Paul is attempting the seemingly impossible – trying to put words to describe God’s power. In the midst of his prayer for the believers in Ephesus (see Part One), Paul begins to explain what that power is like (see Part Two). As he concludes using four different Greek words for power in Ephesians 1.19, he steps back and gives two illustrations of the power of God demonstrated in the world (see Part Three). It is as we take this overarching view of the two illustrations that three ideas or concepts come forth that give greater clarity to God’s power. Let’s take a look at the first concept.
If you have not already done so, I highly encourage you to read the previous studies leading up to this one. The context is important to grasp the truth contained herein. Especially of importance is Part Three as it sets the framework for the three ideas/concepts that flow out of the two examples of God’s power.
The Power of God is NOT Weak
God’s power is anything but weak. There is nothing greater or more powerful than Him! Take a look at these verses from Psalms that highlight this truth:
Psalm 62.11: God has spoken once, Twice I have heard this: That power belongs to God.
Psalm 65.6 – [He] established the mountains by His strength, Being clothed with power;
Psalm 68.34-35 – Ascribe strength to God; His excellence is over Israel, And His strength is in the clouds. O God, You are more awesome than Your holy places. The God of Israel is He who gives strength and power to His people. Blessed be God!
Psalm 106.8 – Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, That He might make His mighty power known.
Psalm 147.5 – Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite.
The Psalmist declares that our God is clothed in power! Our God is NOT weak! He is mighty and valiant and strong and infinite. Nothing can stand against Him, nothing can overpower Him, no one can twist His arm behind His back – for our God possesses all the power there is. Any power that another holds is only because God has given it to them.
Well, you ask, if this power is so mighty, what is it able to accomplish? Well Paul explains: Jesus was deader than a doornail and God literally reaches into death itself and demonstrates His power by raising Jesus from the dead! Woo hoo! That is some mighty power! I’ve said it before but we have so often glossed over this in Sunday School that we have lost the incredible emphasis of God’s power. This is an incredible demonstration of the power God! But if that wasn’t enough, God then grabs Jesus and sits Him at His own right hand in the heavenly places. THEN God places all things under the feet of Jesus – all principality, all power, all might, all dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come (Ephesians 1.21). To top it off, He puts Christ as the head of the church.
What a mighty explosion demonstration the power of God! But Paul turns around and says, let me give you yet another example showing that the power of God is NOT weak. You.
You were deader than a doornail, not physically mind you, but spiritually. Just as the man in the morgue is lifeless, so you were spiritually. Yet in the midst of your deadness, God, in His mighty power, reaches into spiritual death itself through the cross, and plucks you from death into life! If that wasn’t enough (which it certainly is), He then takes you and has you sit IN CHRIST at God’s own right hand in the heavenly realms! Which means the position Jesus has, we now have too because we are IN HIM. All that is under His feet is now under our feet. The triumph He has, He becomes that in our life. We no longer have to live in sin and defeat! He now can live our life the way it was meant to be lived – a demonstration of His workmanship! Hallelujah!
Our God’s power is NOT weak – He is able to perform in you all that He has promised.
God is Interested in Intimacy and Dependency
We don’t have time to go into an in depth study on the concept of “right” throughout the Bible but suffice it to say that the right side is exceedingly important Scripturally (we will be looking at this idea more in a later study). The right side is often associated with strength, power, authority, and rule. To be on someone’s right hand is a symbol that you are weaker than they are and are thus relying upon their strength. Interestingly, as Jesus sits on the right hand of the Father, it is not a symbol of weakness but a sign of strength.
But it is within this position on the right side that the idea of intimacy and dependency comes forth. When a lovely lady marries a handsome gentleman they turn to walk down the aisle and she grabs hold of his right arm. She takes her side of weakness (left) and leans upon the side of his strength – symbolizing that she is relying upon his strength, power, and goodness. Not only is it a symbol of dependency but also of intimacy and close embrace.
Jesus is dependent upon the Father. Jesus said several times that He spoke no words, did no actions except that which the Father was doing in and through Him. In essence, the life of Jesus was sourced by the Father – and Jesus was completely dependent upon the Father. But not only was Jesus dependent, He was intimate with the Father – resting His head (if you will) upon the Father in a close embrace of intimacy. So we (the Bride of Christ) are to be with Jesus. We are to be dependent (sourced) by Jesus for every word we speak and every action that comes out of our lives (it is to be Him not us). And we are to embrace Jesus as He embraced the Father – in close intimacy and oneness.
We are sitting at the right hand of the Father IN CHRIST – do we have that dependency and intimacy with Him?
The Focus is On God
The third idea that presents itself through Paul’s two examples of God’s power is that the entire focus is upon God, not you. You may be the vessel through which He uses and demonstrates His power, but the focus is never upon the vessel but upon Him who is using the vessel. If you meet an author, you don’t congratulate the pen he uses, rather you praise the author himself. Likewise, we are but a pen in the hand of God and thus the focus of our lives is never upon us but upon Him. Each and every demonstration He produces in and through us should not point to us but draw the attention of everyone to Jesus. Again, we are merely the vessel through which He pours Himself through.
One of my favorite quotes if from Ian Thomas, who said:
The Christian life can be explained only in terms of Jesus, 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 – then although you may have the Christian life, you are not yet living it! … True Godliness leaves the world convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the only explanation for you, is Jesus Christ.
Such is the essence of the Christian life. It is about allowing our lives to be used as a demonstration to the world that the power of God is still active and operative today. We become a billboard of the tremendous love, grace, and power of Almighty God.
Will you allow Him to do such a thing in your life?
Read the other Bible Studies in this series:
God’s Indescribable Power (Ephesians 1.19)