|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2000|
|Dr. Barber explains the benefits to the believer who is "filled to the full" with the Spirit of God. How will this impact the way we live? The way we worship? What God can do through us?|
Let’s read the prayer together, all the way through. Paul says in verse 14, “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you might be filled up to all the fulness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”
Remember we saw last time that the phrase, “be filled up to all the fulness of God,” means whatever we are filled with will dominate us. The prayer says we are to be controlled and empowered by the Holy Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit of God who empowers us gives us that divine ability far beyond what we could come up with ourselves. If we choose not to be filled with the Spirit of God, not to be dominated with the fulness of God, then we have obviously chosen to be filled with self, which is filled with a myriad of applications. When you talk about self, you are talking about envy, jealousy, strife, rage, vengeance, bitterness and the list goes on and on and on. Countless numbers of Christians are not willing to tap into that which God has given them in Jesus Christ. They would rather be dominated by the very things that He has set them free from. For that reason, it effects the people around them and effects their witness to a lost world.
Let’s move on to the second point. What do we mean by all of God? Can part of God fill you? Well, no. But what do we mean when we say all of God? He says here, “that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God.” The definite article is used there. Normally when the definite article is used while referring to God it means God the Father. Let’s just see if that is correct. The context will always tell you. If you look at the whole context of Ephesians, he mentions God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Let’s look in 4:13: “until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”
Now, we have the fullness of God and the fullness of Christ. The verse says we are to attain to the measure of the fullness of Christ. We are to be filled up to the measure of the fullness of God. Look in 5:18 and you will see that we are to be filled to the full with God the Holy Spirit. “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.” There you have the fullness of God the Father, the fullness of God the Son and the fullness of God the Holy Spirit. You say, “You are complicating this. Are there three gods?” No, there is only one God, but there are three personalities of the Godhead.
Look at I Corinthians 12. Who gives out the spiritual gifts? It is the Holy Spirit of God. Who is it that gives the ministries to those gifts? It is the Lord Jesus Himself. Who is it that gives the effects of those ministries? It is God the Father. God the Father has a work in gifts. God the Son has a work in spiritual gifts, and God the Holy Spirit has a work. So be filled to the full with all of God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
Now, folks, this ought to excite every one of us. The whole Godhead has offered Himself to us. In other words, we can tap into all of the personalities of the Godhead if we are just willing to surrender to the leadership of the Spirit of God. When we let Jesus Christ be the Lord of our life, we tap into something that we are missing. I am telling you, Christians normally are missing this, being filled with everything but God. The Scripture says, “No, you be filled with nothing but God and the fulness of God, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.”
Isn’t it wonderful that God spoke all creation into existence? He spoke air into existence before He ever created people with lungs who needed the air. He spoke everything that we know of into existence. Isn’t it incredible? If we put ourselves up next to Him, folks, we wouldn’t even show up on the chart. We would be worse off than a little piece of sand on the beach of time. You couldn’t even find us in all the shuffle, for the things He has created. Yet at the same time God says, “I offer to you all of the fullness of who I am. Learn to tap into Me. Don’t be dominated by anything but the fullness of God.” I don’t want to miss out on it, do you? Look at what God has given us, folks. We have such a low view of salvation. We have mentioned that several times. That is what is wrong with us. We don’t realize what we have. We go everywhere but to God. We do everything except tap into His divine ability that He has given us and offered freely to us in the Lord Jesus Himself.
Colossians tells us Jesus is the fullness of the Godhead bodily. So when you let God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit fill you, you are letting Jesus be Jesus in your life. That is the fullness of the Godhead. Everything is resident in Him.
Let’s move on to verse 20 and see what else Paul is praying for these Ephesians. He is praying that they might know and understand that there is nothing that God cannot do if you allow Him to dominate your life.
Verse 20 says, “Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us.” Paul makes a statement here that to me is the crux of everything that he has prayed so far. He says, “to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly.” How many times have you heard that verse quoted? How many times have you heard it quoted in context? People just reach out and say, “Oh, God can do it.” Well, there is no question about that, friend. If you have got a question as to whether He can, then you just need to meet Christ and get saved. Yes, He can do it. We know that. That is not the problem. When does He manifest that ability? When does He move in and do those things that are exceeding abundantly beyond what we ask or think? I’ll tell you when. When the Holy Spirit has empowered us, when Christ has indwelt us, when His love has mastered us and when His fullness has filled us. Look out. Here come the exceeding abundantly great things of God’s ability that begin to be manifest in our life.
There are conditions to be met before you start claiming this verse. That is why Paul’s prayer went so long before he ever said anything about it. It is an ability beyond our comprehension. Do you know what? This verse hinges on the whole prayer that Paul has prayed. Do you know what that says to me? That says we are limiting God from doing those things which are far exceeding and abundantly beyond what we even ask or even think. Why? Because we won’t quit playing games at the foot of the cross. That phrase has stuck with me. We would rather play church and talk about it than we would to tap into it. We would rather have fear and bondage and worry and everything else holding us hostage instead of being dominated by the everlasting Spirit of the living God.
How do we limit God? Folks, we limit what He wants to do in and through our lives. Do you think He won’t get it done? Oh, yes. But He will use somebody else. Oh, He will get it done, but we are missing out on what God wants to do in and through our lives. He wants to draw us into what He is up to. There are so many people who would rather be dominated by their own self-pity than they would the living God who offers all of this abundance in our life. When we cooperate with Him and allow His Spirit to fill us and Christ to indwell us and His love to master us, that’s when it takes place. Remember, Jesus made a statement to the disciples in the gospel of John. He pointed out some of the things He had done and then He said, “Greater works than these shall you do.” Oh, I trust that you will study that and not just rip a verse out and run out in the street and think that you are going to do something beyond what Christ can do. There is a beautiful thought here. He is allowing us to be a part of what He is still doing. Folks, you will never in quality surpass what God can do. When He came, He limited Himself to a body. That was the purpose. That body would die on the cross. What Jesus was saying to His disciples was, “My Spirit is going to be in you. He is going to give you a divine ability. You will not be left as orphans. I am coming to you if you will just simply cooperate, not in quality, but in quantity. Greater works than what you have seen here you shall do.”
What are we hindering God from? We are limiting Him because we are not willing to let the Spirit of God enable us. Let’s take the verse apart and just see what God will show us. “Now to Him who is able...” That is in the present middle tense. Present tense means that He is able, is always able, has always been able and will always be able. There is never a question about His divine ability. The Greek word is dunamis. He has got that divine capacity and ability that we don’t have. It is in the middle voice. Middle voice means on His own He chooses to be able in you and in me. Well, what is the problem? We are not choosing for Him to be able in us. We would rather do it ourselves than we would confess to Him that we can’t and tap into that which He can do. God has offered Himself and His ability to you and me. It is all resident in the Lord Jesus Christ. He lives within us.
He is able! He has chosen to make Himself available to you and me. I will tell you what He is trying to do. I think He is trying to raise a level of faith where we can stand on what God says, not on what people think or the opinions of man. Do you know what they used to do in the Psalms? They used to celebrate the victory before they ever went to the battle. That looks kind of dumb to me. I mean, they would get together before they even went out to battle and have a victory celebration. Then they went out. Why? Because they are given as a shadow of a truth that comes in the New Testament. Friend, we don’t work toward victory. It is not like a basketball game when there is three seconds left and we shoot and win. That is not victory. Victory was at the cross. We don’t ever go towards it! We come from it! We walk in victory. Victory is not us overcoming anything. Victory is Jesus overcoming us and indwelling us and His spirit empowering us with His divine ability. That is real victory! We have got to learn that He is able; always has been, always will be. No question there. He has chosen to make Himself available to you and me.
Well, he goes on to say, “to do exceeding abundantly beyond.” The Greek word used here is made up of three words: huper, which means above, ek, which means a standard or a measure, and perisseuo, which means over and above more than enough. So, it is like the writer, Paul, writing in the Greek, was trying to express something that there were no words to express. Paul was saying, “He is able to do over and above and over and above and more than enough and over and above that.” God can do it! I like “exceeding abundantly beyond.” That brings it down to where my feeble mind can grab hold of it. Do you realize the failures in our life are never because of God, never, never, never? It is because of our unwillingness to bow before Him. We limit His power that has been offered to you and me, His divine ability to do through us what we could have never imagined possible.
Well, he is exceedingly able to do over and above and beyond “all that we ask or think.” Maybe you are inquisitive like I am. I got to thinking about that. When I am filled with the Spirit of God, God is the one who governs my thoughts. When I am filled with the Spirit of God, God is the one who governs my requests. Everything I am asking of Him He has already put on my heart. So therefore, He wants to do more and more and more and more beyond anything I have ever asked or beyond anything I have even dared to think. Folks, just think how far we can move into this, of His divine ability within us, to reach a lost world for Christ, to touch a world that doesn’t understand the divine ability that God wants to show them in Jesus Christ. “All that we ask or think.”
How many people does God want to call to reach a world for Christ? How many people does God want to start getting involved in missions and getting the money out there where it needs to be. Listen, we haven’t even dared ask Him yet. We haven’t even dared to think about it yet because we are not living in the fullness of what God already offers. Oh, yeah, He is able, but we will never tap into that until we start learning to be indwelt by Christ and empowered by His Spirit and mastered by His love. Folks, when God gets hold of surrendered people like that, then He manifests that divine ability that is absolutely incredible!
We love to claim this verse. “God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all you ask or think.” What does that mean? I don’t have a clue, but it sounds good. God is able to do exceeding abundantly. Folks, until the conditions are met, you might just as well forget the phrase because you will never know that ability. There are some things God is going to have you ask Him and think about asking Him that are far beyond anything you have ever thought before, because you haven’t gone that far in the Lord Jesus, in His fullness. Greater works than these shall you do. God says if we will tap into Him, He will give us the ability to do it.
Well, we have come to the final thing in verse 21: “to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever.” Paul says a similar thing in Philippians. He wrote these letters in the same imprisonment. Let’s go over there and see. Look in Philippians 3:3. He is saying here to give all the glory now to the Lord Jesus in the church. He says something that really caught my attention. He says, “we are the true circumcision,...” What does he mean? We are not circumcised of the flesh because the covenant we are under is not an external covenant. It is an internal covenant. We are circumcised of the heart: “...who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” In other words, Paul is saying here to Him be the glory in the church. Do you mean the only way to give Him glory in the church is to glorify only Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh? That is exactly right. How can we go on and give Him the glory? We keep on lifting up Jesus Christ. We don’t praise men. We praise God. Every time we have a problem we don’t get involved in all that stuff. We come before Him and say, “God, what are you up to?” Then God is glorified. Man is not, but God is.
Then Paul finishes the prayer and says, “Amen.” Do you know what that means? It means “let it be so.” It just sort of seals it.
What a prayer! There is just so much in it. Let me show you something. This prayer sums up everything he said in chapters 1-3 and sets up everything he is about to say in chapters 4-6. Look at verse 1 of chapter 4: “I, therefore.” When there is a “therefore,” look and see what it is there for. You now know what it is there for. You have the divine ability of God. All the fullness of God has been offered to you and me, not to go out and raise the dead, but to go out and manifest the character of Jesus in our life and be about the things that God has told us. “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, entreat you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called.” Amen.
Anything less than what we have seen prayed in this prayer is nothing more than mere religion. God’s power wants to flow. Why would God lead us into a wilderness? Because He wants to take us on into Canaan of His blessing. It is sitting there waiting on us, folks. Don’t you let a negative thought go through your mind. We have a God who so supersedes our problem, it would blow us all away. He is just waiting on us to shape up and start living in the truth that we already know but have not yet tapped into.
The word we get the word dynamite from is dunamis, which is the word we are studying. God is able. We translate it power, strengthened with power in the inner man. We sing a song about the fact that there is “Power, power, wonder working power, in the blood of the Lamb. There is power, power, wonder working power in the precious blood of the Lamb.” Oh, folks, can you hear what you are singing? God wants to turn it loose in your life even now, but you have got to deal with the sin that is clogged up. It is all there. It has been offered to you freely, but we have got to get the sin out so the power can flow one more time. We can rise up and call Him blessed and touch this world for Jesus Christ. That is what He is wanting to do and we are all a part of this.