In part A of this lesson, we saw that Paul identifies 4 concrete blessings that our spiritual life should be growing into. Here Paul explores the fourth of these blessings, “his incomparably great power for us who believe”, in greater detail.
“What power?” might be the response of an unbeliever. How many Christians live a powerful life? What is the Spirit saying through Paul? What is this power that is ours in Christ?
We’re told that it is like the power that God used in Christ when God raised him from the dead and seated him in heaven. How is our power like God’s power?
First we see that this is power over death. I have a friend who’s husband was pronounced dead and then revived through the prayers of the church, but that is a rare exception. This is a power available to all Christians, and most often it is on display at funerals and when facing death. Many times I’ve had unbelievers comment on the mixture of sorrow and joy at Christian funerals rather than the sense of irretrievable loss present at most funerals. We don’t have the fear of death that most humans have, and it’s not a pretense. It’s real.
In saying “seated at the right hand of God”, the Spirit is also saying that we have power over Hell. The devil can’t touch us. Many today think that Hell is a fantasy. It’s convenient to think so, if you’re denying God control of your life. For most of history, the fear of God was the most significant factor in binding people to him. Today we preach that God is love, and he most certainly is. I’ve also heard preachers say that “fear of God” really means “healthy respect”. Sadly this is a lie that jeopardizes the souls of their listeners. It was shear terror, not healthy respect, that caused Peter, James and John to fall on their faces trembling. Hell is real, but the church has shrunk from their task of telling people. We can’t claim to love them if we keep this truth from them. Part of the miracle of salvation is that we now relate to God in love, but people who are not living by faith in him should be in terror of him.
Finally, in verse 21, we see that we are given power over all earthly powers. At worst, they can control our bodies, but can’t touch our hearts, souls and minds, where our true life is lived. I’m writing this the day before election day. Tomorrow, many people will vote with hearts and minds that have been shaped by the media and the reports that the media has chosen to feature. As Christians, we are given power over this. Do we live in that power? Do we guard our hearts minds and souls from the deceitful one? Do we nurture them on the word of God. He gives us his wisdom if we seek it. He transforms our minds (Romans 12) as we live in him. He gives us his power. Why would we seek the world’s wisdom, knowing in advance that it will make us act like fools?
So we see that our power is like God’s power in three ways. We also see that, like so many other things in Ephesians, it is put into practice in Christ. Next time we’ll take a closer look at how we receive and use power.