06 May Hyper-Mega-Dynamite
15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
Imagine a little young girl who lives in an orphanage waiting for someone to adopt her. One day a young couple come into the orphanage and want to talk to the little girl. They invite the girl to have lunch with them and they talk for hours. As they talk, their hearts begin to come together. The little girl thinks to herself, “I wish this couple will adopt me as their child. It will be nice to have parents like them.” And the couple also think “I want this girl to be my daughter.” At the end of lunch, the couple finally say, “We really like you and we want to adopt you as our daughter. What do you think? Will you be our daughter?” Now, what do you think the little girl is going to do? Do you think she will say, “Well, that’s very nice of you guys. But I also need to take care of myself. Can you tell me what’s your plan for me for the next 5 years, 10 years and 30 years? Do you guys have money to pay for my tuition? What about my future husband? Do I get to choose or you guys will choose one for me? What about my dream? Can you help me accomplish my dream? Let’s not hurry into this adoption thing. Let’s do the math first and figure out if you have what it takes to raise me. While we are at it, can you show me your bank statement as well?” No, the little girl will not think that. The moment the offer of adoption is on the table, the little girl will run to the young couple and hug them. She is not going to say, “Show me the money” but she will say, “Daddy, Mommy.” That’s what happen at the moment of adoption.
Same thing happened to us when God adopted us into his family. When we are first adopted into God’s family, we did not think much. All we know is that God in his grace came and rescued us and adopted us into his family. We are no longer orphans but we are children of God. There is forgiveness, love, joy and delight. If you are a Christian, this is true about you. You are adopted into God’s family out of God’s initiative and mercy alone. You did not do anything to deserve your adoption. Your adoption is out of pure grace. However, that’s not the end of our story. We might be clueless at the beginning. All we know was that we need Christ and he has come to rescue us from our sin. But the story continues. Now that we are in the family, we eventually need to know, “Who is this family? What is this last name that is now mine? Who am I now?” These are the sorts of question that the little girl will eventually need an answer for. And these are the sorts of question and answer that we also need to know as Christians. Because most of our problems lies at the fact that we do not know what we possess. Let me repeat that. Most of our problems as Christians lies at the fact that we do not know what we possess. We do not know what we have.
Let’s continue the little girl’s illustration. What if this little girl is adopted by one of the most powerful and riches people in the world? What if this couple show the little girl a bank account under her name with 12 digit numbers in it? She won’t go, “I knew it. I pick the right family to adopt me. Muahahaha.” No she won’t. Those 12 digit numbers means nothing to her. She is just a little girl. She just wants Daddy and Mommy. But eventually, those 12 digit numbers will matter to her. Her new parents has to teach her what it means to be part of the family. They will show her all the power and privilege that she carries now that she is part of the family. They will have a talk with her that explains, “Sofia, you are our daughter. You are the daughter of one the most powerful and riches family in the world. And one day, all this power and wealth will be yours. In fact, you already have so much right now in your bank accounts. You can do so much good with it. I need you to know who you are and what you possess.” Are you with me?
This is what happen in our passage for today. The book of Ephesians is written by Paul for the church in Ephesus. And the verses that we just read is actually Paul’s prayer for the people of God in Ephesus. So what we are doing right now is we are actually eavesdropping at Paul’s prayer to God. And the content of Paul’s prayer is very intriguing. It is very different from how we usually pray for others. When I pray for other Christian, I usually pray for things like, “Lord, please grant him PR. He’s been faithful and he loves you very much. Please help him on his PR application.” Or, “God, you know she needs a job. Please give her the best job that suits her passion and skill.” Or “God, please help my pastor. He has been single for too long. Even longer than I’ve been alive.” When we pray for others, we pray for a better situation and a better circumstance etc. And those are not wrong. We need to pray for them. But if we listen to Paul’s prayer, and not only Paul’s but also Jesus’ prayer, then we would know that there is something more fundamental that we need than a better circumstance. Because if we have this thing that Paul prayed for, then it does not matter what we face in life, we will be fine. But if we do not have it, we can live our best life now but it will come to nothing. It will eventually destroy us. What we desperately need above all else is to know God and everything we already possessed in him.
Ephesians 1:15-18 – 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, 17 that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, 18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know…
Please note that Paul did not pray for the church in Ephesus to know more about God but for them to know God. There is a big difference between knowing about something and knowing something. One is cognitive knowledge and the other is experiential knowledge. I’ve used many illustration to explain this in the past but my favourite one is still Iluh’s fried rice. Because almost none of you ever try it. I can tell you a lot about Iluh’s fried rice. I can tell you that it is very spicy, sweet, use lapcong, and it tastes like heaven in your mouth. I can tell you all the ingredients she used. Well, I can’t actually. I do not know what she used but let’s say I do and I give you the list and the detail step by step how to cook it. You know everything there is to know about Iluh’s fried rice to the very detail. But all that knowing cannot substitute the kind of knowing that you have when you took a spoonful of Iluh’s fried rice, put it into your mouth, and begin to chew it slowly. It is heaven in your mouth. You will never have this kind of experiential knowledge until you get to eat Iluh’s fried rice.
This is what Paul prayed for. That the church not only know about God but that the church in Ephesus may know God. Why did he pray to God about it? Because the only one that can turn intellectual knowledge into experiential knowledge is the Spirit of wisdom, or the Holy Spirit. No preacher can do this for you. It takes a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the eyes of your hearts. But he does not stop there. Paul not only pray that the church may know God, but also for the church to know what they already possess in Christ. Just like the little girl that is adopted into the rich family, we also need to know what is already ours in Christ. We need to know our new last name and what it carries. And this is also something that only the Holy Spirit can do for us. This is why Paul prayed to God for the church in Ephesus may know what they possessed in Christ. Paul could have simply told them, “Hey church in Ephesus, I need you to know all these things. 1, 2, 3,…” But it won’t work. What the church in Ephesus desperately need is for the eyes of the heart to see. They don’t need more truth or a better truth. What they need is the eyes to see what they already have. And this is something that only the Holy Spirit can do. And I am convinced this is exactly what our church need. The reason many of you are feeling dry and cold spiritually, the reason many of you are bored as Christians, the reason many of you are not in love with Jesus, it is not because you are missing a certain piece of puzzle that will finally connect the dots. What you need is for the Holy Spirit to open your spiritual eyes. You need the Holy Spirit to take the message of the gospel and make it come alive in your hearts. You need to know not only that the gospel is a good news but you need to taste the sweetness and the joy of that good news. So, let’s pray for the Holy Spirit to open the eyes of our hearts to see.
There are three things Paul prayed for God to enable the church to see: The hope of God’s calling; The riches of God’s glorious inheritance; The immeasurable greatness of God’s power. I want to take a look at the first two briefly and spend most of our time in the third point.
The hope of God’s calling
Ephesians 1:18 – having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,
The first thing that Paul wants us to know is the hope to which God has called us. Let me explain. The way we used the word hope and the way the Bible use the word hope is very different. When we use the word hope, we mean something that we wish and desire to happen. When I was 16, one of my hope is to be married by 21. When I was 21, my hope is to be married by 25. When I was 25, my hope is to be married by 30. When I was 30, my hope is to be married by 40. When I am 40, my hope is getting married to Jesus in the wedding supper of the Lamb of God. You get the point. Whenever we used the word hope, we expressed what we desire to happen but there is no certainty of it happening. Biblical hope is different. When the Bible use the word hope, it is not something we are unsure about. Biblical hope is something that has not happen but something that you know certainly will happen. And this hope reshapes every area of your life. It is not a mere wish but it is a certainty. Every Christians must know this hope.
What sort of hope is it? I’m glad you asked. It is the hope of God’s calling. What calling? You have to read the earlier part of Ephesians 1. Ephesians 1:4 – even as he chose us in him before the foundations of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. Did you get that? Paul says that you and I are chosen by God before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in front of him. Okay pause for a second. Do you know what it means? It means that before you do anything good or bad, before you know what is right and wrong, before you even came to be, God already chose you. His choosing of you is not based on how good you are but based on his love alone. And not only that, but God chose you to be holy and blameless before him. You don’t get to choose whether or not you want to be holy and blameless. If God chose you, you will be holy and blameless. It is a certainty. Your Christian life does not begin with you and it does not rely on you. It is God’s work alone. He will not fail what he start. This is our hope. Christians, we are prisoners of hope because we are not the product of our own strength, we are the product of God’s calling.
Hear me out on this. If there is nothing we can do to save ourselves, if our salvation is simply the product of God’s work in us, then there is nothing we can do to lose our salvation because there is nothing greater, nothing stronger than the call of God that saves us in the first place. I am not a Christian because I am better than you. I am a Christian because God called me. I am a product of miracle. You are a product of miracle. This is my hope. This is your hope. And when the day come that I have to stand before God, the pronouncement before us will be “holy and blameless.” “When he shall come in trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in his righteousness alone, faultless stand before the throne.” This is our destiny as Christians. Can you see it? It is destiny of hope. This is what we already possessed in Christ. But it also means that God can save anyone. It does not matter how bad they are, does not matter how wicked and evil they are, there is always hope for them. We can never say, “There is no hope for him or her.” The call of God can transform the worst of men.
The riches of God’s glorious inheritance
Ephesians 1:18 – having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
Pay careful attention. Paul does not say “the riches of your glorious inheritance” but Paul says, “the riches of his glorious inheritance.” Yes, we have inheritance from God but what Paul wants us to know is not our inheritance but Gods inheritance. And this is massive. Do you know what God’s inheritance is? It is you and me. Do you know that you are God’s glorious inheritance? Imagine that you are invited to Bill Gates’ birthday party. Just imagine it. I know it is very unlikely that we are invited to Bill’s birthday bash but imagination is free. So, you are invited to Bill Gates’ birthday party. You are excited. You tell everyone about it. And you want to make a good impression. My question is, what would you get Bill for a present? The kind of present that makes him say, “I really wanted this. Thank you.” The answer is, nothing. Whatever you get for him, he owns a better one. You buy him clothes, he owns malls. You buy him a house, he owns islands. You buy him car, he owns private jet. You buy him laptop, he owns Windows. You buy him Ipad, he throw you out of the party. I mean, let’s not even talk about Bill Gates. I don’t even know what to get my dad for his birthday gift. He owns everything and whatever I give him, he owns a better one. So I decided not to get him anything. Anyone can relate with me?
But here Paul is saying, “There is one thing that excites God. There is one thing that the God of the universe called his glorious inheritance.” Think about it. He owns the universe. He owns every star in existence. He created them. What gift can you give this God that will excite him? Paul’s answer is you. It’s me. It’s the Christians. Out of everything in the universe, God called us his glorious inheritance. And Paul is saying, “I want you to know and experience what it means to be God’s glorious inheritance.” Because if you know and experience how precious you are to God, it will transform everything about you. It will empower us to live with boldness rather than in fear and anxiety. Your lives are not determined by what you see in the mirror but by what God says about you. When the love of God becomes real to you, it does not matter what lies behind us and what comes our way. You know you will be okay because you are God’s glorious inheritance. In cancer, in bankruptcy, in trial, in tribulation, in broken heart, in suffering, in persecution, I am loved by God and nothing can separate me from his love. Oh that the eyes of our hearts may see the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in the saints.
The immeasurable greatness of God’s power
Ephesians 1:19 – 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might
Here comes my last point and also my longest point. I have three sub-points for this point. Stick with me. This is very beautiful. Paul wants every Christian to know experientially that there is a power inside of them. And it is not an ordinary kind of power. Paul wants you to know the greatness of God’s power. But that’s still not enough for Paul. He not only wants you know the greatness of God’s power but says the “immeasurable greatness of his power.” And what’s amazing about this power is that it is not a theoretical power. It is not the kind of power that you only know possible in theory like Iron-man. It is the power that is already working in every believer. The Greek words for it is “uperballon megethos dunameos.” The loose literal English translation of these Greek words is “hyper-mega-dynamite.” There is a difference in knowing that a dynamite is powerful enough to kill you and experiencing the explosion of dynamite for yourself. When you experience the power of dynamite, well you won’t be here anymore. And it is not only a dynamite. It is a hyper-mega-dynamite. And what Paul is saying that every believer has God’s hyper-mega-dynamite in them. And it is the kind of power already working in them. It is not an abstract power. The question is, do you know that you have the immeasurable greatness of God’s power working in you? Have you experience the explosion? My fear is that most of you do not know the power of God working in you and that’s why you never draw from that power and thus you never experience it. Paul tells us three things about the power of God working in us.
Ephesians 1:19-20 – 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,
This is amazing. The power that is working in every believer is the same power that raised Jesus from the dead. It is the resurrection power! Can you imagine that? With all the advancement of technology, our society is getting more powerful every day. There was a day where chicken pox can easily kill the whole village. But today, chicken pox is considered as nothing. All you need to do is to get an injection for it. Yet with all the advancement of technology, there is still one thing that it cannot do. Defeat death. Death is coming for all of us at 100% rate. You and I will die. But for Christian, death is not the end of our story because Jesus has defeated death by his resurrection. For Christians, death is the entrance to paradise. Jesus conquered death and removed the sting of death. The power of God enables Jesus to do what no human and technology can do. And what is amazing is that the same power that raised Jesus from the death is working in all of us!
The resurrection power of God is the only reason that we can call ourselves Christian. You and I were once dead in our sin but God in his power breathe the resurrection power of Christ into our lives. He raised us from our death and gives us new life. He conquered our rebellious sinful hearts and gave us new hearts that beats for God and loves one another. The resurrection power of Christ saved you from your sin. It is a power that transform your past. But it is also a power that guarantee your future. As Jesus overcame death, we will overcome death. Our future is secure. The resurrection power that raised us from our spiritual deaths and guarantee our future victory over physical deaths will not fail to sustain us in the present. How? Because it is not only resurrection power but it is also reigning power.
Ephesians 1:20-21 – 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
The power of God that is working in us is the reigning power of Christ who sit at the right hand of God. The right hand of God is a metaphor of a position of highest authority and power. Jesus has power and authority over every single molecule in the universe. And he is reigning right now. Not just in the future, but at this very second, Jesus is reigning in power. “All rule and authority and power and dominion” includes every kind of power you can think of. Today we live in a society with many power working against us. The power of media, the power of gossip, the power of sickness, the power of political party, the power of the government, the power of angels and demons, the power of death. And this is what Paul is saying. “Christ’s power reign far above them all.” And this power not only reign in this age but also in the age to come. Translation – this reigning power will never expire. It will continue forever and ever. Jesus has no rival. All his enemies are under his reigning power. So Christians, whatever enemies you are facing, know this: Jesus has defeated your enemies. He is right now reigning with power at the right hand of God.
Ephesians 1:22-23 – 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
This is my last point and my favourite part of these verses. The immeasurable greatness of God’s power is not only a resurrection and a reigning power but it is also a revealed power. It is the kind of power that he wants to demonstrate to the world. It is not a hidden, secret power. It is power for everyone to see. And this is what blow my mind. In order to reveal the immeasurable greatness of his power, God decided to use the church. You see, sometime we have a very wrong understanding of church. Sometime we think a church is a place we go to every Sunday. If church is a place we go to, then we are consumers. We get to decide where we want to go based on our likes and wants. “The preaching in ROCK church is too long. I prefer a church with 15 minutes sermon.” Or, “I don’t like the Praise and Worship in that church. I prefer a church with organ and choir.” What we are doing is we choose a church based on what works best for us. You only commit to a church if its fit all your likes and wants. If a church is a place you go to, then you are a consumer.
But Paul is very clear. The church is not a place you go to but the church is the body where Christ is the head. What does it mean? It means that the church is a place where the resurrection and reigning power of Christ is revealed. Jesus is all-powerful by himself. He can do whatever he wants with his power. He does not need you and me. He does not need the church. But yet God decided to connect Christ and the church is such a way that a head cannot function without the body. This is amazing. It means that whatever plan God has in motion to reveal the immeasurable greatness of his power, he will do it through the church. Do you realize how amazing this is? Paul says that the fullness of Christ fills all in all. It means that the fullness of Christ has no bound. It can fill the entire universe. But then God unites Christ and the church so that the fullness of Christ dwells in the church. All authority, all power, all dominion, everything that is true about Christ is given to the church. As the body of Christ, the church possesses everything that the head possesses.
Let me put it in an illustration for you. I am a pastor. I work fulltime at ROCK Sydney church and I am currently studying part time at Morling College. I don’t know if you know but a pastor is not a millionaire. I know there are pastors out there who are extremely rich but that’s not the norm. I received salary from the church. Don’t worry, you guys paid me more than enough. I am not complaining. This is not a sermon design to increase my salary. #payyocmore. But just like most of you, my salary is not enough to do whatever I want. I have to do this thing called ‘budgeting.’ Because if not, I’ll be in trouble. I have a limited cash flow. However, the awesome thing about living with my parents is that I don’t have to worry about rent and foods. If I am broke, I do not have to live of Indomie. I have Iluh, my saviour. But let’s say I meet a girl and fell in love. After dating for some time, we decided to get married. And this girl is very different from me. This girl is none other than Sofia. By the way, I choose the name Sofia intentionally. I made sure to pick a name that none of you have. If you are here and your middle name happen to be Sofia, no baper please. So, I fell in love with Sofia and decided to get married to Sofia. Now, on my wedding day, I will receive many awesome things. I will have the love of my life to be my wife. But do you know what else I will receive that day? Let me tell you. A twelve-digits bank account. Oh yeah, all those money become mine. One minute I have a limited cashflow, and the next minute I don’t have to worry about anything. One minute I have a five digit bank account, the next minute I have twelve. By getting married her to her, by uniting my life to her, everything that belongs to her become mine. By the way, I am not advocating getting married for money. I know I am single but I am not that desperate. This is just an illustration. But you guys get the point. This is what Paul is saying. When Christ the head unites himself to the church, everything that is Christ’s, his power, his authority, his dominion, it all belongs to the church. The church possesses everything that Christ possesses.
So here is the bottom line. God in his sovereign unlimited power has chosen the church to display his glory. He chose to make his supreme power known to the world through the church. J.D. Greear put it this way, “The church is the focal point, the apex, of everything God is doing in the world.” Jesus is not the head of any worldly government or kingdom. Jesus is the head of the church. The church is his body. The church is not a building or an institution but it is the very body of Christ. God is on a mission to save his people. He is on a mission to show the world the immeasurable greatness of his power. And he has chosen the church to be the agent of transformation. He has given all the power he possesses to the church to demonstrate. He has given the church the hyper-mega-dynamite. The question is, do we know that we possess that power? And if we do know, are we living in that power?
Let me give you quick applications and then I am done. Two personal applications and one corporate application. Let’s start with personal application. Do you know that you have God’s hyper-mega-dynamite working in you? Because if you do, then there is no reason for sin to have dominion over you. Sin has no dominion over you. Absolutely none. The power of sin has been defeated by the power of God and that same power is working in you and through you. Whatever sin and struggle that you face, Christ ruled over them. No Christians can say that “the sin is too strong for me to resist.” None. You have the resurrection and the reigning power of Christ working in you. Sin no longer has dominion over you. For most of us, the reason we lost the battle against sin is because we do not know what God has deposited into our account. Or maybe we know but we have not experience it. We have not experience the explosion. And this is why Paul pray this prayer. That the church, including you and I, may experience the explosion power of God.
Another personal application is that the power of God frees you from worrying about your future. Freedom from anxieties. Remember that God’s resurrection power not only breathe lives into your dead spirit but it also defeated death. And Christ is reigning over every power and authority at this very second. If this is true, why are we afraid of the future? Why are we anxious? There is not a single molecule in this universe that is outside of Christ’s reigning power. Translation – there is no accident in God. Everything that he allows in our lives always working for our good and his glory. Always. Because he is reigning over all at this very moment. There is no reason for you to be anxious about the future. Even death itself cannot separate you from Christ. Death is only the entrance door to fullness of his presence.
And now the corporate application. Notice that although this passage is applicable to individual believers, it is first and foremost speaks about the church. The church is the display of the glory of Christ. What is the church? The church is the people of God. It is not just an individual identity but it is a corporate identity. Yes God wants to use you and me to reveal his power to the world but more than that he wants the church to be the display of his glory. You and I are designed to work together in this body called the church to display the glory of Christ. I cannot do it on my own. I mean, seriously. Just take a look at me. I can’t even remember some of your name. But you also cannot do it on your own. We need to do it together as the body of Christ. As a community, we are to display to the world who Jesus is. What Paul essentially saying is, “If you want to see Jesus, look at the church.” The church is the body of Christ.
Let me tell you the problem though. We suck at being the body of Christ. It bewildered me why God chooses the church to display the glory of Christ. History has shown that we fail again and again to be the body of Christ. Looking at our own church, we can list lots of reasons why this church does not display the glory of Christ. Our church is filled with many flaws and weaknesses. Let’s not talk about loving the lost out there, some of us even have difficulties loving one another in the church. Right? But here is what’s amazing. God is aware of all the flaws and weaknesses that the church possesses. But it does not stop him from giving his life for the church. Jesus died at the cross because the church his glorious inheritance. Jesus died at the cross to make all his power available to the church. In spite all the flaws that the church possessed, it does not stop Christ from loving the church. Christ died for the church not because the church is beautiful but to make the church beautiful. As we learn to love one another, as we learn to forgive one another, as we learn to exercise the power God has given to the church, in all our weaknesses and frailties, the love and the grace of God shines bright. He leads us step by step to experience more of his fullness. God has no plan B. The church is God’s plan to display the glory of Christ to the world. You and I are part of God’s plan to display the glory of Christ.
So, here is my encouragement and I promise I finish. Do not make the church your second priority. If Jesus died for the church, then we should give our very best effort, time and commitment to build the church. We are called to display the glory of Christ together. No pastor can do it on his own. It is the role given to the body of Christ. God is ready to transform the world with his power. But he will only do it through you and me. We are the means to display God’s power and glory. So church, let’s do it. Let us be the church that display the power of Christ and the glory of Christ. Let us commit our lives to build a local church that display the glory of Christ.
- How is Paul’s prayer different from our usual prayer? Why is it important to pray like Paul?
- What is hope of God’s calling? How should it affect us?
- What is the riches of God’s inheritance? Why is it precious?
- What is the immeasurable greatness of God’s power?
- How does the power of God enable us to defeat the power of sin?
- How does the power of God freed us from anxieties?
- What does it mean for church to be the body of Christ?
- “The church is the display of the glory of Christ.” Explains the meaning of this statement. What role do I play in displaying the glory of Christ?