“Glorify the All Powerful One” He Directs His Power Toward Us
INTRODUCTION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 3.20-21
Ephesians chapter 3. In our fallen and limited condition, one of our issues is our inability to think highly of God.
And because we do not think highly of God we fail to give him glory and praise Him as we should.
Let’s read Ephesians 3:14-21 14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
This is the last message of this first section in the book of Ephesians. These first three chapters have been doctrinal. The last three chapters in Ephesians are practical.
Remember to whom Paul is writing. He is writing to the believers in Ephesus. And they are a unique mixture of Jew and Gentile. And as such, they are uniquely tempted to be at odds with one another. And Paul explains in chapter 2 how God could bring both Jew and Gentile into the church. He did that by ending the authority of the Mosaic Law in order that the Gentiles could become a part of God’s people and a part of God’s salvation as Gentiles, and not being a part of the Jewish religion.
And as we noted on several occasions, believing Jews and Gentiles in the first century would have struggled to love one another. Because of that, Paul prays what he does here. He prays, in his one request at the end of verse 16, that we would be strengthened with power through God’s Spirit in our inner man. That’s the one request. And because we are rooted and grounded in the love of God through salvation, Paul desires through that one request that we would come to comprehend the multidimensional, yes, the infinite incomprehensible love of Christ. And if we do that, we will grow in Christ, verse 19 says. In Paul’s words “we will be filled up to all the fullness of God.”
Growth in Christ happens in this passage through increasingly comprehending the love of Christ. Through that we will be enabled to express that love toward one another and toward God. This is why Jesus can say that “All men will know that you are my disciples if you” what? “…. Have love for one another.” The more we comprehend the love of Christ, the more we will grow and the more we will express love for one another.
So this prayer is exactly what the Jews and Gentiles needed. They were struggling in their growth in Christ, even to love one another. They didn’t think that they themselves could possibly grow spiritually to the point where they could effectively love one another. They struggled to ask or to think that God could possibly strengthen them to the point that they could effectively and noticeably grow in Christ.
And the way growth happens in this passage is comprehending the incomprehensible. Paul’s prayer is quite bold in this sense. He has the audacity to ask God that God’s people will be able comprehend the incomprehensible. There has been no prayer ever penned with such a bold request: a strengthening with God’s power so that we might know something we really can’t know: the infinite love of Christ.
And we, too, are thinking at this point, “how on earth is this even possible?” It does not make sense. I’m tempted to hear this, but not do pray it. And Paul knows the skepticism. He understands the frailty of our experiences. He knows we live in these earthly bodies of dust. And he understands the sinfulness that we have. He knows that we’ll be tempted think “Oh, how could I ever grow in Christ! Or, how could He ever do a mighty work of growth in so-and-so’s life.” Oh…whoa is us…we can’t do it…God will never make us more godly…..
Paul knows our thoughts on this….So that’s why he writes the doxology in verses 20-21. A doxology is a short description of praise to God. So if you think that it is impossible for God to strengthen you with his power through his Holy Spirit so that you might come to really comprehend the infinite love of Christ and so that then, in turn, you might be filled up with all of God’s fullness, yes, and grow in Christ … If you think this is too hard for God or impossible what you need is to understand Ephesians 3:20-21 20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, 21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
You see there is a big difference between God and us. I don’t know if you knew that. There is a big difference between what we ask and what God is able to do.
There is a big difference between what we think and God’s abilities.
So from last time, we go from the sanctifying ability of the unfathomable depths of Christ’s love …and just in case you didn’t think this is able to happen for you…now, we go to the exceeding abundance of his power to accomplish your growth in Christ. I’d like to preach this morning that we “Glorify the All Powerful One” who directs His sanctifying power toward us. “Glorify the All Powerful One” why? Because He directs His sanctifying power toward us.
The reason why you are down on yourself for your lack of growth in Christ is that you have not kept on experiencing the strength of the power of God the Father through His Holy Spirit in your heart.
God’s process of sanctification…God’s process of making you more godly in this passage is very simple. If the Holy Spirit comes and delivers to your heart the strengthening with God’s power that it needs, then you will come to comprehend the love of Christ. At that point then you will begin the process of being filled with all the fullness of God. And so it starts with prayer for God’s strengthening in your heart. Have you prayed this?
If you begin to pray that, verses 20-21 teach us that God the Father will begin to work beyond what you could ask. What are you asking for? You’re asking verses 14-19, you are asking for growth in Christ. To ask for growth in Christ, ask to be strengthened in your heart. Now, as you ask that …
Verses 20 to 21 teach us that the Father will work beyond your asking.
And so you cannot pray verse 14-19 and doubt verses 20-21. In verses 20-21, He is the all-powerful one who accomplishes incredible acts of growth in Christ, explicable to human imaginations.
That is the point. God is all-powerful. That power in this context of this prayer is a power for growth in Christ. It is this kind of power that is described.
Now, there are two parts to any doxology in Scripture. The first is the one to whom glory is given. And the second part is the giving of that glory, or giving praise.
TRANS: So, first in this doxology, to whom is glory given? Glory is given to God the all-powerful who directs his power toward us.
God the All Powerful Directs His Power Toward Us
Verse 20 …
Ephesians 3:20 Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, …and that’s an incomplete thought …
That “to him” at the beginning of verse 20 is repeated in verse 21 to continue the thought. So, verse 20 “to Him” [read fast…] who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us .. to Him what? …verse 21…
Ephesians 3:21 to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
Wordplay on Power
Now, there is a wordplay on power in verse 20. To him “who is able to do” … That phrase “who is able to do” is one word in the original language and it looks an awful lot like the word for power toward the end of verse 20. “According to the power that works within us.”
I have never pronounced a Greek word from the pulpit, but I will this morning so that you see the wordplay. The Greek word sounds like dunamai. Who is able to do sounds like dunamai in the original language.
Verse 20, look at it, to Him who dunamai’s far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think according to the dunamis that works within us.
And so the point here is “the one that is able to do” is doing that within us. The one who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think… He is the one who is energizing that power within us. He is doing this.
The work that he does …this power for sanctification …that power He exercises toward us.
The Difference Between Us and God
Now, notice the description of God’s power. “He is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.”
And again be reminded of the first century church in Ephesus. They were likely at their wits end in their constant battle to be discriminatory, hate-filled toward one another, giving preference toward their own race. They were about to lose hope that they could ever grow in Christ!
What Paul is saying is that if you take to heart the prayer in verses 14-19, God is going to work to fill you with all of His fullness. And if you ask for this power, God will work beyond your asking.
As you ask for the power that God the Father can give through His Holy Spirit to strengthen you… as you ask for that power, God is going to work beyond your asking. You ask for what you see in verses 14-19, but God’s ability to work through your prayer for this is really beyond your ability to ask for.
You may ask … Yes and you must ask for this power from God, but know that as you ask this from Him, … know that God will work beyond what you could possibly imagine. He will work beyond your wildest imagination.
When you ask for this, what will happen will amaze you! You will certainly truly come to experience the love of Christ … And you will know what it is to be filled with all the fullness of God!
Ask! Jesus says … Luke 11:9-13 9“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 “For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened. 11 “Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? 12 “Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? 13 “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?”
God promises to work to strengthen you so that you are filled with God’s fullness, but you must ask! And that will all happen because he is at work in you! God the Father will be at work in you through his Holy Spirit. That working in you, that working for your growth in Christ is a working beyond your wildest imaginations.
ILL: There is a way to ask in faith and a way not to. I don’t know if you’ve been around the dinner table with young children before, but children can begin to ask with no trust in you for the food that’s right there on the table!
Have you ever had the food on the table, you’ve prayed for the food, you have the child’s plate in your hand and are reaching to scoop the yummy food onto the child’s plate and low and behold … the child says … “Daddy please give me that and that and that and that! Daddy, Daddy, Daddy…please please please … oh I don’t know if Daddy will give it to me or not, so …. Daddy, Daddy, Daddy….” Oh …child…
Oh…child, I’m scooping it out for you, you barely even have to ask! Do you trust me or not? Just ask!
When they get older they learn… “Daddy, can you please pass the cake?” And finally they fully expect to receive what they ask for.
In the same way, ask in such a way fully expecting to receive power from your heavenly Father that you and those believers for whom you pray will receive growth in Christ. Ask for God’s will and trust Him, fully expecting He will accomplish His will. You know verses 14-19 is His will. Ask! Pray what you know to be God’s will back to Him!
ILL: And Paul knows we doubt this, so he stacks up words to make the point. And the way that you can think of his use of words piled on is kind of like a pyramid. I don’t know if you saw the news about the ancient Egyptian pyramids, but scientists say they have finally solved mystery of how the ancient Egyptians built the pyramids. The world has been baffled for thousands of years about just how slave workers transported the massive blocks across the Valley of the Kings in around 2,000BC.
Now physicists think they know how… ‘wet sand’.
Dutch researchers have figured out the Egyptians placed those heavy stones on a huge sled, pulled by hundreds of workers, and they simply poured enough water on the sand in front of that sled so that the sled would slide. Dry sand, of course, would just pile up.
…but perhaps you already figured that out.
Then of course you would ramp those stones up until you have a pyramid.
Now, if you think of those pyramids, this phrase in verse 20 is kind of like a pyramid. The main action word at the top of our pyramid is what we’ve been talking about, that we are to [*raise hands, motion out*] …ask. That’s the top stone of our pyramid.
We are in a context of prayer. We’re in a context of prayer for our growth in Christ, us being filled with all of God’s fullness. And Paul is praying for strength from God the Father through the Holy Spirit to accomplish this. We are in a context of asking for growth in Christ. God works through and thankfully beyond… what we could ask. We ask and God works beyond the words we ask and beyond the motive for why we ask. God is able to work in our ability to …ask
Ask [what does it say…*motion down*]
All that we ask
Beyond all that we ask or think [or imagine]
Abundantly beyond all that we ask or think
Far more abundantly above all that we ask or think
God is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.
So, let me ask you. “Is the God you know too small?” But does your conception about who God line up with Him in reality?
To what degree does your conception about who God is match with who He really is?
ILL: AW Tozer said that what you think about God is the most important thing about you. Perhaps you’ve heard it said before… that if we were to put a picture or a video of your conception of God on this screen behind me, would you be ashamed? Would it reflect the truth about God’s ability to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think?
Your lack of prayer for your own growth is the reason why, as of yet, you do not trust God to ask Him to work this power in you…and yes and fully expect Him to do it. Ask and receive! That’s prayer! You ask for what you know is God’s will and receive it! You may have to wait, but expect it!
…”You have not because you ask not.” And perhaps you do not ask because you as yet have not experienced that God’s thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” declares the Lord. 9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.
Our life forever is something beyond our comprehension… “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.”
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
The power of God that is directed right toward you is limitless to enable you to be filled to all of God’s fullness.
ILL: Let’s say you order something online and you know the company has limited supplies. Let’s say at the end of the order, you were asked “Can we substitute this for something else in case we’re out of stock” and you mark yes. Then you get your package in the mail and … low and behold…it’s not what you expected.
In fact, it’s something beyond your wildest imagination! They say “Sorry, your item wasn’t in stock, so we replaced it with something beyond what you could even feel comfortable asking for.”
I’d say you would go there again … and again … and always mark “yes” please replace this if my item is out of stock!
Friends, God is able to do this even beyond the illustration! Ask, ask …always ask to be strengthened so that you might be filled with God’s fullness to grow in Christ.
TRANS: So first, God is all powerful and He directs that power toward us. The second part of any doxology is the glory given. Secondly and lastly this morning “Glorify Him in the Church.”
Glorify Him in the Church
Ephesians 3:21 to Him …. To Him who is able to work beyond our asking … by the way, did you notice its beyond our asking, not without our asking! We must ask!
To Him who works beyond our asking whose working is directed toward us…To this One be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
God deserves glory in the church and in Christ Jesus. Don’t lose this, where does God deserve glory, if we can put it that way?. To him being the glory… to God the Father be the glory in two places. In the church and in Christ.
God the Father receives glory in the church and in Christ. Notice how closely tied together is the church and Jesus Christ. To the degree that God the Father receives glory in Christ Jesus, it is also to that degree that God the Father gets glory in the church. You can’t separate them. How important then, yes is Christ, but how important is the church!
The body of Christ is important, beyond what we think it is! Yes and the local manifestation of the body of Christ is as well.
Those of us who have turned from our sins and asked God to cleanse us from all unrighteousness … We are a part of this universal church, the saints of all time.
Christ came… God in flesh came, knowing that he would die for our sins on the cross. Jesus went willingly to the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. And just as he predicted three days later he rose in his body from the dead. And he has commanded his disciples in all of the nations to preach this good news to all the nations that all everywhere who would choose to trust him and turn and repent of their sins would receive the gift of eternal life.
Those who receive this gift, not by our works, but according to his mercy who saves us, he places us in the universal church for all time.
Overview of Ephesians up to this point
As many as have received him to them he has given eternal life along with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. He has chosen us before the foundation of the world that we would be holy before him.
He determined beforehand our destiny to be adopted as His children. And we receive all the rights and privileges of being children of God.
We’ve been purchased from the slave market of sin through his blood. And he has made known to us the truth of the end times that all things will be summed up in Jesus Christ. And at that time, we will be shown to be his inheritance.
But until that time, we have been sealed with the Holy Spirit who is the down payment of our future inheritance.
And God has made known to us these things and has given to us these truths! And as a lost sinner before coming to Christ you by no means deserved this! You lived according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air. You indulged the lusts of your flesh and of your mind and you only deserved eternal wrath.
And we were spiritually dead because we were spiritually united to our transgressions. But God because of His rich mercy and because of His great love that he loves us with, He made us alive together with Christ … by His grace alone we have been saved. And He has raised us up with him he has even …can you believe this … the Father has even seated us with Christ in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.
And if you have trusted Christ as your Savior from sin and He has regenerated your heart, this is all true for you so that in the future ages to come he might show how great are his riches in kindness toward us in Christ.
We by no means deserve any of this. This is all because of his grace… And it is all through a first initial jump off the cliff into His arms….kind of trust in him. When we trust him he gives us the gift of salvation.
And after Christ came he struck down the authority of the law of Moses so that we Gentiles no longer are required to come underneath the law of Moses but underneath the law of Christ. Praise the Lord we are free from the Law!
It is because of his blood that we Gentiles now have been brought near to God’s program of salvation and now we have been reconciled with all of the saints for all of time into one body and now we all have access to God the Father through the Holy Spirit.
CONCLUSION What is the Meaning of Ephesians 3.20-21
And we need to come to comprehend all of these things. Ephesians up to this point now is all about us coming to comprehend these things! God has done marvelous things for us! We need Spirit-empowered knowledge to comprehend these things so that we might grow in Christ!
We had no idea what was in store …how God could bring to light this glorious gospel and then, to let it shine in these earthen vessels of clay … O! the treasures that we have in Christ Jesus!
O!… The depth of both the wisdom and the glories of God that He would send His unique Son to die a horrible death that we might be brought near to God to be in fellowship with him forever!
O! The love of Christ that he would die … yes, choose to die for …us!
Christ gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
And so now we are His. And his purpose is to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works! And so if we come to the point where we are at our wits and in our own inabilities to grow…. And in our own inabilities to live the godly life we desire… if we are at our wits end with this … pray! Pray because…
Ephesians 3:20-21 20 God has the power to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the [exponential infinite] power that works within us, 21 [and now because of what He has done in Christ for people all over the world, Jew and Gentile… ] to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.
220 Glorious things. Certainly we have spoken of glorious things!. Then