Ephesians – Wayne Barber/Part 19

By: Dr. Wayne Barber
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By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©1999
Dr. Barber explains how God’s power, revealed in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, can impact our lives.

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Ephesians 1:18-20

That We Might Know His Power – Part 1

Will you turn with me to Ephesians chapter 1? I want to preach a message entitled, “That We Might Know His Power.”

Now he’s writing, as an apostle, to a group of people with whom he has spent three years of his life. He has just poured out his heart to them. He planted seed, and now he’s seeing them come up. He has such a desire for these Ephesian believers.

Look at verse 18. He says, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you might know…” Now I want to stop right there. Paul wants them to know some­thing. He says, “I want you to be flooded with light in your inner man. I want you to see it as revealed by God Himself. I’ve got a burden that you know it deep inside of your life.”

The first thing he wants them to know, which we looked at in verse 18, is “the hope of His calling.” This involves everything about our salvation. Verses 3 through 14 tell us of all the marvelous things that God has done. The word “hope” there always speaks of earnest expectation. It’s never uncertain when it comes to a believer. It’s something he expects and knows is certain in his life. He sees that receiving Jesus Christ is more than an end in itself.

That’s why I John emphasizes what’s going on now, not just what went on back then. Paul is saying to them, “Listen, the hope of your calling helps you realize that it is the be­ginning, not an end in itself.” It involves everything God’s going to do from A to Z when it comes to our salvation. To the believer who understands this, the hope of His calling means that tomorrow he’s going to be more like Jesus than he was today. It means that tomorrow he’s going to be filled more and more with the fullness of God. He doesn’t get more of God, but he gives more of himself to God. By doing that he realizes more of God. That means he’ll be transformed into Christ’s image from moment to moment. It’s a pro­cess.

You know, you hear people say, “God loves you just like you are.” Yes and No. Yes, He understands you and unconditionally loves you. No, He’s not satisfied with us like we are. He wants us to be conformed into the image of Christ Jesus. That’s a part of the process of our salvation. One day we will have a glorified body, and we’ll be like Him. Second Corinthians 3:18 says, “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.” In I John chapter 3 and verse 2 says, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.”

Salvation is just the beginning. Then you begin to grow up as true sons of God, and you’re conformed into His image, with the ultimate conformity being when He glorifies our body. Believers who don’t understand the hope of their calling are people who don’t under­stand life and the difficulties of life. They don’t understand what to expect and what to look forward to in their calling. You see, a believer who understands he’s growing up and that this is a process and that there are things yet to come, understands that God is in control. He orchestrates events in his life. Difficulties come, and difficulties go, but those things are used as tools by God Himself to shape them and conform them into the image of Christ.

When we understand the hope of our calling we understand that life works for us. It does not work against us. Not to understand it is to be a person most miserable, filled with a life of unwanted circumstances and never seeming to understand what the resurrection of Jesus really can mean. Paul says, “I want you to know. I pray that you know what is the hope of your calling.”

The second thing he mentions there in verse 18 is not just the hope of His calling. He says he wants them to know “what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.’” We’ve looked at three possible meanings of that. First, he could be saying, “I pray that you might understand all of the riches that are yours because you’re a joint-heir with Christ.” Remember, we’re shareholders of all that’s promised to Him. We get a portion of it as a part of our salvation. That’s so marvelous! Could he be saying, “I pray that you might understand the riches of what you have in Christ”? Certainly that would be true. Is that what he’s saying though?

Second, we looked at the possibility he may be praying and saying, “I want you to know that you are His inheritance.” That’s a beautiful thought. Jesus is my inheritance as a believer. I’m also His inheritance. It’s hard to understand. Deuteronomy says Israel was God’s portion. First Peter says we are a peculiar people, a people of God’s own posses­sion. Could he be saying that we are now to glorify Him in our life on this earth?

The third possibility is, he could be pointing to all that’s coming one day. He’s talking about everything that’s coming. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard what’s left, what’s reserved for us in heaven. We have the earnest of His inheritance. We don’t have a clue yet as to what’s coming. All the victories we have in the Holy Spirit today are nothing compared to the riches of what’s coming one day.

I think all those things must be involved in what he’s saying, but I think it goes back to possibly we are His possession. If I’m living in the hope of my calling, and I know that every day God’s wanting to conform me more and more into His image, then all of a sudden I’m able to realize the riches of bringing recognition to that by the way that I live so that others around me can see, not who I am, but whose I am. It begins to make sense that these all tie together.

We need to remember that we are to bring recognition to Him daily that others can look at us and say, “He is the property of Jesus because he just lives for Him. He doesn’t live for anybody else.” The church is Christ’s body. It is Christ’s bride on earth. We are to show forth His glory in the sense that we die daily. John the Baptist said, “I must decrease so that He might increase in my life that others might see the identification I have with Him, that I am His possession.”

Well, that’s all review. I want to move on. Look at verse 19. He wants them to be filled with understanding. He wants the light to be turned on in their life. It says in verse 19 he wants them to know “what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who be­lieve.”

Now I want to share something with you. Some of you have tried to live the best you can for Jesus this past year. Somehow it hasn’t quite clicked in your mind yet as to what this is all about. Somehow you’ve grown discouraged because it hasn’t worked in your marriage. It hasn’t worked in your job. It hasn’t worked in other situations. Maybe you came this morning as a very disappointed and a very discouraged believer of the Lord Jesus Christ. You don’t understand your hope and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. Maybe you’ve tried it in your own strength, but now you think that His de­mands are a little too high. Maybe you want to stand up and shake your fist and say, “I can’t live the Christian life.” If you’re saying that, you’re finally at the point that maybe you can understand you were never designed to live it. You can’t, and God never said you could. But He can, and He always said He would. It’s something that’s not taught. It’s something that is caught.

Now folks, I want to tell you something. He gave us power to do what He told us to do. If we were left to do this on our own, then why did He die in the first place? The Pharisees could have worked their way right into heaven. They couldn’t do it. Jesus pointed at a Pharisee one day and said, “If your righteousness is not greater than theirs, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” It’s not by doing good deeds. You can’t work your way in. You do not have the ability to produce the things that only God can do in your life.

To me, that’s why Paul puts this third point where he puts it. You need to know the surpassing power that He has towards you who believe. There are three words in that verse. We will only look at one of them now.

“What is the surpassing greatness of His power…” That’s the first one. Then he says, “…toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength…” That’s the second word. “…of His might…” That’s the third word. All three of those words are beautiful words. This time we’ll look at the word “power.” “…the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.”

Once people understand what Paul wants them to understand about His power then the Christian life becomes a little different in their perspective. Paul said in Philippians 1:6, “…He who began, he that began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” The word “perfect” means He will carry it to its fullest conclusion. It’s not what I can do for Him. It ‘s what He alone can do through me. Until you see that, you’re going to work yourself to death and misunderstand that the hope of your calling and His inheritance in the saints are made possible by the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe.

First of all then, His power is unsurpassed. The word for “power” is the word dunamis. It’s the word from which we get two words. One of them confuses a lot of folks when you use it. That’s the word dynamite. To a lot of people that’s just a big explosion, then every­thing settles and is gone. Dunamis means “the ability to accomplish something.” That’s what power is. Oh folks, you can’t accomplish it. I can’t accomplish it. That’s why he says, “I want you to know His power. He’s the one who accomplishes it.” You’ve just got to learn to appropriate that in your life.

The other word is more meaningful. It is the word dynamo. There’s a difference in dynamite and dynamo. Dynamo doesn’t make as much noise. It’s just as powerful, but it’s continuous. It’s constantly there. It never stops. It continues day by day, moment by moment. I like that better. You get the idea from dynamite of its unique ability, but you get the idea from dynamo of the consistency of this word dunamis which means “power to accomplish something.” It’s not something you can do. It’s something outside of yourself.

Do we realize that the surpassing greatness of His power is toward us? Where was this power that he’s talking about here demonstrated? Look in verse 20: “…which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead.” He’s talking about the resur­rection power of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s something we can experience. It’s something Christ does in us and through us. He accomplishes something we cannot accomplish ourselves.

Boy, when you think of the resurrection of Jesus, wouldn’t you like to have been with them that morning when the ladies went there and saw those two angels? They came running back to John and Peter. Then John and Peter came running back to the tomb.

Peter couldn’t help himself. He just ran on inside and said, “Where did He go?” It says in Matthew, Mark and Luke they had mixed emotions. They were excited, and yet they were confused. One of the Gospels says they were afraid. They had mixed emotions. They didn’t know what to think about this whole thing. The miracle was absolutely incredible. A person coming back from the dead was something the mind just could not grasp that.

Not only that, He had told them He was going to do it. He told them He would see them on the other side. He had to be either a lunatic or something else. These men be­lieved Him, but even though they believed Him when He did it, they still couldn’t quite grasp it all.

Acts 2:24 says, “And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” He put an end to the agony of death. Death could not hold Him down. It appears that the Lord Jesus dismissed His own human spirit. They didn’t have to break the bones in His body to make Him suffocate on the cross. He dismissed His own human spirit. God-man died on that cross, and God-man raised Himself from the dead. The miracle, His resurrection power.

Paul says it can be in you, and it can be in me. We can experience that on our ownIn other words, out of the deadness of my life He brings newness of life. What he’s talking about here is the person of Jesus manifesting Himself in you and me. He told Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I’m the one who can bring out what you’re not. I can put in what ought to be. I can transform you. I can do what you cannot do. I can accomplish what you cannot accomplish.” The unsurpassed power of God was demonstrated when Christ arose from the dead, conquering death and conquering sin.

Look at the verse. The verse shows us the condition of this thing. Why is it some people don’t seem to understand that power? It says, “…what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us…” Now watch the last phrase. Who what? “…who believe.” That’s not in the perfect tense, “who once believed.” It’s not in the aorist tense, “who believed at one point in time.” It’s a present participle which means “we believe and keep on believing and keep on believing and keep on believing.”

Who are the people who keep on believing? They’re the people who keep on obeying and trusting what God says in this Word. Don’t tell somebody you believe in Jesus if you’re not willing to obey what He says. That’s the bottom line of what belief is all about. I can talk about how I believe. Talk is cheap. Watch how I live. That will show you what I be­lieve. What I’m willing to obey determines what I believe in my spirit.

So who realizes the power of God? It’s those who are willing to obey what He says. As I was praying over this passage a thought came to my mind. You may be thinking, “It just doesn’t work in my life. I’m not experiencing that. What’s wrong with me? I can’t forgive. There’s somebody in my life who has done me wrong, and I’m bitter. I think I’ve got a right to be bitter.” They’re just miserable as a Christian.

You may have a financial problem, and it’s so great it’s overwhelming. You can’t seem to solve it. The harder you try, the deeper you get instead of coming out of it. Or maybe you’re in a situation to where you have a lustful problem. It’s just eating you up and driving you down. You can’t get out from under it. “What’s wrong with me?” you say.

May I ask you some questions? Number one, have you identified what it is that’s defeating you? Have you put it into a category where you can understand what it is that causes you the biggest problem in your life?

Number two, have you looked in Scripture to find out what God says about that? Let’s put it in an area of relationships. You know God said, “Be at peace with one another.” God says, “Forgive one another.” The word “forgive” is the word that means “to do an act of grace, do something they don’t deserve, let them loose.” Have you looked to see what God has to say about it? I find that 90% of the people that have problems in these areas never bother to see what God says about it. If we’re going to experience His power we’ve got to get in tune with His Word. Once we get into His Word He tells us clearly what He thinks about it.

Then number three, once you’ve identified the problem, and once you’ve identified what God said to do, have you done it in your life? Have you purposed in your heart to forgive your brother who caused you all that problem? Have you purposed in your heart to lay down your hatchet, bury it under the blood of Jesus and not pick it up again and trust God to take it from there? Have you trusted Him to do something in you that’s far beyond what you could do yourself? Have you trusted God to manifest Himself in your life? Once you choose to do it, once you choose to obey His Word, then God will manifest His power and His life behind you. He’ll put something there that wasn’t there before. People will look at it, and they’ll know it’s not you. It’s got to be Jesus in you.

What’s wrong with us? We make up our minds that we can’t get out from under our problems. That’s ridiculous. We can. The same place we met Jesus at the cross is where we stay daily. If I’ve got a problem with my flesh I run to that cross. I bow down at that cross, and I say, “God, this is sin in my life. I’ve looked in your Word. I have transgressed your will, and God, I ask You to forgive me.” At that very moment some of that resurrection power begins to spill into your life.

Are you experiencing God’s resurrection power in your life? Is He transforming you daily? Is He the one conforming you in the image of Christ Jesus? Does your wife look at you and say, “Hey, you know, something’s going on in your life. I know one thing. It’s not you because I know you. There’s something different about your life today.” That’s the resurrected power of Jesus working in your life.

Paul says I want you to know the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who can believe and continue and continue and continue and continue to believe. We trust Him. We obey Him. He takes the rest of it and does what we could never have done.

Oh folks, we must know the resurrected power of the Lord Jesus Christ and what He does in newness of life that we could not do ourselves so that we might walk in the hope of His calling, so that we might demonstrate the riches of His glory in His inheritance in the saints. We can’t do it without that power. He’s provided it for us. Are you walking and living in it?

Read Part 20

Dr. Wayne Barber

Dr. Wayne Barber

Wayne has taught the message of “Living Grace” around the world. He is president, founder, and principal speaker of Living Grace Ministries and Senior Pastor of Woodland Park Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He learned to exegete Scripture by studying for 10 years with Spiros Zodhiates, one of the leading Greek scholars.
Dr. Wayne Barber

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