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Nov 5 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

November 2, 2014 – Ephesians 1:19b-23

A Resurrection Mode of Existence

These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which he brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 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. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. Ephesians 1:19b-23

Intro: Two weeks ago we meditated on HIP spirituality

‘H’ stood for hope, ‘I’ for inheritance and ‘P’ for power, which Paul described as surpassing or excessive
– the religious tradition of my youth stressed my responsibility in spiritual transformation
• it was up to me to force myself into a lifestyle that was contrary to my nature
• we were led to believe that the “good Christian” was someone with the will-power to make all the right choices
– Paul, however, does not appeal to our will-power
• rather, our salvation comes when we are “helpless,” “without strength” (Ro. 5:6)
◦ we are not our own saviors
• God gives us a new nature that he then empowers by his Spirit (Ro.8:5-15)

It is to that power that Paul takes us next
– it is a power according to “the working of the strength of His might”

Vv. 19a-21, How does Paul explore God’s “power toward us”?

First, he tries to fill out its dimensions

Skevington Wood, “Paul proceeds to collect all the synonyms he can lay hands on as he describes how the power (dynamis) of God functions according to the operation (energeia) of the strength (kratos) of his might (ischys).” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

– these words carry the sense of capability, (effective) energy, strength to resist or control, and (raw) strength respectively
• we should include the Greek word the NASB translates “brought about” (energesen), also translated “exerted”
• any way that force can be applied to an object or objective

Secondly, the power at work in our spiritual lives is derived from Jesus’ resurrection
– Paul perceived that God unleashed a radical energy in raising Jesus from the dead
• think of the nature of this power that overcame death!
• furthermore, Jesus’ resurrection did not use up all the power that was released
◦ it was simply at this point that this power entered the world and became a permanent force in it
• life in God is not a human achievement
◦ it is powered by God

Albert Schweitzer referred to it as “the resurrection mode of existence” and explains, “This is, so to speak, a mass of piled-up fuel, to which the fire there kindled immediately spreads. But whereas this dying and rising again has ben openly manifested in Jesus, in the [Believers] it goes forward secretly but none the less really.” The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle

This is what Paul meant by “the hope of His calling”
– God doesn’t command of us that which we cannot accomplish
• rather, he shows us where he is taking us
– that God “predestined” us (vv. 5 & 11) means that he tells us:
“I’ve made an investment in you–an investment in who you are becoming and what you will be doing” (cf. Ep. 2:10)

Vv. 20b-22a, Jesus’ resurrection was the first stage of a two-stage movement

Jesus’ “ascension” into heaven was the second stage
– Paul shows this to us from two angles

  1. From one view, Jesus was elevated to God’s right hand
    – this is symbolic language — it means there is no conceivable higher status
    • I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ ascension in light of two incidents occurred this last week:
    ◦ a rocket intended to carry supplies to the space station blew within seconds of liftoff
    ◦ Virgin’s Galactic “spaceliner” malfunctioned, broke apart and crashed into the earth
    • Paul depicts Jesus as raised from the dead and then launched into “heavenly places”
    – from this angle, Jesus is “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion”
    • these are most likely ranks of human and spiritual authorities (cf. Ep. 6:12)
    ◦ the forces that influence societies and the course of history
    – “and every name that is named” — the big names, celebrity names, political names, etc.
    • in scripture, a name is not merely an individual’s label, but stands for the person himself or herself
    ◦ the name defines the person or says something about their essential nature
    • “far above” is hyper- or super-above
    ◦ this is true not only now, in this age, but into the future
    ◦ no one will ever come along and ascend higher than Jesus
  2. But now Paul shows us this same scene, but from a different angle
    – from this view we see all things placed beneath Jesus
    – it’s not just that he has a higher status than anyone, but he is “head over all things”

    For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Php. 2:9-11

Vv. 22b-23, Paul’s main point, however, is not Jesus’ universal dominion

He wants us (his readers) to realize that God has given this amazing Person and power to us
– the “church” – ekklesia, the community that has formed around Christ
• Paul emphasizes the nature of the church as a community when he adds, “which is His body”
◦ Paul returns to this idea in chapter 4, where he talks about the role we play in each other’s lives
• our union with Christ creates our union with each other
◦ by his resurrection, Jesus created a spiritual community
◦ individuals in the community are transformed and glued together

Paul’s concept of “fullness” is fascinating (we run into it again in chs 3 & 4)
– the fullness is in Jesus

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority . . . Col. 2:9-10

• the church embodies the fullness of Jesus, who embodies the fullness of God
◦ “church” is far bigger than we usually imagine
◦ it includes a lot of people who do not necessarily “go to” church
– the church, sociologically, is a spiritual community and, spiritually, the incarnation of Jesus
• the church is as beautiful as the life of Jesus — and beautified by Jesus (Ep. 5:25-27)
◦ loving, accepting, healing, and a place of belonging
• of course, that is  not always what we encounter in various churches or Christian groups
◦ instead, we encounter ugly religion – people who are unloving, closed-off, and abusive
◦ divisive, uptight, doctrinal technicians create situations that are frustrating and heartbreaking
• our actual experience of church frequently falls far below the biblical ideal
◦ we do not want to settle for less than the ideal

Conc: I want to return to Schweitzer’s phrase, “resurrection mode of existence”

Why did Paul not say anything about crucifixion?
– in other places, it is central to his message
• on the one hand, resurrection presupposes crucifixion
• on the other, what he stresses here is the energy that powers our spiritual lives
– what does this look like?

Behold, I am making all things new (Re. 21:5)
. . . as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life (Ro. 6:4)

• “rising” every morning to a new day
• the formation of righteous habits that were not characteristic of our old selves
• the ongoing renewal of our hearts and spirits (Eze. 36:26)
• reaching one horizon only to discover there’s yet another beyond it until we come at last to God

Rowan Williams, “The presence of this hope is what makes us alive with ‘newness of life’ . . ., in the sharing of Christ’s risen life. . . . In sharing this life, we share his freedom from ‘threatenedness’, it is never–as is perfectly clear in all Paul’s epistles–a freedom from exposure to suffering or from fear, but it is a decisive transition to that new level of existence where God is the only ultimate horizon–not death or nothingness.”

Where does this resurrection mode of existence enter our real lives?
– potentially, in all we say and do and think — the power is present everywhere, all the time
– it shows up whenever we do something:

  • new
  • creative
  • for someone else
  • endure hardship — get back on saddle after being thrown
  • Jesus told us to do, but do it only because we want to

To open ourselves to the release of this power in our real lives, try this
– when tempted with something that usually gets the better of us, imagine not giving in
• just doing that may increase the intensity or the urge to give-in
• but then tell yourself, “I can do this because God sponsors me”
◦ you will find that the power to change is suddenly present

Better yet, pray,
“I can choose well, I can do what is right because You, Lord Jesus, will give me the power to do so.”

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