The Power of the Resurrection

April 4, 2021 Speaker: Series: Easter 2021

Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Ephesians 1:15–23

Welcome: He is Risen / He is Risen Indeed…

As we turn to Ephesians chapter 1 I want us to take just a moment to think about that statement; 


“He is Risen!  He is Risen Indeed”


The truth of that statement reminds us this morning: The fact that Jesus is risen changes everything about today, tomorrow, even our perspective or the way we view all of our yesterdays… 

He is Risen and that. Changes. Everything!  

That is great news available to us today!


Opening Question for us today: What is your life connected to? 


Let’s keep that in mind as we read from Ephesians 1:15-23 together.


[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. - Ephesians 1:15–23


  • PRAY   


ILLUS: JUST BEFORE WORLD WAR II in the town of Itasca, Texas, a school fire took the lives of 263 children. There was scarcely a family in town that was not touched by this horrifying tragedy. During the war Itasca remained without school facilities. 


But, when the war ended, the town, like many others, began to expand and in fact built a new school that featured what was called “the finest sprinkler system in the world.” Civic pride ran high. Honor students were selected to guide citizens and visitors on tours of the new facility to show them the finest, most advanced sprinkler system technology could supply and money could buy. Never again would Itasca be visited by such a tragedy. 


With the postwar boom the town continued to grow, and seven years later it was necessary to enlarge the school—and in adding the new wing it was discovered that the sprinkler system had never been connected to any water source.


So this morning, I ask again, What is your life connected to?


This is vital to Paul, so much so that in praying for the power that God displayed in Christ’s Resurrection to be present in the lives of those who follow Jesus


Paul’s prayer for the church in Ephesus is more than just a prayer for a group of believers in 62AD so that they would know how Christ had reconciled all of Creation to himself and to God the Father through Jesus’ saving work -or- that they would understand how Christ has united those who believe to him from all nations and continues to unite them together through the church.  No, Paul’s prayer is also instructive for us today - we can learn something about how Paul views the Christian life, we can learn how we can pray for both ourselves and for others.


The beginning of Paul’s prayer is wonderful - to be sure, much of our passage today is one long, run-on sentence that we’ll break down in a few ways but Paul starts with rejoicing and gratitude in the faith of those who believe in verses 15-16.


I love how Paul closes verse 17, heading into verse 18


[May God] give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, [18] having the eyes of your hearts enlightened


Paul is beginning to build his point that: Understanding the Power of the Resurrection is essential in the life of the believer!


We have to see this life beyond just our human eyes, through eyes of faith, opened by the Holy Spirit’s work in us, 


If we don’t have hearts that are enlightened - Trials will never make sense. Hard times will never make sense. Death will never make sense. Pain & illness will never make sense. Spiritual warfare will never make sense.


Paul recognizes these are a part of life, they are results of the brokenness and decay in the world as a result of the fall - where humanity’s sin against God entered the world.


Paul wants us to see beyond our circumstances and know that our loving God is on our side &

looking out for our good. - this has to not only be known but experienced as well...


Perhaps a practical way to illustrate this would be to acknowledge the trouble we can have describing something in nature… let’s say, something like the sunset that I saw with my family over Lake Meade a few years ago


If I were writing I might say that… it was as if God dipped his paintbrush into numerous red hues on the canyon walls around the lake and then cast them across the sky in a moment at sunset.  This moment was glorious, I wouldn’t call myself a writer but it can be difficult to explain.


If I were trying to describe it to my friends into the arts and even design programs I might describe the most vibrant gradient I had ever experienced and then start to rattle off hexadecimal, RGB, CMYK or Pantone color palettes to try to engage the imagination to have a glimpse of what we had experienced.  


Even the photos we have from that trip seem to lack the glory and majesty displayed in the skies in that moment… there’s a vibrance, grandeur, an intangible ‘something missing’ from the photos that always seem to fall short in describing it.  Why?  Because you have to experience it, be immersed in it, surrounded by it for yourself.  It’s not enough to know the language, to describe the mathematics or sciences behind something or even be able to illustrate the color theory.  Sometimes, you’ve just got to experience it.


That’s at the heart, it’s the motivation of Paul’s prayer… that we would experience wisdom and revelation in knowing Him - how scandalous - we can know God, we can experience Him, we can draw near and not be turned away!  It’s this knowing him, this experience of him that allows us to express love toward others as Paul says in v.15


There’s not some new knowledge to the brain that’s needed -rather- a changing the disposition of the heart. 


The Christian life involves an unfolding & enlarging of the hearts openness to the things of God. 


We don’t simply need more truth, or better-more-hidden truth, we simply need our spiritual eyes open to the truths right here before us.  How did this “seeing with opened spiritual eyes” happen practically for Paul?  If I’m reading this passage correctly it seems as if prayer is a big part of it.  Prayer that we may see, know, understand and apply (people that  we know like this we typically call wise!)


After giving thanks, praying that we would know God in an intimate way, Paul then jumps into some practical ways that we can know the power of God through the resurrection… he wants us to KNOW a few things...

Know about our past (v.17-18a)

that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you


This morning you may say, Chris - knowing my past is the easy part, I can’t seem to escape it.  It haunts me everyday in my own mind.  You may be walking through circumstances that are the result, even the consequences of your past - to that I’d say this: I may not know those things, but God does and he offers his rescue to you anyway.  Freely extending his grace toward you.  His cross is powerful enough to cover whatever lurks in the shadows of your past… all you have to do is freely receive.


In the cross we have the greatest display of God’s Love, through the resurrection we have the greatest display of God’s Power


We have been rescued from our own past through the Cross of Jesus Christ


The hope that we have is rooted in the past, anchored well beyond anything that we could have done in our lives because it’s anchored in the finished work of Jesus Christ.


Next, Paul is going to point to the hope we can have for the future in the close of verse 18 where he says...

Know about our future (v.18b)

what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,


This isn’t a reference to any inheritance we receive in him, no, but to His inheritance in us!


Matthew 13:44-46 says that “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. 45 Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. 46 When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”


We are His treasure in the field He bought.

We are His expensive pearl He bought.


And all because of His glorious grace (v.6) of our glorious Father (v.17), He will receive His glorious inheritance (18) -that is- you and me!


[Because He Lives, I Can Face Tomorrow? - verse 2/Chorus]


We are the inheritance of Christ and we share, as we’ll see in the weeks ahead in Romans, in Christ’s inheritance through effective sharing of the good news of the gospel as well as benefits toward us as followers of Christ.

Know there is POWER in our PRESENT (v.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


“… TOWARD US!’ (V.19) How remarkable is this… toward us who believe there is a power that is immeasurable in it’s greatness!


As I said a moment ago - the Cross displays the love of God in a tangible, sacrificial way - the resurrection however, it displays the power of God in the most hopeful of ways…


I’d like to turn to the book of Mark with you now - Mark is a little like the ‘Michael Bay’ of the Gospels - there are explosions, lens flares, epic music, etc. - no, not really.  The reason I say this is because Mark is so succinct in the ways that he describes events from the life of Jesus.  The use of the words, suddenly, immediately, etc. give an indication of a face paced timeline.  


In reality there are 33 years covered leading up to the cross, 3 days between the cross and resurrection followed by 40 days on earth prior to Christ’s ascension.


Today, I’d like to illustrate two things from Mark, chapters 15-16 as it relates to the Crucifixion and subsequent Death of Jesus on the Cross and His Miraculous Resurrection as we go through these next two points.


Mark 15:21–39


[21] And they compelled a passerby, Simon of Cyrene, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross. [22] And they brought him to the place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull). [23] And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it. [24] And they crucified him and divided his garments among them, casting lots for them, to decide what each should take. [25] And it was the third hour when they crucified him. [26] And the inscription of the charge against him read, “The King of the Jews.” [27] And with him they crucified two robbers, one on his right and one on his left. [29] And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads and saying, “Aha! You who would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, [30] save yourself, and come down from the cross!” [31] So also the chief priests with the scribes mocked him to one another, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself. [32] Let the Christ, the King of Israel, come down now from the cross that we may see and believe.” Those who were crucified with him also reviled him.


[33] And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. [34] And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” 


To Verse 37


[37] And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. [38] And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. [39] And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”


Jump down now to chapter 16 where we read:


Mark 16:1–7


[1] When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. [2] And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. [3] And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” [4] And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back—it was very large. [5] And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. [6] And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. [7] But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.”


No created force could ever do this! But if we think back to Ephesians 1, what Paul wants us to see personally and practically is that “the immeasurable greatness of [God’s] power [is] toward us who believe.” 


How so?


First as saving power.  (‘It is Finished’

  • Paul says in the opening verses of Romans, “I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (1:16). 
  • The limitless power of God is brought to bear on souls who are being brought to Christ. This is why no one is beyond his grace. This is why we can confidently offer it to all. Some may say, “You have no idea what I’ve done. My perversions, my betrayals, my deceptions are beyond your sheltered imagination.” But God says his power is adequate—and it is.


Second, this “immeasurable . . . power” comes to us as sanctifying power—that is, power to live godly lives. (In our Romans series, in the weeks ahead we’ll see this as TRANSFORMATION!) 

  • Later in Ephesians Paul asserts that “[God] is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (3:20). 
  • We have, in fact, resurrection power within us. “Do you not know,” says Paul, “that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:3-4). 
  • That is why Paul prays, “. . . that I may know him and the power of his resurrection” (Philippians 3:10). 
  • Christ, by his Spirit, gives “the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe,” so we can live life as we ought. This is resurrection power!


This power is not something that should be understood like dynamite that will blow something to bits-and-pieces, that’s certainly one use of the word.  In this context though, we’re being shown an intrinsic or indwelling power received which enables us to live as we’ve been called to.


The problem is, so many never connect to this power. The system is in place - much like the water sprinklers in a texas schoolhouse, but it is disconnected, disordered even, perhaps because of ignorance, sin or disbelief. 


ILLUS: from my own life, ‘healed of bitterness’ - right here at this altar, arguing with God and in that moment I had an experience with the Resurrection Power of God and my whole perspective was changed in an instant.  That’s not everyone’s experience, often-times that takes years to walk out as it did with some in my own family… the point isn’t how it looks different from one person to the next the point is being able to answer this: What power is your life connected to?  


What power might you be turning to today?  

  • The supposed will-Power to stay in that marriage ‘for the kids’?
  • The power to dull those painful memories from that drink?
  • The numbing power of that pill from your present troubles?
  • The innammered power of feeling wanted in that toxic relationship?
  • The perceived power of the balance in your bank account?
  • The power to… ____ you fill in the blank, better yet, let the Holy Spirit fill that in for you...


It is my conviction today to declare that we, as a church, will pursue lives transformed by the Gospel through the Power of the Resurrection!  That is our only hope for life, our only hope for lasting change, that is our only peace, that alone is any power to overcome in this world until the Lord returns!


Lastly, Having looked at the display and effects of his power in the Resurrection, we want now to focus in these verses on his power as it is seen in his exaltation and in his Lordship.

Know the fullness of this POWER (v.21-23)

[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. 


Here are Paul's uses of Power (dunamis) throughout the book of Ephesians alone… It’s something that’s important to him.  We’ve already looked at the first two:


Eph 1:19 and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might


Eph 1:21-note far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.


Eph 3:7-note of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.


Eph 3:16-note that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,


Eph 3:20-note 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 (speaking of the power of the Spirit that continually energizes us - see Php 2:13, cp the prayer in Eph 3:16!).


Notice in this one letter Paul prays twice for the saints to experience power - He actually also associates this power with the indwelling Holy Spirit.


Now, there are some interesting phrases here as well - let’s take just a brief moment to understand them:


...and above every name that is named - cult practices at the times, would try to name deity to garner favor… we don’t have to do that, we know the name above all names


...He put all things under his feet - this phrase had cultural relevance in that day but it symbolizes ruling and reigning as a sovereign who has concurred - we celebrate our risen savior today, the one who has conquered the world!  He is the head of the church, the church now represents him in this land that was once held captive, now has freedom in Christ available to it.


...The fullness of him who fills all in all - the church represents the fullness of both the Love and Power of Jesus Christ.  More than that, Jesus’ filling all in all reminds us that his presence is available to us at all times and in all places.  That’s good news for us as believers.


You and I don’t have to pencil in a time-slot to receive the power of the resurrection.  Why?  Because it’s available, at all times, in all places - the Holy Spirit is with me, and you, to guide us into this truth that it may be lived out in practical ways before others.


Today I want us to consider afresh the Power of the Resurrection TOWARDS US as believers.  It’s amazing when you pause long enough to think about it - consider things in the world today that can so easily try to replace the truth and power of the Gospel:


  • School: No school can educate you enough to receive it.
  • Counseling: No counselor can offer an accurate enough diagnosis to find within yourself or response to circumstances that can overcome it.
  • Modern Medicine: No doctor can prescribe something powerful enough to match it.
  • Science: No scientist can replicate it in a lab.


Don’t misunderstand - These things all have their place, in proper order, going to a school, doctor, counselor can be good things, can be real help, even offer what we would understand as a ‘common grace’ to the world today.


But, we should engage these things with an understanding that there is a life-giving-resurrecting-power at work in us - this power alone is sustainable in the life of the believer no matter the circumstances.


I believe God wants to reorder, reorient our lives rightly where He takes the primary place as our Sovereign Lord.  The one who displayed God’s Saving Love, God’s Resurrecting Power and we can experience both of these things today in our own lives.


Where is God calling you to connect to this power today?

  • Salvation?  Is he, through his love displayed at calvary, calling your name and drawing you into his lordship over your life? - Prayer Team Today - (mention: ‘Making Sense of God’ - begins next Sunday, April 11th)
  • Transformation?  Is he showing you the end of yourself, your efforts, ‘best practices’, the concepts you hear when we gather in the church and the reality you face in your home, in your workplace or on your campus?  Is he, through his resurrection power, showing you that your power is not enough and welcoming you into his all-sufficient power today?  Not necessarily changing your perspective as much as He is changing the disposition of your heart toward those circumstances


More than anything, this passage captured for us in Ephesians 1:15-23 reminds us to pray the power of the resurrection over our own lives, over the lives of our loved ones, family, friends, people we’re walking through life together with - those we’re praying for healing, etc.  It alone, is the only power that can both save and transform so let’s look to that in hope in the days ahead.


Church, HE IS RISEN! (he is risen indeed)


Let’s stand and worship together


[20] Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, [21] to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. - Ephesians 3:20–21

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