Our lives as Christians are not to be lived from our own strength, wisdom, or resource; rather, our lives are to the vessels through which God can showcase His indescribable power and life through.

In this expositional message from Ephesians 3:20, Nathan Johnson talks about God’s power which empowers us to live the impossible Christian life.

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Key Passage: Ephesians 3:20

Ephesians 3:14-21 – 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 may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more 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.

A Simple Bible Study Resource

The Power that Empowers

  • … according to the power that works within us …
  • Ephesians 1:19 – [Paul’s first prayer] and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working [energeia – noun] of the strength of His might
    • POWER: dynamis – power, might, strength, force, ability, mighty deed, miracle
      • power to do it, strength to perform, ability to accomplish
      • dynamite, dynamic 
      • 119x in NT
      • 563x in OT (army, war, valiantly, Lord of HOSTS, power, strength)
      • Often referring to : an army, a mighty host of soldiers, the power of a nation, the strength of a kingdom
  • God continually tells His people to “be strong”:
    • Joshua 1:6-7, 9 [God to Joshua] – “Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. … Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
    • Deuteronomy 31:6 [Moses to Israelites] – “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”
    • Moses
    • Joshua
    • David
    • Solomon
    • Psalms
    • Paul picks up the theme and exhorts the church:
      • 1 Corinthians 16:13 – Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.
      • Ephesians 6:10 – Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
      • 2 Timothy 2:1 – You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

» God is our strength

  • Psalm 46:1 – God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.
  • LORD of Hosts
    • Jehovah and Elohim occur with Sabaoth over 285 times.
      • Sabaoth (se bâ’ôt) means “armies” or “hosts.” 
      • Jehovah Sabaoth can be translated as “The Lord of Armies” (1 Samuel 1:3). 
    • Isaiah 6:5 – Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.”
    • Psalm 24:7-10 – Lift up your heads, O gates, And be lifted up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is the King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O gates, And lift them up, O ancient doors, That the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah.
    • Psalm 80:18-19 – Then we shall not turn back from You; Revive us, and we will call upon Your name. O LORD God of hosts, restore us; Cause Your face to shine upon us, and we will be saved.
    • Zechariah 1:3 – “Therefore say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Return to Me,” declares the LORD of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the LORD of hosts.
    • 1 Samuel 17:44-47 – The Philistine also said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the sky and the beasts of the field.” Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the LORD will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the LORD’S and He will give you into our hands.”
  • The LORD of Hosts, the God of armies and strength, who has called us to be strong … has come to indwell us and be our strength
    • 2 Peter 1:3–4 – seeing that His divine power [dynamis] has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
      • Victory, triumph, freedom, peace, joy, purity

Not Your Strength but His

  • David measures his strength
    • 2 Samuel 24:2-4, 9-10 – The king said to Joab the commander of the army who was with him, “Go about now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and register the people, that I may know the number of the people.” But Joab said to the king, “Now may the LORD your God add to the people a hundred times as many as they are, while the eyes of my lord the king still see; but why does my lord the king delight in this thing?” Nevertheless, the king’s word prevailed against Joab and against the commanders of the army. So Joab and the commanders of the army went out from the presence of the king to register the people of Israel. … And Joab gave the number of the registration of the people to the king; and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant [dynamis] men who drew the sword, and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men. Now David’s heart troubled him after he had numbered the people. So David said to the LORD, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O LORD, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”
    • 2 Samuel 22:31-40 – “As for God, His way is blameless; The word of the LORD is tested; He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him. For who is God, besides the LORD? And who is a rock, besides our God? God is my strong fortress [ὁ ἰσχυρὸς ὁ κραταιῶν με δυνάμει – ischys, kratos, dynamis]; And He sets the blameless in His way. He makes my feet like hinds’ feet, And sets me on my high places. He trains my hands for battle, So that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have also given me the shield of Your salvation, And Your help makes me great. You enlarge my steps under me, And my feet have not slipped. I pursued my enemies and destroyed them, And I did not turn back until they were consumed. And I have devoured them and shattered them, so that they did not rise; And they fell under my feet. For You have girded me with strength [dynamis] for battle; You have subdued under me those who rose up against me.”
  • How often we too turn from heavenly strength (power/grace) to earthly strength/power (self-effort)
    • Bank account, wisdom, success, physical strength, food in pantry, etc
  • 2 Timothy 3:1–5 – But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.
  • Ian Thomas – “The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus Christ, and if your life as a Christian can still be explained in terms of you – your personality, your willpower, your gift, your talent, your money, your courage, your scholarship, your dedication, your sacrifice, or your anything – than although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … It has got to become obvious to others that the kind of life you are living is … beyond all human explanation!”
  • Luke 24:49 – And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.
  • Acts 1:8 – but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
  • Acts 3:12 – But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety [holiness] we had made him walk?
  • Acts 4:33 – And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.
  • Acts 6:8 – And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people.
  • » Not you but Him (boasting in weakness)
    • 2 Corinthians 12:7–10 – Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power [dynamis] is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power [dynamis] of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong [dynatos-adj].

Living by the Enabling Grace of God

» What is the power that works within us?

  • God Himself via the indwelling Holy Spirit … “grace”
  • Grace: the strength of God’s almighty power within us
  • Scripture says God’s grace was given …
    • that we might labor more abundantly
    • that we may have sufficiency in all things
    • that we may abound to every good work
    • for obedience to the faith
    • as power for witnessing of the Resurrection of Jesus
    • in order that we may lay foundations
    • for preaching among the Gentiles
    • as our means of help in time of need
    • whereby we may serve God acceptably
    • to make us perfect  
    • to establish us
    • to strengthen us
    • to settle us
    • to save us
    • to enable others to believe in Jesus Christ
  • Ephesians 1:7b-8 – … according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us. 
  • You have been supplied everything you need to live the imposible Christian life
  • 1 Corinthians 4:20 – For the kingdom of God does not consist in words but in power (dynamis).
  • 2 Corinthians 4:7 – But we have this treasure in earthen vessels [cracked pots], so that the surpassing greatness (hyperbolē) of the power (dynamis) will be of God and not from ourselves …
  • Colossians 1:29 – For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power (dynamis), which mightily works (energeō) within me.

In Our Next Study Together …

I invite you to join me on this journey from the book of Ephesians to discover God’s eternal purpose, His plan for your life, and learn how to practically live out an abundant and fruitful Christian life. 

  • The focus of our next study: Ephesians 3:21
  • We will begin to look at the glory of God that Paul talks about in Ephesians 3:21.
  • I encourage you to read through Ephesians a couple of times this week and focus specifically on Ephesians 3:14-21.

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About The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series

The Deeper Christian Bible Study Series in Ephesians is a Christ-centered practical in-depth verse-by-verse study of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Join NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) as he expositionally preaches from this incredible book – which will help you grow in your faith, gain greater intimacy with Jesus, and understand how to study God’s Word.

Many Christians feel frustrated because they don’t grow spiritually. Deeper Christian equips Christians to understand the Word of God and cultivate a passionate love for Jesus that turns the world upside down.

About NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson)

NRJohnson (Nathan Johnson) is a Christian who has an overwhelming passion for Jesus, the Gospel, and Studying God’s Word. He is a writer, teacher, and communicator who helps Christians discover and experience a passionate love for God and His Word so that they can grow in their faith, live victorious lives, share the Gospel boldly, grow in their intimacy with Jesus, and transform the world through the indwelling life of Christ.
Read more about him here.

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