And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to usward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power (that working of the strength of his might, R.V.), which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead. . . .Eph. 1:19, 20a
That ye may know!
That the Church of Jesus Christ may have knowledge, spiritual knowledge of spiritual things, is the fervent desire of the inspired apostle.
With a view to that he prays for them: he ceases not to give thanks for them, always, continually making mention of them in his prayers to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory. He prays that this Father of glory may give unto them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, now, continuously, in an ever increasing measure. For without that Spirit the eyes of their understanding cannot be spiritually enlightened so that they may be able to discern the spiritual things of salvation spiritually. And, therefore, without that spiritual discernment they cannot possibly know. . . .
Yet, it is paramount that they know!
Know they must what is the hope of his calling, that is the glorious object of the hope unto which they are called: the glory of his inheritance in the saints, the great and manifold riches of that glory.
And, again, in order to know the exceeding great riches of their hope and of God’s inheritance among the saints, they must know what is the overwhelming greatness of the power which He wrought into (thus literally) us.
And the measure or standard of this exceeding great power is the working of the strength of his might, which He wrought in Christ!
Revealed, first of all, in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
And exactly in Him, who is God and, therefore, doest wondrous things, is our hope of salvation, of eternal glory.
How utterly impossible appears the matter of our salvation apart from Him, from any mere human viewpoint.
More impossible, if we may speak in comparative terms here, than even the humanly impossible and inconceivable work of creation is the work of redemption and salvation. When God creates He calls the things that are not as if they were, the things that do appear from nothing; when He redeems and saves He causes the light to shine out of darkness, life to issue forth out of death, glory out of shame, heaven out of hell!
How exceedingly beyond all human conception!
How impossible, how hopeless as far as man is concerned!
We lie in the midst of death. There is a sentence of condemnation upon us to the justice of which all and everything testify that it is just and irrevocable: the law, our conscience men, the devil and all the powers of darkness. Children of wrath we are. Sin hath dominion over us. Death reigns over us. Enslaved we are to the devil. Death rules within and death encompasses us on every side; and there is no way out, no avenue of escape. The sole way out of our present death is the way that leads to eternal desolation.
And from that hopeless state of condemnation and wretchedness of death, we are to be raised to the highest pinnacle of righteousness and glory and bliss! That is salvation! It is the change of the sentence of condemnation into one of eternal righteousness. It is the adoption of objects of divine wrath unto beloved children of God. It is the deliverance out of hopeless imprisonment into a state of perfect liberty. It is the victory over the mighty power of death. It is the assumption from deepest hell into highest heaven. It is the transmutation of deepest woe into heavenly joy. . . .
It is resurrection!
It is the highest revelation that God is God: His name is Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father. . . .
The God of our salvation!
How, then, can some degrade this amazing work of redemption and salvation into a work of mere, puny, miserable man, or even make him participate in it? How can it be in any wise dependent upon man whether he shall be saved? Does creation depend upon the will of the creature? And is it not far more absurd (if it be possible to make comparisons here) to insist that resurrection depends on the will of the dead? How can salvation ever be conceived as an offer, the realization of which is determined by the acceptance of man, dead in trespasses and sins?
It is resurrection!
And, therefore, it is the revelation and fruit of the operation of an exceeding great power, a power to accomplish things, that exceeding great ability, that mighty power of the God of salvation even now is operating in the Church. For such is the meaning of the words of the text. It does not speak of a power “to usward,” of a power in respect to us, or in our direction, of a power that probably has us in view and that will ultimately reach us too. Literally the text speaks of “the exceeding greatness of his power into us.” The power of God that becomes manifest as resurrection power has even now become operative in our very hearts, whence are the issues of life, and from that center it has wrought its marvelous transmutations in our mind and will, our desires and longings, in the direction and manifestation of our whole life.
Exceeding greatness of His power into us!
The power whereby we were drawn out of death into life, transmuted out of darkness into His marvelous light.
The power whereby our carnal mind which is enmity against God and is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be, is changed into the spiritual mind that seeks the kingdom of God and His righteousness and the things that are above.
The power, the amazing power, that transmuted the proud and rebellious sinner, who haughtily lifted his fist in the face of the Almighty, into a humble contrite, heart-broken penitent, that does not dare to raise his eyes and cries out: God, be merciful to me, a sinner!
The exceeding great power, whereby damned sinners, exiled from God’s house, are translated into living, righteous, holy, loving and beloved children of God, conformed to the image of His Son; and whereby they are made heirs of the riches of the glory of God’s inheritance among saints!
The adorable power that continues to operate until all things are made new and the former things have passed away, and the tabernacle of God is forever with those same men that were once banished from His presence. . . .
That exceeding great power it is that is manifest in the work of salvation.
And that all-victorious power is now working in us!
Wonderful God of our salvation!
That ye may know!
Yes, but how can we even now know the greatness, the amazing and exceeding energy of that power which He even now is working within us?
Can our own experience of the working of this mighty power within us be the criterion whereby we may judge of its limits?
How could it? Can you know the greatness and majestic strength of the oak by looking at the acorn? Or is it not true that the fruit of this mighty operation of God’s exceeding great power in us, is as yet only a small beginning of the new life and righteousness and obedience and glory? O, even so, the change wrought is marvelous enough. But the fact remains that it is but a small beginning that is wrought. Still the distance from our present state and position in this world to the riches of glory that will be ours when the inheritance of God will be realized to His saints, seems immeasurable!
Can it be traversed?
Will that final glory ever be reached? Will the hope of our calling ever be realized?
Yes, we are living children of God even now, but we also still lie in the midst of death. We are righteous, indeed, but our own conscience accuses us that we still increase our guilt every day. We are delivered from sin and dominion, but that “other law in our members” is incessantly warring against the “law of our mind,” so that we do not what we would, but find ourselves doing that which we hate. And we are still in the body of this death. We are earthy, not heavenly; mortal, not immortal; corruptible, not incorruptible; weak, not in strength; in dishonor, not in glory; flesh and blood we are, not spiritual. And flesh and blood, we know, cannot inherit the kingdom of God, neither can corruption inherit incorruption!
Is, then, that exceeding great power of God in us, that began to work the transmutation, able to finish it unto the end?
How can we know?
By considering that same power of God as it is wrought in Christ Jesus the Lord!
Notice, that this is the meaning of the text. The
Church, having the eyes of her heart and understanding enlightened by the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, must know what is the exceeding greatness of Cod’s power into us, that is, she ought to know the nature of that power, the full extent of the mighty energy that began to work in her. But in order to obtain some conception of the greatness of this power, she must understand that its operation is “according to the working of the power of His might, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead!” The same power that worked in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, is even now working into you. If, then, you would understand what this power of God that already operates in you is able to accomplish, you must look at the glorified Christ, and consider what it means that God raised Him from the dead.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ and His subsequent exaltation to glory is the greatest revelation of the exceeding greatness of His power!
He was in death. In deepest death He had descended, freely, voluntarily, in perfect obedience, for the love of God and His righteousness. Death’s power took hold of Him, though freely He surrendered Himself to it. Death’s darkness engulfed Him. Hell dosed its doors behind Him. Or did it? For this Christ, as He voluntarily sought the deepest darkness of hell and entered into the lowest parts of the earth, trusted in God to justify and deliver Him! He knew the exceeding greatness of the power of God, and confiding in it, fully relying on God’s power and faithfulness, He was assured that God would deliver Him. And He was not put to shame. For God raised Him from the dead!
He raised Him!
No, He did not merely deliver Him from the power of death to bring Him back into “the likeness of sinful flesh,” into flesh and blood, into mortality and corruption: He raised Him! No, He did not even cause Him to return to a former state of righteousness and earthly life, perfect yet lapsable, living yet mortal, blessed yet earthy: He raised Him! He changed His shame into glory, His mortality into immortality, His corruption into incorruption, His weakness into strength, His flesh and blood into the spiritual body, His earthy image into the image of the heavenly!
In Christ God changed hell into heaven!
He transmuted eternal death into eternal life!
From lowest hell He lifted Him, To highest glory He elevated Him!
Yes, there was a working of the power of God’s might in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!
Notice, how the words are accumulated to impress us with the greatness of this mighty power: “the working of the power of His might!”
“The “might” denotes the strength or virtue as such, the kind of might referred to, in this case divine might; the “power’’ refers to the working capacity and efficiency of this might, in this case: resurrection-efficiency; and the “working” is the living energy, the active operation of this resurrection-efficiency.
The operation of this resurrection-efficiency of the divine power God wrought in Christ.
And according to the standard of this same operation His exceeding great power also works in us.
Contemplate, therefore, the power of God in the resurrection of Christ.
That ye may know!
And blessed assurance of the hope of our calling!
To know that the divine power of grace that is even now wrought in us by the God of our salvation, is not only like the power that raised Jesus from the dead, but is that same power!
For the working of the power of God’s might was wrought in Christ! And this signifies, no doubt, that it was wrought in His case, that it began working in Him when He had obeyed even unto the end, when He could announce “It is finished,” and that it never ceased working in Him, until the power of death in Him was completely vanquished, and He issued forth as victor over death and hell into the glory of His resurrection life. Indeed, in Him that exceeding great power was wrought to the glorious end!
Yet it means more.
For, Christ is not an individual, a man among men. He is the Son of God come into the flesh, and the Head of the Church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that worketh all in all. And as the Head of the body, not as an individual, He entered into the depth of death and hell. And for the members of His body, not for Himself, He stood in the place of judgment in the hour of wrath, bearing the sins of many. And as the Head of the body He merited righteousness and eternal life, and was justified. As such He was raised, in order that He might impart the glory of His resurrection-life to all the members of His body, the Church.
And, therefore, the mighty power of God was so wrought in Him, that it continues to work.
He received the Spirit of promise, and Himself became the quickening Spirit.
And by that Spirit He works by His mighty resurrection-power in all them that believe. Hence, it is into them that believe, and who, by the bond of faith are united with Him, that the exceeding great power of God unto salvation is operating. And also in them the working of that power cannot cease until they have become like Him, their Lord!
Then the hope of their calling shall be realized.
Riches of glory! His inheritance in the saints!