Ephesians 1:20

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:20. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:20

[… The working of His great strength] which he exerted in Christ when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.

Verse 19 was a continuation of Paul’s prayer that our eyes would be enlightened to see God’s great power for us who believe.

He now goes on to say this mighty power that God has placed in us is like the power that he exerted In Christ when he raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly realms.

God has placed in us the same power that raised Christ from the dead.

The resurrection was an incomparable event in the history of the world. There has never been anything like it.

Jesus was beaten, scourged, and crucified. He was dead, and His body was thoroughly broken. Yet in the space of 36 hours, he came back to life- not just reanimated in the old body that had died on the cross, but with a new body that was strong and healthy.

Whether we think of God’s power in the physical sense or as a spiritual force pressing into the natural realm, this is mighty strength.

Bur this is nothing to the God who created the world with a few words. God’s power is strong and mighty beyond our ability to imagine.

Some people try to explain away the resurrection in various ways. To do this is to miss the point. Nothing is too hard for God, not even death itself.

The resurrection was not just a physical miracle, impressive as that is. Jesus died because of our sin. The cross could not kill Him, but when he took the weight of our sins, the death penalty for everyone, that was the cause of death.

The resurrection stripped away the burden of sin and death, and made them of no effect. satan sought to hold Christ captive, but he was no match for the Lord.

Resurrection power was God’s strength to destroy both sin and death.

Having raised Jesus from the dead, God executed a different kind of power when he lifted Jesus to Heaven. Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended to Heaven.

Physically, the ascension was not a great deal to the Father. It was just a transportation issue.

The ascension of Jesus to heaven and His sitting at the right hand of the Father is a massive spiritual victory.

Firstly, it represents satan’s total defeat. satan sought to take for himself the place of highest honour. Denied that, he took the role of accuser. Now he is just a thief and destroyer.

Jesus overcame satan at every turn. When satan tempted Him in the wilderness, Jesus won by the word. When tempted in the garden of Gethsemane to pull back from the cross, He persevered faithfully.

Having been faithful to the cross, God raised Him to the highest place so that every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:8-11).

Jesus reigns over the world, especially the church. He will remain in this place of authority until the last enemy is conquered, and He will give it all back to the Father.

The power of the ascension, then, is a spiritual power and authority of cosmic governance in which satan is put in his rightful place forever.

The power of the resurrection and ascension dwell in us who believe. As stated previously, it is not a power for personal use alone, but a representative power to be used on behalf of, and in subjection to, Christ.

This power is given to us to enable us to

  • Preach the gospel
  • Heal the sick
  • Raise the dead
  • Decree spiritual truth
  • Pull down strongholds
  • Do all that Christ has commanded us to

This power, mediated by the Holy Spirit, gives us all the power, grace, and authority we need to live in God’s kingdom and to extend the light into the darkness of satan’s strongholds.

Key points in this verse

  • God has placed the power of the resurrection in us
  • The resurrection is a sign of Christ’s victory over our sin
  • Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly realm
  • satan’s attempt to usurp the throne of Christ has been defeated
  • The power that is in us enables us to fully obey Christ commands

Reflection on Matthew 4:1-11

Scripture

Then Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil.

Observation

The Holy Spirit pushes Jesus (literally “throws him out”) into the wilderness to fast and to be tempted by the devil. At the end of forty days, the devil comes to Jesus with three tests, all starting with the words, “If you are the Son of God.”

The first test is to turn stones into loaves of bread. Jesus says that the word of God is more important than bread.

The second test is to jump off the highest peak of the Temple, trusting angels to rescue Him. Jesus says, “You must not test the Lord.”

The third test is to receive all the kingdoms of the world in return for worshipping satan. Jesus says that the Scriptures tell us we must worship the Lord alone.

Application

Temptation is part of being human, and is multiplied many times over when we are seeking to walk with the Lord.

Satan wants to smash the Kingdom of God by discouraging and disarming God’s people. So sin is always around us, and the devil always has his leg out trying to trip us up.

The tests always use the same mental weapons.

1. Sow doubt about God’s will. For Jesus it was, “If you are the Son of God.” For Adam and Eve it was, “Did God really say?” We need to hold onto God’s promises about who we are in Him and His directions for our lives.

2. Use the eyes to intensify desire. We live in a highly visual culture. Satan will happily use images to stimulate our desire for something that we should not have. We need to filter what we look at so that we focus on what is good, uplifting and God-honouring.

3. He will use Scriptures, out of context or twisted, to justify an act of sin.

4. Satan often gets us at times of physical weakness. He waited until Jesus had fasted forty days and nights and was very hungry before he attacked. We need to be especially alert when we are tired, stressed, busy or recovering from illness.

Prayer

Thank you Lord that when we fix our eyes on you we can stand firm and resist the temptations that come. Thank you that even when I fall you forgive me. Please grant me grace to grow in strength and in spiritual vigour. Amen.

Lent- A Season For Finding Ourselves Again

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of the season of Lent in the church year.

Lent is a time of preparation of our souls for the awesome events of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. It lasts 40 days, excluding Sundays, and has traditionally been marked by fasting or giving up of some luxury or other.

Lent is one of those ancient customs, going back to the early church period. In recent times it has been largely associated with the Catholic Church, which is a bit sad. Why should the Catholics have all the fun?

Lent is a great time to reorient our lives and our habits back towards God. Instead of seeing it as a time for “giving up” our little luxuries we should see it as a time of allowing God to bend us back to His direction.

Rather than “giving up” ice cream for Lent, it’s more helpful to ask ourselves, “What is it that keeps me distant from God?” Or perhaps, “What should I be doing that would draw me closer to God?”

The brilliance of Lent is that it goes for 40 days (plus Sundays). To establish a new habit generally takes up to 30 days. So setting up new life patterns that draw us closer to God during Lent reprograms our souls to keep the same pattern going all year.

Things you might “give up” during Lent: wasting time on the internet, including social media; road rage; obsessing about money, perhaps giving more to charity; crash diets; feeling bad about your performance as a christian.

Things you might “take up” in Lent to draw closer to God: help a neighbour with gardening; make a space in your routine for daily Bible reading; offer to lead your cell group; help a single mother with child minding; pray blessing for that annoying person.

If we do Lent right every year we can become super heroes of faith, bending our lifestyle away from the world and towards God.

Start today and let this next few weeks be a time of growing in Christ.

Reflection on Romans 5:12-19

Scripture

Because one person disobeyed God, many became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many will be made righteous.

Observation

When Adam sinned, sin and death came into the world. We have all sinned, so we shall all die.

Adam is a symbol of Christ. Adam’s sin brought death to many. But God’s grace is greater, so that the gift of forgiveness came through Jesus. Adam’s sin brought condemnation, but God’s free gift in Christ makes us right with God.

Because Adam disobeyed God, we all became sinners. Because Jesus obeyed God, many will become righteous.

Application

We don’t have any choice about whether we are sinners or not. Being human means we will sin, that is do things that are displeasing to God.

That is our heritage from Adam. It is almost written into our DNA.

How tragic that human beings, made for fellowship with God, routinely cut ourselves off from Him by rebelling against Him. For many, this is so entrenched that they do not even think about it.

But another man came into the world to reverse Adam’s curse. Jesus, the Son of God, became a man just like us. His death on the cross paid for our sins.

So death came through Adam, but eternal life came through Jesus.

Condemnation came through Adam, but forgiveness comes through Christ.

Sin entered the world through Adam, but it was defeated by Christ.

All you have to do to trade the heritage of Adam for the life of Christ is to receive the forgiveness that Christ brings.

That Is amazing grace.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for trading my sin for your righteousness. Thank you for the promise of eternal life. Amen.

Reflection on Genesis 2:15-3:7

Scripture

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.

Observation

The Lord places Adam in the garden, but warns him that he must not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Then the Lord sets about making a suitable helper for Adam.

The serpent comes along with the intention of causing Adam and Eve to rebel against God. He plants a seed of doubt in Eve’s mind, and pretty soon after that they eat the fruit they were commanded not to.

Application

From the beginning God has created a man and a woman for unity, oneness, communion.

There is a complementary nature between husband and wife with each supplying much of what the other lacks.

God instituted man and woman marriage- one man and one woman committed to each other for life.

Because marriage is such a sacred thing, satan comes and tries to rip husbands and wives apart, or use one to lead the other from God. This started in the Garden of Eden, but has continued to the present day.

Politicians and judges redefine marriage and pass laws to undermine it. At the same time, every husband and every wife is engaged in a daily battle with the enemy of our souls.

Marriage was intended as a refuge from the battles in the world, but often it becomes another battleground.

But praise be to God. The author of marriage can restore broken and battered marriages. It takes courage on our part and a willingness to change our own attitudes and habits. It takes prayer and listening to God as well as repentance for our own sins.

God loves marriage and He designed us to thrive in it.

Prayer

Thank you Lord for my wife and the security that comes from knowing I am loved. Amen.

Ephesians 1:19

Here is my commentary on Ephesians 1:19. I am publishing these once or twice a week, but you can read all of the available articles at our web-site.

Ephesians 1:19

[ that you may know]… what is the immeasurable greatness of his power in us to believe according to the workings of his great might.

Paul continues his prayer that we might know the hope to which Christ has called us. He is not talking about theology in these prayers but a heart-level knowledge, and transforming conviction that directs our lives.

Now he prays hat we might know the immeasurable greatness of his power.

In physics, power is defined as the rate at which reproduce or use energy to do work a 200 megawatt Power Station produces 200 megajoules of electricity every second. This is greatness of power.

Power in political terms is defined as the ability to influence others so that you can enact a political agenda. Some rulers exert great power, either for good or evil.

God’s power is immeasurable. He created the whole universe and everything that is seen and everything that is unseen. All of this was with the command of his voice. He spoke and it came to be.

It is possible to estimate the mass of the Universe and therefore calculate the energy of the whole of creation. Divide that by the few seconds that it took to speak the words, and that is huge, unimaginable power. But it is still measurable.

The greatness of God’s power is even greater – it is immeasurable. We can’t even guesstimate his power, because it will always be greater.

And the God who has that much physical power also has immeasurable political power. He could bend every king and president, in fact every person, to obey his will and follow his agenda for the nations.

But he does not want to do that. Instead, he uses the power of love, providing and enacting an agenda based on his love for us. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”

For all the power at His command, He lays it all down in order to love His people

Then He places this immeasurable power in us – the creative, restorative, reconciling power of the Holy Spirit is placed in people who simply choose to lay down their own lives and to follow him.

We see glimpses of this immeasurable power in us when miracles happen. Miracles are actions that seem to contradict the law of nature. A house is saved in an earthquake because people pray. A person is healed of a rare and incurable cancer because people pray.

This immeasurable power in us is meant to be poured out to others as a sign of Gods love.

The power of love placed in our hearts also transforms the world. As we receive God’s love we learn to love the poor, serve the needy, console the hurting, and accept the rejected. The healing power of love turns these people, who were once far off, back to the kingdom of God, spreading this unstoppable movement of immeasurable power right through the world.

All of this is “ according to the workings of his great might.”

In all of this, God remains sovereign. There are times when there is no healing, no miracles. There are times when our best attempts at love are thrown back in our face .

Should we conclude that God’s immeasurable power is not so great? Of course not! It remains God’s power and is released according to His greatness.

Should we give up on praying for the sick, ministering to the poor, or preaching the gospel because things don’t turn out the way we think?

No! The power is God’s and remains subject to His will. The power is in us, but not ours to use as we wish. We are containers for the power of God’s might and His love, not the operators or owners of it.

We can make ourselves available to God for Him to work in the world. We cannot determine what He should do with that power. It remains “according to the working of his great power.”

The activity of God’s power remains a mystery, and out of our ability to control. We pray for this one, serve that one, and sometimes miracles occur. Sometimes they do not.

We should thank God that it is this way. Imagine the mess we would generate by being able to channel that “immeasurable power” to meet our own selfish purposes.

Key points in this verse:

  • God’s power is immeasurable, beyond our ability to even imagine
  • God’s power is physical and can restore, heal or destroy
  • God’s power is also persuasive through the power of His great love
  • God’s power is in us, but subject to his own control