Have you ever experienced those moments where someone gives you a grand thought or idea and inwardly you begged for an example? In college this happens all the time. The professor begins a lecture on some “high and lofty” thought, and while it may be interesting, your mind begs the question: “Okay, but what does this have to do with me? How does this affect my life? How can I apply this in my world?” In this third part of the study on God’s Indescribable Power, Paul does just that – he gives two examples of what the power of God looks like practically.
In Bible study, context is probably the most critical thing you nail down. It has often been said that you can learn more about a verse from its context than from the words contained therein. Thus, if you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to read Part One and Part Two of this series.
Paul has been attempting to describe the indescribable – God’s power. Words fail. But he is compelled to say something so he writes that he deeply desires for us to know “what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power” (Ephesians 1.19).
If you remember from our last study (Part Two) we examined the four different Greek words Paul uses in verse 19. It is as if Paul knows we need a concrete example of what God’s ischus flowing into our lives creating a dynamite explosion looks like. So he gives us two.
The Life of Jesus
In Ephesians 1.20-23, Paul gives the life of Jesus as one example of the power of God flowing and producing a “dynamite” explosion in our world. Paul says:
… which He worked [flowed – Greek word energeo] in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His 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 age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
We who have grown up in the church seem to gloss over this important and incredible truth – Jesus died. Sure we know this intellectually, but do we realize Jesus was cold, lifeless, and gone? Deader than a doornail, food for worms, pushing up daisies is what He was. The weight of what was taking place is similar to us walking into a morgue today and pulling out a body and trying to get it to stand on its own two feet. It’s impossible you say. Exactly. And so was this situation with Jesus. He was DEAD. No wonder the disciples all thought their hopes and dreams were crushed. Why they all went their way and some took up their old profession of fishing again. Someone dead is a bit hard to prop up.
Yet in the midst of complete deadness and decay, God reaches His hand into the middle of death itself and yanks Jesus into life. Can you even imagine? One moment lifeless, the next moment Life. Paul says this is the ischus of God at work creating a dynamite explosion (dunamis). Again, the dunamis is only limited to the ability of the ischus. To bring a dead man back to life would take a mighty movement of dunamis – no problem! because our God has infinite ischus!
But life was not merely the end goal in God’s mind. Paul goes on to say that not only was Jesus yanked from death to life but He was then seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly places. But even that is not good enough. God then puts everything (all rule, all authority, all power, all dominion) underneath the feet of Jesus. He has full and complete reign over all things not only in the present but also in the age to come. And if it couldn’t get any better, He is made the head of the church, His bride.
What a tremendous demonstration of the ischus of God flowing in the life of an individual. Is God’s power limited even the slightest? Certainly not! But in case you need more proof, Paul gives us yet another example.
You and Me
If the flow of the power of God in the life of Jesus doesn’t get us stirred, perhaps Paul’s second example of the movement and flow of God’s power will. In Ephesians 2.1-10, Paul gives a second example – you and me.
And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
In near parallel fashion, the same power that reached into death itself and raised Jesus from death to life reaches into our spiritual death and plucks us from the tyranny of sin and death and brings us forth into life. Woo hoo! Here I have been a slave to sin, living in death itself, no hope at all – in that state of deadness, like the dead man in the morgue who has no hope of life swirling in his flesh again, God reaches in and yanks me into life!
In my mind, the power of God to produce life in the midst of spiritual death is even greater than bringing a dead man back to life. We have several accounts of people (Peter, Paul, etc) raising the dead, yet for God to reach into my deadness and bring me to life – I never thought it was possible. I no longer have to be a slave to sin! I no longer have to live in death! I no longer have to walk about in shackles! I am free and ALIVE! Oh what a Jesus!
If that wasn’t enough, God then reaches into our LIFE and yanks us up into the heavenly realms and has us sit IN CHRIST at His right hand! Now everything that is below the feet of Jesus is below our feet. We have a position of authority and power, not because of us or what we have done, but because we are sitting smack dab in the middle of Christ Himself. We have Life, Truth, and the Way all in Him. He is the embrace of my life!
The power of God is not some measly magical spell that sometimes produces something cool. We have a God whose power is absolutely indescribable and is literally flowing that power in and through our lives in order that we might become a demonstration (a dynamite explosion) of Him to our world! Would you grab hold and embrace Him, become deeply intimate with Him, allowing His power to flow through you as a demonstration of who He is and what He desires to do in each and every individual?
Next week we will look at three conclusions which flow out these two examples.
Read the other Bible Studies in this series:
God’s Indescribable Power (Ephesians 1.19)