This special meditation has been prepared by PRC home missionary, Rev. Aud Spriensma.
Knowing God's Power in the Exaltation of Christ
Meditation on Ephesians 1:19-23
And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.
These verses in our pericope are the last part of a long sentence beginning in verse 15 and ending with verse 23. Paul prayed that the Ephesian believes might know God and the scope of what he does for us. Our faith is not a blind faith, but faith is a certain knowledge and a therefore a deep-rooted assurance. God wants us to know him, the hope of his calling, the riches of his inheritance, and the exceeding greatness of his power. May we know what is the exceeding greatness of his power!
What is that power of God? It is seen in the exaltation of Christ. Speaking of Jesus’ exaltation, Paul referred (1) to Christ’s resurrection from the dead, (2) to His ascension and enthronement over all , and (3) to His headship over the church His body. Since the church is Christ’s body, what is true of Christ is also true of His church! God’s power can be known in Christ and then also as it works in us. In the above verses, there are many different Greek words for power. First, we have the Greek word from which we get our English word “dynamite”. It means the power of strength in the sense of ability, ability to do something. Another Greek word means inner power, the inner energy of God. A third word for power is that which means the strength of authority. A fourth Greek word is simply strength, that is the power to do something. The apostle heaps word upon word and phrase upon phrase to express that power of God. The resurrection of Christ from the dead is a greater power of God than even that of creation!
There are some who believe that in knowing the truth they have it all. While sound theological and doctrinal knowledge is important, this knowledge is given to us that we know God better and thus live in His power and be victorious over sin in this life. The salvation of the soul is a resurrection, the recovery of a person from the dead. Without God’s mighty strength, not one individual would ever triumph over sin, live a godly life, or come at last to the reward God has for all His own in heaven.
God raised Jesus from the dead. What power on earth could possibly accomplish this miracle? Obviously, there is none. Only a heavenly power could and did raise Jesus on the third day. God thus vindicated Jesus’ claims to be the Messiah and declared that Christ’s atonement for sin was accepted. As God raised Jesus from the dead, so also by His Spirit He raises us from the dead with a birth from above. As Jesus Christ was victorious over Satan, sin, and death, all those who are united to Christ by faith can live triumphantly through that power!
What a sinful world we live in which tempts us to join in its wicked ways and persecuting those who refuse. How are we victorious over that great enemy? The answer is, we can only gain the victory through the power of God that transforms us “by the renewing of our minds” (Rom. 12:2). It is what makes us “new creatures” (II Cor. 5:17).
Our second great adversary is our own flesh, that sinful nature that you and I must fight against day and night. What an enemy it is! So often we are not active as we should be in reading God’s Word, praying, or performing good works. Our sinful nature also locks us into sinful patterns of behavior. How can we triumph over these strong forces? It is only by the power of God displayed in the resurrection of Christ from the dead.
Our third enemy is the devil and his host of fallen angels. No wonder Peter writes, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil ,as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he might devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith…” (I Pet. 5:8). Because of this, we need to be enlightened with respect to the power of God working in us. Nothing else can enable us to stand against the wiles of the devil.
In Christ’s exaltation, all things are placed under His feet! Christ’s exultation over all rule and authority involves all earthly powers and heavenly things. How are we to be victorious over Satan? James tells us: “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). You and I cannot resist Satan in our own strength. If we submit ourselves to God, His power which was demonstrated in the exultation of Christ above all rule and authority now flows through us. The devil will flee as he fled from Christ at the conclusion of the temptation in the wilderness.
The exultation of Christ consists in God in His power giving Him to be “the head over all things to the church.” Christ is the organic and legal Head of the church. We are subject to Christ as the body is subject to the head. Christ and His church belong together. The church cannot be without Christ as the Head. This is absolutely impossible. Christ also cannot be without the church. Christ fills all things in the church. What a close relationship we have. We live, move and have our being in Christ Jesus raised from the dead! The power of God that raised Jesus from the dead is a power that is to us-ward who believe. You believe, don’t you?
Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o’er his foes. He arose a victor from the dark domain, and he lives forever with his saints to reign. He arose! He arose! Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Robert Lowry (1826-1899)