2Co 6:4 But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, 2Co 6:5 In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings; 2Co 6:6 By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 2Co 6:7 By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 6:8 By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 6:9 As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 6:10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
Here in 2 Cor. 6, the greater context to this series of topics was suffering. Remember, in these passages, we have three lists. In the first list, Paul went through the different types of sufferings and this list was punctuated by the preposition IN. Then we have the second list - HOW he got through those hard times, and this list is punctuated by the preposition BY. The third list is about the blessed results, which we’ll get to. But we are still in this second list, how Paul got through suffering, and you might remember that we’ve been careful to make the point that Paul’s strategy for how to get through suffering was to focus upon excelling at specific aspects of his spiritual life. When Paul suffered, he focused his mind upon excelling at pureness, then knowledge, then longsuffering, and kindness. By focusing upon excelling at these qualities in your walk, you’re not as worried and upset about the suffering – why? Because you’re more concerned about service to God. By focusing upon excelling at, say, kindness, you’re lessening your worries and keeping yourself in the game of advancing the cause of Christ rather then fretting and worrying yourself to death about “how do I get through all this suffering?” Because the question for all of us should be, “how do I excel while I’m suffering?” Suffering is the time in which we all have to put into practice everything we’ve learned in His Word. I’m convinced that there is no greater testimony than the suffering servant glorifying God while we are going through some of the most difficult circumstances in our lives. That’s the kind of demonstration of God’s power that should make anyone look at that suffering servant and think, “I want what he or she has.” We looked at what we called PKLK, excelling at pureness, knowledge, longsuffering, and kindness when we suffer. Then we arrived at the expression by the Holy Ghost, and we did a thorough examination of the Holy Spirit from the OT to the NT, which we concluded with a list of 250 Things the Holy Spirit Does for Us. Then we arrived at this next expression. “By love unfeigned,” which we covered in about 3 or 4 messages, then “by the word of truth,” and now we’ve arrived at "the power of God."
How does the power of God help us when we suffer?
The Gospel First
You might recall Rom_1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. How is the gospel the power of God UNTO salvation? I think there is power in every aspect of the gospel. Certainly, there is power in the words themselves. When you share the basics of the gospel, hopefully with some verses, the Spirit will use those words to convict the hearers, to persuade the hearers of the truth of what's being shared, to convict the hearers of their own need for redemption, and then encourage that person to believe, to trust in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ as the complete payment for all their sins. There is also power in the simplicity of the gospel itself. The gospel doesn't require excellency of speech and brilliant words filled with man's wisdom to convert souls. The gospel needs only simple words such that even a child can understand and believe. There is power in the story of the gospel itself. There is power in what the gospel teaches the person hearing it. The gospel embodies some of the highest wisdom of God, that God Himself was its author, that God’s gospel leads us all back to Him and an eternal life with Him. The gospel demonstrates how the conflict between God's justice and His desire to show you grace are both equally fulfilled in His Son in His death for you. And then there is power in what that gospel accomplishes in you the moment you believe.
Eph 1:15 Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints, Eph 1:16 Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers; Eph 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, Eph 1:19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Eph 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,
Paul’s Prayer – 5 things he wants to see in us
Vs. 17 – “the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” I’d suggest that Paul’s request that we’d receive the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him has to do with God giving us the spiritual increase after others have planted and watered, that God would help us to grow in understanding to embody the spirit of, the characteristics of, wisdom and revelation in all of us increasing in the knowledge of him. That we would grow that we would exhibit the characteristics of wisdom, that we’d exhibit the same characteristics as those who received revelations from God Himself, that we have grown so much through the study of the Word, we’re like those other people, we’re like all the old saints filled with wisdom. When Paul says him he’s not talking about the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s talking about God the Father. He says, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.” God the Father, who granted you eternal life because of your faith in His Son. God the Father, who pre-determined before the creation of the world that He would implement this period of grace because He wanted to have a relationship with you. God the Father, who designed every aspect of this age, chose to identify us with His Son in His death, burial, and resurrection, and call the church the Body of Christ. God the Father, who crucified our old natures and made us free from sin. God the Father, whose will it is that we align our earthly walk with our heavenly identity because of who and what He made us in His Son. So when Paul prays for, the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, he’s not talking about us receiving revelations like he received, but I think he’s talking about the revealing of God the Father to us, which produces wisdom in us, which is why so much of Ephesians is about God the Father. Paul wants everything he’s writing in his epistle to the Ephesians to produce wisdom in all of us. We have in this letter the revealing of the Father in His Word by the Spirit made possible because of the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross at Calvary.
Vs 18 – three things Paul wants to see – “that eyes of your understanding being enlightened,” which is the result of knowing Christ, knowing the sound doctrines of grace, knowing all the things God has freely given unto us, knowing the big picture of it all, our place in the kingdom of God, our place in the Father’s eternal purpose to glorify His Son, knowing all the glory to come, knowing all of that more fully.
We also have “the hope of his calling,” to know fully and to rest our hearts in comfort in our one hope, which is Christ Himself who will come for us in the rapture, and to aspire to achieve the full maturity in our walk, aligning our earthly walk with our heavenly identity, appropriating all the blessings of this life, all of which is already ours in Christ — until Christ comes.
Then Paul would have that we come to appreciate “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” That we would appreciate the glory to come to all of us because we are all God’s inheritance. And that we would appreciate the riches of that glory to come because we are God’s inheritance. When is He going to inherit us? When we die or when the rapture happens? Yes.
Then we have in vs. 19 the 5th aspect of Paul’s prayer request - “the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe” He says in vs. 19, And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, 1:21 Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:
What is that great power? Some might use these passages to talk about Christ’s resurrection but that’s not at the core of what he’s talking about. Look at what he says. And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, 1:20 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places… He’s talking about a power that was wrought in Christ when he was raised from the dead. So what is that power that was wrought in Christ when he was raised from the dead? Resurrection life. Everlasting resurrection life. And that resurrection life that was manifest in Christ is God’s demonstration to us of the exceeding greatness of His power. Why? Why resurrection life? Christ was the firstfruits of resurrection life, which is the very same life we now possess in Him. We’re living in the glory of His resurrection life already victorious over death being always victorious in Christ no matter the circumstances. How? Because of our identification with Him that moment we believed. We mentioned before that the same tenets you accept by faith to become saved are the same tenets you accept by faith to reckon everything you are in Christ. It’s as if God the Father is saying, now that you’ve reckoned that my Son died, was buried, and resurrected for you, now go reckon that truth for yourself as being dead, buried, and resurrected with My Son. Because the very point of Christ dying on that cross is to have victory over sin and death! You have to become dead, buried, and resurrected with Christ in order for that victory to become a reality in your life the moment you believed! Identification goes hand-in-hand with the gospel because in order for you to become a new creature alive unto God freed from the bondage and condemnation of sin, you to have become dead, buried, and resurrected with Christ.
And so the newness of life after Christ was resurrected, that everlasting life in Christ following His resurrection IS God’s power specifically demonstrated to us-ward who believe as an assurance of our eternal life in Him, as an assurance of the new life we possess in Him as new creatures, which was accomplished by the same power that raised Christ from the dead. It’s the same power that raised Christ from the dead that gave Him resurrection life is the power that identified us with Him, that gave us His resurrection life. These truths aren’t meant to give us an assurance of our own resurrection after death, but these truths are meant to assure us of the resurrection life we already possess because of our identification with Christ.
Just as God demonstrated to Israel His power in His deliverance from the Egyptians when He freed them and parted the red sea, so too, God demonstrated to us His power in our deliverance from the condemnation and the bondage of sin, and He demonstrated that power in the resurrection of His only begotten Son. So the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward, the power He displayed to all of us is what “he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.” Gaebelein – “We lift up our eyes and behold the wonders of God's creation, which He called into existence by His Son and for Him (Col. 1: 16). Here in this Epistle another heaven is opened. If the heavens of creation are so wonderful and their depths unfathomable, how much more wonderful are the heavenlies into which Christ has entered, where He now is seated, far above all principality and power and might, and into which God's grace has brought us in Christ! The first three chapters [of Ephesians] contain this great revelation. What God has accomplished in His Son, to the praise of the glory of His grace; how He makes believers one with His Son, [and] sharers of His glory...”
Christ who is our Life
This brings us to another empowering principle.
Col 3:1 If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Col 3:2Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. Col 3:3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 3:4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. 3:5Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:
The life of Christ in us is power. It’s power because we have His resurrection life now and forever. Notice here that Paul doesn’t talk about a future time in which we WILL BE dead and we WILL BE risen. The fundamental truth here is that we ARE dead. We ARE risen. We ARE already blessed with all spiritual blessings. We ARE accepted in the beloved. We ARE sealed by the Spirit. We ARE standing in the glory of the holy righteousness of Christ Himself. We ARE living the resurrection life by virtue of the cross of Christ. It’s not just that we’ve been identified with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, but that our identification with Him transformed us into perfect new creatures dead to sin, made us alive unto God, and blessed with all spiritual blessing by His grace and love. And that is power. That is enough power for us to be able to endure all suffering with joy.
Our appropriation of the power that we already have comes by keeping our minds and our hearts occupied on things above. And you may have noticed, too, that God doesn’t want your mind partly on things above and partly on things on the earth but He wants all of your mind and all of your heart set entirely on Christ above. How can we live a life with divided affections? As our Lord Himself said, “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Divided affections is a moral impossibility. In Php 3:19 Paul talks about those who “mind earthly things,” that their “end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame…” And such is the state of Christendom today—carnal, minding earthly things; filled with the love of the world, ignorant of scriptures, and dead to spiritual matters. Our affections cannot be divided. The distinction between the earthly realm vs. the heavenly realm is as stark a contrast as law vs. grace, the devil vs. Christ, or defeat vs. victory in His grace. In all stages of our lives, in all circumstances, we look up to Him for His victory in our lives founded upon the immense grace that has us now raised up with a risen Christ. Christ alone and the consciousness of the grace in which we stand in Him is enough to raise us above ourselves, above our failures, and above the deceptions of the world.
Therefore, the natural result of accepting these Pauline truths is, that BECAUSE the exceeding great power God used to accomplish the resurrection of Christ and to empower Him forever with the newness of God’s resurrection life, because that power was specifically displayed for us, the believer is exhorted to manifest that resurrection power in his life. We live our lives according to those truths. We can aspire to achieve in our lives as Paul did, “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection.” Phil. 3:10. It is one thing to be kept by the power of God through faith unto that glorious salvation at the coming of the Lord; it is another thing to live day by day in that resurrection power. You appropriate that power by having your heart occupied on things above.
The 5 Riches in Ephesians
I want to briefly touch upon this because the life of Christ is power and it is filled with riches. And we have in Ephesians 5 separate groups of riches. We covered one of them already when Paul said he would have us appreciate “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” That we would appreciate the riches of that glory to come because we are God’s inheritance.
Twice Paul talks about the riches of His grace. Eph_1:7 “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” and in 3:8 Paul declares his unique apostleship, that “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ,” that he should preach those things God had prepared for us, which can not be found in the OT. Only by revelation through Paul can we be made known that which was determined before the foundation of the world, that God, planned to implement His masterwork in us Gentiles because of the riches of His grace. With Him as an equal member of the godhead was His blessed Son, the Son of His love. In Him, by Him and for Him were all things called into existence. Yet before this creation was made, God knew what He would be accomplishing in us today. He knew the whole story of man's fall and before it ever came to pass, and He made provisions for that. Those who would accept Christ as their Savior He willed that they should stand before Him complete, holy, and without blame, become partakers of His own divine nature, the righteousness of His Son imputed to us, His spiritual life given to us and made to empower us. All of this God willed before the foundation of the world.
Now through grace, God is able to grant us today, through our active participation in His victory program by studying His Word, the 4th set of riches, which Paul mentioned in 3:16, that God would grant us, “according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.” We often talk about the strengthening of the inner by the Spirit but have you ever meditated upon the fact that our inner man is strengthened according to the riches of His glory? It’s not a part of the riches of His kindness, or the riches of His grace that our inner man is strengthened. It’s a part of the riches of His glory that our inner man would be strengthened. What does that mean? Our inner strengthening is part of that glory package. It’s an inevitability, as a child of God, that we’d share in His glory, so that, being part of His inheritances in the saints that we would be, through the study of His Word, have a strengthened inner man that no one else can have! There is strength from within being partakers of His glory. Isn’t that amazing?
And another riches - in eternity future, as Paul said in 2:7, God’s going to show through us “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” in the ages to come. Ultimately this verse is about God’s eternal purpose, God using us to glorify His Son For all eternity, God making known to the entire universe His glory, the exceeding riches of His grace, through and in His masterwork, the church today. The glory emanating from us seated in the heavens will put on display to everyone, both physical and spiritual, the glory of the grace of God the Father because of the kindness He showed us in this age of grace through the gift of eternal life by the sacrifice of His only begotten Son.
Why do I mention the 5 Riches in Ephesians? Because all these riches are manifestations of His power that produces life and strength within us. We started with “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” The inevitability of empowerment from within that comes from the knowledge of the glory we already possess and the glory that is to come. We talked about having “redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,” and we talked about Paul preaching “among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.” Both of those riches empowers us from within knowing the sureness of our salvation, and knowing that the unsearchable riches of Christ, which can not be found in the OT, is also a warehouse of riches and glory so vast it cannot ever be inventoried. We’re empowered by those sound doctrines of grace, which is why it’s “according to the riches of his glory” that we can be “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” It’s an inevitability as a child of God, as being part of His inheritances in the saints that we would be, through the study of His Word, have a strengthened inner man that no one else can have! And we have “the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus”, the empowering doctrine of God’s eternal purpose, God using us to glorify His Son for all eternity, God making known to the entire universe His glory, the exceeding riches of His grace, through and in His masterpiece, the church today.
Power that Worketh in Us
Having considered everything, let’s look at the power the worketh in us.
Eph 3:14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph 3:15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, Eph 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; Eph 3:17That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, Eph 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Eph 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Eph 3:21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
So Paul says here “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” What is that exactly? What can God DO now through all of us that is exceeding abundantly above all we may ask or think? I think that is intricately linked to the next phrase in the verse, “the power that worketh in us.” What can be accomplished is linked to the power. Well, what is that power doing within us? To accomplish what exactly? Everything Paul lists in the 4 previous verses. Eph 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; Eph 3:17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, Eph 3:18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; Eph 3:19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. I think that what God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all we may conceive can be found within context in those previous verses. We can be strengthened with might by His Spirit exceeding abundantly, Christ can dwell in our hearts by faith exceeding abundantly, rooted and grounded in love exceeding abundantly, we can comprehend the love of Christ exceeding abundantly, and finally, we can be filled with all the fullness of God EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY. Filled with all the fullness of God. My life verse.
We CAN be filled with all the fullness of God, which is to reach the full measure of Christ’s resurrection life right here, right now - filled with the fullness of God the Father Himself inside of our souls, fortified in our souls forever. We can know Him so fully and so deeply we can be filled with the full influence of the Father Himself and then we become just like His Son. What’s the result? When you’ve reached that level of spiritual maturity, you can be strengthened with all might in the inner man, completely rooted and grounded in love. You can comprehend the incomprehensible, which is the love of Christ. You can be so full of the Father and His will and wisdom as to be filled in abundance with all the attributes of Christ and all the fruits of the Spirit. You can endure all suffering with joy. You can be filled with all the fullness of God, and you can say, as Paul said in Php 4:13, that you can “do all things through Christ which strengeneth me.”
It’s God’s desire that you would be filled with all the fullness of Him to a degree that’s exceeding abundantly, according to the exceeding riches of His grace carried out by the exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe to accomplish above all that we ask or think exceeding abundantly.
Let’s come back full circle to where we started. How did the power of God help Paul endure all the sufferings of His life? Our first encounter with the power of God is when we hear the gospel, good news that embodies the highest wisdom of God Himself, that leads us all back to a loving relationship with God and our eternal life with Him. There is power in that message because that message can spiritually transform one’s soul from death to life, from being dead in Adam to being alive in Christ, a completely new creature, behold all things new! Another aspect of God’s power in us that enables us to endure suffering is the fact that we are living His Son’s resurrection life in the here and now because of our identification with what Christ accomplished at Calvary. And these truths aren’t meant to give us an assurance of our own resurrection after death, but these truths are meant to assure us of the resurrection life we already possess right now because of our identification with Christ. Just as God demonstrated to Israel forever His power in His deliverance from the Egyptians when He freed them and parted the red sea, so too, God demonstrated to us forever His power in our deliverance from the condemnation and the bondage of sin, the power to turn us into new creatures with a new life, and He demonstrated that power in the resurrection of His only begotten Son. We’re empowered because the Son of God is our life. We’re empowered because of the endless riches we possess being a child of God. We’re empowered because His riches enables us to be strengthened with might by His Spirit exceeding abundantly. His riches enables Christ to dwell in our hearts by faith exceeding abundantly, rooted and grounded in love exceeding abundantly, comprehending the love of Christ exceeding abundantly, and finally, His riches enables us be filled with all the fullness of God EXCEEDING ABUNDANTLY. This is where doctrine becomes application. Because the now question becomes – how do you see yourself? Do you look up at the Lord in tears and regret through the eyes of the old man, or do you look down upon yourself through the eyes of the new man, seeing yourself as God sees you in His Son, complete in Him, perfectly righteous, because the day you become empowered to endure suffering like Paul is that you see yourself as God sees you. The day you’ve reckoned as true everything you are in Christ, is that day you can finally begin to appropriate all the power that’s already yours in Him.