************ Sermon on Ephesians 3:7-21 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on January 27, 2013
"God's Power Through Me"
I have pictures of some mighty men to show you boys. SHOW THE FOLLOWING PICTURES:
-Samson - he tore a lion apart with his bare hands; he pushed down the pillars of the temple
-Žydrunas Savickas of Poland, the winner of the 2012 World's Strongest Man contest; we see him bench pressing a tree; we see him lifting 8 truck tires
-Hulk Hogan - champion wrestler
-Goliath - he was over 9 feet tall
-picture of the Cadets
What was that last picture? Did I make a mistake? Absolutely not! Because of God's power at work in you, each of you cadets are also mighty men. You are God's mighty men. As your theme puts it, "God's Power Through Me."
There are three very important and interesting words in the Greek of verse 7. I will say the Greek words and I want you boys to guess the English word based upon them. The first Greek word is "diakonos." The English word coming from this is (GET RESPONSE) "deacon." The second Greek word is "energia." This one is too easy; the English word coming from this is (GET RESPONSE) "energy." The third Greek word is "dunamis." The English word is (GET RESPONSE) "dynamite."
Let's translate our text with these words in mind. Paul writes, "I became a servant (a deacon) ... through the working (the energy) of his power (his dynamite)." That is, "I became a deacon through the energy of his dynamite."
I have something else to show you boys. HOLD UP ROCKET. I know that every year Cadets does a rocket launch. Each rocket has an engine. I don't know how high your rockets go but I understand some of the model rockets can go as high as 1500 feet. I looked at one of the engines this past week. POINT OUT ENGINE. "Warning - Flamable" was written all over the package. We know it not only can burn but, like dynamite, it can even blow up.
This is what Paul has in mind in your text. "Warning - flamable." "Warning - great power and energy." "Warning - this can blow up." The power, the energy, the dynamite that you boys have in you is great and mighty and awesome. That is what Paul is saying.
I The Power's Display
A Cadets, you know what the space shuttle is? It is based upon the same principles as your rockets. But it is a lot bigger and a lot faster and burns a lot hotter. The space shuttle is the biggest and most awesome display of a rocket's power. A rocket's power is so great we have sent capsules around the moon and even to Mars.
When we go back a couple of chapters to Ephesians 1 we see the most awesome display of the power Paul is talking about in your text. Paul writes,
(Eph 1:19-20) That power is like the working of his mighty strength, (20) which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
According to Paul, the power of God exerted in Christ was best seen on Easter Sunday when God "raised him from the dead" (Eph 1:20). I always thought of Easter as Christ's resurrection. But the New Testament writers almost always see it instead as God's resurrection of Christ. Jesus did not raise Himself from the dead; rather, He was raised by God.
How great is the power of God that He could raise Jesus from the grave. Here is the complete record: Confucius' tomb – occupied. Buddha's tomb – occupied. Mohammed's tomb – occupied. Jesus' tomb – empty! Only the Lord God Almighty has the power to raise from the grave. Allah, the god of Mohammed, doesn't have this power, nor does the god of Confucius, nor does the god of Buddha.
According to Paul, the same mighty power that raised Jesus from the grave was also used to bring Him into the "heavenly realms" (Eph 1:20). Neither Moses, nor David, nor John the Baptist ascended into the heavens; but Christ did. God brought Him up into His presence.
B How much power does it take to bring to life someone who is dead? How much power does it take to raise the body of someone who is in the grave? How much power does it take to bring a real human body into heaven? Can you do it? Can I do it? Can anyone here do it? Only God has this power. Not you, not me.
We are talking about the greatest power on earth. The power God "exerted in Christ" is greater than the power of a thousand suns or a million nuclear bombs. This power is greater than the electricity produced by all the world's dams.
C Of interest to us today is that this great and mighty power is in you and me if we believe in Jesus. According to Paul in Ephesians 1, this "incomparably great power" is "for us who believe" (Eph 1:19). Christ's power is "for us." His resurrection is "for us." His rule and authority as King of the universe is "for us." It is all "for us." Christ makes His power as the risen and ascended Lord – His immense power, energy, dynamite – available to us to use in the Christian life.
II The Power's Source
A Have you boys ever seen a bodybuilder? These men and women have big, bulging muscles. They have muscles on their muscles. How do they get so big and strong? By lifting weights, doing push-ups, doing pull-ups. They work out day after day and week after week. And eventually their muscles develop.
How does a Christian develop strength? How do we plug into the might and power of Christ?
I have something else to show you boys. Who knows what this is? HOLD UP COMPUTER POWER SUPPLY. Where does it come from? What is it used for? GET ANSWERS.
As Christians we also have a "power supply." According to verse 16, our power supply is the Spirit. Paul prays that God the Father "may strengthen you with power through his Spirit" (Eph 3:16). Did you hear that? "Through his Spirit" we are strengthened with power. "Through His Spirit" we become strong. "Through His Spirit" we plug into the resurrection power of Christ. "Through His Spirit" we grow and develop our spiritual muscles.
B Earlier, I showed you boys a picture of Samson tearing a lion apart with his hands. Where did he get the power to do that? This is what Scripture says:
(Judg 14:6) The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power so that he tore the lion apart with his bare hands as he might have torn a young goat.Did you hear that? The Spirit of the Lord came upon him. And he was filled with power.
Another time, Samson was tied up in ropes and was being delivered to the Philistines. Listen to what happens next:
(Judg 15:14-15) As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him in power. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. (15) Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men.He was able to break ropes like they were threads. He used the jawbone of a donkey against a thousand armed men. How? Because the Spirit of the Lord came upon him in power.
Boys, do you see what happens when you are filled with the Spirit of the Lord? When you are filled with the Spirit of the Lord, you are filled with the power, energy, dynamite of Jesus.
III The Power's Extent
A In talking about Jesus and grace and mercy, the Apostle John can write, "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us" (1Jn 3:1). We can say the same thing about power: "How great is the power the Father has lavished on us."
How great is this power? Listen carefully to the words of verse 20:
(Eph 3:20) Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,God's power is able to do more than we can ask or even imagine. God is the God of more. More than we ask for. More than what we imagine.
B What do you boys pray for? With His power that is at work within us, God can do more than what we ask for. Maybe you pray for someone who is dying but God says "I can do more" and they live for another 30 or 40 years. Maybe you pray that a friend's dad gets a job but God says "I can do more" and he gets a job that pays off all his bills. Maybe you pray for someone who is not a Christian that they profess faith in Christ but God says "I can do more" and they not only believe in Jesus but become a leader in the church.
I want you to imagine yourselves fifteen years from now. You all will be between 20-25 years old. Can you even think that far ahead? What do you think your life will be like? With His power that is at work within us, God can do more than what we imagine. You imagine yourself in college but God says "I can do more" and you start your own business. You imagine yourself coming to church with your wife and children but God says "I can do more" and you end up taking Pete's place as head Cadet counselor or my place as pastor.
C Cadets, take your prayers and hopes and dreams and multiply them by ten, and then by one hundred, and then by one thousand. And God will keep saying "I can do more. I can do more with my power at work within you."
We tend to think small and pray small and imagine small. And, we make God small like us. But God is BIG and He wants us to think BIG and pray BIG and imagine BIG.
Our minds can't stretch far enough to accommodate what God is able to do. Our prayers can't ask enough to accommodate what God is able to do.
Don't think small because our God is NOT small. Don't think small because with His power, energy, dynamite that is at work within us God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.
IV The Power's Purpose
A Remember the pictures I showed you? I showed you Goliath. For what did Goliath use his power? To scare and defeat his enemies. What about Hulk Hogan? He uses his power to win wrestling matches. What about Žydrunas Savickas of Poland? He uses his power to win the title of world's strongest man.
B What about you? What is the purpose of the mighty power, energy, dynamite God has given you? Paul mentions the most important purpose of Christ's power within you in verse 17: "so that Christ may dwell in your hearts."
Each one of you boys is a sinner. Each one of you boys is dead in sin. Not sick. Not dying. But actually dead in sin.
Think of the Apostle Paul. He was dead in sin. He says "I am less than the least" (Eph 3:8). This is a clever play on words. The name Paul means "Little." So Paul is saying, "Not only am I Little but I am less than Little." Paul is thinking of how he persecuted the church and killed Christians. Paul is thinking of how he hated Christ. Yet, Paul is now alive in Christ Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Paul, we would say, is born again.
That is God's goal for each one of you boys. That Christ may dwell in your hearts. That you be born again by the Spirit of Christ. That each of you ask Jesus to take over your heart and your life so that you live for Him. Have you done that? Have you asked King Jesus to sit on your throne? Have you asked King Jesus to be in control of your life?
C We can still say more about Paul. The Apostle Paul had the power of Jesus in his life. He used this power to become a servant of the gospel (cf Eph 3:7). The word he used, remember, is diakonos. Which means deacon or servant. One who serves. Paul did three missionary journeys. He established churches all over the Roman empire. He preached before kings and emperors. He was thrown in prison and was shipwrecked and beaten and went hungry and thirsty. And yet he kept preaching because the power of Christ was inside of him.
Maybe God is calling one of you boys to be a missionary or a pastor like Paul. Maybe God wants you to use the mighty power He has given you so one of you can be the next Billy Graham. This is one way to use the power of Christ within you. Don't laugh about this. Don't think it is impossible. Because He is the God Who does more.
D Let me say one final thing about the purpose of Jesus' power in your life. Paul ends our Scripture reading by saying, "to him be glory ... for ever and ever! Amen" (Eph 3:21).
"To him be glory ..." This is the ultimate purpose of the power of Christ within us. Meaning what? Meaning we are to live for His glory. And praise Him in all that you do. And, like Paul, serve for His glory.
Let me show you again the pictures of some mighty men. SHOW THE FOLLOWING PICTURES:
-Žydrunas Savickas of Poland
-picture of the Cadets
You boys are God's mighty men. And, everyone here is God's mighty men, God's mighty women, God's mighty children. Why? Because, by the Spirit, you have the power, energy, dynamite of the resurrected and ascended Christ in You.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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