In this sermon Tim continues with the second half of Paul’s sermon in Ephesians 1, unpacking how we have the same power living in us that raised Christ from the dead and what that looks like in our lives as we follow Jesus!
Sermon preached on Sunday March 14 2021 by Tim Giovanelli.
Ephesians Week 6
Today is our last week in chapter 1 of Paul’s letter to the church he had established in the city of Ephesus. This city which was obsessed with Gods and power and the supernatural.
Remember from the story in the Book of Acts, Paul ministered there for 2 years… We are told in Acts 19:8 that Paul argued persuasively about the kingdom of God.
And there is this great line in Acts 19:11. It says “God did extraordinary miracles through Paul.” So it was a ministry of Word and deed. Or Word and Spirit. Or Word and power!
It was an intellectual appeal that was accompanied with demonstrations of great supernatural power.
I was listening to Nicky Gumbel from Alpha interview Jackie Pullinger, the amazing missionary to the slums of Hong Kong in the 80’s. She is the author of Chasing the Dragon.
And… where well do you start with Jackie!I mean she just moved and lived humbly amongst the drug addicts and triad gang members of what was called the Walled City. And it wasn’t overnight, but eventually God used her in power to minister to heroin addicts. And she would pray in tongues over these broken and marginalised people with the love of Christ.
And she saw many come cold turkey off drugs and into the kingdom. One thing she said that has always stuck with me… she said, whenever she felt distant from God or cold in her faith she would go out on to the streets and lay hands on the addicted, the poor and the forgotten… And she would see the power of the gospel and faith would come back alive to her and her team.
A reminder to me… that “this” (head) is important… but our faith is much more than just anintellectual assent. It is also power… There is efficacy to what we believe.
Are you with me?
So we get to the second half of Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians in chapter one today (handout). Last week we received Paul’s prayer for wisdom, revelation and enlightenment… that we may know the Lord. It is a prayer for revelation (apocolypso) that we may see Jesus clearly in order that we may follow him well and know the glorious riches of our inheritance as God’s people.
So part 1 was about knowing God in Jesus and the hope to which he has called us…
And part 2 is about knowing and receiving his great power for us who believe.
Lets read it…Ephesians 1:17-23 (bit of a run up and a good follow through)
17 I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
Lots of things that don’t run very well with power…
Fridges without electricity, solar panels without sunshine… One of those is sailboats without wind… I haven’t done a lot of sailing, but I did go once on the Western side of the Spit Bridge…
And I remember you would come into these patches of the harbour where the wind would drop away… and the boat would just begin to drift… But then with a clever captain and positioning, the boat would catch the wind…
And whoosh! You’d be off again… and it was the most exhilarating experience to catch the wind andfeel this 40 ft yacht spring back to life, being thrown forward.And you know it is not a bad analogy for the Christian faith. You can’t see God’s Spirit, but you can see the affects of his power and presence… And you know that power when it comes to you… it is that wind that you catch that enables you…. To do what we are meant to be doing as followers of Jesus…
Without the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives… We are like a sailboat without wind. We might talk the talk… or have the appearance of faith… but it is just another human endeavour.
But then we catch the breath of God, we feel his power, and it makes all the difference!
And obviously when talking about power, I am talking about what fuels its ability to work, rather than power in the sense of control or coercion or abuse.I am talking about the ability to fulfil what we are called to do and be.
Gordon Fee calls it God’s empowering presence… Great quote “For Paul the ‘power of the Spirit’ is not only for more visible and extraordinarymanifestations of God’s presence, but also for the empowering necessary to be his people in the world”What is he saying here?Basically that yes, the power of the Spirit is amazing when we see God move in extraordinary ways…
But fundamentally this is about being empowered to be God’s people in the world in our everyday lives. To live Christ-like-ly. In other words bring on the miracles… but more deeply, we just need the Spirit to be at work in our lives to be Christians… To live the life and calling God intends for us as his people.
So what is Paul’s prayer here for the church in Ephesus, for you and for me?Well it is for Power for us who believe…
For us… means to our advantage… He prays that we may know the kind of power and extent of power that God is empowering his children with. That you may know what is available to you… or for your advantage…
We are not sailboats left adrift with no wind or power… we are given what is needed to fulfil our calling!
So looking particularly at verse 19 Paul is praying… in order that you may know… “his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…”Can we do a bit of the original Greek?
I know for the last 8 years you haven’t had a lot of that from me… but I’m kind of into it at the moment… So tough! Haha!
Power in Greek is the word dunamis – from which we get English words like dynamite… And it refers to the capacity to do what needs to be done. So think capacity… explosive capacity!It goes on… “That power is the same…” now in the NIV they have translated a different word as power here… But it is actually in the Greek a different word to dunamis. It is energeian!
And from the Greek word energeian we get English words like… have a guess? Anyone? Energy! Refers to the ability to do what needs to be done.
So, so far we have been given capacity and ability….It goes on… “That power is the same as the mighty strength.”Mighty is the Greek word Kratous… and from that Greek word we get all the ‘cracy words… like democracy (rule of the people) or theocracy (rule of God…) So mighty refers to the authority to do what needs to be done…the right that is given to rule…
So, so far, may we know that we have been given capacity, ability and authority.And then strength – ischuos – and there is no word in English that that relates to… But it denotes inherent strength to overcome… It’s inner power and will to achieve what needs to be done.That we may overcome obstacles and resistance so that we might be all that God calls us to be… in Christ.
So we have been given capacity, ability, authority and inherent strength as believers from God.Now all of these words relate to power and could even be translates as power…
So God has given us the Power (dunamis)– capacity to do what needs to be done.
So God has given us Energeian – ability to do what needs to be done.
God has given you Might – authority to do what needs to be done.
And God has given you Strength – inherent capacity to overcome resistance to do what needs
Wow! That the eyes of our heart might be enlightened to know the power, the energy, the strength,the might… to live as his holy people.
Paul is praying that we may know this power which is available to us who believe. Oh God, open our eyes to see how much power is at work, to our advantageTo comprehend this power… or to put legs on it, so to speak… Paul goes on to show how it works…What is the ability, this capacity, this authority, this strength?
He says; It is the same power that God exerted (verse 20) when he raised Jesus from the dead. Massively creative power… that has seated Jesus on the throne… Power that as the passage goes on to declare that has put all things under Christ feet and dominion. Power that has established the church in this world.
The same power that conquered the grave lives in us.I love to hear Paul preach… grace and truth, adoption, redemption, forgiveness…
But I also love to hear him pray… because he prays the gospel.And Paul was a sent one… an Apostle… we know his prayers pleases the living God.
And so we can pray Paul’s prayers with great confidence… His prayers can become our prayers… His experience of the living God, made know in Christ, can become our experience of knowing Jesus
His life of knowing the power made available to us who believe, can be our life of being empoweredby God to live as his children.So we pray; “We want to know you… give us an apocoplyso… a revelation… and we want to know and live what you have for us… we need to be empowered God… give us this power… Amen…
Now how do we apply this? I am tempted not to… just let Paul’s prayer wash over you and be a reality for you?
My guess is you know where you need God’s empowering presence in your life?
Maybe it is power to stand against injustice and oppression and to be a voice for the voiceless?Maybe it is power to be the new humanity… to live a holy life, set apart from the temptations and depravity of the world around us?
Maybe it is power to choose humility and gentleness in your life and relationships… that takes great power…
Maybe it is power to forbear in love in crumby circumstances?
Maybe it is creative power for a miracle in your life or a loved one around you?
It takes great power to live the Christian life…Holy Spirit come… we need you… we are so weak without you…