Ephesians Episode 4

Beth's Notes

1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles--2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.  14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:1-21 (NIV)

Having discussed the union of Jewish and Gentile believers in the church in chapter 2:11-22, Paul was about to offer a prayer on behalf of these believers. Yet, he stopped right in mid-sentence at the end of 3:1 and digressed on the subject of the mystery of Christ - the Prince of Peace - Who made the Jews and Gentiles one in Him.  He Himself is our peace, abolishing hostility and the ceremonial law with all its regulations and commands. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:13-15:
13 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14 having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. 15 And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross. Colossians 2:13-15 (NIV)

The only eternal covenant that has lasted and will last – is the one made by the eternal God, sealed by the blood of Jesus Christ.  It is Christ’s mission of  Peace. Paul mentions this earlier in Ephesians when he writes:
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:17-18 (NIV)
Further, Paul explained this mystery that has been made known to him through revelation and his responsibility to dispense it before going back and resuming his prayer, which begins in verse 14.
A mystery is a “sacred secret” that is unknown to unbelievers, but understood and treasured by the people of God – a truth that was hidden by God in times past but is now revealed to those who are in God’s family – those to whom it is to be revealed. This mystery was made known to Paul through revelation and he explains it – the Gentile believers are now united to the Jewish believers in one body, the church – verse 6 of our chapter states:
6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 3:6 (NIV)

This mystery is that the Gentiles should be made partakers along with the Jews of God’s great blessings in the church. It is true, of course, that God announced His intention of saving Gentiles as well as Jews from the beginning. But before the coming of Christ it was  understood that this was to happen only as the Gentiles became Jews through proselytizing. A Gentile could approach the God of Israel, but only as an Israelite. He had to become a member of the covenant people through the rite of circumcision. The new thing revealed to Paul is that this approach was no longer necessary. Christ has broken down that wall, making one new people out of two previously divided people. Therefore now Jews and Gentiles approach God equally on that new basis as Christians.  Remember, Paul describes the Gentile status before Christ in the following way in Ephesians 2:11-13:

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men)-- 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:11-13 (NIV)
The apostle uses the word “mystery” four times in this chapter and so the chapter  is critical for our understanding of the most important mystery Paul speaks of namely to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ – by means of His grace, for His glory and for our good. And the apostle develops this doctrine.  Paul explained the tremendous impact of this sacred secret that had so possessed his own life and ministry. The prejudice was particularly intense among the Jews, because for them it was a religious issue and no fanaticism is greater than religious fanaticism, Amen? Jews despised Gentiles and Gentiles also despised Jews and others. The Greek thought that all but Greeks were barbarians. And the Romans conquered the Greeks looking upon them as slaves. Barriers were absolute in the pre-Christian world. There is nothing new under the sun, Amen? And Christ came to break apart these barriers by preaching peace to those who are far away and peace to those who are near as he states in Ephesians 2:17-18:
17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Ephesians 2:17-18 (NIV)

The chief thing Paul wants to say regarding the mystery of God’s creating one new people in Christ is that Jew and Gentile, as well as all other types and conditions of men and women, hold their salvation blessings jointly in Christ’s church as he states in Ephesians 3:6:
6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.  Ephesians 3:6 (NIV)
Believing Jews and Gentiles are now joined together. That was a revolutionary concept for Jews and Gentiles alike. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes:
“We are all equally sinners; We are all equally helpless; We have all come to one and the same Savior; We have the same salvation; We have the same Holy Spirit; We have the same Father; We have the same trials; And finally, we are all marching and going together to the same eternal home. It is a knowledge and appreciation of these things that will draw us together.” D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Francis Schaeffer adds this insight:
“I was the enemy of God. I was stamping through God’s universe, shaking my fist in His face. And in the very moment when I was shaking my fist in God’s face and tramping through the Creator’s universe, muddying all His streams, that’s when Jesus died for me. And if this is when Jesus died for me, what hope it gives me now! Now, even when I fall, the blood of Jesus is enough. He didn’t save me because I was strong; He saved me when I was weak. He didn’t save me when I was a pretty thing; He saved me when I was a mess. On the basis of this reality, I can have comfort.”  Francis Schaeffer, The Finished Work of Christ.

The words I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles, refer to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome because of his service for Christ, and more particularly because of his ministry as the apostle to the Gentiles. His faithfulness to the stewardship that God had given him among the Gentiles caused bitter Jewish opposition to arise against him.  This resulted in his being attacked in Jerusalem and put on trial in Caesarea and Rome. He had appealed to Emperor Nero and thus was committed for trial. Christians are to expect opposition. Do not be surprised by it. Just as Christ experienced much opposition so too we.  Indeed, He has already warned us. In John 16:33 He states:
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (NIV)

Believers have a dual existence: they are in Christ and in this world. In union with Jesus, His disciples have peace, but the world exerts a hostile pressure. The world system, the enemy of God and His people, opposed Jesus’ message and ministry. But Jesus won the victory over the system; He has overcome the world. As the “strong man” who came and ruined Satan’s kingdom, Jesus is the Victor. Jesus is always the Victor! He wanted the disciples to remember this fact and to rejoice in His victory.  We go forth victorious – the battle has been won. “Take heart!” means “Be courageous.”  In the NT the phrase “take heart” meaning be courageous, cheer up, was spoken only by the Lord. Because He was victorious, they, in union with Him, can also be. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:57-58:
57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:57-58 (NIV) 

Our labor in Him is never in vain. Paul states he became a servant of this Gospel, and rightly so. Aren’t we all to be about this same thing?  He had been given the gift of God’s grace as have we. The word “servant” stresses not the idea of subjection (as does doulos, “slave”) but the idea of service or serving, as one who is a waiter. This service has its basis in the gift of God’s grace given to Paul (and us) through the working of His power – the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit which Paul also stated in Colossians 1:29:
28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.   Colossians 1:28-29 (NIV)

Every believer in Jesus has the Holy Spirit’s power and we are all called to the works that God has prepared for us to walk in before the creation through His power. Nothing done in the flesh is eternal – nothing. Further, the Greek more clearly implies that Paul’s service was initiated by “the gift of God’s grace” and continues by “the working of His power”. Ministering this grace—by God’s strength, not his own—was Paul’s responsibility though he considered himself less than the least of all God’s people denoting Paul’s deep humility in view of God’s incomparably generous grace.  Likewise, any works God does through us is both for His glory and our good and, if it is He that is doing the work through us, humility is the proper response. Humility is always the proper response. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 4:7:
7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:6-7 (NIV)

“When we have an inordinate eagerness to seek our own gain - vying for more and more power and prestige – we will find ourselves chained to selfish ambition. Jesus tells us in all four Gospels that those who come to Him must deny self and take up our cross and follow hard after Him. If you desire to take hold of life that is truly life then lose self and make much of Him. He must become greater, we must become less.” BHY  

Andrew Murray writes:
“Jesus found His glory in taking the form of a servant. There is nothing so divine and heavenly as being the servant and helper of all. Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue…Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure. Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God and allows Him as God to do all. Brother/sister, are you clothed with humility? Ask your daily life. Ask Jesus. Ask your friends. Ask the world. And begin to ask God that there is opened up to you in Jesus a heavenly humility of which you have hardly known, and through which, a heavenly blessedness you possibly have never yet tasted, can come to you.” Andrew Murray

Spurgeon writes:
“Stoop if you want to climb to heaven. Is it not said of Jesus, ‘He who descended is the one who also ascended’? So must you. You must grow downwards, that you may grow upwards; for the sweetest fellowship with heaven will be enjoyed by humble souls and by them alone. God will deny no blessing to a thoroughly humbled spirit. ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,’ with all its riches and treasures. All of God’s resources will be made available to the soul that is humble enough to be able to receive them without growing proud because of it.  When a man is sincerely humble and never tries to take the credit or the praise, there is scarcely any limit to what God will do for him. Humility makes us ready to be blessed by the God of all grace and equips us to deal efficiently with our fellows. True humility is a flower that will adorn any garden. This is a sauce that will season every dish of life and improve it in every case. Whether in prayer or praise, whether in work or suffering, the genuine salt of humility cannot be used in excess.”  C. H. Spurgeon 
There were two infinitives stated for Paul’s functioning in this ministry. First, he was to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ – to announce the very good news.  Second, he was to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery through the church.  What is this eternal purpose which is now being worked out in history, this divine plan which belongs to both history and eternity? It concerns the church, the creating of a new and reconciled humanity in union with Jesus. Some people construct a Christianity which consists entirely of a personal relationship to Jesus and has virtually nothing to do with the church. It is understandable, even inevitable, that we are critical of many of the church’s inherited structures and traditions. Every church in every place at every time is in need of reform and renewal as it is made up of sinners like you and me. But we need to beware lest we despise God’s church, and are blind to His work in history. We may safely say that God has not abandoned His church, however displeased with it He may be. He is still building and refining it.  And if God has not abandoned it, how can we? It has a central place in His plan. Indeed Jesus states in Matthew 16:17-18:
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” Matthew 16:17-18 (NIV)

The Gospel is not simply to be individualistic but corporate. Meaning Christ died and rose again not only to save sinners (though He did), but also to create a single new humanity; not only to redeem us from sin but also to reconcile us to one another. Thus the church is an integral part of the gospel. The Gospel is good news of a new society as well as of a new life. 

Paul concludes this section with a reference to his own sufferings in the Gentile cause.  He addresses them with two words that are constantly coupled in the New Testament - “suffering” and “glory”. They seem oxymoronic do they not? And what is conspicuous in Scripture is to be conspicuous in our lives as well.  I don’t know about you guys, but I am always wanting to shun suffering – the glory I can take!  Not that that is wrong per say, but Jesus did say He would enter His glory through suffering, and that His followers would have to tread the same path.  Here, however, Paul writes something different, namely that his sufferings will bring them glory. In Colossians 1:24-29 Paul writes likewise:
24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness-- 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:24-29 (NIV)
So convinced is he of the divine origin of his vision that he is prepared to pay any price to see it become a reality. That was the measure of Paul’s concern for the church. To be sure, while Paul was exceptional with both his special revelation and commission, the principal is nevertheless applicable to all Christians. If the church is central to God’s purpose, as seen in both history and the Gospel, it must surely also be central to our lives.  How can we take lightly what God takes so seriously? How dare us place to the circumference what God has placed in the center? We should seek, like Paul, to keep God’s vision of the church as His family, His dwelling place and His instrument in the world to bring Him glory and snatch souls from Satan’s hand by His power. We do this by seeking to make our church worship more authentic, its fellowship more caring, and its outreach more compassionate. In other words we are to be ready to pray, to work and if necessary to suffer in order to turn the vision into a reality in our time of His-story.
One of the best ways to discover a Christian’s chief anxieties and ambitions is to study the content and intensity of their prayer lives. We pray about what concerns us and we are evidently not that concerned about matters we do not include in our petitions. Prayer expresses desire as it is the soul’s sincere desire – uttered or unexpressed. It is through prayer that we lay hold of God’s riches that enable us to behave and battle like Christians.
In Ephesians 3:14-21 we discover the Apostle Paul pouring out his soul to God in intercessory prayer. Prayer and preaching/teaching should always go together therefore Paul follows his teaching with earnest prayer. It is as if we were permitted to look through parted curtains into the Holiest Place of the Christian life.
The basis of Paul’s prayer was his knowledge of God’s purposes. Do we know and understand God’s will and ways from His revealed will in the Scriptures? We are held accountable for the contents of His Word that has been so freely given to us. Do not take it lightly for your own sakes. The prelude to all petition is the revelation of God’s will. We want what He wants. We are to pray in accordance to what God has revealed to be His will through His Word. He never goes against His Word. The best petitions are simply praying back His Word to Him. That is why Bible reading and Scripture memory should always go hand in hand together with prayer.  For it is in Scripture that God has disclosed His will and it is in prayer that we ask Him to do it. I have found it enormously helpful in praying back Scripture. Indeed, this prayer we are studying is a wonderful prayer to pray for our families and friends. Don’t mistake this for not being able to pray all things that are burdening your hearts – stay there with Him telling Him everything that is troubling you until you receive His peace that passes understanding. He can take whatever you have to say and love you through it. He knows it is hard and He lives at the right hand of God interceding for us. I have found it helpful most times to just let God know – He can take anything and He never repeats, Amen?
Scripture lays down no hard and fast rule about the posture we should adopt when we pray. It is possible to pray, kneeling, standing, sitting, walking and even lying. Whether we bow our knees is not the important thing.  What is vital is that we bow our hearts and wills to the Lord asking Him for what we need. In Paul’s petition that we are studying today, we find the apostle kneeling in reverent humility. I often find it best to go as low as I can too – either flat on my face or on my knees.  
Paul begins by stating Christians are one whole great family of God – those on earth and those in heaven – all descended from the same Father to Whom Paul prays. God is the Prototype of all fatherhood. “Father” is derived from God, not man. He is the first Father, the only One with “underived” fatherhood. 
His prayer is like a staircase ascending higher and higher whose key words are “strength”, “love”, “knowledge”, and “fullness”. First he prays that they may be strengthened by His power though the indwelling Holy Spirit which every true believer has and that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. Paul tells us in Romans 8:9:
9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. Romans 8:9 (NIV)

These two petitions belong together as they refer to the Christian’s innermost being. Through faith in Christ the Holy Spirit dwells within us empowering us to walk in a manner worthy of God.  Christ returned to glory and sent the Spirit from heaven to indwell and empower His people.  It is not necessary for us to “work something up.”  We are given all of the Holy Spirit when we receive Christ yet we so often “shrink the Spirit” by our own poor choices.   The outer man is perishing, but the inner man can be renewed spiritually in spite of outward physical decay.  It is the inner power that makes him succeed.  What does it mean to have the Holy Spirit empower the inner man?  It means that we yield to the Spirit and let Him control the inner man that we succeed in living a life that brings God much glory.  This means feeding the inner man the Word of God, praying and worshipping, keeping short accounts and walking in obedience to His revealed will.  

The first part of Paul’s request is that God, out of His glorious riches might strengthen – meaning be strong enough to overcome resistance - believers with all power – meaning dynamic living power - through the Holy Spirit in their inner being - in the inner man - believers’ innermost beings. The result of this is that through faith Christ may dwell in believers’ hearts, that is, their whole personalities. “Dwell” does not refer to the beginning of Christ’s indwelling at the moment of salvation. Instead it denotes the desire that Christ may, literally, “to settle down and feel at home,” that is, at the very center of or deeply rooted in, believers’ lives. They were to let Christ become the dominating factor in their attitudes and conduct – as are we. Paul desired that they have a deeper experience between Christ and His people – as are we. He yearned for Christ to settle down and feel at home in their hearts – not merely a surface relationship but an ever-deepening fellowship – as are we.

Paul continued his prayer by repeating his request that Christ be the center of believers’ lives. He stated this in a mixed metaphor of biological and architectural terminology: being rooted (like a plant) and established (like a building) in love. The participles “being rooted and established” are in the perfect tense, indicating a past action with continuing results. The tree must get its roots deep into the soil if it is to have both nourishment and stability, and the Christian must have his/her spiritual roots deep into the love of God. 
Paul tells us in Romans 8:35-39 regarding God’s love for us:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?  36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)
“We think riches and honours are necessary and we must have our estates and lay up large portions for our children.  But in the day of adversity, when death looks us in the face and God causes the horror of the grave, the dread of the last judgment, and the terrors of eternity to pass before us, then we put our mouths in the dust and sigh; ‘O how I have been mistaken!  I have fed upon ashes, and my deceived heart has turned me aside.’ We can now see how the pardon of sin, an interest in Christ, a sense of God’s love, and the assurance of glory, are the only indispensables. Christ alone is the One thing necessary, and all others are but ‘maybes’ at best. All the world has is but loss and dung in comparison with the excellence of the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.” Thomas Case    
“God’s love for us is higher and deeper and broader and longer than anyone can imagine. He loves us with an everlasting love and He rejoices over us with singing. He leads us with cords of kindness and we rest secure between His all-sufficient shoulders, finding repose in His shadow.  His eye is ever on us for our good and His glory never one surpassing the other. His way is the best way even though oftentimes extraordinarily, breath takingly difficult.  In love, He meets our needs - not necessarily our wants - as He is always in the process of conforming us into the image of His Son AND He uses everything in our life towards that end as Jesus was to be the first among many brothers. This is taking hold of life that is truly life.  How are we to respond to this great love? The psalmist rightly proclaims: ‘25 Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’ Psalms 73:25-26 (NIV).”  BHY  
A good question a Christian should ask themselves is “From what do I draw my nourishment and my stability?” If there is to be power in the Christian life, then there must be depth. Our roots must go deeper and deeper into the love of Christ. They could be translated “having been rooted and established.” The purpose of the request is that they may have power, literally “have inherent strength”, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. These measurements most likely describe not the thoroughness of comprehension but the immensity of the thing to be comprehended.
The content of this comprehension is to know experientially the love of Christ that supersedes all knowledge. The more a Christian knows about Christ, the more amazed he is at Christ’s love for him.  The more we know Him the more we love Him and the more we love Him the more we will serve Him.
The final purpose is that we may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. The fullness of the Godhead is only in Christ, and only through Him is a believer made complete. Paul tells us in Colossians 2:9-10:
9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. Colossians 2:9-10 (NIV)
There is no “fullness” in philosophy based on vain human reasoning. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives. There is no fullness in things or relationships or anything temporal either. Hence only in Christ can one have fullness. Apart from Him is emptiness. Apart from Him is continuous wanting. As philosopher Jean Paul Sartre put it, “Life is an empty bubble on the sea of nothingness”. Not only is all the “fullness” of God in Christ, but also believers have been given fullness in Christ. Their fullness of life comes from Christ’s fullness. They partake of the divine nature through Christ. 2 Peter 1:4 states:
4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:4 (NIV)

John 1:16 tells us:
16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. John 1:16 (NIV)

This, of course, does not mean believers become_ God but simply share in Him. They have _or share in the goodness of the nature which He is. He is the Living Water who fills completely our empty cups. Though in Christ this divine fullness is ideally a believer’s already, Paul prayed that it might be experientially realized in each one. Experiencing God’s moral excellence and perfection causes Jewish and Gentile believers to love each other. Positionally they are one in Christ; experientially they are to love each other as one in Him.

Paul closed this prayer with a doxology. He praised God who is able to do far more than one could ask or imagine, according to the standard of His power that is at work within us. The power of Christ, like the love of Christ, is beyond human understanding or measurement. His vast power far exceeds our needs, prayers, thoughts, and all that we could ever need, beg, or imagine. Creature props are unable to bear the weight of an immortal soul. They are apt to crumble under us.  But an Almighty God is a rock. He that builds upon Him will stand though the winds blow and the storms beat upon him. Jesus tells us in the end of the Sermon on the Mount similar words we should take to heart:
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” 28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.   Matthew 7:24-29 (NIV)

Further, His heart is as tender as His arm is strong. He is no less willing than able to relieve. God’s energy is effectual power – power at work in our lives. This power works in us, in the inner man.  It is the Holy Spirit who releases the resurrection power of Christ in our lives. We must be careful not to cut ourselves off from our source of power. Unbelief, unconfessed sin, careless living, worldliness in action and attitude – all of these can rob us of power. And a Christian robbed of power cannot be used of God. 
No human or angel would ever think that Jews and Gentiles could function together in one body. But with God’s power of love in each believer’s life, Paul was confident that Jewish and Gentile believers can function and love one another. This is astounding and though it is not naturally possible, God is able to accomplish it – only divine power can generate divine love in the divine society. The power comes from Him – the glory must go to Him. Paul therefore ascribed to God glory which is to be manifest in the church, where the miracle of love will occur, and in Christ Jesus, who made the union of Jewish and Gentile believers possible. Praise to Him for this accomplishment is to continue throughout eternity. This doxology serves as a fitting conclusion not only to this prayer but also to this book’s first three chapters.

These are Beth’s personal notes, due to this fact sources are not often stated.

Continue Reading
Next Episode