The All-Sufficient Power of God
Ephesians Lesson #098
March 28, 2021
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.
“Father, we’re thankful that we have Your Word. It is a lamp and to our feet and a light unto our path. It illuminates our thinking that we may come to understand that we are all filled with many thoughts, ideas, values that are not consistent with Your Word, but are in fact hostile and contradictory to Your Word. Thus, they are antagonistic to our spiritual life and our spiritual growth.
“Your Word teaches that we are not to be conformed to the thinking of the world—the culture around us—but we are to be transformed by the renovation, the renewing, the overhaul of our thinking. We have to think differently because we are now in a different family, we are in Your family, and we must think as You would have us to think, which means we have to think biblically.
“Father now as we study Your Word, help us to be transformed by what the Word teaches, that we may come to understand more fully Who You are and who we are, created in Your image and redeemed by the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Passover was last night at sunset, Pesach in Hebrew, so yesterday was Erev Pesach, Pesach Eve or Passover Eve. Last night Jewish families around the world in some places met together and had their Seder. In many places for the second year, they are not meeting together at all. I mean, it is just absurd because of the pandemic, they’re not meeting together. I guess in some places, if they’ve been vaccinated, there are more that met together this year.
This is a reminder for us of what happened during Holy Week in Church history. What would’ve transpired at sunset last night was the beginning of the 14th day of Nisan, the Jewish month which this is now part of. The 14th is important. In Latin this is referred to—because there is a controversy over it—as the Quartodeciman Controversy.
I know you’ll remember that, and you’ll wake up in the middle of the night and that’ll be on your mind. It means 14; this was a debate in the early Church and eventually it led to a split, one of the four causes of the split between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Western Church. Up until around 1050 there were just Christians; everybody was the same. Then there was the split between East and West. That was about the third time they split, but this one they haven’t gotten back together again.
What it was over, what it reflects and why I brought this up is the increasing anti-Semitism in the church. Really the Greek—the Gentile church, cut themselves off from Jewish believers by about AD 200 to 250, so they had no clue what the Jewish backgrounds were to any of the Bible because they of that.
In the East they still had some sense of the Jewish calendar, so they wanted to observe Good Friday on the 14th of Nisan, not on a Friday, but on the date, which, of course, would mean that two days later they would observe the resurrection, which would not necessarily be on a Sunday.
But in the West, they said, “No, Christ rose on a Sunday. We need to always celebrate Easter on a Sunday.” Later on when the Celtic Church, which had basically been founded by Patrick— who was not a Roman Catholic saint, he was Celtic Christian, which was more biblically orthodox even at that time—took the gospel to Ireland. Through a series of missionaries and monasteries they brought the gospel across to Scotland and then down into England from the north.
By then the Pope had sent a man named Augustine—not Augustine of Hippo, a different man; this was a little bit later—who brought Roman Catholic Christianity up from the south, and they met in the middle, and were observing Easter on different days, so they had to resolve things. The Roman Church, of course, took power over that, so that’s why all of us celebrate Resurrection Day on a Sunday.
In understanding that week: yesterday would have been the actual date and anniversary of the crucifixion of our Lord. Sunset that day began the first day of unleavened bread, the first day of Passover, so it was that night after the crucifixion that they ate the Passover meal.
That would’ve been on Friday of that week—we went through the detail of this chronology in our study of Matthew—then the next day was a Shabbat, Sabbath. It was Saturday that year, and that would be today (Sunday), the day in between crucifixion day and the resurrection. So tomorrow, according to the Jewish calendar would be the date of the resurrection.
If we were living at a time before all of this was settled by the Roman Catholic Church, we would be celebrating Resurrection Day tomorrow. That clues you in as to thinking through the chronology as we are thinking about celebrating Easter or Resurrection Day next week. That covers the significance of the week.
Open your Bibles with me to Ephesians 3. I want to focus on just one aspect of Ephesians 3:15–16a and that is the power of God, something that is lost in the thinking of many, many Christians today. They have lost sight of the power of God, especially as it relates to their spiritual life.
First, I want to remind us of the context of this passage. It’s a short section, and it leads into a doxology. The intensity of the thinking of the Apostle Paul at this point leads him to sort of an outburst expressing the significance of God in the last two verses at the end of Ephesians 3. I want to read them to you before we go through this section because they connect a lot.
After going through this section of his prayer, he concludes with this doxological statement, Ephesians 3:20–21,
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly above all that we ask or think—we can’t even imagine how great God’s power is in taking care of us, and we limit that all the time. He—is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”
That’s his conclusion, so the language in Ephesians 2:15–16, especially verse 16 is very important leading into that.
Ephesians 3:14–16, “For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”
It starts with this prayer which he introduced in Ephesians 3:14, “For this reason,” which I’ve taken time and pains to show you. It takes us not to the previous section in Ephesians 3:1–13, but it takes us back to what he said in Ephesians 2:11–22.
That means his focus, the foundation for what he is saying, goes back to the content of this so-called Mystery Doctrine that he’s focusing on in the section from Ephesians 2:11–3:13—that is previously unrevealed truth
I’ve said many times that mystery does not mean something that is kept in isolation as a secret and you’re trying to figure out what it is, what the solution to the conundrum is. Mystery was a previously unrevealed truth, and that’s very clear from the way it is explained in the previous verses, that it was hidden in God from eternity past.
No angels knew about this part of the plan, no humans were clued in on this part of the plan that there was going to be a new spiritual entity following the resurrection and ascension of our Lord called the church that would be composed of Jew and Gentile together united in one new body, one new man, one new household, one new temple.
Ephesians 2:11–22 talks about this one new entity where those Old Testament ethnic distinctions were no longer relevant, and this is the foundation of this new entity that has come into existence.
It’s really the foundation for understanding that the solution to all things related to race, ethnic and cultural disagreements are to be eradicated within the body of Christ. Because we are all now equal in Christ; it doesn’t matter what shade of skin we have.
As I focused on this, I took us through some things on prayer last time, which I’ll review, but he is going to pray to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
In Ephesians 3:16 he gives the content, so we didn’t do much with Ephesians 3:15 last time.
Ephesians 3:14a, 16, “I bow my knees … that—the “that,” as we’ll see, introduces the content of the prayer—that He would grant you … to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”
That’s the core of this prayer. He is not praying for things, he’s praying as we have seen in previous weeks, to the Father to strengthen the believers.
1. He prays to the Father. We asked the question, why is he praying? For what is he praying?
2. That’s answered in Ephesians 3:16, he prays that the Father would use the Holy Spirit to strengthen them in their spiritual life.
Why do we need to be strengthened in our spiritual life by the Holy Spirit?
3. Result: so that Christ would make His home in us.
This is different from His permanent indwelling of every believer. This has to do with experiential fellowship, what Jesus means in John 15 when He talks about abiding in Him. Because every believer is indwelt by Father, Son, and Holy Spirit from the instant of salvation and that relates to our position in Christ.
But our experience is different. We need to be not only indwelt by the Spirit, which is permanent, but we also need to be filled by the Spirit as we walk by the Spirit. Sometimes we walk by the Spirit and sometimes we don’t which is related to abiding in Christ.
The reason that he wants Christ to be at home with us
4. Purpose: so, they can comprehend the immensity of Christ’s love for them. We could use another word, the infinite reality of Christ’s love for us. That’s the whole metaphor of understanding the width and the height and the depth and the breadth of God’s love.
He wants us to know the love of Christ so that
5. Ultimately, we can be spiritually mature and reflect Christ’s love to others.
That is sort of a roadmap here in the prayer to spiritual maturity. This is what Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers, and it’s what we should be praying for ourselves. That’s the application I’ve been emphasizing.
In this passage, we’re looking at understanding the content of this prayer.
Slide 17 skipped
I’m just going to summarize by way of review a few things about prayer we looked at last time.
Prayer is the believer’s vital communication link to his heavenly Father.
We are to constantly be talking to God. A lot of times these are just bullet prayers, “Thank You, Lord, for that guy not hitting me!” Or other prayers like, “Help me to articulate the gospel right now;” and other times like, “Help me respond in the right way,” “Give me wisdom to answer this person,” “Give me wisdom to deal with this family problem”.
Other times we should take time to be alone and think through prayers and write them out, because it helps us to focus our thoughts and what we are praying for, and includes Scripture.
We see patterns of that in the New Testament, where they are praying to God quoting from Scripture in the Old Testament and putting them together in a way to express a basis for their petition to God in terms of their prayer.
2. Four basic elements to every prayer, using the acronym of CATS.
You don’t have every element every time you pray, because sometimes you have to confess, but other times you know that you’re in right relationship with the Lord because you keep short accounts, so you can just send off these little bullet prayers. Part of prayer includes:
C Confession, we admit or acknowledge to God our sins.
A Adoration. We praise God for who He is and what He has done. We can have prayers of just adoration.
T Thanksgiving, “Thank You that that guy didn’t hit me just now on the freeway,” things of that nature. We’re thankful for things: when we wake up and look outside, it’s a beautiful day and we’re just thankful we have a beautiful day.
S Supplication, we are requesting something of God.
- Intercession: praying for others
- Petitions: praying for ourselves.
I went through a variety of verses to show that we are to pray to the Father in the name of the Son by the Holy Spirit. We saw that Jesus instructed His disciples in Matthew 6:9 and Matthew 11:25–26 that prayer is to be addressed to the Father. We don’t pray to the Son; we don’t pray to the Holy Spirit.
You’re Protestant, so I know that you’re not even thinking about praying to the saints or to Mary, but we pray only to the Father because we don’t pray to the intercessors. The Holy Spirit and the Lord Jesus Christ are interceding for us in different ways.
We are also told to give thanks and in passages like Colossians 1:3, 1:12, and 3:17, we give thanks to the Father. Paul said never give thanks to anybody else. It’s always addressed to the Father.
1 Peter 1:17 says that if we pray to the Father, so there’s never an indication in any passages of praying to another member of the Trinity.
In John 14:13 and John 16:23, 26, all part of the Upper Room Discourse, Jesus reiterates that when you come to the Father “in My name,” when we ask of the Father “in My name.”
That means we come to the Father on the basis of what Christ did on the Cross. If you do something in the name of somebody, you’re representing them, they are the one on whose basis you are coming into the presence of God.
Although we do this, it doesn’t mean that when we pray we always have to say “in the name of the Son.” It’s a good practice, but we don’t have to do that because we are as a believer coming to the Father in the name of the Son, because He is the One who is our High Priest.
Then, by the Holy Spirit. Romans 8:34 and Romans 7:25, the Holy Spirit is our Intercessor, the One who edits our prayers on their way to Heaven. You didn’t know there was a Divine Editor, but that’s basically what He does. Because the text says we don’t always know how to pray as we ought, so He sort of cleans things up and makes our prayers more presentable.
I concluded that we must learn to pray more diligently. We must teach our children to pray, and we must make prayer a more habitual, non-negotiable practice in our lives.
1 Peter 4:7, “But the end of all things is at hand—or is near—therefore, be serious—and I translated this as—thoughtful.” There are other ways in which this is translated. It’s a difficult word to translate into English, but in its basic uses it has to do with being objectively minded, that you’re thinking clearly.
One passage says that it means clarity of mind and resulting good judgment. That’s what this is talking about. It’s often translated, be sober in your prayers, and that communicates something slightly different in English.
It doesn’t mean don’t be drunk when you pray. It means to be clearheaded, to be focused, to be objective in presenting your prayers to God. That is a great verse for us to remember, that we should be serious and thoughtful in our prayers.
Paul goes on to say in Ephesians 3:15, “from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” then Ephesians 3:16 gives us the content of the prayer,
I want to talk about what he means in Ephesians 3:15, “from whom the whole family and heaven on earth is named.”
This is an unusual verse, and it’s a little difficult in terms of interpretation. There are a variety of ways in which it is understood. But the concept of “the whole family in heaven and earth …” is this talking about everyone that is in Heaven and Earth—believers, unbelievers, angels, elect angels, and fallen angels?
Or is this talking about only believers? In Heaven—those who have died; and those who are on the Earth? I think both could be true, but it’s not exactly clear in this particular passage.
Paul uses an unusual word that is translated as “family” in the context. The phrase “from whom,” is referring back to the previous verse, “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Many times, we take a relative pronoun like this and connect it to the immediately preceding word which would be the Lord Jesus, but it doesn’t fit Him, it fits the head noun of that phrase, which is the Father.
Father is PATER, and we have a little play on words with Paul. He’s got a pun going on here to get our attention. He mentions that the “… Father from whom the whole family is named …”
Family is PATRIA, built on “Father.” PATRIA is an important word. Our English word “patriotic” derives from that. It emphasizes the loyalty that someone has to their homeland or fatherland.
The Greek emphasizes the idea of lineage or descent from the father’s side of the family, the line that would determine one’s clan or tribe.
In the Septuagint the word is used over 150 times, translating Hebrew words in the Old Testament that talk about a family which is headed by a father, in passages like Exodus 6:17, 19.
Then in many cases it’s describing a larger unit made up of several families, referring to a clan or tribe that have common descent from the same father, used in passages like Numbers 2:34, 4:22.
Luke 2:4 in the New Testament refers to Joseph being from the PATRIA of David, so David is the patron. That’s where we get our word “patriarch” also. David is the head of the family of which Joseph and Mary are both descendants. But the emphasis goes back to David and not to Jesse or to Boaz, because David is the one that God gave the Davidic Covenant to, that through his seed or his descendants the Messiah would come.
In Genesis 12:3 the word is used in the Septuagint when God promises Abraham “in you shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” It’s talking about the PATRIA, the families of the earth. There is a reference quoted in Acts 3:25, showing that this phrase “families of the earth” is not restricted to believers or unbelievers, but refers to everyone on the planet.
The New King James version translates this as “whole family.” The Greek word may mean all, every, or it can also mean whole. Most translations that have updated their language translates it as “every.”
The difference is that “whole family” leans more toward the interpretation that this is talking about those who are believers. Whereas “every family” is looking at God as the Father in terms of the fact that He is the Creator. This is one of the few passages in Scripture where the word “Father” is alluded to in relation to God as Creator.
Passages such as John 1:12 clearly teach that the family of God is restricted, in one sense, to only those who are believers, “But as many as received Him—that is, who have received Christ as Savior—to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.”
If you look back at Scripture, Ephesians 3:15 is saying that, “from whom—that is, from God the Father—the whole family—or every family—in heaven and earth is named.” There is a relationship back to God as the Creator. When we look at Scripture, God is the One who names Adam, Adam names Isha: that indicates the role of the Father.
In the Old Testament the father named the children, and in Jewish tradition the son would be named in reference to his father. David would have been known as David Ben Jesse, and Jesus would have been Yeshua Ben Joseph. That always emphasizes the lineage, the family tree, going back in terms of the patriarchy.
The passage here also alludes back when it talks about “every family in heaven.” A few verses back in Ephesians 3:10 there is the mention of the principalities and powers. Some have tried to restrict this to angels, but the general idea within the thrust of this passage is simply emphasizing God, I think, as the Creator and bringing into focus where the prayer is going.
God is the Sovereign Creator who is providentially overseeing not only all of human history, but the spiritual growth of His children. It all fits under the rubric of the fact that God is the Creator who is involved in our lives. Paul is alluding to that here—that we are to be reminded that God is involved in all aspects of His creation and all aspects of our lives.
He is not some absentee landlord, which is the way deism portrayed God, the old imagery of the watchmaker who created the watch and winds it up, and then goes off and does something else and doesn’t pay any attention to it. God is intimately involved in this.
We are to go to Him in prayer. Ephesians 3:16 gives us the content of that prayer. There’s a lot here that needs to be thought through; I want to focus on one aspect of it. It begins with “that,” which in this kind of a construction indicates the content of the prayer, “that He would grant you …”
The verb for “grant” is the general word in Greek for “giving.” Whenever we see the word “giving” in relation to an act of God, we need to think about the grace of God, because God’s giving of anything to us is always unmerited because there’s no necessity for God to give us anything.
The human race is a race of rebels who have rejected God and have turned away from Him and disobeyed Him, starting with Adam. There was nothing internally in God that demanded that He do anything to save any of these rebels, but He did. That’s His love; that’s His grace. That’s what grace means: it’s unmerited favor, and it is not something that we work for or something that we can earn.
If you are following along in the Church History class on Monday night, we’re in that section in the Middle Ages where Roman Catholic theology developed. They have sort of a twisted way of expressing this, because at the bottom line, grace is something that is earned.
The way it works is that when Christ dies on the Cross, He earns all of this merit by His death on the Cross, and then by grace we are able to get bits and pieces of that merit through the sacraments, so it’s not works; it’s grace. It’s a twisted way of using the language.
Ephesians 2:8–9 makes it very clear, “For by grace we have been saved through faith, and that not of ourselves, not of works lest any man should boast.”
God grants it to us: it’s His favor, undeserved and unmerited. Paul is praying that God in His grace would do this, which is given “according to the riches of His glory …” that’s the standard.
We’ve looked at this word before, that “riches” in the Greek is singular, so I’ve been translating it as “wealth,” which is also singular. But riches can be many different kinds of riches; “wealth” is one kind, and it refers to all that we have in Christ. We have been given His wealth and this is our possession.
For most Christians it’s as if we had a bank account with $100 trillion and we’re living as if we are homeless and have nothing whatsoever. We’re not relying on who we are and what we have in Christ.
God is granting this, “according to the riches of His glory …”
What does that mean? A lot of times the way Scripture uses “glory,” we think, “that’s odd, I’m not sure I really understand what that means.” I’ve pointed out many times that “glory” was used as a synonym for all of God’s attributes.
Among the Jews at that time, if they were talking about all of God’s attributes—the totality of His attributes—that is what makes Him so important and so indispensable in our lives.
“Glory” emphasizes the importance, the significance of something. It’s weighty; it’s important. It describes something that’s heavy or weighty. The other day I was reading a quote from someone related to something else, and they were talking about how weighty this issue was, that was part of the discussion.
That’s “glory.” It means something that has great weight and significance. God is weighty; He is the most significant being in our lives, because of the sum total of His essence, the sum total of His attributes. The Jews would just refer to the sum total of God’s attributes, that which makes Him so important is His glory.
When reading a phrase like this, “that God would grant you, according to the riches of His glory,” we could translate that literally as “according to the riches of all that He is, of all of His attributes.” The riches of and the wealth of all that God is, is the basis for what He will give to us.
Paul’s prayer is based on the essence of God. He is appealing to who God is to grant this prayer, “to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.”
What the Bible teaches about God’s power for the believer.
We have an interesting phrase here because it talks about being strengthened with His power. The verb that is used for “being strengthened” is based on the noun, KRATOS, which relates to power.
We’re strengthened with power, DUNAMIS, from which we get our word dynamite. So many unlearned preachers say, “See we have the dynamite of God through the Holy Spirit.” That’s just not how language works.
1. God’s power refers to His omnipotence. God is able to do whatever He desires to do.
Often you will hear people simply define omnipotence on the basis of the etymology that God is all-powerful, and then people say, “Oh! Well that means that God can make a square circle!” No, that’s not what this means.” To avoid those kinds of irrational statement: God is able to do whatever He wants to do.
“Whatever He wants to do” is totally consistent with His character and with reality, so that makes null and void these questions like, “can God make a circle a square?”
In the Scripture there are three areas that are emphasized in relation to God’s power, which I think are important.
a. The first is the power of God in relation to His creation. How powerful is God? Let’s think about what He did in His creation.
Say you have a problem in your life: whether is with work, whether with health or whether the problem is with some people, whether it’s family or friends. Whatever it is, we all have different problems that we have to deal with on any given day.
We think about God’s power that is being made available to us. Some people get the idea, “Well, that’s just, I don’t know, God can’t help me with this.”
Think about God’s power in creation. The more we have learned from science about the nature of the physical world, the more we realize how incredibly complex it is, and how its organization goes down to microscopic particles. It’s just been within the last hundred years or so that we discovered the atom, and we’re able to break the atom down into its components of neutron, electron, and proton.
You also have subatomic particles. There are things that are going on within the atom that we can’t identify that are holding those three elements together. We’re discovering sub-molecular components; there are DNA chains involving so many different components.
Yet they all work in absolute perfect harmony, and that could not have come about by accident. It can’t come about by chance. This has given rise to even secular scientists recognizing that there must be something beyond our understanding out there because this gives clear evidence of an intelligent designer who has made everything.
In historical theology that was known as the teleological argument—an argument from a purpose or design. This is the fact that we have a God who has designed and orchestrated everything and for everything to work together without conflict, without complexity.
Everything works together and God is the One who has created all of that down to the most minute particles which we may not even be aware of yet. There are passages that go to that.
b. We have passages that talk about God’s power in relation to resurrection, the significance of Christ’s resurrection and that resurrection power for our own lives.
c. Other passages deal with God’s power to save us from sin. This is a devastating thing that has happened to the human race in that we are guilty of Adam’s sin, and therefore cannot have any kind of relationship with a righteous God.
Yet that righteous God devised a perfect plan whereby human beings could be saved, that the sin problem would be taken care of. The way it was handled was that the Second Person of the Trinity, God the Son, would enter into human history in a phenomenal way, so that He maintains all of His divine reality, even though He limits the use of His deity in many ways.
He is true humanity so that He can die in the place of human beings. Only a human being can die for human beings, so He dies for us. But because He is also God, His death has an infinite value; and therefore, he can be the perfect substitute for us.
d. A fourth area which we will develop more in the passage, relates to the power that’s available to us in the Church Age through God the Holy Spirit.
Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes—‘attributes’ is usually italicized. That’s what’s indicated there, but actually the Greek just says ‘His invisibles,’ all that is not perceptive to us through our senses—His invisible attributes are clearly seen—that is, through the results of His creation—being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.”
The word there for “eternal” is not a normal word. It’s only used twice in the New Testament, 1) here in Romans 1:20. I think you could come close to emphasizing it here as infinite. It’s again one of those words that can go on a couple of different directions, but it’s applied here to God’s power, which, of course, is without boundaries, so it is infinite. It applies to the power and deity of God here.
Then it is used of those eternal chains of darkness that confine the angels who are in Tartarus. We studied about them in our study on Thursday nights in second Peter. That’s the only two times that this particular word is used, so it’s really drawing a distinction about the nature of God’s power.
As next week is Resurrection Sunday, we have a number of passages that relate to understanding God’s power according to salvation and the resurrection of Christ, specifically.
Romans 1:4, “and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead.”
The resurrection of the dead—that a human being has conquered death and been brought back to life—is evidence of God’s power. That’s the greatest problem we ever face. When we die physically, we’re dead; nothing brings us back to life. We can’t bring ourselves back to life.
But God brings us back to life. He is the Originator of Life, so God can bring us back to life. I don’t think there’s any other problem we face in life that is as difficult for God to solve as death.
The application from that is, if God can solve that problem and provide resurrection, then God is capable of solving any other difficulty or problem that we have in life.
1 Corinthians 6:14, “And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.”
He is capable of handling the problem of death.
1 Corinthians 15:43, in a chapter related to defending the physical bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, Paul says regarding this human body that, “It is sown in dishonor—that is because we are spiritually dead and corrupted by sin, but—it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.”
2 Corinthians 13:4, “For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God—it is God’s omnipotence that brought Christ back from the dead and resurrection and defeat—For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.”
Then Paul says in Philippians 3:10, and this is a tremendous verse, “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection …” This is related to our understanding of God’s power in our own life, both today and in terms of our future resurrection.
Paul is talking here not so much about Phase 3 glorification after death, but about now in this life that we can come to fully grasp the power of God and rely upon it.
The Power of God Related to Redemption
Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.”
The gospel has the power to break through a person’s resistance to God. Just as the Apostle Paul was resistant to the gospel, hated Christians, and was on a mission to obliterate Christianity by killing and executing Christians. Yet the gospel broke through. It’s God’s power to bring people from spiritual death to spiritual life.
1 Peter 1:5 tells us that once we’re saved, God keeps us. We “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
There it is related to our trust in Christ, and we’re kept secure by God until we are eventually saved from the presence of sin in glorification for all eternity.
2. The second broad area where this is used refers to God’s power through the Holy Spirit for the Church Age believer.
In Ephesians 3:16, it is through the Holy Spirit: “that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit …”
This is a different phrase to express an intermediate agent, that God does it through the Holy Spirit. He’s the intermediate agent in this process, and He’s the One who conveys the power of God to us.
That’s in contrast to the other phrase, the use of the preposition DIA with the genitive noun. Like with “through faith” in Ephesians 2:8–9, we’re saved through faith. It’s the intermediate agent.
Here we have another phrase “by means of.” We walk EN PNEUMATI, the Greek preposition EN; we walk by means of the Spirit, and we are filled by means of the Spirit. That indicates that the Holy Spirit is not only the One through whom God strengthens us, but He is the One by whom God strengthens us.
We have to recognize that we have access to God’s power. Remember what we learned in Ephesians 2, that it’s through Christ and His death on the Cross that we now have access by one Spirit to the Father. Here it is strengthened through the Spirit, so there’s two different dimensions of the Holy Spirit’s way of enabling us to face and handle any and every situation.
One of the ways in which He is present and enables us is in the explanation of the gospel to unbelievers. Paul referred to this in 1 Corinthians 2:4–5, “And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power.”
God the Holy Spirit is the One who is really working to make your presentation of the gospel clear. So even when we fumble and bumble and mumble, God the Holy Spirit is the One who is working in the individual to enable them to understand the gospel.
It’s really not dependent upon your skill and ability to present the gospel correctly. You do it the best way you can, but ultimately it’s God the Holy Spirit who’s going to make it clear.
There people who can listen to someone in a denomination that is not explaining the gospel correctly, and yet what they hear is the truth, because God the Holy Spirit is the One who makes the gospel clear to people.
The Holy Spirit is sufficient for us. This is so important in Scripture: that God’s power is able to help us handle any situation. It is more than enough.
In the situation where Paul was praying that God would remove that thorn in the flesh, whatever that problem was in his life, and God answered, 2 Corinthians 12:9, “I’m not going remove it. My grace is sufficient for you. You can handle the situation. I’m not going remove it. You can face it and deal with it on the basis of My grace and my provision.”
Paul says, “Therefore, I will gladly boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
Colossians 1:11, to be “strengthened—DUNAMAO, the verb related to DUNAMIS—to be strengthened with all might, DUNAMIS—the verb and the noun together—according to His glorious power, KRATAO—the verb which we also have in our passage—for all patience and long-suffering with joy.”
It’s God’s power that enables our character to be transformed into that which resembles Christ.
2 Timothy 1:7, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.”
When you read the stories of those who have been martyred for their faith, you recognize that there is a grace that God must give them to have the power of sound mind not to cave into fear, not to fall apart, but to keep their focus on the Lord Jesus Christ even when they are being tortured to death.
2 Peter 1:3, “as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness—the spiritual life—through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.”
His power is sufficient, and we need to learn to trust Him even when we think we may have a better idea.
Paul in Romans 15:13, “Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
“Father, thank You for this time, that we are reminded of Your power, that we are not to rely on our understanding, on our limited capabilities, but we are to trust in You, trust in Scripture, trust in the power of God the Holy Spirit. We are to walk by faith and not rely on what the world tells us will solve our problems, but on Your power and Your Word.
“Father, we thank You that Your grace is sufficient for us, that in Your grace You have given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. And that we need to read Your Bible, read the Word, learn the Word, so that we can learn all about what You have provided for us. Because it is through Your Word and through the power of the Spirit that we are enabled to be strong spiritually to be able to face and endure and handle whatever situation may come in life and that we may do that with stability, with peace, and with joy.
“Father we pray for whoever may be listening to this message, that if they’ve never trusted Christ as Savior, that that is the good news of Christianity. That we can be forgiven of sin freely because of what Christ did for us on the cross. That we do not need to do anything to earn it or deserve it. It is not a result of religious activities; it is simply trust in Christ alone. And that if we trust in Him, You will keep us by Your power, and eventually bring us home to You.
“Father, we pray that we will take this message to heart, and God the Holy Spirit will make these things very clear to us, as we think about them in the days to come. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”