Three Key Things to Pray for
September 15, 2019
“Father, we come together now to focus upon Your Word, to be washed by Your Word, to come to understand the truth that You have revealed to us that we may live today in light of eternity.
“Father, we pray that as we study, as we read, as we think through the Scriptures that we might have our confidence in You and in Your Word strengthened, that we may come to a greater understanding of the unity of Scripture, the clarity of Scripture, and the importance that we let our souls just be completely saturated with the truth of Your Word that we might live to serve You and glorify You throughout all our time on this earth.
“Father, we thank You that we have the insight of Scripture, that we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who has opened the eyes of our soul to the truth that we may come to understand it. We pray that He might continually enlighten us further to the truth of Your Word and to all that You have provided for us. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles to Ephesians 1, and we now get to the centerpiece of this second section of Ephesians 1:15–23. This focuses us on three key things that we pray for—three key things that we ought to pray for—and three key things that most Christians never think about in terms of what they pray for.
Often our priorities in prayer have to do with immediate felt needs. Our priorities in prayer have to do with a lot of health issues that people around us face, job issues, many other pressing immediate needs, and we often do not truly pray for the heart of the spiritual life of those in our families, those who are friends, and even our own spiritual life.
This focuses us on that. It is the heart of the intercessory petition that the Apostle Paul began in Ephesians 1:17. At the beginning in Ephesians 1:15–16 he talks about the fact that He does not cease making mention of them constantly talking to God about them in His prayers.
We come to this central section in Ephesians 1:15–18 where He says, I “… do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers …”
Then the next verses, to the end of the section in in Ephesians 1:23, he talks about what He is praying for. When He gets to in Ephesians 1:17, it begins with the word “that.” He’s introducing the content of His prayer.
You have another “that,” as I keep pointing out, in in Ephesians 1:18. That second word “that,” indicating purpose, is a translation of a different grammatical structure in the Greek. It’s distinguishing between His first statement, which introduces the overall purpose of His prayer and content of the prayer has to do with the Holy Spirit, Who is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation.
We’ve studied the last several weeks that although He already indwells us, this is a prayer for an enhanced ministry from this Spirit in opening up the Word to us. As we saw in our previous study, this is based on the fact that the eyes of our understanding have already been enlightened.
The perfect tense there indicates that this is what happens at the point of salvation. We looked at that last week in 1 Corinthians 2:9–14, about how the natural man or the soulless man—the one who is not regenerated—does not have the capacity to understand the things of God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 says that He is not able to do so. The soulish man, the PSUCHIKOS man, is not able to do so because it is spiritually discerned. We get that human spirit, that immaterial aspect of our nature that enables us to understand the Word of God, to store the Word of God in our souls through God the Holy Spirit, and to apply the Word of God, to have that ongoing relationship with God.
That’s what the human spirit describes: that element of our soul that enables our self-consciousness, our mentality, our volition, our conscience, to be aligned with God and to be living to glorify Him. That’s the thrust of this whole prayer.
Then he begins in Ephesians 1:18 with a second purpose. This describes three key aspects of His prayer, and they are each introduced by a relative particle in the Greek that is accurately translated as a “what,” so it’s easy to identify:
- “what is the hope of His calling,
- what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints and
- what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”
Then the verse breaks. That’s a horrible place to break the verse because it goes on to describe that the example for us of that power is the resurrection. If God is able to bring life to a physically dead corpse, give it a resurrection body and then ascension to heaven; if God is able to do all of that, then God’s ability to solve whatever little problems that we face in life—because they’re big to us, but they’re little compared to the omnipotence of God—what little problems we face are brought into perspective for us, and so it encourages us to trust in the power of God.
As we saw in Ephesians 1:17, this is the Holy Spirit Who is the One who reveals His Word to us—not in the sense of the revelation of the Scripture to the writers of Scripture—but He opens up our minds to further understanding and further application.
“Paul prays that the Spirit of God would provide increased wisdom and revelation in the area of a more in-depth knowledge of God” that actually becomes a more personal and intimate knowledge of God.”
Not just knowing facts, not just knowing theology, but going beyond that to a deeper personal relationship with God. As I asked at the end of the last message:
Is that our prayer for ourselves?
Are we taking these things and making that part of our own prayer life?
Ephesians 1:18, we read that this is possible because the Holy Spirit has already opened the eyes of our heart. We have been enlightened: that is bringing light into our dark soul.
Ephesians 1:18, it expresses these three areas, “That we may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His power which He worked in Christ Jesus when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him.”
Three things: Resurrection, ascension, and session—seated at the Right Hand in the heavenly places.
This revelation of God to us in the Church Age focuses on an understanding of what we have been called to: The initial calling is past tense, what we have been called to is future tense, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints is future tense.
And it’s based on the third aspect which is a comprehension and application to our lives of an understanding of the omnipotence of God in relation to our spiritual life and facing the details of life.
It starts off, “… that you may know …” That initial phrase “that you may know” applies to each of the three “whats,” so it’s not just “that you may know what is the hope of His calling,” but
- That you may know what is the hope of His calling,
- That you may know what is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and
- That you may know what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe.
The word that is translated “know” here—in fact this word as well as a second major word translated “know”—are very interesting words to study. And you can just read volumes of studies that have been done on these words, so I’m just going to boil it down for you.
The basic word that we find is GINOSKO. GINOSKO most often means that we come to learn something that we didn’t already know. It describes a whole range of concepts related to knowledge. That is a very simple understanding of that particular word GINOSKO.
OIDA, especially when it is used of God, indicates God’s immediate knowledge of all things, and it’s related to His omniscience. But that’s not the case when OIDA is related to the knowledge of individual believers.
As I was studying through this today, I came across an article that I had not seen before dealing with the comparison and the contrast between these particular words.
In this article, the writer says that the words of the GINOSKO group, which is translated to come to know; however, embrace the whole gamut, the whole range of knowledge from knowing things to knowing persons. “When this process results in an item or body of knowledge which may serve as a basis for further thought and action, OIDA is used.”
Now that is a rich insight that, in some cases when man is the focus of the word when OIDA is used, he doesn’t have immediate knowledge of something as God does in His omniscience. But OIDA in the perfect tense is comparable to GINOSKO in the perfect tense, and it indicates the kind of knowledge that is necessary to go further.
Whenever we’re learning things, we build more advanced concepts on more basic concepts. And we have to understand the more basic concepts before we can advance in our knowledge and in our understanding and application of these more advanced concepts.
What Paul is praying for here isn’t just that we know these three things, but that we come to fully comprehend them and implement them in our lives, so that we can continue to grow beyond that in our spiritual maturity and our spiritual growth.
The challenge that we constantly get from the Scripture is that we’re pressing on to the high calling—we will talk about that word a little later on—but we’re pressing onto the high calling of Christ. We never get there. We are running the race and we can’t quite see where the finish line is, but we know what’s beyond the finish line and that’s what motivates us. That’s what all of these concepts here in these two verses focus on is understanding that we’re living today in light of eternity.
As I often point out, somewhat facetiously, that it is good when you go into a restaurant to take a look at the dessert menu first, because if you’re going to get a dessert, maybe you want to hold off on the appetizers and other things, so that you can begin with the end in mind.
That’s what we’re doing in the spiritual life: we’re living our life today in light of the endgame. And the endgame is what takes place at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The endgame is that the results of the Judgment Seat of Christ are that which sets us up for the way we will serve the Lord in terms of various responsibilities and reigning with Him in the Millennial Kingdom and on into eternity.
When we get to eternity, this life that we experience here on the earth now is just going to be like a microscopic drop in all of the oceans of the world. It’s going to be almost imperceptible if not forgotten, eventually, by us when we’re in Heaven. So, we need to change our perspective. As my mother used to tell me when I did something that indicated I had not thought things through very well, she said you need to learn to think beyond the end of your nose.
That’s what this is talking about: we need to learn to think beyond today, tomorrow, next week, or next year. We need to learn to think in terms of eternity. So, we go through different stages of spiritual advance and spiritual growth, and that’s what Paul is talking about here.
Ephesians 1:18, he is praying that we may know first of all, the hope of His calling.
There are two words that are important to understand here. The first is the word “hope,” and the second is the word “calling.” The word “hope” is a word that focuses on the future. It is a confident expectation of what will take place in the future.
We need to learn to think beyond just the immediate physical material life on this earth—living through the various decades of our life, until the Lord takes us home. But living in light of the fact that God is training us, preparing us for a future of service with Him in the Millennial Kingdom.
The word translated “hope” here is the Greek word ELPIS, which is the common word that you will find for “hope.”
In Greek culture, just as in our culture, the word had a couple of different nuances. One of which is the idea of just a wishful expectation or wishful optimism that we hope certain things will happen. We hope the Astros will quit losing games and keep going forward to win the World Series. Some of you hope that we won’t have our annual rainout, but we will indeed have our picnic in October.
Others of you hope that someone you love and care about will survive some disease that they’re fighting right now. We might hope that we can pass a course or pass an exam or find another job or find a job, but this is all sort of wishful optimism. We don’t know for sure what is going to take place in any of these cases.
But in the Greek the idea is a confident expectation: we’re certain of it. There’s no doubt in our minds that this is exactly what is going to take place.
One of the places where ELPIS is used in the Septuagint is in Psalm 16:8–9. It’s interesting there because of the Hebrew word that is used in the original, but in the Septuagint uses ELPIS, and then the Septuagint is what is quoted in Acts 2:25–26.
David writes, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.”
The right hand is the position of power. Where is Jesus seated? At the right hand of God. Some places we have it spelled out as the right hand of power: that’s the focal point. What David is saying there is “The Lord is at my right hand. He is the power in my life, and I won’t be moved.” I won’t be shaken. I won’t be like Peter who gets his eyes on the waves and away from Jesus, and then he starts to sink into the water.
If your focus is on the Lord and He is your source of power, then you’re going to walk on the water like Peter. You’ll walk above the trials, the negative circumstances of life, and God’s the One who sustains us and keeps us afloat.
David is expressing, in other words, his confidence, his faith, his trust in God. Then he draws that conclusion in Psalm 16:9, “Therefore my heart is glad …”
“Glad” there is related to that inner happiness, that joy that the Lord Jesus Christ gives us. It is not emotion; it’s not something where you’re just giddy and happy and bouncing up and down. It is a mental attitude of stability, that even as our Lord Jesus Christ was sorrowful and grieving as He faced what was going to happen on the Cross and while He was in Gethsemane. He was dealing with all of that. It says, “He sorrowed greatly,” but He still had joy. That’s the kind of joy from the stability, tranquility, and contentment that God gives us.
It’s the result of what? Setting the Lord always before me, focusing on God as the center of our life, whether we are at work, whether we’re at recreation, whether we are enjoying time with our family or we’re just watching TV, the Lord is the focal point, He’s the center of our life. “Therefore my heart is glad—that is how we have joy: the Lord is at the center—and my glory rejoices.” That second line restates the first line, “… my heart is glad …”
“My heart” refers to the inner being, the inner person, all that we are in the center of our being. And “my glory” is parallel to that, and so he uses the word “glory” there. I’ve been teaching you about this word, that often it refers to the essence of something.
For example, Romans 3:23, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” You might wonder, “Why doesn’t it say ‘all have sinned and fall short of the righteousness of God?’ ” Because the word “glory” is used as a summary of all of God’s attributes, His essence.
Many times, “glory” refers to the essence of God. And here is one example where it refers to the essence of a person. David is saying my glory, my essence, all of me, everything in my soul, my heart rejoices.
The conclusion, “My flesh also will rest in hope.”
The result of this is when there is conflict, when there are circumstances that are disturbing us, when we can’t sleep at night because we don’t know if we’re going to lose our job, we don’t know if someone dear to us is going to die, we don’t know how we’re going to pay the coming bills, there’s all manner of things that distress us in the middle of the night and during the day.
But when we set the Lord before us, we have that tranquility, that contentment, that joy, so we can rejoice, and what we do? We rest, we relax in hope. We can have a relaxed mental attitude. We can be calm and we rest in that hope.
The word for hope there is the noun betach. The verb is batach, which is usually translated faith. This shows that there is an extremely close overlap between faith and hope. Faith is trusting in God.
The result of that is that confident expectation. Faith and confidence are often very closely related, and betach as the noun usually has the idea of security or hope. As opposed to being translated as faith, it’s usually translated security; security implies safety.
When you get into the way the rabbis translated that into the Septuagint—now that’s not inspired; God was not overseeing that. But their understanding of the meaning of betach here wasn’t an understanding of security, it was an understanding of hope, so they translated it as ELPIS, which is what Peter quotes in Acts 2:25–26.
This is the focal point: that hope gives us a settled, confident, relaxed mental attitude because we’re living today in light of eternity. We know where it’s going to go. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to get beat up in the process. That doesn’t mean that we may not get thrown in jail or prison for our faith. There are many Christians throughout the world who are in prison for the faith.
In fact, there are eight recently converted Moslems, converted to Christianity in Iran, who are to be executed because they converted to Christianity. Now that’s hardcore, and there are numerous Christians—an untold number—who have suffered physical beatings, like the Apostle Paul, and executions, again like the Apostle Paul and almost all of the apostles, for their stand for the Word of God.
But even in that, we can relax and be confident. It doesn’t mean everything is going to be great just because you’re a believer. In fact, if you’re obeying the Lord and walking with the Lord, you’re going to be a target of Satan and the demons in terms of testing, not an overt attack, but in terms of testing, and God is using that and allowing it so that it will strengthen your faith.
In Romans 15, Paul uses the word “hope” twice. He says in Romans 15:4, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning—the ‘things that are written before’ is the Old Testament Scriptures in the Hebrew Bible—whatever things were written before were written for our learning.”
That is so clear. I’ve always had a problem with certain pastors who never taught the Old Testament. I’ve heard of certain dispensationalists who, because the epistles of Paul are written to the church and he’s the apostle to the church, that we don’t need to read or study any other part of Scripture.
Yet when Paul talks about all Scripture being breathed out by God, he is not talking about the New Testament so much as he’s talking about the Old Testament. Here he says, “For whatever things were written before were written for our learning.” It’s important to master the Old Testament. There is such rich stuff there. It’s not written to us, but there are many things we need to know, first of all, because it helps us to understand things that are said in the New Testament.
We need to understand the Old Testament because there are many promises there that apply to us also, even though our situation is a little different, and we need to learn that. They’re written for our example. That’s what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:3 and following, that these things occurred as an example to us.
In his conclusion, as he comes to his benediction in Romans 15:13, he says “Now may the God of hope …”
The things that were written before were written for our learning, “that we through the patience—or the endurance—and comfort of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
It’s the Scriptures that give us hope, so we have to know the Word of God. We have to know the Old Testament; we have to know the New Testament. That’s the basis for our confident expectation.
Romans 15:13 he says that God is the source of this. He’s the God Who is the God of hope, He produces hope, and may He “fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope—in that confident expectation—by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
Notice how he connects hope with power. That’s exactly what he is going to do in Ephesians 1:18–19. He connects that to understanding the power of God.
Second thing we see in all of this is that hope focuses on our certain future. It has to do with the present reality, living today in light of eternity, but it has to do with understanding that future reality.
In Colossians 1:5 Paul says, “… because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven …”
There he puts our present mental attitude in place of the rewards that we will receive when we are in heaven; it’s a figure of speech called a metonymy. That’s our confident expectation and our reality in Heaven when we’re face-to-face with the Lord. And the rewards, the position, the privileges that will have as believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
“… because of the hope—that confident expectation—which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before—past tense—in the word of the truth of the gospel.”
This connects the past, “the gospel” and implies and reveals a future expectation, which is that we will be with the Lord in heaven for eternity and serving him.
Titus 1:2, “… in hope of eternal life …” That’s one aspect of our confident expectation, that when we die physically in this life, we transition immediately into our eternal life, and we are face-to-face with the Lord. It is a certain expectation that we have.
There’s no sin that we can commit that can keep us from being given eternal life. Jesus paid the penalty for every single sin. It’s all paid on the Cross. All we do is believe it. And if there’s no sin that can keep us from Heaven, there is no sin that can cause us to lose our eternal life.
We have an eternal assurance of our salvation. God knew every sin we would ever commit because His knowledge is complete. Every sin was paid for by Christ on the Cross.
So “in the hope—or in the confident expectation—of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began …”
It goes back to the fact that it was so certain, that it can be spoken of in past time, that God knew it from eternity past.
All of this gives us great confidence. Therefore, Paul says in Galatians 5:5, “For we through the Spirit eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.”
Now I underscored “wait” and “by faith” because we wait by faith. That goes together.
“For we through the Spirit eagerly wait by faith for the hope of righteousness.” That is talking about our eternal life when we are finally done with this sin nature, and we are face-to-face with the Lord in our glorified bodies.
Ephesians 4:4, “There is one body and one spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling.”
He ties hope and calling together when he opens the second half of the book. So it’s built on what is said here; these things go together.
That we’re called: that word “called” is a word that relates to an invitation. We’ll talk about that in just a minute.
Ephesians 1:18, “… that you may know what is the hope of His calling …” It’s that confident expectation.
I didn’t get that slide fixed right, so that should be KLESIS, which is a word that means a call or an invitation. That’s important because “calling” is one of those words like “holy” and “glory” that is overloaded with a lot of religiosity, and there are those who misuse and abuse the concept of calling.
We don’t have time this morning to go back through Matthew 22:1–14, but I’ll just summarize it very quickly. That is the parable where Jesus is talking about this landowner is going to give a great feast, and so he sends out invitations to his people, and they choose not to come, and this angers him. That’s the only choice that takes place so far in that parable.
He then tells his servants to go out and to invite everyone, not just his people, but everyone. Some of those people respond to the invitation to come and others do not. Those who respond to the invitation are given wedding garments. That represents our righteousness that we’re given at salvation.
But in the story—not in reality but to illustrate a principle—one person manages to sneak in without getting the right clothes. He doesn’t have on the wedding garments, so the landowner, who is comparable to God, kicks him out because he doesn’t have the right garments. He doesn’t have the wedding garments of righteousness.
The conclusion, Matthew 22:14, “For many are called …” It’s usually translated, “for many are called but few are chosen.” The only choices emphasized are those who either accepted or rejected the invitation. The invitation, the call, went to everyone.
In that parable many are called or many are invited. Many are called by being given the gospel, but few are choice.
We have gone through the whole thing where I use the illustration from the Magnum Bar of choice almonds, reading that in Hebrew in Israel. But the word that is typically translated “elect” more often has the idea in both Old Testament and New Testament of that which has a quality about it—the quality of excellence. It is translated as “choice.”
Often David’s mighty men are referred to as choice warriors. They are choice. You might say, “Well, they were chosen.” Yes, but they were chosen because of their quality. They were elite troops. Go back to the archers in the tribe of Benjamin in Judges. They were choice archers and choice slingers.
These slingers—I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to use a slingshot. I do good if I can hit a fence in front of me when I’m 10 feet away from it—were able to hit the bull’s-eye every time from a long distance. A rock that they used was usually about the size of a golf ball, so they were incredible. But they are chosen because they have a quality about them.
The choice ones at the wedding feast are those who have the right garment. They’re choice because they’re clothed or robed in righteousness.
When we look at Ephesians 1:18, “the hope of His calling,” calling there refers to those who have responded to the invitation and trusted Christ as Savior. See calling refers to the act of the invitation, but the called are the ones who respond positively to the invitation.
Ephesians 4:1 Paul says, “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called.”
The calling is the invitation. They are now called ones because they have responded to the invitation, and they are to now walk worthy of that calling, which implies that they might not be. See believers can sin sometimes more egregiously than unbelievers, but they are still the called. They are to change and to walk worthy instead of walking unworthy.
Then in Ephesians 4:4, we have the same vocabulary again: “called” and “hope,” “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called—just as you were invited; on the basis of one hope—one hope—that future destiny—in one hope of your calling—of your invitation.”
Philippians 3:14, Paul says, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call—that call focus is on that heavenly destiny that we have—the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
2 Timothy 1:9, “… who has saved us—referring to God—Who has saved us and called us with a holy calling—invited us with a holy gospel, a holy invitation to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. That is—not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
The first thing we are to know is the hope of His calling. The second thing we are to know is the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.
When we look at this word translated “wealth,” we’ve seen it once before in Ephesians 1:7, it is a singular word, so it’s translated usually “riches.” Riches is plural in English; wealth is singular in English, so wealth is a better translation. There are not many different kinds of riches.
There is just one great wealth that is emphasized here. It is a singular abundance rather than a multiplicity of different kinds of riches. So it is the wealth of something, and it’s the “wealth of,” and then you have string of phrases here that are important to understand, “… the wealth of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”
Let’s talk, first of all, about the word “glory.” The word “glory” in Greek is DOXA and it really gets its meaning from the Old Testament word kavod. When translated, its literal meaning is something that is heavy, something that is weighty; and therefore, comes to refer to something that is important or something that is significant.
It could refer to something maybe even that’s special. It also comes to mean, as I pointed earlier, the essence of something. The essence of something is what makes it important and what makes it significant. Here it’s talking about the essence of this inheritance. We have to stop there.
We understand what the word glory means, so the next thing we have to understand is “inheritance.” The core meaning of inheritance is the idea of a possession, something that is owned, and it’s used twice in our context already. We normally think of inheritance as what we are going to be given in terms of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Ephesians 1:11. I’ve translated it, “In addition, it was through union with Him we were made His possession—some translations talk about it as if it’s our inheritance, but the “His” there is God’s and most translations translate as God’s inheritance, not our inheritance—that through union with Him we were made His possession by His laying claim to us.”
That’s a core meaning of the word PROORIZO, which is often translated predestined, but it doesn’t have anything to do with predestined. HORIZO means to foreordain something, and in the only use of it in classical Greek that we have, it has the idea of laying claim to owning a piece of property. Which really fits very well, as I pointed out, with many other of these debated words that we find in Ephesians 1:3–14.
This is related to the Holy Spirit sealing us. Sealing is putting a mark of ownership on something, so it all ties together very consistently.
“… it was through union with Him we were made His possession by His laying claim to us according to His purpose who works all these things according to the counsel of His will.”
Ephesians 1:14, “… who is the down payment—referring to the Holy Spirit who is the down payment—of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession to the praise of His glory.”
Ephesians 1:11 it’s God’s inheritance; in Ephesians 1:14 it’s related to our inheritance, so which is it in Ephesians 1:18? Is it God’s inheritance or our inheritance? It is actually talking about His glorious inheritance, so that phrase should be translated “the wealth of His glorious inheritance.”
The passage is talking about God’s inheritance and that that inheritance is located in us as a corporate body in the saints. Now this isn’t talking about the New Orleans Saints. This isn’t talking about angels.
This is talking about the believers in Jesus Christ, just as Paul used it in Ephesians 1:2, “to the saints who were in Ephesus.” This isn’t a special category of believers. This is anyone who has trusted Christ, is set apart to God. That’s what “holy” means, and holy and saint or sanctified all come from the basic word group.
This is talking about God’s glorious possession, which is in us, the saints. We become His possession.
Ephesians 1:19 the third request here is a lot of fun. This sentence goes on into Ephesians 1:20–21, which we don’t have time to deal with. It sort of changes its focus so I’ll wait till next week to get there.
The third “what” is “… the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power.”
You have four words here all related to God’s power. This verse is all about encouraging believers with the power of God to sustain us and strengthen us and get us through whatever the circumstances in life are going to be.
It starts off with what appears to be a hyperbolic statement, which is actually the Greek word that’s used here, HUPERBALLO, and it refers to something that surpasses everything else; that exceeds everything else; that is beyond anything that we can imagine, that we can ask or think.
It is joined with the word MEGETHOS, related to our word that we use “mega” meaning great, and it’s talking about the surpassing greatness of God’s power. It goes beyond anything we can even imagine: His power.
The word that is translated power is DUNAMIS, which is the most common word that is used, and sometimes you will hear people saying. “Well, that’s the dynamite of God’s power.” Well, that’s an abuse of the language. We do get the word dynamite from DUNAMIS, but this isn’t talking about something explosive. This is talking about God’s omnipotence; that He is able to do everything.
When you think about the word DUNAMIS, it has to do with the capacity to do something. It can emphasize the strength of something or the power of something. It’s the word that is used in 1 Corinthians 2:14, that the natural man does not have the ability: he is not able. The negative plus DUNAMIS, he’s not able to understand the things of God. He doesn’t have the capacity to understand the things of God.
Here it is used in relation to God’s omnipotence and His power, and it is directed toward us who believe. This is provision for believers. This is what God has given each one of us in relation to how His omnipotence sustains us.
We have the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe, and this is according to the working of His mighty power. This is the third word that is used here.
Now power is used both of human ability or the negative, human inability. But ENERGEIA means actual use of power, and in the Scripture it always refers to supernatural power. It’s always referring to God’s power. It is “working according to His mighty power.” And even though English uses power for both DUNAMIS and this next word, they’re two different words in the Greek.
The word “mighty” is the translation of ISCHUS, which means strength or might, “the strength of His power.” That’s how it is translated over in Ephesians 6:10 and following related to the armor of God. KRATOS is the word for God’s power, God’s omnipotence.
As we get into looking at how the Scripture talks about the power of God, that should impress us because this is the asset that God gives us to face any and all situations in life. There is nothing too great for the power of God. There is nothing too great for the grace of God. No matter what you’re facing, no matter how overwhelming and possible it seems, it’s not too great for the grace of God. Let me give you some examples of how this is used in Scripture.
First of all it relates to the gospel: what happens in that transformation when we become regenerate and we’re spiritually alive.
Romans 1:16, Paul says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power—all of these verses use DUNAMIS—for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
The rest of Romans is telling us how this power is being provided for us by God in every aspect of our life. So he uses “gospel” here, not in terms of the narrow focus of “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved,” but in terms of everything that God provides in the gospel.
That when we are saved, God gives us everything: He blesses us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He gives us everything related to life and godliness. The whole spiritual life comes as a result of accepting the gospel.
The good news isn’t just Jesus died for your sins, although that’s how it used in a narrow sense in places, but the good news is Jesus died for your sins and you’re going to have new life and Jesus came to give you not only life, but life abundantly, and this is going to end with your glorification.
When you die physically, you are absent from the body and face-to-face with the Lord and you’re going to serve the Lord and rule and reign with Him throughout the Millennial Kingdom and on into eternity. That’s great news! Not just that you’re not going to go to the Lake of Fire—that’s the narrow sense. This is a much broader sense in the context of Romans.
In 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved—that’s not talking about justification, it’s talking about salvation from the power of sin, Phase 2 in the spiritual life—to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
That’s how “gospel” was used over and Romans 1:16 that I just talked about.
Then he goes on in 1 Corinthians 1:24 to say, “… but to those who are called—see that’s those who responded to the invitation of salvation—both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
See that’s the power of God, and that power is greater than anything that you are going to face in life.
1 Corinthians 2:5, “… that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.”
2 Corinthians 6:7, “… by the word of truth, by the power of God …”
The Word of truth is the Scripture, and that is explained through this appositional phrase as the power of God. The gospel—“I’m not ashamed of the gospel”—that’s the good news of God. That’s the message that’s in the Scripture. I’m not ashamed of the gospel because it’s the power of God.
The power is in the Word of God, not in some magic mystical sense, but because it’s the truth. It’s reality. This is why Jesus says that we are sanctified by Your Word, thy Word is truth.
Timothy 1:8, in his last epistle Paul says, “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God.”
We suffer for the gospel in ways we can’t imagine. We always want to draw the direct line to that, but because we’re believers, we are in Satan’s crosshairs and everything that happens negatively in our lives is part of suffering in this life in light of our position in Christ. And what is it that enables us to handle the suffering? It’s the power of God.
Then in 2 Peter 1:3 which we are studying on Thursday night right now under the study of the sufficiency of Scripture, “His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life—that’s physical life—and godliness—that’s our spiritual life—through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”
His divine power has given that, so name me one problem anybody faces in this life that is greater than the omnipotence of God. There is not one. And the issue is learning to trust in the power of God and the provision of God and the promises of God, and not in human viewpoint techniques and human wisdom. That’s the challenge for us.
So that’s what Paul is talking about here, that we have our understanding and wisdom open up to understand these three things:
- To understand our calling, the confidence of our calling, that our confidence is in Him; to understand the riches, the wealth, of the glory
- That we are God’s inheritance. It’s in us. We are God’s possession, and how that impacts our understanding of the future
- To understand that God’s omnipotence is at our disposal for facing whatever challenges we face in life.
“Father, we’re thankful for this opportunity to be challenged in terms of truly trusting You, fully trusting You in so many different areas, recognizing that we have to understand that as part of that invitation of the gospel, there is a focus on our future destiny, and we are confident of that, and we should live in light of that confidence.
“And that we should recognize that we are Your possession, we are in Christ, we’re Your possession, we’re Your glorious inheritance, and that again that focuses us on that future destiny that You have for us to rule and reign with Christ.
“Then third, to recognize that Your omnipotence, Your power is at our disposal to face and overcome any situation in life, and that we do that through God the Holy Spirit in conjunction with Your Word.
“Father, give us a great confidence in the truth of Your Word and the use of Your Word to overcome whatever challenges and difficulties that we face in life.
“Father, we pray too that if there is anyone listening, anyone here or anyone who’s listening online, that they would come to understand that the gospel is a free gift, that Jesus died to pay the penalty for our sins. He did all of the work. When He died on the Cross, just before He died He said ‘It is finished.’ It is completed. It is paid in full. There’s nothing in other words that we can add to it. He did it all and all we need to do is believe in Him, and we have eternal life.
“That is the invitation that is ours to come to Him, to trust in Him, to look to Him alone for our eternal salvation. And when we trust Him, we have eternal life that can never be taken from us.
“Father, we pray that You’d challenge us as we think and reflect and talk about what we learned this morning, and that God the Holy Spirit would give us great insight into all that we have learned and the way to apply it in our lives. In Christ’s name, amen.”