the Holy Spirit in their hearts and how rich they are in Christ, and how much power is delivered for their final salvation.
The Eyes of Your Heart (vs. 18)
He begins by talking about the eyes of their heart. He says, "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened." Look at that in verse 18. What an incredible expression this is, the “eyes of the heart.” What could this mean? Well, the heart, biblically, is the very center of your being. It's the part of you that thinks and reasons. It's the part of you that understands, the part of you that loves and hates. It's the part of you that yearns and decides and feels. It's the part of you that believes. That's your heart, biblically, it's the inner person. It is the soul, the immaterial part of you, the inside of you. That's what the heart is. Well, then, what are the eyes of your heart? What do we mean by that expression? What did Paul mean? Well, the eyes, we understand what our eyes are. Our eyes are exquisitely complex organs that God created, one of the most astonishing things God ever made. Perhaps the most second complex organ in the body. I was talking to Dr. Alan Carlson before worship today. He said, "The ear is up there, it's pretty complex too." But, I mean the body as a whole is amazing. We are fearfully and wonderfully made but the eye is an amazing creation. About 80% of what we learn about the surrounding physical world comes by eyesight, we're told. Our eyes are made up of over 200 million working parts and can process over 36,000 pieces of information every hour. The eyes are the way by which we receive a constant stream of valuable information. So, by the eye we live in a world of light, a world of fascinating things and we see those things. We study them. We are aware of their placement relative to us, of their size and shape, of their color, their motion and speed. By the eye, we constantly perceive the way things really are in the physical realms. How things actually are around us, that's what the eye does for us. Therefore, I think that the eyes of the heart is the way that we understand spiritual things. The way we are able to get the lay of the land, spiritually. The way we're able to perceive invisible, spiritual realities. There is a spiritual world around us, an invisible world, a world not perceived by light and by sight. This invisible, spiritual world is perceived only by the eyes of the heart. Yet, in the rest of the scriptures, this ability to perceive, to see invisible things is given to faith. Again and again, faith is given this ability to perceive invisible spiritual realities. Oftentimes in scripture, faith and sight are compared and contrasted. So, it's a reasonable thing to see faith as the eyes of the heart. For example, we have 2 Corinthians 4:18, "We fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen." So, how do you do that? Well, it's the eyes of your heart, I think Paul would say. You fix the eyes of your heart not on what is seen, but what is invisible. In the next chapter, 2 Corinthians 5:7, he says, "We walk by faith not by sight." So faith and sight are compared and contrasted there. Hebrews 11:1 says, "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen." So, faith perceives invisible things. It has to do with the invisible. Later in that same chapter, it speaks of Moses and says that he “endured as seeing Him who is invisible.” That's in the faith chapter. So, it's by faith that we see God who is invisible. It is by the eyes of our heart, by our faith that we first saw Jesus Christ as the Son of God, crucified, dead, buried, raised from the dead and ascended to Heaven. It is by the eyes of the heart that we see all of those things. Remember how Jesus said to doubting Thomas, "Because you have seen me, you have believed. Blessed are they who have not seen and yet have believed." Then also 1 Peter 1:8, it says, speaking of Jesus, "Though you have not seen Him, you love Him and even though you do not see Him now, you believe in Him and are filled with the joy unspeakable and full of glory."
So, the invisible Savior, how then do we see Christ? How do we see His life? How do we see His death and also His resurrection? Well, we see it by faith in the Word of God. We see is by faith in the Gospel. Paul uses the same kind of language in Galatians 3:1, there he is very put out with them and very frustrated with the fact that they are drifting from the true Gospel. So, he chides them, but he also tells us something about the ministry of the Gospel. In Galatians 3:1, he says, "You foolish Galatians. Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was publically portrayed as crucified." Well, how is that done? Certainly not by a film, or a video or anything like that, or by getting a very talented artist to paint a painting. Not at all, he's talking about the preaching of the Gospel. That when the Gospel is preached it is before the eyes of the heart that Christ is portrayed as crucified. More than that, it is by the eyes of the heart that we can perceive deeper truths about who Jesus actually is. 2 Corinthians 4:6 is a great verse for teaching this. It says, "For God who said 'Let light shine out of darkness' made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” So, it goes back to creation and where God said, "Let there be light: And there was light.” God has done that in the heart of every genuine Christian. God has spoken light into the darkness of our hearts. Into the deadness of our hearts. God speaks light and He says, "Let there be light." But, it's not a physical light. It's not that kind of light. It's a spiritual light. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. God speaks that light. And where God says, "Let there be light," He must say, "Let there be sight." There is no point in there being light if there is no sight. So, God opens up an organ of spiritual sight in the heart while He speaks the “spiritual light of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” That organ of faith, that receptor of light is faith. It is the eyesight of the soul and by that faith, by that eyesight of the soul, the eyes of the heart, we see Jesus as God, as crucified for our sins, as resurrected physically, as ascended into Heaven, by the eyes of the heart by faith we see that. The eyes of the heart is faith.
Now, he prays that the “eyes of their hearts would be enlightened.” What he is saying is there is yet more for you to see. Your faith can develop. You can actually grow and see more clearly into the invisible spiritual realms. There is more to see. So, he prays that the Holy Spirit would enlighten them or show them more about the spiritual realms, and specifically, about their salvation. Now, this happens, I think for us, especially by the ministry of the word of God and the Holy Spirit's use of the word of God. That's how it happens.
So, it says in Psalm 119 verse 18, the psalmist there, speaking about the word, says, "Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your word." That's a great prayer, isn't that to pray, before you have bible study? That is a great prayer. You settle down to have your quiet time and you just pray Psalms 119:18, "Oh Lord open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law." God has the power to do that over our hearts. He has the power to take away blindness from our hearts. We have insight. We have revelation. We have illumination to the word of God. You see things that you never saw before. Remember how Jesus, after His resurrection, appeared to His apostles in the upper room. They were struggling and they couldn't believe, for joy and they were doing all of these things and He's giving them physical evidence of His resurrection. He's allowing them to touch Him and He's eating broiled fish, but ultimately the proof is going to come from scripture. It says powerfully in Luke 24:45, listen to this, "Then He opened their minds so that they could understand the scriptures." That's what it means, "May the eyes of your heart be enlightened." So the Holy Spirit uses the scripture and teaches you new things you didn't know before. That's the ministry of the word of God, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in illumination. Now here, specifically Paul is going to zero in on 3 things. We've already seen them. This is what he wants them to know. Specifically this. The hope of your calling, the riches of your glorious inheritance in the saints and God's incomparably great power toward you who believe. Those 3 things.
The Hope of Your Calling
What is Hope?
So, let's zero in on each of them and try to understand them. First, what is the hope of your calling? He wants the eyes of their hearts enlightened so that they can understand the hope of their calling. Now, Christian hope is different than worldly hope. What is worldly hope? Worldly hope is a vague desire for something good in the future. Not in any direct way connected to expectation that it will happen. So, for example, I hope it doesn't rain on our church picnic, or on our vacation. Or, I hope that I get into the top college or program of my choice. Or, I hope that I do well on my final exam even though I didn't study. Something like that. Or, I hope I meet the man or the woman of my dreams sometime in the next 2 or 3 years. That's the way people use hope. “Oh, I hope that I get a better job.” Sometimes, often actually, it's pitted against expectation. I remember over the years, I have been a Red Sox fan for many, many years. For years, all it was, was a torture chamber because every year they would just disappoint us in new, creative and diabolical ways. It was just a lesson in torture. Cubs fans have a different type of torture. They never were close. Red Sox fans were always close and would never enjoy the championship. Well, before 2004, when everything changed, there was an article in Sports Illustrated about Red Sox fans who had been through so many various patterns of torture. The article concerning Red Sox fans was entitled, 'Hoping For the Best, Expecting the Worst.' Well, that really sums up worldly hope. It is a worldly thing, it has no eternal consequence, it's contrary, often, to expectation.
Now, biblical hope is entirely different from this. Biblical hope, I would define it this way, is a strong confidence, in the heart of the Christian, that the future will be bright based on the promises of God. Let me say that again. Biblical hope is a strong confidence, in the heart of the Christian, that the future will be bright based on the promises of God. So, hope always has to do with future things. It's about the future. It says clearly in Romans 8:24, "Hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?" There's no need to use hope for what you already possess. We don't hope for things that we have. We could take the same idea and say, "Hope always has to do with positive things, things that we want to happen, that we yearn to happen, good things." So, who hopes for what he doesn't want? We wouldn't use the word, hope. You might dread it or fear it, if it's something that you don't want to happen. You wouldn't use the word hope for it. So, hope has to do with positive, future things. And, Christian hope is based on the promise of God. The best verse for this is in Romans 4:20 and 21 where it talked about Abraham. Against hope, in hope believed, it uses the hope language and then it says, "Abraham, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised." That's the vibrant life of Christian hope. God has made us a promise, He is able to fulfill it. He will be faithful to His promises. It's a buoyant confidence that we have, a persuasion, an assurance that we have, that the future is bright. It's indescribably bright. I mean the future from this moment, on. I mean the future for the rest of the day is bright. The future from now until you die, is bright. The future beyond your death is indescribably bright. That's hope!
What is the Hope of Our Calling?
Now, what do we mean by the hope of our calling? The word calling is used in 2 senses in the New Testament. One is just the general call of the Gospel that goes out when evangelists, pastors, missionaries just preach the Gospel. They just proclaim the word of God to anybody and everybody, to mixed group. So, the call goes out, "Repent and believe in Jesus. If you trust in Jesus your sins will be forgiven and you'll go to Heaven when you die." Then there's this invitation, "Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest." This is spoken to a mixed group. I think it's that general calling, that physical calling of the Gospel that Jesus had in mind when He says, "Many are called but few are chosen." There is that broad calling. But, then there is a supernatural, sovereign, powerful calling of God that transforms someone from being dead in their transgressions and sins to being alive in God. That's God calling people out of darkness into light. Again, Romans 4:17 speaks of the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that do not exist as though they existed. By His calling, He makes them exist. So, He says, "Let her be a Christian." and she is a Christian. "Let him see the light of the knowledge of the glory of God." And he sees it. That's the calling that we have. That's what's referred to, I think, in Romans 8:30 where it says, "Those whom He predestined, He also called and those whom He called, He also justified. And those whom He justified, He also glorified." The hope of your calling. So, theses Ephesians have shown their calling by “their faith in the Lord Jesus and the love for all the saints.” Paul prays that they would know what kind of hope their calling should give them. So, because of what God has already done in you, you should be so filled with hope because Phillipians 1:6, "He who began a good work in you will most certainly carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." And in John 6:39, Jesus said, "This is the will of God that I shall lose none of all that He has given me, but raise them up at the final day." The future is indescribably bright for you if you have been called by the Spirit out of darkness and into light.
Why is it Vital for Us to Understand This?
Why is it vital for us to understand this? Why does Paul pray for these Ephesians, that they would be filled with hope? That they would know the hope of their calling. Well, it is vital for us because we are surrounded by hopeless people. Desperate people who are living, Ephesians 2:12, "Without hope and without God in the world." They have no hope. They don't have the hope that we have. God's made them no promised outside of Christ. God's not promised them any good in their Christless state. They have nothing to look forward to except the fearful expectation of judgement and the wrath of God. They have nothing to look forward to except death. There are no promised made to people in a Christless state. They are living like that. They're hopeless, and you see the hopelessness in their eyes. You see the hopelessness in the way they're scrambling and clawing for something to give them meaning. And they're not finding it. Then they see you. They see the way you're living your life. And if you're filled with hope, if you are filled with confidence that the future is going to be bright based on the promises of God, they want to ask you to “give a reason for the hope that you have,” 1 Peter 3:15. That's going to be the foundation of your evangelistic ministry. Live openly in hope and people will ask you, "Why are you so different? What's the reason for it?"
The Christian Life is a Life of Supernatural Hope
In 1736, an as yet unconverted John Wesley, was traveling back to England on a ship with a bunch of German Moravians. He had been a failed missionary in Georgia and was just casting about. He had no real idea of what genuine Christianity was. He was a legalist and desperate. But, he was on board with some genuine Christians, these Moravians, and they were in the midst of a terrifying storm. It was so bad that they heard the timbers of the ship creaking and cracking. The mainsail was shredded by a rogue wave that washed over the deck of the ship. It was so bad that the ship almost couldn't be seen and was covered with water. Somehow, it rose again out of that and it was a terrifying storm. In the midst of this, these German Moravians were singing and praising God without stopping, utterly fearless and he knew that he was terrified to die. Afterward, he went the leader of the Moravians and said, "Weren't you afraid?" And the leader said, "I thank God, no." "So what about your women and you children? None of them were afraid?" " None of us are afraid to die." Wesley knew that they had something. They had a hope, even in the face of imminent death, that he didn't have.
I believe hope is a corklike buoyancy inside the Christian. Nothing submerges it. So, God will sometimes light a lamp and put it on a stand. Through afflictions, through bad diagnoses, through other trials that we go through, He lights you up and puts you on a stand in the midst of very hard circumstances. He says, "Radiate hope, please." Because you're surrounded by people in exactly the same circumstances. You get the same diagnosis and have the same economic problems but they don't have Christ. Radiate hope. We need to be corklike and buoyant, and if there had been a big block of cork on the deck of that ship and it got washed overboard, it wouldn't haven't been trouble at all. You can't keep it down. So, Paul prays for these Ephesian Christians, that they would know the hope of their calling, so that they can radiate light in a hopeless world.
The Riches of Your Inheritance
What are the Riches of His Glorious Inheritance in the Saints?
Secondly, he prays that they would know the riches of their inheritance. What are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints? Paul is praying that the “eyes of their hearts would be enlightened.” That they would know, simply put, how incredibly gloriously rich they are. Staggeringly rich in their inheritance. He prays that eyes of their heart would be enlightened this way. That they would know in the future world, in the heavenly world, in the New Heaven and the New Earth and in the New Jerusalem, they will be staggeringly wealthy. It will be greater wealth than anything anyone of us has ever experienced in our lives here on Earth. Paul prays that the eyes of their heart will be enlightened so that they would know, Romans 8:18 that “their present sufferings aren't even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” We ourselves will be radiantly glorious. We're going to “shine like the sun in the kingdom of our Father,” Matthew 13:43. We're going to be in resurrection bodies. Our bodies will be strong, powerful, tireless, free from decay and corruption in the pattern of Christ's resurrection body. And, within us, we will have no darkness at all, no wickedness, no indwelling sin, none of that affliction. We will dwell in a perfect city, surrounded by a perfect world, Revelation 21:1 and following, "Then I saw a New Heaven and a New Earth for the first Heaven and the first Earth had passed away and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold the dwelling of God is now among His people and He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God Himself will be with them and be their God. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. Everything is new."
We're going to see the perfect glory of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit irradiating that world so that there's no need for sun or moon or stars or lamp, radiating that world. Revelation 22, "No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and the Lamb will be in the city and His servants will serve Him and they will see His face. His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They'll have no need of the light of the lamp or the light of the sun for the Lord God will given them light and they will reign forever and ever." We will see the perfect New Earth and New Heaven. I have a hard time imagining how beautiful and marvelous it will be. I think it will be very much like this world, but with no decay or corruption and no wickedness. It will be staggeringly beautiful. It will be a perfect Earth as God intended it to be. Better than that, we will own it, forever, because there is no moth or rust there. There are no thieves to break in and steal. It will be given to us, our inheritance, for it says in Matthew 5:5, "Blessed are the meek for they will" what? "inherit the earth." What does it say in Romans 4:13? "Abraham and his offspring receive the promise that he would be," listen to these words, "heir of the world." Heir of the world, which by the way, is the great upgrade from just getting the Promised Land in the Old Testament. You'll get that, but you're going to get it all. Heir of the world!
Vitally Important for Christians to Know How Rich They Are
So, Paul prays that these Christians would have their faith strengthened, the eyes of their heart enlightened so that they would know how rich they are in eternity. Now, why is this vital for us to know? Well, it's vital for us to know this because it affects the way you live. If you believe that you are infinitely wealthy in the next world, you will be free to live like an alien and a stranger in this world and not hold on selfishly to material possessions or hold on selfishly to your time and your opportunities here on Earth and live for yourself. You're freed from all that to live like and alien and a stranger. And, why do you need faith to see it? Well, because most of our brothers and sisters in Christ, in the world, live in staggering poverty. Here I am not preaching a prosperity Gospel, I'm telling you that they live in mud huts with dirt floors and thatched roofs. And, they're living radiant lives for the glory of God. They're sharing the Gospel to their tribes’ surrounding areas. They are assembling today for worship and praising Him. And, there is no evidence of this wealth at all. So, the eyes of their heart have to be enlightened for them to see it. And they see it and they know that they're going to be staggeringly wealthy in the next world.
The Immeasurable Greatness of God’s Power Toward Us
Thirdly, Paul prays that they would know the immeasurably greatness of God's power toward us. Verse 19 says in the NIV says, "His incomparably great power for us who believe." KJV has it this way, "What is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe." The exceeding greatness of His power. ESV has, "What is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe."
Now, remember the opening illustration of the Saturn 5 rocket and it's astonishing power to lift that payload, 1/4 million pounds and the 3 astronauts, off of planet earth and put out into orbit and eventually toward the moon. Why is that much power needed. Well, one word, gravity. The Earth is jealous of its positions and won't let anything go. And so, if that Apollo mission wasn't going to come crashing back down to the earth in a terrifying fireball, they needed sufficient power to get to escape velocity and escape the gravitational pull of the Earth. Well, in the same way, we are relentlessly opposed in our journey by the world, the flesh, and the devil, and they will not let us go unless they are overpowered. And God will overpower them in your case. Praise God. You need to know the immeasurable, the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe. You need to have the eyes of your heart. Paul heaps up phrases here, to talk about God's immeasurable power, His astonishing power. Now, one Bible that I saw had a heading here, "Paul prays for power." No, wrong! He does not pray for power. That would be a good prayer to pray, but that's not what he prays for here. He prays for knowledge of power. It's not that they would be powerful. That's not what he's talking about. That they would know how powerful God is toward them. That's a big difference, isn't it? God's power is absolutely beyond our ability to comprehend. By His breath He made the universe. By the word of His power. And, by the same “word of His power He sustains it.” He keeps the sun burning every instant. I mean, think about that. It's just amazing. Do you realize that in just a single second the sun puts out enough energy to keep our world civilization with its energy needs going for half a million years. One second, half a million years of energy. Now, we're told by cosmologists that the sun is an average, even smallish star, that there are trillions and trillions of stars. We're told by Isaiah 40:26, "Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens,” look at the stars, “who created all these things? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name. Because of His great power and His mighty understanding, not one of them is missing." That's the kind of power that God has. It cannot be calculated, actually. It's beyond our ability to comprehend. It's surpassing greatness of His power, the exceeding greatness. It goes beyond your ability to comprehend, and it goes beyond Satan, and the world and the flesh’s ability to hold you back from Heaven. It is exceedingly great, far greater than your enemies. It's a power toward us who believe.
Power IN US: Past, Present, and Future
Now, I want to talk about this power. The pattern of this power that Paul gives us is that the power is like the exertion of God's mighty strength which He exerted in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion. It's like that. It's like what God did physically to Jesus by raising from the dead and seating Him at the right hand of the throne of power. He's going to finish the point in Chapter 2 saying, "Now as for you, you also were dead in your transgressions and sins and God raised you up with Christ and seated you with Him in the heavenly realms." You've already made that journey positionally. That power has already exerted. So, he wants them to know what kind of power has already happened in their lives to get them to this point, and what kind of power He will unleash to finish the journey. Power inside of them to transform them from hating God and hating Christ and the mind of death, to having a whole different way of thinking, a radical change, the heart of stone removed and the heart of flesh put in. They're thinking differently now, they love Christ where they used to hate Him. That power has already happened inside them.
Power FOR US: Past, Present, and Future
And there was a power that's already happened around them, surrounding them. God orchestrated, providentially the circumstances of your conversion. He orchestrated powerfully, the things that needed to happen, the combinations of conversations that you needed to have to bring you to faith in Christ. That power has already been exerted. In Ephesians 1:11 he says, "God works everything after the counsel of His will." So, you get saved. He wants you to know what kind of power He's already shown in you, and what kind of power He will continue to work in you and around you for the rest of your life. God will continue to work inside you. He'll continue to transform you by the renewing of your mind. He will continue to protect you from the world, the flesh and the devil. We are going to talk about this, God willing, next time, how Christ seated on His throne, will not allow anything to happen to His people, beyond what they can bear, but, will make a way of escape in every temptation so that they do not get destroyed by it. He is exerting immeasurable power toward you right now and will until the day you die. Paul just wants them to know that.
Are these True of You?
Now my question to you is, do you know this? Do you know that this is happening in your life or are these just words to you? Are you a Christian? Have you been born again? Have you had the heart of stone removed and the heart of flesh put in? Are you delighting in these things? Is there an elevation in your heart over these things or are you distant and dead from them? And, if there is a joy in these things, in hope, riches and power, if there's a delight inside you, thank God, He's worked in you. Thank God, He's given you salvation in Christ. See already the kind of power that He had to work in you and give Him praise and glory. But if not, I plead with you, trust in Him. It's the word. Just hear the word, believe it. There's nothing more that needs to happen. The Gospel has been here, we've heard it multiple times this morning. How God sent His Son. How Jesus lived a sinless life. How He died a substitutionary death on the cross. How He rose again from the dead on the third day and that if you repent and believe you'll be forgiven of all you sins. Trust in that now, while there's still time.
Now, if you're a Christian, I would urge you to exult in these things. I would urge you to go back over these things like three beautiful Hope Diamonds. Grand, glorious diamonds that you pick up and say, "Oh, Hope. God give me Hope. I want to be buoyant in Hope. I want to have a joy in my life that's radiant. I want to be hope-filled in a hopeless world. And riches, oh God, make me know how wealthy I'm going to be in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Help me have a sense of the riches in my inheritance in the saints. Lord, help me to have a sense of how much power you're exerting around me all the time so that I'm not fearful and I'm not laying back but instead I'm attempting great things for God and expecting great things from God. I'm living a great life doing God's service here. I want to live that kind of a life."
Pray Like Paul Does for Yourself and Others
Finally, I would just urge you, to take these words and pray them horizontally for other Christians. Get the church phone book and choose 5 people. Pray these things, hope, riches, power for 5 people in the church. Maybe one of you could pray them for me. Let's pray this for each other. This is how Paul prays for the Ephesian Christians, that they would know the hope of their calling, that they would know the riches of their glorious inheritance in the saints and that they know God's incomparably great power for those who believe.
Close with me in prayer. Father, we thank you for the things that we've learned today. We thank you for Paul's prayers which are so deep and rich and powerful. Lord, I pray right now that we would have the eyes of our hearts enlightened, that we would have illumination through the Spirit of the truth of Paul's words here and that we would be buoyant, hope-filled people. I pray that we would minister hope to Christians who are discouraged and struggling with their afflictions. I pray that we would go in the name of hope to minister hope. Lord, I pray that we would know how rich we are in the future. I pray that every Christian that's hearing the sound of my voice would know how rich they will be in the resurrection, in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Lord, I pray that we would have a sense of the immeasurable greatness of your power to us who believe. In Jesus' name, Amen.