Ephesians 1_15-23      Exceedingly Great Power

Rev. David Holwick  ZE

First Baptist Church

Ledgewood, New Jersey

September 15, 1991

Ephesians 1:15-23


  I. There is more to the Christian life than a "decision."

      A. The Ephesians have very great blessings (1:1-14).

          1) However, they still need prayer.

          2) His thanksgiving soon turns into an intercession for them.

      B. Paul wants them to know more and more the power of God's grace.

          1) Salvation is the beginning of a new life, not the end.

              a) It is a first step.

              b) Decisions at Billy Graham Crusade:  many will falter.

          2) Tremendous possibilities are ahead for them.

              a) Paul's prayers give a picture of the depth of the

                    Christian life.

              b) If you are stagnant, pay attention.

II. The Prayer.

      A. Introduction:  Paul has heard of their faith and love.    1:15

          1) Love is more than feelings.

              a) It is an attitude of practical concern.

              b) Therefore it can be commanded.

          2) Paul thanks God they have practiced this.             1:16

      B. He wants them to have more knowledge of God.              1:17

          1) "Know him" personally.                1:17

              a) Most important thing in Christian life.

              b) Philosophy says "Know thyself."

                  1> Christianity says "Know God."

              c) Wisdom & Revelation:  God must reveal himself to us.

          2) Know his benefits by experience.      1:18

              a) Enlightenment comes through the "eyes of the heart."

                  1> The heart is not just emotion, but mind.

              b) Three things are known through enlightenment:

III. The hope of God's calling.          1:18

      A. Call - God takes the initiative in reaching us.

          1) It is the very beginning of the Christian life.

          2) But the Christian's call includes more:

              a) Called to be holy.

              b) Called to make peace.

              c) Called to be in fellowship and to live a new life.

      B. Hope is not wishful thinking, but glad confidence.    Heb 6:19

          1) Humans need hope to survive.

      Maj. Harold Kushner, who was held by the Viet Cong for 5 and a

         half years gives this true account:

      Among the prisoners in Kushner's POW camp was a tough young

         marine, 24 years old, who had already survived two years

           of prison-camp life in relatively good health.

      Part of the reason for this was the camp commander had

         promised to release the man if he cooperated.

      Since this had been done before with the others, the marine

         turned into a model POW and the leader of the camp's

           thought-reform group.

      As time passed he gradually realized that his captors had

         lied to him.

      When the full realization of this took hold he became a


      He refused to do all work, rejected all offers of food and

         encouragement, simply lay on his cot sucking his thumb.

      In a matter of weeks he was dead.


IV. The riches of God's inheritance.             1:18

      A. Most people want to be rich.

          1) Even Christians have been known to buy lottery tickets.

          2) (In New Jersey, it helps to be connected to the Mob.)

      B. God has better things than money in store for Christians.

          1) Spiritual riches in eternity - and now.

          2) Yet many go through life with an attitude of poverty.

          Charles Swindoll gives a vivid description of one poor

             rich man:

          Howard Hughes was one of the richest men in the world, with

             the destinies of thousands of people--perhaps even of

                  governments--at his disposal.

          Yet he lived a sunless, joyless, half-lunatic life.

          In his later years he fled from one resort hotel to another-

             -Las Vegas, Nicaragua, Acapulco.

          His physical appearance become odder and odder.

          His straggly beard hung to his waist and his hair reached

             to the middle of his back.

          His fingernails were two inches long, and his toenails hadn't

             been trimmed for so long they resembled corkscrews.

          "As far as I know," a Hughes confidant once said, "he's

             never loved any woman.

          It's sex, or a good secretary, or good box office--that is

             all a woman means to him."

          Hughes often said, "Every man has his price or a guy like me

             couldn't exist."

          Yet no amount of money bought the affection of his


          Most of his employees who have broken the silence report

             their disgust for him.

          Why was Hughes so isolated and so lonely?

          Why with almost unlimited money, hundreds of aides, and

             countless beautiful women available to him, was he so


          Simply because he chose to be.

          It is an old truth that God gave us things to use and

             people to enjoy.

          Hughes never learned to enjoy people.

             He was too busy manipulating them.


      C. Do you enjoy all the gifts God has given you?

          1) -Before he perhaps takes them away?

  V. The exceeding greatness of God's power.          1:19

      A. Climax of the passage.

          1) "Call" looks to the beginning of the Christian life.

          2) "Inheritance" focuses on the end.

          3) "Power" must apply to right now.

      B. Not that they be given power, but know it is in them.

          1) Section gives assurance to believers.

          2) KJV: "usward"; RSV: "in us".

VI. How great is the power?

      A. Paul piles up words:  power > great power > exceeding great power.

          1) According to working of his power.

          2) "Working" means energy.   (Dynamite?)

      B. Demonstration of God's power - the Resurrection of Jesus.   1:20

          1) It is the proof that any obstacle in our path can be overcome.

          2) Even death has been conquered.

      C. If God can raise Jesus, what can he do through you?

         Life story of William Booth:

            His father's death led him to examine his life.

            He became saved and discovered the Wesleyan church.

         Salvation became real to him when he returned a silver pencil

            box to a boy he had cheated.

         After a while Booth felt that the regular churches weren't doing

            enough to change the world.

         So he set up his own army of soldiers for Christ.

         In sixty years of active ministry, he preached 60,000 sermons,

            travelled 60,000 miles, and went to 55 countries to recruit

               2,000,000 soldiers for his army - The Salvation Army.

         Eerdman's Handbook to the History of Christianity reads,

           "The Salvation Army was concerned about spiritual rather than

               material conditions.

            The first thing to be done to improve the condition of the

               wretched was to get at their hearts."

         At his funeral, a former prostitute, now saved, placed three

            beginning-to-fade carnations on the casket.

         They remained to the end of the service, the only flowers on it.

         Queen Mary was standing nearby, and when she turned to the girl,

            perhaps with an enquiring look, the girl said simply,

         "He cared for the likes of us."


         What could the power of God do in your life?

         Who will be changed for eternity because of you?

VII. The Church as the channel of Jesus' power.

      A. Focusing on Jesus.                             1:20-22

          1) God's power must be appropriated through Jesus.

          2) All things put under Jesus' feet - he has conquered them.

          3) We can conquer anything with his help.

      B. Experiencing Jesus through the Church.

          1) We can best have a relationship with Jesus through the church.

              a) Jesus is the head.             1:22

                  1> Authority and life flow through him.

              b) The Church is his body.        1:22-23

                  1> We are the "fullness" of Christ.

                  2> Difficult phrase, but probably means he fills the

                        church and gives it his power.

          2) Is the power of Jesus in our church?

Copyright 2017 by Rev. David Holwick

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