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The Power

The Verdict / John Munro
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September 26, 2022 11:48 am

The Power

The Verdict / John Munro

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September 26, 2022 11:48 am

Dr. John H. Munro September 25, 2022 Ephesians 1:15-23

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Let me ask you to open your Bibles to Ephesians, Ephesians chapter 1. In these evening messages, we're looking at Ephesians under the title, the general title, Our Great Salvation. And a couple of weeks ago from the opening 14 verses of chapter 1, we learned of the plan of our great salvation. And if you are an authentic follower of Jesus Christ, I want you to take very personally what I'm about to say. If you are truly saved before the foundation of the world, God the Father chose you.

Think of that. And God the Son implemented that wonderful plan of salvation, and He did so by redeeming you with His own blood. Furthermore, God the Holy Spirit applied that salvation to you individually. And so you were sealed by the Holy Spirit, and that guaranteed your salvation.

It guaranteed your future inheritance. And so these first 14 verses of Ephesians 1 are a great doxology. This great salvation, Paul says, it is to the praise of His glorious grace, to the praise of His glory. And as we read these 14 verses and as you reflected on them, I trust you felt like bursting out into a song of praise.

I'm not much of a singer, but I felt like doing that. More importantly than just singing, I trust our lives are being transformed by the work of the triune God in you. You realize that? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit were all involved, are all involved in this so great salvation. And now, as we come to verses 15 to 23 this evening, I want us to understand that the Christian life, you might say the doctrines of the faith, they're certainly to be understood. Some of it is difficult as we saw a couple of weeks ago, but these truths are also to be personally experienced.

That is, they're not just to be left to a kind of theological theory, to articles of faith, to doctrines that we talk about and perhaps even argue about, but rather these doctrines, these great truths that Paul has presented regarding our great salvation are to be personally appropriated and worked into our personal lives. You'll remember that God promised Israel the land. It is called the promised land. But although that land was promised to Israel, before the Israelites could enjoy the land, the Lord told their leaders that they had to tread on it.

Their foot had to be on it. It wasn't enough just to claim the promise, they in fact had to personally possess the land, to tread on it, and in that way to enjoy it and experience it. In a similar way, these truths that we've been thinking about are to be experienced by us. We are to live in the good of these great spiritual blessings. I know some people think that doctrine is not practical, but that's totally to misunderstand Scripture. Doctrine is about God.

Doctrine is about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It's about salvation. And if you profess to love God, as I suggest when if you do this evening, you have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. These blessings have to be understood, but now they have to be worked out in our lives. And that brings us to verses 15 through 23. This is Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, and this is my prayer for you.

I heard during the week that there is a pastor, this is incredible, as I say to good neon in America. She's charging for a month's course in prayer $1,499. You can sign up for a course on prayer if you pay $1,499.

Is this true? If you sign up, you get a tote bag, you get a binder, you get a prayer shawl, you get anointing oil, and then when you finish the course, you get a certificate of completion. All for $1,499. Well, my lesson on prayer, can I say it's God's lesson on prayer, is totally free. I taught the membership class, we gave people a binder, we gave them notes, we took their photo, and we don't charge. So I thought it's remarkable, isn't it?

And people will sign up for this. She claims that she can take you to a different level of prayer, all for $1,499. And you get a tote bag, the binder, the prayer shawl, the anointing oil, and the certificate of completion. You wonder what the Apostle Paul would have said, right?

He didn't even claim anything as an apostle. So here is Paul's prayer, and this is, in all seriousness, this is my prayer for you, and I trust it's your prayer for yourself. Wonderful prayer. For this reason, he says, because I've heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him, having the eyes of your heart enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His great might, that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.

Verse 22, and He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Paul's prayer for the Ephesians, notice how different it is from often our prayer for others. Our prayers for others tend to be very materialistic. We pray for their prosperity. We pray that they sell a house or buy a house. We pray for health matters.

We pray for all kinds of things, but often the very spiritual is secondary. Not so with Paul. Paul, first of all, in verses 15 and 16, he's giving thanks for the Ephesians. He begins for this reason or therefore in some translations, and that takes us back to the opening verses where Paul has emphasized our security and our blessings, and they are anchored in the great salvation in the triune God. Paul is thanking God for their salvation and also because he's heard of their faith, did you notice this in verse 15, and your love toward all the saints. Paul praises God, not only for the Ephesians' positions in Christ, but for their spiritual progress. That's important, isn't it? That we who are following Jesus Christ, we make progress. You're learning a sport, you're learning a musical instrument, you're learning a new program on your computer at work, and we expect progress, don't we? In the spiritual life, God expects us to make progress.

And notice this. He says, I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all of the saints. The evidence of their faith in the triune God is demonstrated in their love for all the saints. Love for others is central to the message of the Christian faith.

Love for others. Remember Jesus' words in John chapter 13, verse 34, he says, a new commandment I give to you that you love one another. You say that was not a new commandment, we're told that in the Old Testament.

But listen to this. A new commandment I give to you that you love one another just as I have loved you. Think of the love of Jesus to his disciples.

So you are to love one another. By this, all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another. This is the overwhelming characteristic of the follower of Jesus Christ, that we love other people. First we love God, then we love others. Certainly we love our fellow believers, those who are in the family of God. If you have children, you love your children especially. Yes, your love overflows to the neighbor's children, to other members of your family, but you have a special love for your own children. We have a special love for the people of God, but that love is not confined to them but overflows to others.

A love which seeks the highest good of others. Do you think, I wonder, the Apostle Paul was writing to the believers at Calvary Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, if he would say that he had heard of our faith in the Lord Jesus and their love towards all of the saints. What do you think? He said, well I could do with people loving me more. That's not the issue.

The issue is you. Do you love your brothers and sisters at Calvary? Do you? Do you love the people that you serve with in ministry? Do you love your people in your life group? Do you have a love for others?

True faith in Christ makes a difference, doesn't it? If you say you love God, you must also love your brothers. 1 John 4, how can you love God who you have not seen if you don't love your brothers who you have seen?

So we are to love others. Now, in verse 17 and follow, Paul's prayer is that God gives the Ephesians great spiritual insight. He focuses on God giving these believers in Ephesus spiritual wisdom and understanding. He says here that God, the Father of glory, may give you, verse 17, the Spirit, I would suggest capital S as we have in the ESV, gives you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. Now, they already have the Holy Spirit, but Paul is praying that they have a deeper understanding of spiritual truth. They are living in a pagan city.

They are a persecuted people. So Paul is praying that they will be characterized by wise living and insight, and that this wisdom and insight is grounded in knowing Jesus Christ. That is central in the knowledge of Him. When we come to Christ, we know Him, but this is a living, personal relationship, and we are to grow in our knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Just as when you meet someone and you fall in love with them and you marry them and you live with them, you know them, but you realize that you are to grow in your knowledge of them. If you love that person, you seek to know them more. You listen to them. You commune with them.

You interact with them. Paul says in Colossians 2, verse 3, regarding Christ and whom are hidden, whom are hidden, all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. We have an all-wise God, and now Paul is telling us we are in Christ, and we are to grow in our knowledge of Christ. I have to ask you, do you know Christ personally? Do you know Jesus Christ?

Not about Him, but do you know Him? We can only know Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit opening our eyes. Left ourselves, we would never know Christ. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1, verse 21, for since in the wisdom of God the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. No, left ourselves, we do not know God.

You may be very intellectual. You may be the most intelligent person in North Carolina, but apart from divine illumination, you will not know God. You will not know Christ. No, this Gospel that Paul is presenting, the work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, it is, look back to verse 13, it is to be believed. When you heard the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation, what did the Ephesians do? They believed in Him.

They responded to Him. Verse 15, it talks about your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. All of the work of the triune God is no good to us unless there is a personal relationship between us and God. John Calvin begins the third book of his institutes in this way. He says, we must understand, here is John Calvin writing the beginning of the 15th century in his 20s, mark it, we must understand that as long as Christ remains outside of us and we are separated from Him, all that He has suffered and done for the salvation of the human race remains useless and of no value for us. Therefore, to share with us what He has received from the Father, He had to become ours and to dwell within us.

And for this reason, He's called our head. Luther said the same thing, that salvation is outside of us. The world tells you that the answer to your problems are found within you. The path of enlightenment is within you. Psychotherapy tells you that the secret for solving your problem lies within you.

I'm going to guide you in unearthing the secret within you. That's the opposite of the Gospel. The Gospel is left to yourself, you cannot know God. But God has done a marvelous thing, a wonderful thing. He so loved us that He sends His Son to come into our world. And how am I going to benefit from this so great salvation that God has provided, that God takes the initiative, that God acts, that Jesus comes to seek and to save the lost. I am to believe, I'm to respond, I'm to embrace Christ. And now, as Paul has told us, now I am in Christ, and He is in me.

There is this personal, more than a connection, indissoluble bond, an unbreakable bond between Christ and the believer. But now that I am saved, I am to grow in my knowledge of God. He may give you, verse 17, again, the spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. Peter puts it at the end of his second epistle, we are to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You're doing that, you're growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is not praying that the Ephesians have more spiritual blessings, that they go to a seminar and pay $1,499 and they get told how to go up to a higher level. He's not praying that at all. He's also not praying that they will receive the Holy Spirit. They've already received the Holy Spirit. They have already, chapter 1, verse 3, they have already been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

You can't get any more than that. Think of the wonder of all of the benefits of salvation come to us. No, they are to be appropriated. I am chosen, I'm redeemed, I'm sealed with the Holy Spirit. I have already been enlightened. It's better therefore, although some disagree in verse 18, having the eyes of your heart enlightened.

That's for the grammarian, that's a perfect participle. And it's better to say that they have been enlightened. When are we enlightened? At the moment of salvation. This is illumination.

The light goes on. Our eyes are enlightened. And since our eyes are enlightened at salvation, Paul is praying that they will have a deeper insight into God's purposes.

Membership class earlier today, as I was teaching it, we're talking about the way of salvation. That takes divine illumination, doesn't it? We're talking about the Word of God. To understand the Word of God, it takes divine illumination.

Read with me in 1 Corinthians, chapter 2. You ever speak to people and they don't understand the gospel? What's the problem? Intellectual problem?

No, the problem isn't an intellectual problem. The problem is a spiritual problem. They're in spiritual darkness.

And if you're in darkness, what you need is light. 1 Corinthians 2, verse 12, now we have received not the Spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given to us by God. The implication is if you haven't received the Spirit, you will not understand the things of God. You may understand them intellectually, but there is no divine illumination. Verse 14, the natural person, unbeliever, does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he's not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.

Spiritual darkness. I remember meeting week after week after week with an attorney who was a self-professed unbeliever, but he was seeking and he had all kinds of questions. We met on a Sunday, on a Monday evening. He would come to my office after work and he had all kinds of questions. The authority of the Bible, how do we know Jesus is God, and so on and so forth, and so on and so forth.

All of these questions. And of course, I asked him to do what you must do when people come with questions. I asked him to read this book. I said, I'll try and answer all of the questions you have, but you must start reading the Scriptures.

Oh yeah. So, I got him to read the book of John. He came and said, well, I've read it. I said, well, read it again. Came back, I've read it again.

All right? I'm going to give you something a little more difficult to read. The book of Romans. It's written by a lawyer. He sets out his case very logically, so you should be able to understand it better than most.

He starts reading it. And he's still full with all kinds of questions. He tried to tell me he wasn't a sinner. I said to him, listen, you're a lawyer, of course you're a sinner. And then, one day he came to my office and he told me, as he was reading Scripture, he had come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. And I said to him, but what about all of your questions? He said, I say, totally different, John.

What happened? Were all of his questions answered? No. You have questions and I have questions about Scripture, theology, God, the mystery of God that are not answered. No, it wasn't the fact that all of his questions were answered. It wasn't the fact that I had been able to persuade him through logic or persuasion or trying to answer his questions, although I did that.

What had happened? The Spirit of God had given him illumination. And he read the Bible totally different. And he understood this is a living book, and now he had gone from darkness into light. Now, most of you here would claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.

It's a wonderful thing, isn't it? To pass from death into life, from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love, as Paul says in Colossians 1. But we are to grow.

We are to possess the land. And this personal knowledge of God is available to every believer in Christ. And increasing illumination is one of the spiritual blessings that we have in Christ, in that the more you read of this book, the more you understand it, and the more you read, one part of the Bible helps you to understand another. These truths are not just to be understood in their head, they are, but they are to be grasped, they are to be experienced, they are to be worked out in our life. Paul prays a very similar prayer in Colossians chapter 1 to the one we've just read, Colossians 1 verse 9.

Here's to the Colossians, very similar. He says, from the day we heard, we've not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God. That's a prayer you should be praying for yourself. That's a prayer we should be praying for one another, that we have spiritual wisdom, that we're walking in a manner that I'm living life in a way that is bringing glory to God, I'm pleasing God, my life is fruitful, and I'm increasing in the knowledge of God. Now this spiritual enlightenment results in three things. First of all, verse 18, it is the hope to which God has called us, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened.

First of all, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you. Think of our calling. We're blessed with every spiritual blessing. We're chosen before the foundation of the world. We're predestined for adoption to Himself as sons. We're redeemed through His blood.

We're forgiven. We're lavished with His grace. We're sealed with the Holy Spirit. This is the hope to which He's called us. But this hope is to be grasped more firmly.

I'm to rejoice in it and meditate it and live it out in my life. And here we have Paul's, one of his favorite triads, faith, love, and hope. Faith and love are in verse 15, and now in verse 18 he has hope. Hope for the believer is a sure and certain confidence of the future. That confidence comes from knowing the faithfulness of God to deliver on His promises, to the certainty of God's purposes being fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

We know we're on the winning side. God is faithful. What He's promised, He will deliver on. That is our hope. To go back to verse 10 of chapter 1, he says, this plan for the fullness of time to unite all things in Him, things in heaven, and things on earth. Think of that.

God is going to unite everything in the person of His beloved Son. That's the hope to which we are called. That gives us certainty. That gives us security.

That stops us panicking in a crazy world. That's the first. The second is the riches of His glorious inheritance. Again, verse 18, having the eyes of your heart enlightened.

First, that you may know what is the hope to which He has called you. Secondly, what are the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints? We, the people of God, have a future inheritance.

He's mentioned that in verse 11. In Him, we have obtained an inheritance. He mentions it in verse 14, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.

So we have this inheritance. But I think Paul is emphasizing that we are God's inheritance. Peter says, we are a people for His own possession.

God, can we say it this way? God is wealthy because of the people of God. Jew and Gentile are God's treasured possession.

We've been bought with a price. We belong to God. We are His treasured possession. We are His inheritance purchased by God, precious to God, and will be fully realized when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. We have this magnificent future, this inheritance, and we are God's inheritance. Third, the greatness of God's power available to us.

Verse 19, was he praying? Having the eyes of your heart enlightened. First, the hope to which God has called you. Secondly, the riches of His glorious inheritance. Third, he says, what is the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe? You see that word, immeasurable? He uses it three times in Ephesians. It's used here regarding the immeasurable power. Chapter 2, verse 7, it's used the immeasurable riches of His grace.

It's used in chapter 3, verse 19, to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. We have immeasurable power. We have immeasurable grace. We have immeasurable love.

This is God blessing His people. Now, what about this power which is at work towards us who believe or in us who believe? Well, we can say that our salvation depends entirely on the abundant power of God, in electing us, in redeeming us, in sealing us. If we doubted God's power, our salvation would be in jeopardy. We were discussing the membership class this morning about eternal security.

There's always questions about that. How can we be sure that we won't lose our salvation? Well, it's not because we're wonderful people, but it's because we have a wonderful, strong God that I am held by Christ, the Son. I'm held by God the Father. The Son and the Father are one, and I will never perish. My future salvation is absolutely guaranteed because God's power is immeasurably great, and this immeasurable power is available to us who believe. Now, how do we know that God is powerful? Paul tells us, notice verse 19, what is the immeasurable greatness of His power towards us who believe, according to the working of His great might, that He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead. Is God powerful?

Yes. Our Lord Jesus Christ is in the grave, and He is raised from the dead. Not only raised from the dead, but exalted over all powers and authorities for all time and eternity. Now, He worked in Christ, verse 20, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and above every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things under His feet, gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Now, that's power.

That's immeasurable power. Not only is this great power of God manifested through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, our Lord Jesus is seated at the Father's right hand in the heavenly places. He's seated in a position, Paul is saying, of authority over all hostile powers and authorities. Everything is subordinated to Jesus Christ. The resurrection emphasizes that Christ is alive forevermore. His ascension to the Father's right hand emphasizes that He reigns forevermore.

There is no higher authority, no higher name in all of the universe. We're mourning the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, who was queen for over 70 years, but she is queen no more. There's another monarch now in the United Kingdom, King Charles III. This monarch, our Lord Jesus Christ, has a universal reign. He will never die.

He will never, as it were, come off the throne. He has universal sovereignty, and therefore we have nothing to fear as Christ rules over everything. Verse 21, over all rule and authority and power and dominion, these are cosmic forces of darkness, and He rules over them.

Go over to chapter 6, verse 2. We as believers, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil, in the heavenly places. Oh, we are in the heavenly places, but in the heavenly places, the spiritual realm, there are also forces of darkness. There is Satan.

There are his demons. There is a spiritual warfare going on, and we as followers of Jesus Christ need not fear. We are, verse 10, to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

Why? My Lord Jesus Christ has risen, and He has put all of these under His feet. All of these are under His sovereign control, and this power, this power that raised Christ from the dead, this power which exalted our Lord Jesus Christ, Paul is saying in this magnificent passage that it is now available to us the measurable greatness of His power towards us who believe, verse 19. Why is it that we as Christians sometimes live in such fearful, anxious lives? And we're worried. We look out at the world.

Here is Russia threatening nuclear power. We think of the problems of Iran. We think of inflation.

Here in the United States, here in Western Europe, our economies are in a mess, aren't they? And we're sometimes nervous, and we sometimes wonder what's going to happen. No need to wonder.

No need to be afraid. Christ has it all under His control. We as followers of Jesus Christ have the power of Almighty God at our disposal. And furthermore, this power is demonstrated, verse 22, in the Father giving His Son to the church with the result that the church is His body and is made complete in Christ. Calvary Church is a local manifestation of the universal church. Who is the head of the church?

Our Lord Jesus Christ. As the head of the church, He has universal authority. Good to remember, brothers and sisters, that the head of the church is Jesus Christ. His will is to be obeyed.

Your personal preferences and mine are absolutely nothing to do with it at all. This is Christ's church. He is in charge. We follow Him. We seek to glorify Him. And Paul is saying, just as the tabernacle of God, remember it was filled when it was completed, it was filled with the glory of God.

So Christ, in whom the whole fullness of deity dwells in bodily form, so Christ fills the church with His grace, with His power, and with His authority. And this immeasurable power is at work in us. Some of you, in referring to the message this morning, said, well, you know, I really struggle with envy or pride, some of these other sins.

Yes, welcome to the human race. But think of the power available to you as you seek to live a life pleasing to God. Think of the wisdom available to you as you seek to navigate life, as you seek to make decisions, as you seek to live a life pleasing to God. This power is at work in our lives, that our Lord Jesus Christ is alive, and is alive forevermore.

His rule is universal. No one will ever overthrow Him, and we are His body, the church. There is a glorious relationship of intimacy, and that Christ rules over all. And it's only said of the church, verse 23, that the fullness of Him who fills all in all, with Christ's grace and His gifts and His power and His Spirit, the church is His fullness, that the church is unique in the outworking of the purposes of God. And the power that raised Jesus from the dead is available to us. Christ is the head, the source, the very center of the life of the church. All that is Christ's is now ours. He is in us, and we are in Him.

What am I to do? I'm to trust Him. I'm to obey Him. I'm to submit to Him. I'm to bow to Him. I am to be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.

No, don't go it alone. Don't think you're wiser than God. Don't look to the world for wisdom.

Don't think that you can do battle against the enemy on your own. No, there is this wonderful bond between Christ and His people, and I'm to understand and experience my great salvation. I'm to draw on that power and that wisdom with that vital and indissoluble bond between Christ and us. Today, be strong in the Lord.

Bow to His authority. Live for the praise of His glorious grace. Repent of any selfishness and thinking that you can do things apart from Christ. All of the benefits of Christ come to us. That which once was outside of us when we're unbelievers has now come to us, that we have the fullness of Christ to live for, to surrender to, and to obey Him. And one of the ways we obey Him is by doing what we're going to do, is to break bread. It's a command of the Lord, and I'm delighted that you, my brothers and sisters, are gathered here, and we can, in this simple way, take this bread and take this cup and be reminded of the wonder of our salvation, and once again surrender our lives to Christ, and ask for His strength, for His wisdom, for His guidance, for His blessing, all for His glory. Help us to do that, Father. Thank you for this passage. We feel that we're just dabbling in the very shallows of it, but thank you for the illumination which your Spirit gives us, and now we humble ourselves as we rejoice in the power of the cross and come to the table of the Lord, how we praise you and thank you for this so great salvation, in Christ's precious name. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-08 09:36:23 / 2023-01-08 09:49:56 / 14

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