God is not just able to do beyond what we ask: “Now to Him/ who is able/ to do immeasurably more than all that we ask/ or imagine/, according to the power/ that works within us”….
A woman once approached the famous preacher, G. Campbell Morgan, after he spoke: “Do you think we should pray for even the little things in our lives, or just for the big things?” In his dignified British manner Morgan replied, “Madam, can you think of anything in your life that is big to God?”
- Ephesians is a challenge to experience more of Christ. It’s a letter of encouragement for those who need to overcome struggles and have a fresh start.
- Eph. 1:3-14 is the longest sentence of the Bible with an avalanche of words over-whelming us with how much God loves us and a response of praise.
- The last half of Eph. 1 is a prayer to thrive. Not barely survive. But THRIVE.
- Eph. 2:1-10: a challenge to wrestle with the big questions of life: Who Am I, [God’s Masterpiece] What’s the problem [I am a sinner], what’s the solution [salvation through God’s grace in Christ], where am I going [I am God’s trophy of grace]
- The challenge of Eph. 2:11-13 is to Re-Member, become members again ~ look back at our lives before Christ or when we were young in the faith and what we are NOW in Christ. To re-member roots us in Christ.
- Eph. 2:14-23 enlarges our perspective of God’s great Kingdom work. He came to save me, but God is also at work in ways beyond the individual or the local church: It’s all about the Kingdom.
- Eph. 3:1-6 emphasizes the mystery of grace and the mystery of God: “the riddles of God are more satisfying than the solutions of man”
- Eph. 3:7-13 Paul addresses the common problem of discouragement/apathy which holds us back from a full relationship with God and the need to overcome.
- Last week Chad explored the prayer of Eph. 3:14-19, when we are on the brink of discouragement feeling like we are going backward in faith, and what it means to be in the spirit and let Christ into every room of our heart.
Eph. 3:20-21 is Paul’s Amen to everything he has said…Eph. 3:20-21 is literally the central point of Eph., and figuratively the heart of the gospel in Eph. for it speaks of Christ’s nature and character. This central sentence should be read at the beginning and end of the book, before and after every section ~ exclamation point! Amen. Even better than reading the words, sing them…
Eph. 3:20-21 is a doxology: “doxa” refers to “the kingly majesty which belongs to God ~ God’s absolute perfection.” Other words: “splendour, brightness, magnificence, excellence, preeminence, dignity, grace, and majesty.” Often it is translated “glory” in N.T. The “ology” or “logos” means “word” in N.T. ~ “doxology”: “a word of glory.” A doxology is not mere intellectual truth, but life changing praise! I imagine Paul singing this verse…. Singing is a way for truth to touch our hearts…
I was thrilled to find a modern version of this song by a group called Acappela. Listen to it… [Youtube Video included at bottom of this page]
“Unto Him” that’s the way the KJV translates the first words of both verses… I like that better than the NIV “to him” because to my ears it adds a dignity ~ we can never fully comphrehend the fullness of God, but we can get a bit closer by adding music/shouting to get these soaring words of central truth out of our heads and into our hearts….
I love the way John Piper speaks on these verses. He looks back at the love of Christ in the previous verses, Eph. 3:18-19 READ, and then he looks at the POWER outlined in Eph. 3:20 READ. Piper’s words: “Paul is singing because he sees two things, not just one thing….In verse 19 he says that the love of Christ for the church goes beyond what you can know, and in verse 20 he says that the power of God over the church goes beyond what you can think. When the massive weather front of God's love meets the massive weather front of God's power in the heart of a believer, it produces a hurricane of confidence called "Gloria"—a powerful doxology: "To him be GLORY in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations for ever and ever. Amen."
Last week one of Chad’s sidenotes was about how wordy Paul can get as he piles up words upon words with a lot of flowery language. I agree. What a contrast is today’s scripture with a few words speaking life changing volumes of truth to the head and heart… When the massive weather front of God's love meets the massive weather front of God's power in the heart of a believer, it produces a hurricane of confidence called "Gloria"
Let’s take a bit of a closer look at this powerful doxology:
To Him, or Unto Him… One of the major purposes of Ephesians is to urge us have a fresh start. Ephesians, in my view, is written as a course correction to get back on track as people of faith, a fresh start. Up to this point, Paul has spoken of the need to thrive, to keep a focus on the kingdom, to remember who you were, to get straight who Christ is and many other words of encouragement.
These two verses, it seems to me, stand alone as a deliberate contrast to everything that has come before. UNTO HIM. Prayer, a proper perspective are all important, but in just a few words, Paul now points to Christ: UNTO HIM…
Think about a husband and wife with tension in their relationship. They are not on the same page. They try to find a resolution but the harder they try they only succeed in digging themselves deeper in opposition to one another. Sarcasm and hurtful words are thrown into the mix with anger and guilt making the relationship murkier. As time pases, they don’t even remember what started the problem. It is too complicated to sort through every detail. If the fued continues there comes a point it feels like there is no hope of resolution. BUT if each can put aside their pride/ stubbornness… there is one way forward for reconciliation. I call it a TIME OUT. Each one must put aside the division, all the confusion, and look at the other and remember they are married ~~ the husband needs to say, “I live for her” in this marriage, and the wife needs to remember “I live for him.”
How much more in my relationship with God…I work and work to get out of the funk of my faith, my discouragement, my disappointments, and I need to look at Jesus Christ and say, “Unto Him.” I live for Him. This is the Amen. Christ is more important than my need to thrive… more important than this church, more important than my past… The point will come when I don’t need to explain how I got to the place I am, I just need to get back to the foundation of being loved by God… knowing Him… I don’t have to be able to find a logical explanation for why everything happens…. “Unto Him”
Twice in our brief scripture it says, Unto Him, the first words of both verses….
Paul first breaks out in singing this doxology with the first ‘Unto Him” as he shouts out God’s incomprehensible character…
God is ABLE… our common doubt is changed into an absolute truth… we grow apart from the Lord with common doubts of wondering if God will rescue me, why I am so weak, why this happens, God is not living up to my expectations… our fearful hearts easily slip into the pessimistic question, “is God able to help me?” All too often our focus is on our problems when it ought to be on God. If you look at your own weakness, the logical conclusion will be discouragement, doubt and frustration. But Paul is saying, “Time Out, get off the pity pot, look Unto Him”… He is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine…” Another translation says it this way: “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (NKJV)…., immeasurably, or “exceedingly abundantly” is a fun phrase… Paul is making up words to describe the indescribable, similar to what we try to when confronted something so amazing it goes beyond our words, like when we add superlative upon superlative to try to describe the fullness of a sunset ~ brilliantliest bright redderest orangier giving way to yellowier… That’s the word immeasurably, exceedingly abundantly, “ the weather front of God’s love crashes into the weather front of God’s power in our heart” ~ how do you fully describe his unlimited power. Unto Him who is able. One of the hymns says it well, “Ponder anew what the Almighty can do, if with his love he befriend you.” What is God able to do? You can make your own list, here’s one…
- He is able to strengthen us when we are weak.
- He is able to answer far more than we ask.
- He is able to hear the faintest cry.
- He is able to lift our burdens in the time of crisis.
- He is able to guide us when we have lost our way.
- He is able to save you for he sent Jesus to die for you.
- He is able to forgive you for the price for your sins has already been paid.
- He is able to take you to heaven because Jesus took your punishment when he died in your place.
- He is able to give you eternal life because Jesus rose from the dead.
Once again Paul says in the next verse Unto Him”. God is so great all focus must be on HIM: READ Eph. 3:21. The Place Of His Glory - the church exists for the greatest purpose of bringing glory to God. He is glorified in the church. The church is made of sinners who have been saved by His grace. He loved us when we deserved to be removed from His presence. He reached out to us in love and grace and drew us to Himself. He saved us when we called on Him by faith, and He changed our lives.
Unto Him. He can do anything he wants. His purposes are beyond what we can imagine. If that doesn’t put our petty desires into perspective I don’t know what will. That ought to keep our prayers from focusing too much on an arm-twisting of God to get us to solve our problems according to our solutions in our time frame. God will do whatever God wants in his way in his timing and it is more than we deserve to worship him and be amazed by his indescribable character and nature. And he chooses to work his power in us…
Unto Him! That is the Amen. Unto Him is the exclamation point giving a new perspective. Unto Him! Is the fresh start transforming our lives to bring Him Glory and praise. Amen!